Video: Debate on Affirmative Action

May 23, 2016 |  NAS

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Video: Debate on Affirmative Action

May 23, 2016 | 


On April 12, 2016, the University Union, a student group that sponsors debates on campus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, held a debate on affirmative action. Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy spoke in favor of racial preferences, and National Association of Scholars president Peter Wood opposed them. Owen Wiggins, president of the University Union, opened the debate, and professor of political science Dean Robinson moderated it.



| April 10, 2017 - 2:36 PM

I wrote this essay some months ago and long before I viewed this video:

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action was one of a number of laws put into effect as a result of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK). It was one of JFK’s pet projects. President Johnson pushed this legislation through Congress and got approved while the country was in mourning for the assassination of JFK. Affirmative Action was meant to put an end to discrimination based on race, discrimination against a minority, or minorities in general, that is, everyone but white males. One criterion used to determine if something is worth doing is did it work? Does it do what it was meant to do?

But did it? I think we can answer that question with a resounding no. I think that most people, especially minorities, would say that we still have discrimination based on race. It may not be as blatant as Jim Crow Laws but it is still there. Whites now complain about what is called reverse discrimination. But it is discrimination based on race. That covers about everybody.

It has been tried for 50 years with not much change. So, for that reason alone we should consider it to be a waste of time and resources and end it. While patience is a virtue, 50 years is bit too much patience for it NOT to work. Some think that if something did not work then throw more money at it in order to make it work. More money to force a positive outcome, when this does not address the root cause it is just throwing good money after bad. This does not work either.

Poverty is either the root cause or a big result of discrimination. Those, I think, are the two schools of thought. Regardless, I think that they are related.

But let’s see if I can determine which it is.

If we assume that poverty is the cause of the discrimination then we have a feeling of superiority based on the fact that those that have look down upon those who do not have even the basic necessities of life. We as humans do tend to reject people on the basis of their appearances, unfortunately. It is called appearance over substance or appearance over reality. I do not agree with this in principle but it does happen. We have rejection based on the fact that they live in poverty or affluence, either one. We do tend to reject one another because of differences. This is found big time in nature, some exceptions. The old saying about birds of a feather flock together is generally true, even for humans. It is called de facto segregation. Poverty causes most of the crimes being perpetrated. Some say if we could end poverty then things would get better. This is true. Forget the fact that this is true by definition, that is, if we end poverty then things would be better. The poor resorting to crime is a valid reason to discriminate. They are breaking the social contract. But there are extenuating circumstances. Was the social contract broken from society’s end first?


| April 10, 2017 - 2:38 PM

Part two:

As slaves they were not taught any book learning. But then again even after the Civil War an education was not needed so the excuse that they were not taught anything is out. They were in schools under Jim Crow. I sincerely believe the separate cannot be equal but then again education outcomes and outcomes in general never will be equal, as I said in another essay.

Education of the masses will not get everyone (that gets educated) out of poverty. Education in and of itself will not guarantee a good paying job will be there waiting once you graduate. It used to be that directly after World War II ended and up until maybe about 1980. Education in and of itself will not generate jobs. If it did we’d have a surplus of good paying jobs.

Choosing anybody for a job or higher education based on a physical trait instead of on merit is not good for society at large. As I have written before, the United States became the largest economy on Earth in about 1880, or long before almost anyone was graduating High School (it was a 10% High School graduation rate in 1910 or 30 years later and rose almost steadily until about 1970). Education in the macro (of the masses) had very little if anything to do with our economy. So, educating the over 50 million in poverty will not get very many out of poverty. The jobs are not there.

So, poverty causes the discrimination. Note I am talking about all of those in poverty. There are nearly twice as many whites in poverty as there are blacks in poverty. There are only about 500,000 more blacks and Hispanics in poverty as there are whites. That is a small percentage more (1%).

Back to the original question. Is poverty a result of discrimination? If by discrimination you mean against a race/color of skin then no. As stated above there are more whites in poverty than either blacks or Hispanics. If it were true then less whites would be in poverty. Granted there are less whites by percentages but not by sheer numbers. When we say poverty of 25% that is not very much. That means the 75% are not in poverty, or 3 times the number in poverty are not in poverty. But if we say that there are over 50 million in poverty then we have a large number and need to get a sense of urgency about correcting the problem. Once more the War of Poverty has done little to alleviate poverty in this country.

If we are talking about discrimination based on some other factor it could be safe to assume that it is a moot point. I mean that when people generally talk about discrimination they generally mean for race, or sex, etc. Again I have shown that this is not the case, So, for the generally accepted definition of discrimination it does not cause poverty.

But if we look at it from another direction, that of, the effects it did have. What were they? So what Affirmative Action did was to legalize discrimination based on race but against the majority now and for the past 50 plus years. You turned something that was unethical and made it legally mandatory. A quota system based on race is racist. You are putting one race above another. It does not matter the reason. A quota system based on sex is sexist. You are putting one sex over the other. A quota based on any physical human trait is wrong. From an ethical point of view, the ends never justify the means.

The result of your actions was exactly opposite of your intentions.
Affirmative Action extends into education. Separate but equal we were and are told is wrong. In education it is the norm. The only way for this to be totally equal is for there to be only one class for every subject, such as one Algebra class. It would have to be online and at the same time for each time zone. Each student would have to have equal access, such as download and upload speeds, same computers and software, etc. Even at that since every student is different then education will be different, therefore not equal. It will never be equal, in terms of outcomes. Can you imagine every student in a given grade, in given time zone, accessing the same web site, at the same time? Even if you had multiple web sites with the same information on them the total bandwidth needed would still be the same and every class would have to be an hour or less or run the risk of even more students accessing the same sites simultaneously. Keeping track of all students and their records, homework and tests online would be a logistical nightmare, especially with multiple servers.


| April 10, 2017 - 2:39 PM

Part three:

As we now know the system to be, even if we had totally integrated schools we would still have different students, facilities, teachers, textbooks, and administrators. They would not be equal because they are all different. People are all different. Therefore, they never will be equal. In other words schools as we know them must end. But I as say this is next to impossible, if not out and out impossible. One of the characteristics of a good ethical action is practicability. We must be able to practice it or in other words it must be practical. An action that is impossible or next to impossible is not very practical. Another characteristic of a good ethical action is universalizability. That is, it must apply to everyone equally. Quotas of minorities are not universal, that is, they do not apply to everyone equally. Obviously, they only apply to a few groups.

As examples, is the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA, and sports in general setup with only about 17% blacks? Is there any business where it is setup according the percentages of the racial and sexual makeup of the United States? They do try to do this in education and minorities as a group are now over-represented in colleges in the US and whites are slightly underrepresented in colleges.

Also, if you meant to punish the majority, you cannot punish people for the sins of their fathers. The offspring is not responsible for what their parents did. How is this fair? So, Affirmative Action should be stopped. It should never have been implemented in the first place. It may never have been if Kennedy had not been assassinated. Again, the ends never just the means.

Overridingness may also be violated with Affirmative Action. The aesthetic value (the appearance of Justice) of Affirmative Action is overridden by the never to treat people as a merely a means to an end. It is also not just to put one group over another.