Affirmative Action & Original Sin

by Charles David Edinger

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.

16 thoughts on “Affirmative Action & Original Sin

  1. Thanks for posting this article, Augger.

    Charles, last night I watched the show, Tron. Ironically, it reminded me of your post; particularly when you refer to the article that you’ve contemplated for 40 years. You must see this show!

    When you were at Princeton, did the school have a quota or ratio of black/white number of students that had to be met?

  2. You can’t legislate (nor legislate away) morality, bigotry, racism. These traits reside inside people of all colors, religions, and national origin for many different reasons. Any attempt to do so will lead us all to the same place Affirmative Action has lead us, and that is to a society where some have come to feel entitled to be treated more fairly than others, which in fact, propagates a more divisive society.

    Great post.

    • Cracker…As someone who grew up in Philadelphia in the 1960’s frequently being addressed as “White Boy,” I find it somewhat humorous to be writing to someone else with the appellation “Cracker.” Progress is sometimes stunning in its irony. Mr. C, you are exactly correct that it is not the role of government, nor is it likely to be successful, in legislating a citizen’s attitudes toward race, religion or other personal characteristics. As an American citizen, who also happens to hold a Libertarian philosophy, I view the 1st Amendment’s right of “free association” as one of our most basic rights, and that the only Constitutional impingement on my freedoms of thought and association to be a requirement that my freedoms not restrict or violate the freedoms of a fellow citizen. The Federal government has frequently violated our rights in these areas, usually under bogus interpretations of the “Commerce Clause,” and Federal “Affirmative Action” programs have always been unconstitutional as they involve the use of the coercive power of our government to favor one race, African Americans, over another, White Americans.

      While such unconstitutional laws are illegal by their very nature, the government has also failed utterly to establish that the recipients of AA, the current generation of African Americans, has been actively harmed by the those who are clearly injured by AA laws, the current generation of White Americans. Hence no claim can be logically made that AA’s favoritism of Blacks over Whites represents a form of compensatory or even punitive damages. American and International laws have always rejected the concept of inter-generational guilt, and hence the idea of punishing the current generation of White Americans, most of whose ancestors arrived in our country long after slavery had been destroyed, or whose predecessors fought and died in the anti-slavery cause during our Civil War, in order to compensate the current generation of African Americans, none of whom ever experienced slavery and most of whom never experienced the Jim Crow era, is both unconstitutional and un-American. Federal Affirmative Action laws are a blatant effort to institutionalize racism, by harming White Americans in order to benefit Black Americans. That is the reality of these programs of institutionalized racism, and while our Liberal/Progressive friends rarely acknowledge the existence of any reality outside their ideologically constructed lives, those of us who see more clearly must not shrink back from calling Affirmative Action programs what they are…institutionalized racism backed by the coercive power of the Federal government.

  3. Hi Kells – When I was at PTS in the late 1970’s, it was already clear that there were differential University admissions standards for different racial groups, as well as for “legacies,” who were children and often grandchildren of University alumni. Additionally, although it would likely be denied, the sons of extremely wealthy families from places like the Middle East also managed to find admission, with the rumors being that large donations to the University were important parts of those admission decisions. It is important to recall that admission to an Ivy League or other national reputation university (Stanford, USC, University of Chicago, Duke, etc.) provides much more reliable entry into the exclusive level of American society that makes most of the decisions for the rest of us. Charles Murray, who I view as the preeminent social scientist of the last half of the 20th century, has researched and written on this phenomenon extensively, beginning with his masterwork, THE BELL CURVE and continuing in publications like FALLING DOWN, COMING APART and other excellent assessments of American society. The groups who have been squeezed out of access to the power structure over the course of our national history, have been working and lower middle class White Americans, and Federal Affirmative Access programs have only exacerbated their exclusion. While Lib/Progs have recently advanced a theory they call “White Privilege,” I have yet to see any cogent arguments that support a claim that “White Privilege” somehow accrues to the benefit of all White Americans, rather than the actual situation which is that a small (less than 5%) percentage of American families, regardless of race, is permitted to enroll at the universities that graduate a high percentage of alumni who take their places in the top 3 – 5% of Americans who achieve economic and political success at the highest levels. While America remains the nation with the greatest economic movement upward and downward within a generation in the world, and it remains the case that individual American entrepreneurs can move from the lowest to the highest quintiles based on ability, intelligence and hard work. But the most direct path to political and economic power runs through America’s elite universities for those who can gain access.

    • Charles,
      Thank you for writing and sharing this post.
      Affirmative Action policies have admitted “less qualified” individuals of other races and gender to be admitted over more “successful” white male students. In other words, the “best and the brightest” are not allowed to compete.

      Taking Thomas Sowell’s thesis: (an American who has black skin color and heritage);
      “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.”

