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my Affirmative Action essay

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Here's what I've got so far. I'm not quite done with it...I still have to cite my sources and whatnot, I might rearrange a few things, and I need some form of a conclusion, but I think I have all the ideas that I wanted to include. This is my first attempt at an Objectivist-style writing, so it probably isn't great, but I welcome any constructive criticism and suggestions on how to make it better. Thanks.

Introduction

               

            Ever since John F. Kennedy first coined the phrase in 1961, Affirmative Action has been one of the most controversial subjects in American politics.  Put simply, Affirmative Action is the practice of using personal factors (most commonly race) in the hiring or admissions process with the intent of righting some past wrong against a particular group of citizens.  The most common example of this is the idea that the government should take a more active role in assisting African-Americans in academia and the workforce, as a way of compensating for the unjust treatment they received from institutions such as slavery, segregation, and other forms of institutionalized racism.

The nature of racism

To understand the arguments in support of Affirmative Action, it is first necessary to understand the definition and nature of racism.  Racism is the notion that one’s self-worth or the worth of one’s ideas is somehow connected to his/her ancestry.  This is not the way people typically think of this topic.  Most people, when asked what racism is, would reply with an answer that mentions “the color of someone’s skin,” or something similar.  However, are factors such as skin color not directly related to a person’s ancestry? 

              All African-Americans share a common ancestor, and when people use racially derogatory words such as “spear-chucker,” what they are essentially doing is taking a modern black man and attributing to him the perceived undesirable traits of his ancestors.  Because Africa has historically, for whatever reason, been poorer and less industrious than the Western world, many racists believe that all people who are descended from the continent of Africa are innately non-productive or even overtly destructive.  This same notion is seen in the rhetoric of some anti-Semitic groups who believe that modern day Jews are somehow responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Support for Affirmative Action

Racism has undoubtedly been the cause of some horrible situations in American history, as well as the history of the rest of the world.  The most salient example of racism in American history is slavery and, because of this, further discussion of Affirmative Action will use blacks as an example.  Proponents of Affirmative Action hold that past racial injustices must be recognized and rectified in today’s society.  Only a true racist or someone who is completely ignorant of history would argue that there have been no racial injustices in the past.

It is commonly accepted that blacks, considered as a whole, do not have the same standard of living as whites.  On average, whites have a higher income, live in more high-class neighborhoods, and are better educated.  Almost certainly, this is a direct result of the racial injustices of the past.  Slavery has been abolished for less than one and a half centuries, and it takes longer than that for a group of people to overcome such an oppressive institution.  Supporters of Affirmative Action argue that today’s society must act to rectify the past injustice of slavery.  They argue that society should do all it can to level the playing field.

The true nature of Affirmative Action

This is precisely what society should do.  The playing field should be level for all individuals.  Having said that, the practice of Affirmative Action is racist and equally as repulsive as the warped political agendas of the Ku Klux Klan and the Creativity Movement.  The idea that society should level the playing field for all individuals does not mean that all races have to be equally represented in all walks of life.  A level playing field means nothing more than the absence of preferential treatment by the government.  If the government steps in and mandates that handouts be given to ethnic minorities, the playing field has become unleveled, because there is nothing that a white man can do to overcome the fact that he is white.  He will never receive such a favor from the government.

The very definition of “minority,” as defined by society, should also be called into question.  What is a minority?  What is a race?  Race is an arbitrary concept and has no scientific validity.  Why are descendants from the continent of Africa considered a “race” while descendants from the British Isles are not?  They are considered merely a part of the white race.  Once again we are left with the fact that “minority” is arbitrarily defined by a person’s ancestry and is in no way related to the value of that person’s ideas.  As Ayn Rand once put it, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

                In a world where Affirmative Action is the law of the land, many blacks are hired, not because they are the best qualified for the job, but precisely because of their ancestry.  Whites are denied employment, not because they are unqualified, but because of their ancestry.  How is this not racism?  Is someone not being denied a job on the basis of his/her skin color?  How many times must a modern white man pay for being white?  How many times must he suffer for the sins of his ancestors--sins that were committed before the time of his great-grandfather?  How many times will blacks be told that they are not good enough to get a job without a government mandate?

