Affirmative Action (EP.24)

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is racist. Affirmative action is sexist. And sometimes both. Perhaps you can argue that discrimination based on race and sex is just fine in certain circumstances, but discrimination it is.

Affirmative action began under Johnson, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an executive order in 1965. In 1978 in the Bakke Case, the Supreme Court ruled that quotas were illegal, but race could still be used as a factor in making college admissions decisions. Didn’t that just eliminate the word “quota” while not changing anything about the quota process? Does anyone think that changed anything?

Affirmative action proponents often talk about “qualified candidates.” Once establishing a pool of so-labeled candidates, the idea is to apply sex- and race-based preferences to hire and promote from within that pool. What happened to the concept of “best” candidate? Sports teams, both professional and college, are focused on selecting the best candidates. If that is the right thing for a college football team to do, why isn’t it even more right for that same college to use the same criterion, “best candidate” for, say, its medical school?

People who question affirmative action often point out that the National Basketball Association mostly black and the National Football League, predominantly black, don’t race-balance their rosters. The quick response is that racial imbalance in the pursuit of excellence is okay because it is “just sports.” Exactly, it is just sports. And if affirmative action is okay anywhere, this is a perfect example where affirmative action might be defended. Sports. And other forms entertainment. Not in the medical profession. If you or a friend or loved one is on the operating table undergoing delicate surgery, are you content with a surgeon in the qualified pool who was promoted ahead of others due to race or sex? I’m not. For those who are, let’s set up a world where they can be taught by, are taken care of medically, and are responded to in emergencies by law enforcement officers and firefighters who were simply in the qualified pool and were in their positions due to affirmative action. I’ll reserve the best candidates for myself and those who believe as I do. Are you with me?

Affirmative action as currently practiced leads not just to the “dumbing down” of America, but to the watering down of America. Eliminating the concept of “best”, substituting the concept of merely qualified is unfair to our society. By definition, our society will not be getting the best that it deserves. And it cheats the candidates of the invaluable lessons that come from the hard work, triumphs and tragedies that come along the way while pushing and striving to be the best.

A moment ago, I said, “affirmative action as currently practiced.” What if we practiced it differently? When the Civil Rights Bill was passed in 1964, there were still egregious systemic discrimination–institutional and/or legally supported violations of basic human rights. (Hence the need for legislation.) Since then, all vestiges of systemic racism and sexism have been driven out of our society. If you disagree, please start by citing examples of ether that are institutional or legally supported. Right: there are none. (Well, affirmative action is the only example.)

There is also cultural discrimination; there is more than enough here that we need to address this issue. And take it seriously. With systemic discrimination, we needed to change the rules, by-laws and regulations that govern the various institutions in our country. Like country clubs. And we needed to change the laws by which we are governed.

With cultural discrimination, we need to change the way people think–starting with changing their hearts. You clearly can’t do that with laws; laws do not change hearts. And you can’t to that with challenging and belittling people over issues like pronouns, microaggressions and how Frenchman is okay, but Chinaman is not. Or why ethnic jokes are forbidden, but personal political jokes are quite fine. No one’s heart was ever changed by being belittled or lectured.

Hearts are changed by other hearts. That’s really the only way. We need to get one-on-one. And with the agenda to listen; listen and soften hearts. Not lecture and criticize.

With the same listening and loving mindset, we can also help those who are struggling, and encourage those who are lost or have given up. Governments give hand outs, and those are needed sometimes. Only people give hand ups; those are always needed.

Remember, the two main tenets, the core philosophies that drive our thinking and actions here at Revolution 2.0, are:

  1. Personal responsibility; take it, teach it and
  2. Yes, we are all our Brother’s Keepers.

Please do contact me. Respond in my Revolution 2.0 blog, email me at And I’m easy to find on iTunes, Google Play and the usual Bat Channels, including Twitter and Facebook.

It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Revolution 2.0, it is not simply change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the  world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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2 Responses

  1. Charlie Reply

    I agree. My belief is that anti-discrimination laws have had a net negative effect on the lives they were intended to protect. By defining folks as members of an oppressed minority, the law, while giving them some protection against overt discrimination, also gives them an “out” to attribute their failures to racism rather than their own personal shortcomings.
    I will concede that racial biases exist in our country, not only among the “deplorables” but also in the halls of power. That being said, as you mentioned, institutional discrimination has been all but eliminated in America. Then why are the incarceration rates and economic statistics indicating that African-Americans are living less fortunate lives than the rest of us? My personal opinion is that social pressure, abetted by anti-discrimination laws, tells young blacks that they need not follow the prevailing, and generally successful, culture and should somehow “act black” and not be Oreos. On top of that, modern American emphasis on self worship has led successful blacks to move up and out without helping others in their group succeed (would that be against anti-discrimination laws?).
    Bottom line is, as you say, change will only work from the bottom up. Those of us who know what’s right need to do what’s right and encourage others to do the same through example and discussion.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Charlie, “..tells young blacks that they need not follow the prevailing, and generally successful, culture and should somehow ‘act black’ and not be Oreos.” Wish I had said that! Cheers, Will

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