Sunday, October 02, 2005

When Affirmative Action Was White

Wow. It happened. The first semi-logical defense of affirmative action I've ever read. At a minimum, it seems a thoughtful article on affirmative action - and that's a huge plus.

Might have to read this dude's book - whose title is the same as the title of this post.

Talk about flippin the script. I'm actually not sure yet of what exactly Katznelson is saying, but it sounds interesting.

It sounds like he's saying that discrimination back in the day - in the form of whites-only GI Bill-guaranteed home/business/farm loans - was not as much discrimination against blacks as it was affirmative action for whites.

I guess that's one way to look at it, but that doesn't really help me to understand how discrimination against whites (or, affirmative action for blacks) today is an idea that could even be taken seriously. There is a strong argument to be made for reparations, I think, but even in the grand scheme of 'justice' to which all decent people should aspire, it's tough to tell a white kid today that he won't get a position at company or school 'x' because, as Ben Folds so eloquently put it, my great great great great grandad
made someone's great great great great grandaddy slaves.

UPDATE: Fairly critical book review in Commentary that is not totally without merit. The reviewer points out the travesties of the Michigan undergrad and law school decision(s), and how affirmative action could get interesting again with new Supreme Court justices.

Some of the book's assertions - like, do affirmative action just because the court, in a 5-4 decision, said so - don't hold water with me. That's like saying we should support Jim Crow laws because the courts said they were legit.

Similarly, some of this reviewer's points are... pathetic and twisted? The reviewer outlines three anti-affirmative action stances - one of them says that we can't possibly help black people do better in society just because they were irreparably harmed in the United States for hundreds of years because...we have no way of knowing if specific black people would even be alive ("procreated") today if they were left to succeed of their own devices, like white people were. This is an outrageous dodge. My retort would be "REPARATIONS, bitch".

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