              Affirmative Action is racism in reverse.  If someone is turned down a job opportunity in the interest of fulfilling some arbitrary racial quota, a grave injustice has been committed.  Anyone who supports such a practice must, by the same token, be willing to look that man in the face and say “because your ancestors did not endure the same hardships as Applicant X’s ancestors, Applicant X deserves this job more than you do.”  By what logic will racism end when an unemployed white man knows that the only reason he did not get his desired job is because the other applicant was black?

Affirmative Action will serve no other purpose than to elevate tensions between the races.  Every society should strive to view all people as part of the same race.  How can this happen when so many leftists are proclaiming that there really is a difference between the races?  People on the right end of the political spectrum are often accused of racism, yet it is the political left that insists on grouping people based on the color of their skin.  By what logic can racism be ended by perpetuating the myth that the races are different and grouping people into categories based on skin color?

Affirmative Action perpetuates the myth that ideas are somehow tied to ancestry.  One of the left’s pet causes is multiculturalism.  All too often, this is about race rather than culture.  Many of today’s universities are actively seeking to increase the number of minority applicants in the interest of “cultural diversity.”  Imagine a scenario where the Assistant Provost for Diversity (an actual position on the faculty of some universities) is looking to increase cultural diversity and must choose three of the six following students for admissions: Eminem, Bill Cosby, John Walker Lindh, Michelle Malkin, Ward Churchill, and Alberto Gonzales.  The default liberal position would be to select Bill Cosby, Michelle Malkin, and Alberto Gonzales, because they are all members of racial minorities.  However, their views are in line with the stereotypical white man.  They are wealthy and conservative.  Out of this scenario, the only way to increase the diversity of ideas would be to select Eminem, John Walker Lindh, and Ward Churchill.  One is a white man who tries to be black and obviously has a lower class background, one is a Marxist who blames the United States for all the troubles of the world, and one is a traitor who actually joined the Taliban and fought against the United States.  The question is: which will do more to increase cultural diversity, three minorities who do not act like minorities or three white men with radical ideologies?  The choice is simple, and most liberals would make the wrong one.

                The support of Affirmative Action rests on a number of false premises, another of which is the idea of a collective consciousness.  Any respectable psychologist knows that only individuals have consciousness, and if one accepts the brute fact that there is no such thing as “racial consciousness,” the true absurdity of Affirmative Action is revealed.  Only by believing that each race has some sort of consciousness of its own, can one support Affirmative Action.  The idea that there is some collective black consciousness is the driving force behind the idea that blacks must be paid reparations for slavery.  The idea that one’s race has a consciousness of its own is what drives Affirmative Action, as well as the Creativity Movement and other white supremacist ideologies.  This idea was vomited onto an unsuspecting world by G.W.F Hegel and was used as the basis for Adolf Hitler’s dream of a master Aryan race.

The basis of Affirmative Action: Multiculturalism

If there is one basis upon which Affirmative Action stands, it is the principle of multiculturalism.  The very goal of multiculturalism is wrong.  This goal is to place American society on the same level as every other society in the history of the world.  Warring tribes in Africa and the fascist countries of the Middle East are said to be morally equal with Western society.  By what standard are these societies equal to American society?  Standard of living?  Literacy rate?  Average life expectancy?  By any measurable standard, Western civilization is superior to Islamic society and African tribal society, yet multiculturalists wish to place them on equal moral ground with the last remaining semi-free nation on earth. 

                Multiculturalism denies the fact that there is objective truth.  All ideas are not created equal.  Some ideas are objectively right and some ideas are objectively wrong.  The idea that A equals A is objectively right and the idea that A equals non-A is objectively wrong.  Tribalism is just as good as laissez faire capitalism, proponents say.  Regardless of their thoughts on capitalism, few liberals would trade life in a capitalist society for life in Iran or Syria.  Unless one is willing to deny that reality exists, the position that all societies are equal is indefensible.  To say that American society equals Iranian society is tantamount to saying that A equals non-A. 

Supporters of multiculturalism do not apply their ideas consistently.  It is not at all uncommon to hear a supporter of multiculturalism preach about how Islamic society is equal to American society.  It would be a rare thing indeed to hear a supporter of multiculturalism preach about how Nazi-era Germany is equal to American Society, or about how slavery-era America is equal to modern day America.  The reason for this inconsistency is not particularly clear.  It could be because Nazi Germany has been dead for six decades and Islamic society is where the current American conflict is centered.  It could be that leftists simply prefer to side with whatever enemy the United States is currently facing.  Perhaps modern liberals would have equated Nazi Germany with the United States, were they to suddenly be time-warped back to 1942.  If all societies are equal, then leftists should be content to leave the United States as it is and not make it any better.  After all, if all societies are equal, then semi-capitalist America is just as good as the typical leftist’s dream of a socialist Utopia.  Why fix something that is not broken?

