Notes From Babel

Archive for the ‘Affirmative Action’ Category

Should Judicial Appointments Be Used As a Mechanism to Quell Racial Tensions?

leave a comment »

Bill Handel this week extolled Obama for picking a Latina for a high position of power, explaining how it was a carefully calculated move to help mend relations between blacks and Hispanics. Two problems with this. First, aren’t distinctions based on race supposed to be bad? This is not the same argument against affirmative action as “reverse racism.” Affirmative action involves the idea of “setting things right,” of “leveling the playing field” to make up for years of abuse of legal and political rights and processes. That is, because whites enjoyed power and wealth off the backs of minority groups for a period of time, some degree of promotion of minority groups ought to be permitted. In this way, the argument goes, we might achieve a degree of parity that we might otherwise not achieve, and thus truly become color blind.

But the Sotomayor appointment is different. As Handel argues, there are petty grievances between two minority groups, and we have a chance to fix it by doling out positions of power to selected members of those groups. That is, the appointments are made not because one group has been disadvantaged, as is the case in the affirmative action model. They are made instead because, without the appointments, some irascible members of the groups will continue to feel slighted, and the clash between the two groups will continue. This is a different sort of racial realism. And I find it extremely disappointing. Even if such racially motivated appointments quell these conflicts (which seems highly dubious to begin with), do they deserve to be quelled? And what about the costs? Are we to sacrifice the integrity of our crucial governmental functions to placate injured egos, to balance the demands of thugs?

Decisions based on race are infuriating. There is no end to the complications that are created when we make decisions based on race in the hopes of ending the practice of making decisions based on race. The answer is much simpler than that: stop making decisions based on race.


Written by Tim Kowal

May 30, 2009 at 8:39 pm