      Now assume you are in the market for an “expert”. A doctor to save your loved one’s life. You want the best, the brightest, and hardest working, right? Given the choice between a white male, or other, knowing nothing other than the gender and color of skin of the doctor, who do you know worked hard and was “the best and the brightest” student?

      Consequences? The very programs which were allegedly implemented to erase racism have given birth to racism through the simple application of reason and common sense.

      One who claims America is a racist nation, self identifies the claimant as the true racist.

      • I’ve always preferred to believe that I gained access to some really interesting institutions as result of my personal charm, good looks and sex appeal, but it was probably my standardized test scores. As I’ve said before, I grew up in an Irish ethnic ghetto neighborhood in Philadelphia, of the kind that no longer exists in American cities. I had a wonderful primary school experience at Benjamin Franklin Elementary, which was then one of the top schools in the city, and is today one of the least successful and most dangerous. After Ben Franklin however, I entered into the really crappy Philadelphia School District mainstream and reacted to the astonishing low quality educational experience by rarely attending classes and showing up only for exams and tests. I learned to learn primarily by reading on my own, which I did extensively and still do, but I have never learned to learn effectively in a classroom/lecture setting to this day. My test scores, however, from IQ to the Iowa Tests to the SAT’s were always off the chart, and that largely pulled me through the Philly School cesspool and into college. The same thing happened again with the GRE’s and the GMAT’s. I don’t think it is possible any longer to do what I did, since the tests have been re-normed and everyone scores higher today then they actually should. But that’s how I got into a number of clubs that should not have had me as a member (apologies to Marx, Groucho, not Karl).

          • Hi Kells…Sex on a stick sounds like a fascinating, although potentially painful idea, and I’m always open to new things. I think you’re right that my experience of sliding through the government-controlled school system in 1960’s Philly would be hard to replicate today. Although the actual value of the learning has dropped even further than it was when I was hanging out in diners and working part-time jobs rather than attending classes, the “control” aspects of the system have benefited from improvements in technology and enforcement. A public education in Philadelphia today represents a 12-year sentence (more if one qualifies for Head Start and less if one drops out at 16) of being taught by lifetime tenured union employees, preparing the average subject for episodic unemployment and the often related bad habits. Many (maybe most) of my classmates were dead before they were thirty, victims of their own drug abuse and alcoholism or dispatched by Philadelphia’s finest, including one who was shot in front of me when we were 16, for the crime of being drunk and disrespectful. If Dickens were writing today, Old Boz would have plenty of raw material to draw on in the City of Brotherly Love.

  4. Texas: Libertarians Thomas Sowell and Charles Murray are two of the most insightful and prolific thinkers and writers on the topics of race, class and the impact of ideology on the lives of individuals, particularly in America. Of course that means both are constantly attacked by the Liberal/Progressive mob that works hard to maintain the idea that their unsubstantiated positions on race, racism, and Affirmative Action are the accepted wisdom in our nation. To raise fact-based arguments that question the Lib/Prog status quo is to risk be labeled “racist,” “fascist” and/or “reactionary,” and to subject to marginalization attempts by the Obama Fog Machine and the American Media’s Obama Choir. When I was an academic teaching MBA students International Business and Marketing Strategy, I often found myself the sole voice of reality among my BUSINESS SCHOOL COLLEAGUES, who as a group had some level of knowledge on the comparative advantages of free enterprise capitalism and who made their living teaching budding entrepreneurs how to build and run businesses. My Lib/Prog colleagues were not union thugs like those I had encountered running my first landscaping business as an 18-year-old in Philadelphia, they were Ivy League educated PhD’s who should have known better.

    Hence, over time I have developed a theory of Lib/Prog behavior and thought patterns, based on the writing of Hegel and Marx and utilizing Marx’s own central postulate of “false consciousness,” which Uncle Karl developed from Hegelian thought. Liberal/Progressivism and its related Collectivist varieties of Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, Communism and the rest, inflect their adherents with a collective mental disorder akin to Marx’s “False Consciousness,” which allows them to avoid acknowledging that “A =A” and convinces the Lib/Progs that every coherent, logical argument and position advanced by we Libertarians and Conservatives who dwell in reality are actually the ones practicing self-deception. As a result it is impossible to carry on a logic, fact-based argument with a garden variety Lib/Prog, because they have been inoculated against information, facts or logic that contradicts their false ideology. To illustrate what I mean, Dante’s INFERNO has the perfect analogy in depicting Satan as being eternally suspended upside down in Hell…everything he sees is the opposite of reality. So it goes with our Liberal/Progressive friend and Our Dear Leader in the White House.

    • Charles,
      Joe, Utah, and I have been explaining different aspects of what you now describe. Joe and Utah have helped me learn where, what I recognized and understood this false “veil and promise”, of progress came from. I know I was “discriminated against” by professors when I “pointed” out the flaws in their indoctrination….