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I like it so far, but it is hard for me to read it without sources, since that is *the* rule in my history class when writing essays. If you don't have sources, you don't have anything. Also, what are you writing this essay for? The style you want depends on the context.

One thing I can say is to be more specific. For example:

Proponents of Affirmative Action hold that past racial injustices must be recognized and rectified in today’s society.
Who are the proponents of Affirmative Action? Again, in history class the chorus is "names, dates, places, and events." Even if this essay is not about history, I think this idea still applies. It gives a lot more weight to the statement you are making if you have the specifics.
Having said that, the practice of Affirmative Action is racist and equally as repulsive as the warped political agendas of the Ku Klux Klan and the Creativity Movement
What was the political agenda of the Creativity Movement? I wouldn't take it for granted that your reader knows the groups you are talking about. Say why you think they are warped.
Many of today’s universities are actively seeking to increase the number of minority applicants in the interest of “cultural diversity.
Again, I cannot stress it enough, be specific. Which Universities?
The idea that one’s race has a consciousness of its own is what drives Affirmative Action, as well as the Creativity Movement and other white supremacist ideologies.
Oh good, you did explain it, but this should come before you say that they are warped, so that the reader has some context if they are not familiar with the group.
The most common example of this is the idea that the government should take a more active role in assisting African-Americans in academia and the workforce, as a way of compensating for the unjust treatment they received from institutions such as slavery, segregation, and other forms of institutionalized racism.
This sentence doesn't seem to fit in your intro. I would save the elaboration for later paragraphs. In the intro, just state the points you are going to make. For example: Affirmative Action is really just racism in disguise. It is based on multiculturalism, which denies that there is objective truth. (not very good, but you get the idea)
Affirmative Action perpetuates the myth that ideas are somehow tied to ancestry.
I would start a new paragraph before this sentence. You switched gears from talking about grouping people by skin color to talking about ancestry.
Imagine a scenario where the Assistant Provost for Diversity (an actual position on the faculty of some universities) is looking to increase cultural diversity and must choose three of the six following students for admissions: Eminem, Bill Cosby, John Walker Lindh, Michelle Malkin, Ward Churchill, and Alberto Gonzales.  The default liberal position would be to select Bill Cosby, Michelle Malkin, and Alberto Gonzales, because they are all members of racial minorities.  However, their views are in line with the stereotypical white man.  They are wealthy and conservative.  Out of this scenario, the only way to increase the diversity of ideas would be to select Eminem, John Walker Lindh, and Ward Churchill.  One is a white man who tries to be black and obviously has a lower class background, one is a Marxist who blames the United States for all the troubles of the world, and one is a traitor who actually joined the Taliban and fought against the United States.  The question is: which will do more to increase cultural diversity, three minorities who do not act like minorities or three white men with radical ideologies?
This is very good, very specific and easy to understand. :)

Okay, I'm done. Please don't take this as tearing apart your essay. I think it is rather good. I am just somewhat of a writer myself, and it always annoys me when I ask for a critique and I get "oh, it's good." That doesn't help me improve it.

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Exactly the kind of critique I was looking for. I'll try to finish it up tomorrow and post the final copy in this thread.

Thanks.

Edited by Moose

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non-contradictor, when you say "It is based on multiculturalism, which denies that there is objective truth. (not very good, but you get the idea)," what exactly are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that it is not a good point?

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non-contradictor, when you say "It is based on multiculturalism, which denies that there is objective truth. (not very good, but you get the idea)," what exactly are you suggesting?  Are you suggesting that it is not a good point?

No, sorry, I was suggesting that that sentence that I created as an example thesis was not a very well constructed thesis. More explicitly, I was trying to say that I was just jotting it down as an example. The point is good. I was saying that there might be a better way to say it than the sentence I used. Or maybe there isn't. Am I making sense? I'll put it this way: the "not very good" was aimed at my sentence, not yours. I was just trying to convey what I meant by a general "overview" of what you are going to say, without actually writing the overview for you. I'm sorry if you thought I was saying your point was not good. That is NOT what I meant. I meant my example was a hasty one. :)

edit: wow, I am having typing problems today. :)

Edited by non-contradictor

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Here's my finished version. I think I fixed all of what non-contradictor suggested. Posting it online kinda screws up the paragraphs, so just take my word for it that I have them separated in appropriate places. Enjoy and tell me what you think, if you have any opinions.

