Monday, July 26, 2010

Sen. Webb: Affirmative Action is Reverse Racism

In an op-ed in today's WSJ, Senator Webb discusses race-based policies that "all Americans see but few can understand":

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.


While he states the obvious in denouncing affirmative action, he also begs the question in contradicting his premise. African Americans deserve Affirmative Action, he says, because of the unique discrimination they were subjected to (legacy of slavery) and the poor shape the black demographic finds itself in today. For instance, he states that African Americans today "still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup." Of course, he cites statistics later in the article showing how the Scots Irish and Southern Baptists are behind the "average" population as well. But he argues that these white demographics need a level playing field, not assistance (of course, level compared to non-African American minorities--not when in competition with blacks). Why would that argument not apply to blacks as well? Why would these underpriveleged segments of the white community not be afforded the "the benefit of a fair chance at the future" when competing against African Americans in today's economy?

One must fall back on the "unique legacy" of discrimination logic. It's hard to argue with him that the shadow cast by the peculiar institution is undeniable and unique. But Webb himself concludes that eliminating Affirmative Action will "allow harmony to invade the public mindset....and bitterness [to] fade away." Why would he not want to allow these results for the African American community as well as other minorities? Why write the following:

"Government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes"


...and then promptly ignore his own words when they apply to African Americans?

He has clearly laid out that the policies create bitterness for the recipients of the affirmative action, and has implied the pragmatic argument against affirmative action as well: that the policies have not been effective at improving the conditions of the African American community. My guess is that he knows these programs have become institutionalized graft, non-performing for any function other than keeping votes in line. And ultimately, that's probably why his argument takes an 11th hour detour away from a call to abandon affirmative action universally: he knows he needs black votes, as a Southern Democrat, to get re-elected.

In fairness, I'm focusing on the smaller point here. The larger point is that he is on the right side of an issue no one wants to tackle, especially an elected official. For a Southern White politician to open the door to an allegation of "racism" is potentially career suicide. This was a courageous op-ed to pen. For a Republican, the media drumbeat for apology, and possibly for a resignation, would have been swift in building. Whether a Dem can get away with stating some plain truth, without being impugned with trumped-up media charges of racism, will be interesting to see.

In either case, there will be many Dem donors who are livid, down to the core, that the Sen. Webb would pen these words. His fund raising may well suffer as he is abandoned by coastal elites, but my guess is he'll pick up a lot more votes next go-around.

1 comments:

ManBeast said...

Damn. I was gonna post this. Nice write up.

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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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