While I was a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 1970′s, the developing pattern of Federally-mandated “Affirmative Action” programs became obvious to me. While African Americans had historically suffered under slavery and the post-Civil War activities of Democrat Party-related groups like the Ku Klux Klan and government sponsored legal codes like the Jim Crow Laws and the Black Codes, by 1980 no African American young person had ever experienced the pre-60′s south or even the blatant racial hatred of Blacks in cities like Boston and Philadelphia. Having grown-up in a White (mostly Irish) working class ghetto in Philly and volunteered in civil rights efforts in Georgia and Tennessee in the late 60′s and early 70′s, I had felt the fear that arose when a local sheriff’s patrol car pulled over a van with Black and White volunteers inside. The racism that was endemic in 1960′s America was an evil that was poisoning our nation.
What was obvious to me in 1978 was that Affirmative Action programs enforced by the power of the US government bureaucracy were not the answer to the historic evil of racism. At their core, Affirmative Action programs are “New-Speak” for using the force of government sanctioned economic violence to discriminate against today’s Whites in favor of today’s Blacks. Today’s White Americans, presumably now including “Light-skinned Hispanics”, had nothing to do with slavery or even the government sanctioned anti-Black discrimination of the first 70-years of the 20th century. In many cases America’s White citizens or their ancestors immigrated (legally) from their home countries long after Black slavery had been outlawed in America. My mother’s parents escaped religious persecution and limited economic opportunities in Ireland, and found most doors closed to the “Shanty Irish” in my hometown of Philly, in much the same manner in which African Americans options in the same town were limited. There was no “White Privilege” for the Irish in the eastern US for several generations, but we looked to our families, our friends and our Church, and built better lives over the course of several generations. My father’s family had arrived at Plymouth in 1620 and Philadelphia in 1690, and fought against slavery over the course of multiple generations, as many Quakers did. That fight continued after the Civil War, as my Great Grandfather Alfred Rhoads was the first business owner in Philadelphia to employ African Americans in his construction business, in what is now Northeast Philly. Later my parents allowed my brother and I to bring our Black teammates home for dinner and then my father drove them home so the local Welcome Wagon didn’t attack them on their way to catch the trolley home to North Philly. That was America through the 1960′s, but it is not America today.
The article I have contemplated for over 40-years is called, “Affirmative Action & Original Sin: Why Two Wrongs Can Never Make a Right.” For those who are a bit rusty on their St. Paul and St. Augustine, among others, “original sin” is a Christian doctrine particularly held by Roman Catholics and Reformed and Evangelical Protestants. Liberal/Progressives have long denied the efficacy of Original Sin, preferring to believe in the perfectibility of human beings and human society in the material world we currently reside in. Collectivism in all its forms, Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, Nazism, Maoism, and its primary American form, Liberal Progressivism, share the vision of human perfectibility as one of their core values. The means to achieve human perfection is also shared by the various flavors of Collectivism…all-encompassing, centralized government is the tool the Collectivists universally look to employ to master the “False Consciousness” of the masses and shift control of the lives of the governed from individual freedom and liberty to government bureaucrats and their enforcers (Police, FBI, CIA, IRS, DOJ, EPA, etc.). So “Obama-ism” is not a new idea, nor are the tools it is employing to achieve its goals in America anything that has not been seen before. Obama-ism is most like Nazism in Hitler’s Third Reich, in that it targets the raising up of a racial group (African Americans in Obama’s case, “pure Germans” in Hitler’s) to a position of power over other ethnic and racial groups (American Whites for BHO; Jews, Slavs, and basically every non-German race for Hitler), and works to achieve its goals by the use of the coercive power of the state. Since our Libertarian Founders understood the universality of Original Sin quite well, they blessed us with founding documents (our Constitution, Declaration and Bill of Rights) that reflected a fear of ever allowing power to concentrate in a single human being or group. As Mr. Obama has frequently voiced, the Constitution frustrates him because it has slowed his ability to bring the complete “Change” to America that he views as his personal mission. For those who harbor personal religious beliefs, can I get a “Thank you, God” and an “Amen”?