EDIT: Man, eight pages looks like a whole lot more, when it's in Microsoft word. :)

The Injustice of Affirmative Action

By: David Kahn

Introduction

Ever since John F. Kennedy first coined the phrase in 1961, Affirmative Action has been one of the most controversial subjects in American politics.  Put simply, Affirmative Action is the practice of using personal factors (most commonly race) in the hiring or admissions process with the intent of righting some past wrong against a particular group of citizens.  The perceived need for Affirmative Action does, of course, stem from the fact that there has been racism in the past, and a proper understanding of racism is necessary to fully understand the nature of Affirmative Action.  The purpose of this essay is to analyze the nature of racism, the basis and nature of Affirmative Action, and whether or not it is a just institution.

The most common example of Affirmative Action is the idea that the government should take a more active role in assisting African-Americans—henceforth to be referred to as blacks—in academia and the workforce, as a way of compensating for the unjust treatment they received from institutions such as slavery, segregation, and other forms of institutionalized racism.  Takaki believes that racial issues in the United States are mostly defined relative to the blacks.  He even says “African Americans have been the central minority throughout our country’s history (7).”  For this reason, blacks will be used as the exemplar race in any illustrations below.

The Nature of Racism

To understand the arguments in support of Affirmative Action, it is first necessary to understand the definition and nature of racism.  Racism is the notion that one’s self-worth or the worth of one’s ideas is somehow connected to his/her ancestry.  This is not the way people typically think of this topic.  Most people, when asked for the definition of racism, would reply with an answer that mentions “the color of someone’s skin,” or something to that effect.  However, are factors such as skin color not directly related to a person’s ancestry? 

All African-Americans share a common ancestor, and when a person uses racially derogatory words such as “spear-chucker,” what he/she is essentially doing is taking a modern black man and attributing to him the perceived undesirable traits of his ancestors.  Because Africa has historically, for whatever reason, been poorer and less industrious than the Western world, many racists believe that all people who are descended from the continent of Africa are innately non-productive or even overtly destructive.  This same notion is seen in the rhetoric of some anti-Semitic groups who believe that modern day Jews are somehow responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Support for Affirmative Action

Racism has undoubtedly been the cause of some ugly situations in American history, as well as the history of the rest of the world, and only a true racist or someone who is completely ignorant of history would argue that there have been no racial injustices in the past.  Proponents of Affirmative Action are usually on the left end of the political spectrum and it is not at all inaccurate to say that most leftists support Affirmative Action.  Even so, there are certainly leftists, such as Joe Lieberman, who do not support Affirmative Action.  Likewise, there are certainly conservatives, such as Rudy Giuliani, who do. Supporters hold that past racial injustices—slavery being the most salient example—must be recognized and rectified in today’s society. 

It is commonly accepted that blacks, considered as a whole, do not have the same standard of living as whites.  On average, whites have a higher income, live in more high-class neighborhoods, and are better educated (Bernstein).  Almost certainly, this is a direct result of the racial injustices of the past.  Slavery has been abolished for less than one and a half centuries, but it takes longer than that for a group of people to overcome such an oppressive institution.  Supporters of Affirmative Action argue that the disadvantaged status of many minority members is a direct result of past oppression and, because of this, society must act to erase the negative effects of this oppression—that it should do all it can to level the playing field.

The True Nature of Affirmative Action

This is precisely what society should do.  The playing field in a free society must be level for all individuals.  Having said that, the practice of Affirmative Action is racist and equally as disgusting as the warped political agendas of white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Creativity Movement.  The idea that society should level the playing field for all individuals does not mean that all races have to be equally represented in all walks of life.  A level playing field means nothing more than the absence of preferential treatment by the government.  If the government steps in and mandates that handouts be given to ethnic minorities, the playing field has become unleveled, because there is nothing that a white man can do to overcome the fact that he is white.  He will never receive such a favor from the government.

The very definition of “minority,” as defined by society, should also be called into question.  What is a minority?  What is a race?  Race is an arbitrary concept and has no scientific validity.  Why are descendants from the continent of Africa considered a “race” while descendants from the British Isles are not?  They are considered merely a part of the white race.  At what point are two people different enough to be regarded as members of different races?  The concept of race is different from the concept of species, which is not arbitrary.  Members of separate races can actually breed, whereas members of most species must breed with others of their own species.  This difference explains why “race” is an arbitrary concept, whereas “species” is scientifically valid.

