It is a very common occurrence that I find something that I disagree with in the Montclarion's opinion section. A lot of students like to write their opinions about what is going on in the world, but a lot of times I find that these "opinions" are not a good representation of reality. The Montclarion does in a sense seems to mostly have only conservative opinions represented. A lot of lies, fallacies, and assumptions cover many of the arguments. The implications of this is the fact that many students read this and will use this as doing their thinking for them when it comes to current politics. So, the one article that I want to talk about is one that was released in last week's paper which was released on the 20th called "Affirmative Action Perpetuates Racism in Schools" by Katie Winters.
Link is here: http://www.themontclarion.org/archives/3739871.
One of the major arguments that she makes to seem affirmative action seem bad is this: "Affirmative action is racist because it perpetuates racism. Likewise, affirmative action is sexist because it perpetuates sexism." How is that a justification against affirmative action that makes any sense? This follows a logical fallacy that is often referred to as "begging the question." This means essentially arguing that "a is true because a is true." Does that make any sense to you? She is saying something is racist because it is racist.
She makes the problem seem much more simpler than it is: "Affirmative action, especially at its worst, seems to assume that those who are a racial minority or women or financially disadvantaged can't get into college themselves." While this is somewhat true, this does not represent the complex problem that seems to affect minorities. She also goes on to say: "Rather than encouraging everyone to compete on a level playing field, affirmative action is belittling minorities by allowing them less stringent qualifications for acceptance." Then I must go on to say she links it like this: "However, one isn't limited to what is taught in the classroom. A student, one who is motivated can continnue his or her studies on his her own time." So, for the most part, Winters seems to argue that it is the minorities' fault that they are not successful enough. But how does she account for the wide educational gap between whites and minorities? Education, like anything in a capitalist society, is a commodity. The SATs have been known to benefit those with higher incomes, and usually white people with a good income are those who are able to succeed on the SATs. This seems to accord with capitalist thinking, that if we pull ourselves up on our bootstraps, we are able to succeed no matter what. However, Winters does not seem to account for the fact that there are broader social forces at play that hinder minorities and it is not their fault. (http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/pol/nytsatart112198.html) Considering this article, I find that if you can buy yourself a good score on the SATs, the better opportunities favor the dominating social class more than anybody else. Then there are minorities in urban areas that have a bad life at home with no parental support, that definitely has an impact on their education. When living in urban areas is based more on survival than anything, they are not spending to help education, but to survive. The educational achievement in urban areas are usually low and it often does not motivate those students to do well. These systems of oppression damage psyches and it is very often to undo the bruising that has been done with an educational system that does not motivate people to do well. There is serious need of education reform in urban areas. The issue is much more complicated than: "they need to try harder." Capitalist thinking is impractical in this sense.
Ultimately, whites are more successful than minority groups in this country, and I find that is a trend to be reversed. Instead of trying to take away opportunities from the underprivileged, we need to empower them. "We should begin looking at applications through a truly blind process not because affirmative action is unfair to the majority of applications, but because it perpetuates the idea that minorities are not as good as intelligent or qualified as white males." Unfair to the majority of applications? Let's face it, minorities like the Hispanics are becoming MUCH more than a minority. Whites are so accustomed to privilege, so they are going to defend it and think that it is unfair. Winters seems to employ the "mob rules" mentality that seems to pervade many of the United States's thinking. This makes democracy a very tricky issue: do we legislate based on what the majority of people think based on the fact that they might be morally wrong? Do we legislate on morality despite the fact that many people might not want that? The "mob rules" mentality of democracy is used to take away privileges from many social groups, and that in itself is unfair! Affirmative action does not imply that minorities are not as good or intelligent as white males, but I find that it tries to deter discrimination from happening. Now, discrimination in itself is a very complicated issue. If you favor one group over another, it can be technically viewed as discrimination. It gets more complicated when you consider the fact that there is a good type of discrimination vs a bad type of discrimination. Due to societal forces that are beyond the control of the minorities, giving them opportunities is a good thing. If we do not give them opportunities, they do not get the social mobility to get out of their poor conditions. I thought in this country, we were all about social mobility! The bad discrimination is denying these opportunities to people and favoring white people who have enough privilege. This does not help the equality to come better in society, by denying equality to minorities. A lack of equality has pretty horrible effects on society, and I find that the book The Spirit Level by Pickett and Wilkinson eloquently explains why inequality is bad for EVERYBODY. I recommend you pick up the book. The dominant ideology (whites) often want to hold on to their power. Con arguments against affirmative action seem to appeal to peoples' emotions because many argue that they feel angry that they are "more qualified" than a minority group who is not as qualified as them. Often, the argument against affirmative action gets emotional, but it is all about never wanting to give up the power.