So why was Affirmative Action such a bad solution to a difficult issue back in the 1970′s, up to the present, and how does it relate to the racial chickens that are rapidly coming home to roost in Obama’s America? As Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather (and Rabbi Hillel, who had the most complete understanding of human nature that I have ever studied) would understand, no race, including the White race, can ever be trusted to give up its government sanctioned privilege once it has come to experience the fruit of that poisoned tree. Even in the pre-Civil War American South, the Federal government sanction of Black slavery was couched as “property law,” not as racially predestined policy. Yes, there were plenty of efforts to defend slavery theologically and on anthropological grounds, but those defenses were transparently flimsy and required the employing of “eisegesis” (reading meaning into a document, rather than exegesis, which involves reflecting the original understanding) in selecting Biblical texts to defend the South’s “Peculiar Institution”. Most of the defense of chattel slavery happened at the cultural level, rather than the Federal government level, until the slave-based economy of the South was in its early stage of decline, when the “Fugitive Slave Law” and the “Dred Scott Case” strengthened the anti-slavery forces’ commitment to eliminating slavery. The Democrats of the post- Civil War South passed and enforced the Jim Crow Laws and the Black Codes, in order to strengthen the position of Southern Whites, since slavery was illegal and the cultural taboos had begun to fray.
Federal Affirmative Action laws therefore, represented the first US Federal laws to explicitly require favoritism of one race (Blacks) over another (Whites), with the coercive power of the Federal government employed to enforce racial discrimination. Predictably, the unintended consequences have further inflamed racial tensions that would have otherwise long since receded. Lower income and Middle Class Whites have been hardest hit, since the very wealthy have never competed for university seats or jobs or union cards in America or anywhere else. Coveted seats in Ivy League and other top national universities, graduate and professional schools have often been reserved for less qualified Blacks over more qualified Whites from the Working and Middle classes. Dr. Thomas Sowell has documented the negative impacts of these programs (in AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WORLDWIDE, and multiple other publications) as reasonably qualified Blacks have often predictably proven unable to compete with highly qualified White and Asian American students, while the Black Affirmative Action students would likely have excelled in slightly less competitive environments. In a sadly ironic twist, African American students who actually meet the admission requirements for highly competitive universities often suffer from silent doubts on the part of their White and Asian classmates, as their admission is viewed to have been on an Affirmative Action basis.
What I am arguing for in this over-long post is for recognition that Affirmative Action, originally conceived as a bad, but temporary attempt to address past inequities, cannot be allowed to continue into even the immediate future. Human nature (Original Sin) has caused ideologues like Barack Obama and Eric Holder (along with many other Lib/Progs of all races) to attempt to institutionalize discrimination against American Whites as a permanent feature of our society and Federal government. Our American ancestors, even with their many foibles, knew that racial (or religious, or economic class-based) discrimination was not just wrong, but evil. Today’s, and tomorrow’s White children had no more to do with the long destroyed system of chattel slavery than their Black classmates. African Americans like Barack Obama’s family never suffered from either slavery or the discrimination that followed and families like my own actually played a much larger role in the abolition of slavery and the fight against racial discrimination than Mr. Obama’s ancestors. The majority of Americans today descend from post-slavery era immigrants or families who fought against slavery and shed their blood for the Union cause in our Civil War. In fact, there was never a justification for anti-White Affirmative Action after the 1970’s that withstood ethical scrutiny or passed muster under our Constitution’s 9th, 10th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The Supreme Court is in the process of correcting bad decisions of past courts in this area, and the Executive Branch under BHO and his henchmen cannot be permitted to fail to enforce the laws of our land that have been designed to treat and protect all American equally since they were first put to paper.