Once again we are left with the fact that “minority” is arbitrarily defined by a person’s ancestry and is in no way related to the value of that person’s ideas.  As Ayn Rand once put it, “But the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities (Rand 154).”  Contrary to this quote, leftists claim to defend minorities but actually end up supporting a group, rather than individual human beings.  The concept of collective consciousness will be discussed in more detail in the next section.

In a world where Affirmative Action is the law of the land, many blacks are hired, not because they are the best qualified for the job, but precisely because of their ancestry.  Whites are denied employment, not because they are unqualified, but because of their ancestry.  How is this not racism?  Is someone not being denied employment on the basis of his/her skin color?  How many times must a modern white man pay for being white?  How many times must he be made to suffer for the sins of his ancestors—sins that were committed before the time of his great-grandfather?  How many times will blacks be told that they are not good enough to get a job without a government mandate?

Affirmative Action is racism in reverse.  If someone is turned down a job opportunity in the interest of fulfilling some arbitrary racial quota, a grave injustice has been committed.  Anyone who supports such a practice must, by the same token, be willing to look that man in the face and say “because your ancestors did not endure the same hardships as Applicant X’s ancestors, Applicant X deserves this job more than you do.”  By what logic will racism end when an unemployed white man watches the under qualified Applicant X be hired over him, for the simple reason that Applicant X is black?  Will this not serve to increase tension between whites and blacks?

Affirmative Action will serve no other purpose than to elevate tensions between the races.  Every society should strive to view all people as part of the same race.  How can this happen when so many leftists are proclaiming that there really is a difference between the races?  People on the right end of the political spectrum are often accused of racism, yet it is the political left that insists on grouping people based on the color of their skin.  By what logic can racism be ended by perpetuating the myth that the races are different and grouping people into categories based on skin color?

Affirmative Action perpetuates the myth that ideas are somehow tied to ancestry.  One of the left’s pet causes is multiculturalism; all too often, this is about race rather than culture.  Many of today’s universities, Texas A&M University for example, are actively seeking to increase the number of minority applicants in the interest of “cultural diversity.”  Imagine a scenario where the Vice President and Associate Provost for Office of Institutional Assessment and Diversity—an actual position on the faculty of Texas A&M (Diversity)—is looking to increase cultural diversity and must choose three of the six following students for admissions: Eminem, Bill Cosby, John Walker Lindh, Michelle Malkin, Ward Churchill, and Alberto Gonzales.  The default leftist position would be to select Bill Cosby, Michelle Malkin, and Alberto Gonzales, because they are all members of racial minorities.  However, their views are in line with the stereotypical white man—they are wealthy and conservative. 

Out of this scenario, the only way to increase the diversity of ideas would be to select Eminem, John Walker Lindh, and Ward Churchill.  One is a white man who acts like a stereotypical black man and obviously has a lower class background, one is a Marxist who blames the United States for all the troubles of the world, and one is a traitor who actually joined the Taliban and fought against the United States.  The question is: which will do more to increase cultural diversity, three minorities who do not act like minorities or three white men with radical ideologies?  The choice is simple, and most leftists would make the wrong one.

The support of Affirmative Action rests on a number of false premises, another of which is the idea of a collective racial consciousness.  The following quote from Vacher de Lapouge sums up this idea nicely: “The blood which one has in one’s veins at birth one keeps all one’s life.  The individual is stifled by his race and is nothing.  The race, the nation, is all. (Peikoff 40).”  Any respectable psychologist knows that only individuals have consciousness, and if one accepts the brute fact that “racial consciousnesses” do not exist, the true absurdity of Affirmative Action is revealed.  Only by believing that each race has some sort of consciousness of its own, can one support Affirmative Action. 

The idea that there are collective racial consciousnesses is the driving force behind Affirmative Action, as well as the idea that blacks should be paid reparations for slavery.  If this is not reason enough to reject the moral sanction that leftists seek in support of Affirmative Action, consider this: it is the same philosophy behind the Creativity Movement’s Nazism and other white supremacist ideologies.  For examples of this, one only needs to read the 16 Commandments of Creativity, the fourth of which is the following: “The guiding principle of all your actions shall be: What is best for the White Race? (Creativity).”  This idea was vomited onto an unsuspecting world by G.W.F Hegel and was used as the basis for Adolf Hitler’s vision of a master Aryan race.  The only difference is that Hegel substituted “nation” for “race” (Peikoff 38-39).