      In no area have progressive/marxist theories worked or succeeded in their “stated goals”. Any alleged or perceived success, “cost” others much more than any “success” claimed. Can the followers and supporters of this “false consciousness” ever accept reality? When faced with basic logic and questions, the “progressive/marxist” begins the “name calling”…

      Can any facts or reason overcome the “false consciousness” outside of a new “holocaust” and total collapse?

      Some progressive/communists must understand everything they proffer is merely a new “oligarchy” where they place themselves in power as the “elites”.

      Can any of the “useful idiots” who have been indoctrinated with your described “false consciousness” grow beyond this indoctrination? Or are they lost forever to the Cult of lies?

      Do you have any ideas for “getting past the walls of indoctrination” in so many?

      • Texas: As someone who spent over 30-years in higher education as a student, professor, fund-raiser and administrator, I am well acquainted with the phenomenon you describe in terms of professors attempting to marginalize and humiliate students who dare to differ with them in the classroom. I’ve identified several possible reasons for this kind of outrage over the years, as I often heard complaints from my MBA students about other professors when I was teaching International Business and Marketing in various b-schools in the New York City area. As a Libertarian, my learning theory has always been that the most effective learning takes place when students and professors approach the learning process as one in which both parties expect to increase their knowledge in the classroom and so treat each other with respect, since learning at the graduate level mostly takes place when all participants interact actively, rather than the traditional pattern where teachers talk and students listen and take notes. Most university professors operate out of a tacit Liberal/Progressive/Collectivist worldview in which the nomenklatura (the professor) are responsible for indoctrinating the proletariat (the students), and the information flow is largely one-way. In the Lib/Prog learning model the professor holds all the power, which is essentially a totalitarian approach to education. While it may work at the elementary level, and in societies where the average subject is not really encouraged to think on his or her own, it is ineffective beyond puberty, and totally inappropriate with thinking Americans, in my experience.

        On your second question, as to whether those who have come to accept the illusions of Collectivism for reality, or to accept the ultimate metaphysical approach of the Lib/ Progs, that there are “multiple realities,” I think I can be more sanguine based on personal experience. As I’ve explained before, I grew up in an Irish ethnic ghetto in Philadelphia in the 1950’s and 1960’s. My mother’s parents immigrants from the south of Ireland and she made the unusual move of converting to Protestantism when she married my Dad, whose family was a combination of English Quakers and Puritans and more recent Irish Catholic immigrants. So my brother and I found ourselves identified as Irish Protestants living in a working class Irish Catholic neighborhood during some of the most interesting times of the “Troubles”. I was an avid reading from about the age of four on, and in my early teens I found myself reading extensively in Marx, Engels and their more modern interpreters. My heroes were Bobby Sands, Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell and other Irish Revolutionaries, all of whom were essentially Marxist (technically Stalinists, I think I recall), although they did not represent their actual goals very clearly to the Irish people. By the time I entered college, I thought I was a committed Marxist, and certainly identified with Liberal/Progressivism in the US. Now here is what I regard as a critical element in determining whether the sheep-like followers of the Lib/Prog philosophy can ever extract themselves from their ideologically constructed fairy-world. In all of my wanderings through Marx, Engels, Bentham, Cleaver, Malcolm X, Marcuse and others, I was consistently searching for wisdom that resonated with my own experience as an Irish kid growing into manhood in the early 1970’s. I was literally a “friend of wisdom,” a “philo-sopher,” at least in intent, if not in actual knowledge. By treating the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom as a quest rather than a destination, my eventual escape from the myopia of the Lib/Prog world was probably inevitable.
        I arrived at college as an obnoxiously vocal proto-Marxist, willing to argue any topic but always careful not to identify the sources of my ideas. Two of my professors were not fooled by my “White Label Marxism,” and they began giving me assignments designed (in retrospect) to expand my knowledge base. In my freshman year I won the college’s Philosophy Prize for an essay entitled, “The Right to Preempt Private Property for the Public Good (specifically Progressive Taxation), from the Viewpoint of Jeremy Bentham and the British Utilitarians.” Bentham and Mill led me to Burke and de Tocqueville and back to Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin and more important revealed the failed underpinnings of Marx and Hegel. They also caused me to resume my studies of the history of ideas and specifically the history of Collectivism and Classic Anglo-American Liberalism, which I view as the forebear of Libertarianism. That led me to Sowell, Friedman, Hayek, Murray and other Libertarian economists and social and political commentators and forever out of the slough of despond that is Collectivism. So Texas, to draw an excessively long answer to a close, I think that Liberal/Progressives who possess a little intellectual humility and who are actually seekers after truth and wisdom will always be capable of philosophical interventions by articulate Libertarians or Conservatives who have a thorough knowledge of their own philosophical traditions. But most Lib/Progs are afflicted with intellectual hubris as well as an aversion to knowledge of the realities of the impacts of their “good deeds,” so my ultimate answer must be a qualified “maybe.”

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