Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jonah Goldberg, Another Serial Idiot. This Time On Affirmative Action

From an article he wrote in 2006, the expert in all things affirmative action, Jonah Goldberg, says of affirmative action:
"The greater irony is that it is far from clear that diversity is good for black students either." ... "Black students admitted to universities above their skill level often do poorly and fail to graduate in high numbers. UCLA law professor Richard Sander found that nearly half of black law students reside in the bottom ten percent of their law-school classes. If they went to schools one notch down, they might do far better."

"But all this misses the point. Today’s diversity doctrine was contrived as a means of making racial preferences permanent. After all, affirmative action was intended as a temporary remedy for the tragic mistreatment of blacks. But as affirmative action drifted into racial preferences, it became constitutionally suspect because racial preferences are by definition discriminatory. If I give extra credit to Joe because he’s black, I’m making things just that much harder for Tom because he’s white." [emphasis added

The problem with graduating numbers and success levels, is not the fact that students are admitted above their skill level (good lord, look at George W!), but rather because of the lack of support once they get there. Tutoring, pre-admit summer programs, and mentoring available at many, many institutions are essential not just for affirmative action admits, but also for all non-traditional students and are often seen for foreign students, older returning students, and disabled students. Kind of curious then that you don't see it for students of color.

And then, of course, is the issue of temporary. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Ten years? Twenty? Who decides when we have reached parity? Is it possible that it might take two or three generations of less than stellar graduates before we have graduation levels of minority students equal to that of white males? When we have employment levels equal to that of white males? Entry (and graduation) into law and medical schools equal to that of white males? After all, the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964 and enforcement didn't begin until the feminist movement realized that they could use the act to push some of their issues, so we're talking the 1970's before anything even began to happen. For true affirmative action to work, you need at least fifty years, which we'll never see now, especially as those persons such as Judge Sotomayor who have succeeded as a a result of affirmative action are pushed back because of affirmative action.

And if things are a little harder for Tom for awhile? So what? This is a problem because? Maybe white men should have to work a little harder for awhile to understand what people of color and women have endured for hundreds of years. Just sayin'. Because this kind of thinking seems to predominate among successful, upper-class white males.

In a web conversation on June 10, 2009, still the self-styled expert on affirmative action - the topic of the moment because of the upcoming Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Jonah Goldberg is asked why discussions of race as a basis of college admissions are wrong when legacy admissions based on wealth are not? His answer?

"People say, 'well, why should we be neutral on race when people aren't neutral about whose family gave more money to a school and all the rest?' And there's a longer answer, but a short answer is simply that, you know, we fought a civil war over race. We amended the constitution a couple of times because of race. We had the civil rights act because of race. Seems to me that race is different, and that we've learned from bitter experience with lots of dead people that government getting in the business of picking winners and losers by race is a bad way to go." [emphasis added]

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Jonah ... I hate (truly I do) to bring this up, especially as I was one of the original 5 or 6 members of the original NPR forum thread "Clinton: Move On" from which the founders of MoveOn broke off and founded, well, MoveOn dot org. But, I digress again. Anyhoo. Jonah. Remember Monica? And her friend Linda Tripp? Of the infamous late night phone calls that Linda recorded? Well, Linda handed those tapes over to her friend Lucianne Goldberg, Jonah's mother who permitted then 29-year old Jonah to listen to them with her. Jonah wrote about 6,000 words about the tapes, sold it to the NY Times (who cut it to a 900 word blurb) and his career was born. Jonah was a has-been at 29, working as vice-president for his mother's minuscule publishing company. He had gone to Europe after college planning to " a starving fiction writer, but failed on both scores." Seeing a chance to stretch his 15-minutes of fame, he made the rounds of the talk shows attacking President Clinton, reportedly saying that he found being on television "seductive," until he got a job at the National Review spouting conservative talking points, which he has held onto ever since.

So, you see why I hate to even mention his name. But, he's inserted his name into the conversation as a self-styled expert on affirmative action when in actuality, he parrots talking points that he neither understands or probably, believes (until the Lewinski scandal, his best friend was "Reagan's favorite Democrat" and a Clinton supporter - he's just all about the main chance). He is afraid, as are many white men, that the things that they have, that they have not earned, will be taken away from them. So, such programs as affirmative action, designed not to take anything away from anybody but to lift others up to parity, scare the hell out of them.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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