The Basis of Affirmative Action: Multiculturalism

The most important principle upon which Affirmative Action stands is the principle of multiculturalism.  The very goal of multiculturalism is wrong.  This goal is to place American society on the same level as every other society in the history of the world.  Warring tribes in Africa and the fascist countries of the Middle East are said to be equal to Western society.  By what standard are these societies equal to American society?  Standard of living?  Literacy rate?  Average life expectancy?  Even the most hard-line Marxist must recognize the fact that the lower class in semi-capitalist America has a better standard of living than the vast majority of people in these societies.  By any measurable standard, Western civilization is far superior to Islamic society and African tribal society, yet multiculturalists wish to place them on equal moral ground with the last remaining semi-free nation on earth. 

Multiculturalism denies the fact that there is objective truth.  All ideas are not created equal.  Some ideas are objectively right and some ideas are objectively wrong.  The idea that A equals A is objectively right and the idea that A equals non-A is objectively wrong.  Tribalism is just as good as laissez faire capitalism, proponents say.  Regardless of their thoughts on capitalism, few leftists would trade life in a capitalist society for life in Iran or Syria.  Unless one is willing to deny that reality exists, the position that all societies are equal is untenable and indefensible.  To say that American society equals Iranian society is tantamount to saying that A equals non-A. 

Supporters of multiculturalism do not apply their ideas consistently.  It is not at all uncommon to hear a supporter of multiculturalism preach about how Islamic society is equal to American society.  It would be a rare thing indeed to hear a supporter of multiculturalism preach about how Nazi-era Germany is equal to American society, or about how slavery-era America is equal to modern day America.  The reason for this inconsistency is not particularly clear.  It could be because Nazi Germany has been dead for six decades and Islamic society is where the current American conflict is centered.  It could be that leftists simply prefer to sympathize with whatever enemy the United States is currently facing.  Perhaps modern leftists would have equated Nazi Germany with the United States, were they to suddenly be time-warped back to 1942.  If all societies are equal, then leftists should be content to leave the United States as it is and not make it any better.  After all, if all societies are equal, then semi-capitalist America is just as good as the typical leftist’s dream of a socialist Utopia.  Why fix something that is not broken?

Conclusion

Affirmative Action is just a politically correct form of racism, and it is based on the irrational principle of multiculturalism.  Racism in this country will never end so long as the government throws the races into conflict with one another, where certain races are given preference over others.  Affirmative Action serves no purpose other than to provide the basis for a conflict of interests between the races.  If we wish to eradicate or at least minimize racism, we must stop grouping people into categories based on skin color and, instead, begin treating all people as equals before the law.

Works Cited

16 Commandments of Creativity. Creativity World Wide. 17 Mar. 2005

<http://www.creator.org/16command.html>.

Bernstein, Andrew. The Welfare State Versus Values and the Mind. 2003. 15 Mar. 2005

   <http://www.andrewbernstein.net/articles/7_welfarestate.htm>.

Office of Institutional Assessment and Diversity. 2004. Texas A&M University. 17 Mar.

2005 <http://diversity.tamu.edu/>.

Peikoff, Leonard. The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America. New York:

Penguin Putnam Inc., 1993. 38-40.

Rand, Ayn. "Racism." The Virtue of Selfishness. Comp. Ayn Rand. New York: New

American Library, 1964. N. pag.

Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. New York:

Little, Brown and Company, 1993. 7.

Edited by Moose

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Wow, you did a great job of making your points. :)

Just one minor thing:

This is precisely what society should do
When you start a new paragraph, you might want to define your pronouns (this) again. Otherwise it can get confusing. :)

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I am surprised and a tad disappointed that no one else has had any comments to offer on my essay.
I was working on them last night, but then you indicated you had just posted your final version -- you still interested?

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Well, final version as in the one I'm turning in to the professor. I may work on it some more just for my own satisfaction but, even if I don't, I would like some more comments because I want to know what is lacking in my writing. I like to write essays and I am always looking for ways to improve my writing. So, yes, I am still interested.

