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June 25, 2003

Diversity vs Inclusion

Andrew Sullivan cracks on supporters of Affirmative Action by endorsing a suggestion that O'Connor is moral but not logical. It seems to me he's got a lot of nerve considering he's unable to parse the distinction between racist discrimination and racial discrimination. To say that Affirmative Action is racist is tantamount to saying that arrest is equal to assault. I think he's a bit tenderheaded.

To answer Sullivan's theoretical is quite simple with the following proviso. Granted that outside of Caspar Wyoming, and some remote part of Maine, there are no all-white universities in the United States. What, then is the value of an all-white university? What would one expect to see there of value? It brings in a colostomy bag full of assumptions I would rather dialog to reveal, but the very idea of idealizing one reeks of white supremacy to these ears. Even in the abstract.

DeLong counters the upshot of Sullivan's view rather nicely. But he overlooks a singular point which should be obvious in light of other goings on in Michigan this past week. African Americans themselves through ways and means that are not racial, will collectively and individually fight back against whatever ails them. They will do it whether or not it is principled, constitional, logical or reasonable. That is because they are human beings, and human beings can be counted on to survive. America comes to its senses in principled ways on occasion, but this is not the prime mover. The prime mover is somebody screaming ouch and shoving back when somebody else steps on their toe.

To be blunt and simple-minded about it, whites desire Affirmative Action for the benefits of diversity. Beneficiaries desire Affirmative Action for the benefits of inclusion. Diversity helps whitefolks who are socially crippled get out of their own ghetto mentalities. Inclusion helps beneficiaries get access to the sources of whatever the institution offers. In the case of university, education. Both of these are legitimate reasons to support Affirmative Action and depending on your view of what's more important to America you can pick your favorite.

I think diversity is too squishy to be in the direct interst of the state, and everybody who agrees should understand that they are beating up on the white position. I think inclusion and integration are more important for both the positive reasons, principles of equal opportunity as DeLong states, and the negative reasons, people left out in the cold will beat down doors instead of politely ringing doorbells.

Affirmative Action is a political concession of the first order. It keeps the peace. Its moderation and legal framework are critical but its existence is an absolute necessity. When diversity training is no longer necessary, ie whites grow up understanding their neighbors as well as themselves; when inclusion is no longer necessary, ie non-whites needn't leave their places of origin to fulfill their potential, then Affirmative Action will no longer be necessary. Who's doing that work?

Posted by mbowen at June 25, 2003 07:42 AM

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