Point/Counterpoint pt1

Jeff Schooley

The recipe for peace and justice for all

The temptation of affirmative action is quite understandable. As a progressive, straight, white Protestant male, I am all too aware of the oppression my demographic has caused. Daily, I have unfortunate opportunities to witness the legacy of pain caused by my forefathers. I wrack my brain thinking of how things could be better. I turn to my God to understand how oppression works, where it comes from and how I can fight it. I want justice for all. I want peace for all. However, in all this, I cannot justify most of affirmative action.

Affirmative action, as seen in reparations and mandatory minority employment, feels more like a cop-out from the former oppressors. It is that these former problem-makers would rather purchase their way out of their historical sins than truly engage their former oppressed in the problems these oppressors helped create.

More so, I fear the temptation of free money and special privileges might be too much for the former oppressed to turn down, even for those with the highest level of integrity.

The state (and since we’re talking about legislating a new policy, we must stay true to the standards of the state) guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve made great strides in all these areas when the entire history of black enslavement in America is considered.

For life, we’ve abolished slavery and enacted anti-lynching laws. In abolishing slavery, we’ve guaranteed (as much as the state can) both the quantity and quality of life. Anti-lynching laws have done the same.

For liberty, we’ve abolished slavery and granted the unequivocal right to vote. In doing so, we’ve acknowledged in practice what we’ve always held true in print, that “all men (and women) are created equal.”

For pursuit of happiness, we’ve depended on the above two institutions to permit this right. I’ll admit it is here that affirmative action can most easily be justified, but it is the nature of justice to allow each individual the same opportunity as another. Affirmative action’s preferential treatment policy makes justice less practical.

I will make allowances that, concerning policy around African-Americans, the most stringent justice must be pursued in the above-mentioned examples, as well as in education.

Democracy and capitalism —whether you love ’em or hate ’em — are the two best things going for the American people as far as government goes, and both are deeply dependent upon education. For citizens to make the best democratic choices, it is assumed that they need to be as educated as possible. Similarly so, for citizens to have the greatest chance at economic gain, they need to be educated. Thus, affirmative action should be more focused on educational equality, not financial equality.

Such a view comes from a laissez-faire view of economics in which the government removes itself from economics as much as it can, while still protecting the populous (which logically comes at a financial cost). However, it is still within the state’s right to aid in education, for the state sees education as an inherent means to protecting itself, as well as the populous.

Let us move forward mindful of the past, but committed to the values that have made this country as great as it is (sorry, International Socialist Organization, this is still a great country). We can serve the formerly oppressed through other means than those that attack justice and fair capitalistic practices.

Jeff Schooley is a graduate English student and an editorial board writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].