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I won’t bother to echo the various “gimme the reference” comments that NC aptly made. Sources and quotes!! Do you really want criticism, and not just positive strokes? Okay, here we go... The general point I’m making here is about saying what you intend to say directly, not via implication, and especially to avoid saying things that can be read many different ways. BTW, the term originated with Lyndon Johnson in Executive Order 11246. (At the outset, let me say that I'm not really disagreeing with what you're saying, but just trying to get you to sharpen up the argument).

...Affirmative Action has been one of the most controversial subjects in American politics.
I have a growing aversion to that kind of claim since I don’t know when it could be false. Even if we could measure level of controversy, what significance is there to the fact of being controversial vs. uncontroversial? Is controversy intrinsically bad, or good?
Put simply, Affirmative Action is the practice of using personal factors (most commonly race)
That’s too vague: what’s a non-personal factor? AFAIK, AA only refers to sex and race. In addition, it is used to confer an advantage in evaluation (i.e. it’s not just “used”, it is used in a specific way). What unifies sex and race as unjust factors for evaluating consciousness is that they are non-volitional.
To understand the arguments in support of Affirmative Action, it is first necessary to understand the definition and nature of racism.
This might be true if AA were strictly a racial thing, but it isn’t. It might be politically inappropriate to insert the correct technical term, “collectivism”, however. That depends on how gutsy you’re feeling.
Racism is the notion that one’s self-worth or the worth of one’s ideas is somehow connected to his/her ancestry.
I don’t really think so. I think it is the statement that people of some race are, by dint of their race, better able to... usually something cognitive. Racism in its most pernicious form is the idea that Asians are racially wired to do math, or Africans are simple-minded. Self-esteem is not a characteristic of racism (that is, I don’t think racists generally believe that Africans have low self-esteem). It is not racism, on the other hand, to recognise that Northern Europeans have a genetically governed greater chance of resisting bubonic plague, or that Africans have an analogous better resistance to malaria.
This is not the way people typically think of this topic.  Most people, when asked what racism is, would reply with an answer that mentions “the color of someone’s skin,” or something similar.  However, are factors such as skin color not directly related to a person’s ancestry?
I don’t follow the argument here. Maybe I don’t know enough crazy people, but I don’t know of anyone who would think that skin color isn’t genetic, so I don’t see the point of bringing this into the discussion.
All African-Americans share a common ancestor,
And her name was...? Seriously, from a genetic POV, there is as much evidence that all African-Americans descend from a common ancestor, as there is that all Europeans and Asians (together) have a common ancestor. It may well be true, but that would be at the 100,000-year-ago level.
and when people use racially derogatory words such as “spear-chucker,” what they are essentially doing is taking a modern black man and attributing to him the perceived undesirable traits of his ancestors.
Which is what? You’re not allowed to use the N word, but otherwise, you should be explicit. Have you actually tried to chuck a spear and hit something with it? Let me tell you, it is not easy, and I know a place where being called a “good spear-chucker” would be a compliment (admittedly, you’d have to say that in another language). Explain the reasoning in more detail, because you’re glossing over an important step in the argument.
Because Africa has historically, for whatever reason, been poorer and less industrious than the Western world, many racists believe that all people who are descended from the continent of Africa are innately non-productive or even overtly destructive.  This same notion is seen in the rhetoric of some anti-Semitic groups who believe that modern day Jews are somehow responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
These are both nutty ideas, but they aren’t the same kind of nutty idea. This responsibility thing is founded on a thorough repudiation of rational morality (where evaluation is not of choices: but definitionally, that is what morality is about). The “Africans are lazy” idea at least attempts to reduce the issue to a rational, physical basis. It fails completely, because there simply is not one shred of evidence that there is a physical difference between the brains of different races (whatever that is).

Okay, that's near the 10-quote limit. This needs to be multiple posts.

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Continuing a bit further...

