ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷
pjammer

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Rejoinder, Clarification & Flamewars, Oh My!

It’s gratifying to see that my previous post on Affirmative Action generated so many thoughtful discussions and debate from a wide range of individuals, as well as private emails and Instant-Message conversations. You guys rock!

As is the case in such things, the topic spawned several tangents and points of confusion I’d like to address. With over a hundred comments in the original thread, it seems prudent to start a clean entry here, rather than add to the tangle of nested rebuttals and counter-rebuttals.

Letter’s Intent & Origins

Is the letter real? – I was surprised and somewhat disheartened by how frequently this question was asked (in a variety of iterations) by otherwise intelligent people. I had hoped it was obvious – that the answer is NO. The Klan letter was entirely a work of FICTION, authored by myself. Satire: building totally fictional material as a device to illustrate a real-world concept. First used by Jonathan Swift, whose A Modest Proposal was, come to think of it, also taken literally in its time.

So what was your objective in writing it? – Ah, a much better question. The problem with conventional debate tactics on topics that people feel passionately about (abortion, gun control, affirmative action, etc.) is that people on both sides have heard everything the other side has to say. They already know the major arguments their opponents will throw at them, and have established mental retorts ready to deflect them. Likewise, both sides have a stereotyped vision of what their opponents look like: AA-opponents see their opposite numbers as a rag-tag collection of patronizing white-guilt liberals, shiftless minorities, and closet anti-white racists. AA defenders, on the other hand, see their opponents as a battalion of pampered country-club WASPs threatened by minority progress, naïve Pollyanna fools who think racism has been totally eradicated, and history-ignorant minorities who brag about how they “made it without any help.”

Both look at their opponents, clench their fists, and growl you just don’t get it, do you?

The letter’s motivation was simple: it was intended as an unconventional vehicle to break that impasse by asking the classic realpolitik question: Qui bono? (“Who benefits?”).

Content/Response to Comments

jimy: The original post, which suggests that AA actually sabotages minorities by placing them in disadvantageous situations, is absurd. Putting minorities in positions of power just to watch them fail. Yeah whatever.

According to a comprehensive, campus-wide study on the costs and benefits of race-sensitive admissions programs conducted at the University of Wisconsin this is exactly what is going on. Specifically, I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to the section titled How Admissions Preferences Affect Minority Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation Rates. Notice that ‘targeted’ minority recruitment enrollees always suffered significant retention losses, compared to minorities that passed through the conventional admissions filters. Is it more likely that a minority that slides in through University X on grades/SATs below-average to his peers feel like he’s in over his head? What kind of victory is it to boast about a “diverse” entering freshman class … if the graduating class manages to jettison most of its minorities through attrition?

The fundamental problem of AA-advocates is their persistent attempt to treat college admissions (or job offers, government contracts, etc.) as if they were toys or treats to be parceled out, rather than serious transactions that require extended commitment. Attempting to subvert an imperfect (but otherwise colorblind) selection process wracks terrible unintended consequences on the people it purports to help. And that’s real tragedy of AA: minorities are systematically bumped up into categories where they are outclassed and outgunned – and find themselves robbed of the chance to shine in their peer group. Thanks to AA, instead of Johnny, the confident summa cum laude graduate of State U, we get Johnny, the demoralized 1.2 GPA MIT dropout.

weswilson: My father once said to me, “Son, we had those people in chains for 300 years... it will take at LEAST that long to clean up this mess we've created.”

Who is this mythical “we?” Does a Polish immigrant who arrived in the U.S. after WW2 get added into this equation? Would an African American with a Caucasian forbearer (as a good many do) owe something to pure-African former slaves? This nonsense is pure culpability-by-skin-color … and it is precisely the language of “white guilt” you so vehemently deny. Acid test: Will you donate a thousand dollars to help send your black co-worker’s daughter to college in the name of “reparations?” I doubt it. Instead, you want the government coerce others to implement policies at their expense to allay your displaced sense of obligation. It’s a very convenient belief: you can pat yourself on the back for being a magnanimous soul – and send the bill to a third party.

I don't buy that for one second. You honestly want to help African Americans? Excellent. Write some big checks to the United Negro College Fund. Volunteer at an inner-city school to teach calculus and prepare young men and women for college life. But stick me with the tab so you and your father can scores some points patronizing minorities without lifting a finger or cutting a check? Thanks, but I’ll pass.

… and the Gauntlet is Thrown

jimy, for a guy whining about “personal attacks”, you sure blow pretty hard when you swaggered in here. Are we a little lonely?

If you despise me as much as you claim, why do you spend so much time here and plaster that smug, smirking icon of yours all over my journal? The venom you spit and the tantrums you throw are quite perplexing, to be honest. On my end, I feel quite indifferent toward you and don’t much care if you like me, hate me, or masturbate screaming my name.

From the word go, you’ve blustered and posed like you’re itching for a showdown but I’ve played it cool so far because I consider it unsportsmanlike to square off in a battle of wits with an unarmed man. I avoided direct engagement to spare you the humiliation of a public beating, but I can only do so much. If you insist on dueling me and let yourself be mauled alive in front of witnesses, I will clear a fresh thread dedicated to let you unleash your vitriol.

Until then, cheers!
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