Let's face it, the United States is one of the most unequal societies. As a result, we are often viewed as primitive by other countries with our ideologies. I find it ironic that Winters states this: "As a woman, I don't want to be treated that way." Despite the fact that the alternative to Affirmative Action is pretty much qualification based on discerning on the desirable qualities for the job, it will go against women. Despite the fact that the alternative is sexism, I find it weird that she would go against something that ultimately benefits her. Women who do the same jobs as men, often make less money. That is another problem in itself, but sexism exists and I think that women are often viewed in a more negative light compared to men. As the article that we read for this class recently suggests, that we value things in our culture that are masculine and devalue feminine traits as weaker. Since society cannot behave and implement a paradigm of equality for all, then laws such as Affirmative Action need to continue to exist. I know many libertarians want to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 claiming it is unconstitutional. However, this goes on the assumption that liberty will do the right thing and not these laws. Yet I see a problem, with all of the racism that goes around in this country, I would imagine that this would backfire and create a situation similar to before the Civil Rights Movement. I am not saying that would be a definite because that would be fallacious, but we cannot count on people to change their paradigms. You cannot count on people to not be discriminatory without Affirmative Action because even when it is in place, Affirmative Action does not make the gap between minorities and whites more equal.
One of the other major arguments that she makes is this: "Personal statements should allow the universities to discover if a student has a unique perspective or not, without basing it on his or her ethnicity or gender. This is the only way to eliminate racism and sexism for college admittance programs, because even if it benefits the minority individual, making considerations based on race or gender is still racism or sexism." If we were to eliminate Affirmative Action, I bet we would see less minorities in college. Therefore, college would not represent the pluralism in society and represent that whites will usually be the ones that will be the most educated since they will mostly be accepted to the best colleges. Is this an accurate picture of a pluralistic society: educational institutions that barely have minorities? "Affirmative action may seem harmless, but it teaches harmful ideas." I do not think that it teaches to consider one group of people better than another, but in fact levels the playing field for trying to eliminate the vast levels of inequality in society. What is so "harmful" about empowering people who have been denied opportunities in life? "It says we cannot compete with white males." They can compete with white males, but white males are typically favored for positions of power over others -- hegemony applies here. Plurality cannot be suppressed in our culture anymore because it has became much more prevalent today -- we are a heterogeneous society. We talks about how it is "harmful" and "racist", but I do not see her give any explanation how. I find that she cites this to appeal to our anger: "At worst, I've heard of employers making two piles of resumes, one of white males and one of women and minority men. They will then go through the pile of resumes belonging to women and minority men, and only if they cannot find a single qualified candidate will they consider a white male for the position." How am I to know that is true? Winters has no ethos, how can I trust her if she cannot give any source of her information? She could have made up. She might have heard it from somebody, but it can be a lie.
I find that dismantling Affirmative Action is in the interests of the richest. I see it all over the news: the rich's scheme to divide and conquer the working class. Rather than blaming the corporations that are screwing them over, each other is all the blame that can be put. It is a distraction! A good analogy I find is the debate over public unions. The private sector is being pitted against the public sector rather than the private sector fighting to increase their benefits. Public unions set the bar for private sector when it comes to pay and benefits. The private sector is often forced to compete with the public sector. It is in the interests of the wealthier people to cut down on the benefits and pay of the people because it increases profits. The wealthiest want a reason to deny the minorities the equality that they deserve. Why accept less than you deserve? Not only that, I find opposing affirmative action racist. It is a desperate attempt for whites to hold on to their privileges. I am white, and I know about how we are treated compared to other people. And I can say that it unfair to treat people not as your equals because of their gender or ethnicity. Maybe it is discrimination to favor those minorities over whites, but at the same time I feel that it is not discrimination because it gives them opportunities that they would otherwise not have had.
I find that it is all words on her page, but all full of falsehoods and promoting capitalist ideologies that ultimately give people false hope of anything. The "American Dream" is broken, folks. Winters makes the issue seem much more simpler than it is and asserts that they are seen as not being able to compete with white males. They can compete with white males, but we are living in a discriminatory society. Here is the differentiation that needs to be made: employers often believe that you cannot compare to white males, not affirmative action since that believes that you can and wants to give you the tools so you may. Begging the question by saying Affirmative Action is racist because it is racist. Appealing to the emotions inside us that might anger us toward minorities does not unite us, but divide us against each other. Minorities have trouble competing and they need the help they can get because this country is morally bankrupt in a lot of respects. She uses language that puzzles me: "belittling the minorities." Yeah right. The rhetoric here is misleading and erroneous. A lot of either/or situations are given too. Capitalism does not work for everybody. The "American Dream" is an idealist assumption, often not a reality.
It is much more complicated than I explain here with my thoughts, but I have only had begun to scratch the surface. There is much more to this issue than I talked about, but I do not have the time to expound upon that as of now. I just wanted to give some food for thought. The Montclarion can often be a scary paper. I find that it says it has been the voice of the students since 1928, but I do not see that it represents the voices of the campus. The paper seems to print very conservative opinions. I find that many of the opinion editorials can be misleading to people and I find that those editorials must be questioned -- especially the Wall Street editorial that was released.