The most salient example of racism in American history is slavery
You could say why exactly you think that slavery is an example of (is it cause by?) racism.
Only a true racist or someone who is completely ignorant of history would argue that there have been no racial injustices in the past.
That smells of an ad hominem argument, i.e. “you’re a racist if you don’t hold the politically correct position”. If you want to say that Africans were quite disproportionately the victims of slavery, then only a fool could deny that. But why were they the victims of slavery? The reason has to do with African-internal history, not some urge by the white man to oppress blacks. The cause of slavery very simply was a lack of rational basis for the concept “rights”.
On average, whites have a higher income, live in more high-class neighborhoods, and are better educated.  Almost certainly, this is a direct result of the racial injustices of the past.
I dispute that: it is an indirect result of racial injustices of the past. It is the direct result, in contemporary society, of a cultural thing. It is ultimately based on a complete lack of grip on the concept of the rights of man.
Slavery has been abolished for less than one and a half centuries, and it takes longer than that for a group of people to overcome such an oppressive institution.
You are kidding, right? Eh?
The idea that society should level the playing field for all individuals does not mean that all races have to be equally represented in all walks of life.
What do you mean by saying that “society should level the playing field”?
A level playing field means nothing more than the absence of preferential treatment by the government.
Now how do we integrate these two ideas? You’re implicitly accepting the validity of the idea that the playing field should be level, and I think it’s quite significant that you advance that position first, before you talk about what a level playing field is. You’ve conceded that a level playing field is a primary virtue, and maybe now we should talk about what that term means. If I reject your definition of level playing field and substitute another, for example, “the condition where all people have the same chance of reaching a given goal” (this is basically lifted from the statistical notion of a random sample), I think your position is in trouble, since you can't now (rationally) reject the claim that "a level playing field" is a primary virtue.

You’ve smuggled in an important distinction, without justifying it. Can we freely interchange “government” and “society” in all discussions? Without getting into a really tangential tangent about the proper role of government, the government should give preferential treatment -- to law-abiding citizens, to it’s own citizens, and, when hiring (e.g. hiring judges) to those who are qualified, over those who are not qualified.

If the government steps in and mandates that handouts be given to ethnic minorities, the playing field has become unleveled, because there is nothing that a white man can do to overcome the fact that he is white.
First, that’s true under your definition of “level playing field”, but suppose we take a greatest common good POV: then anti-white prejudice does level the playing field, if whites are disproportionately overrepresented in some area of society. As you can see, accepting this miscreant metaphor of “leveling the playing field” leads you into a dark alley filled with viscious dogs and broken glass.
The very definition of “minority,” as defined by society, should also be called into question.  What is a minority?  What is a race?  Race is an arbitrary concept and has no scientific validity. Why are descendants from the continent of Africa considered a “race” while descendants from the British Isles are not?  They are considered merely a part of the white race.
A few points to clarify. Nobody that I know of claims that descendants from the continent of Africa do indeed form “a race” (OTOH, this may be a widely held popular view since most people are pretty ignorant of ethnography). The typical story is that people descended from sub-saharan Africa are in the “Negro race”, which thus excludes Arabs and Berbers of North Africa. There are well-known scientific reasons for morpological differences between humans, which correlates with geography. The concept “race” does not have a scientific definition and race cannot be definitely determined by objective tests, but this is not best exemplified by the difference beween Britain vs. Africa. I’d suggest looking at “borderline” cases, especially under the law, where the question of being “mixed race” has been and still is important under the law, so that the law may treat Quadrons and Octoroons differently, and in South Africa the “coloreds” had a different legal status from blacks.
Once again we are left with the fact that “minority” is arbitrarily defined by a person’s ancestry and is in no way related to the value of that person’s ideas.
What’s missing is something that argues that the value of a person’s ideas should be all that we care about.
In a world where Affirmative Action is the law of the land, many blacks are hired, not because they are the best qualified for the job, but precisely because of their ancestry. Whites are denied employment, not because they are unqualified, but because of their ancestry.
It might be useful to determine exactly what this “law of the land” is or says. To the best of my knowledge, it does not prohibit the hiring of or contracting with whites. In my realm, it means that given two equally qualified candidates for a position, you must chose the protected minority over the other guy (it says nothing about what to do in a woman vs. black runoff). At this point, I have to raise the question whether you’re really talking strictly about Affirmative Action, or are you talking about the whole class of “equal opportunity” ukazes? Are you, for example, under the impression that private employers are required to follow the AA policies set down for federal contractors under the rules set down by Johnson? There’s a subtle difference between AA requirements which are imposed on the government, and the general requirements imposed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I think it would help significantly if you get more specific about what you’re objecting to.

Okay, gotta rest.

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Good comments, and I will take them into consideration. I'm not going to type a response to each point (that would take forever), but I would like to defend myself against a few criticisms, if I may.

First off, LBJ may have been the first to use the phrase "Affirmative Action" in an official manner, but JFK actually coined the phrase in a speech...sort of in an offhand way, the way that "big bang" was coined.

Secondly, my definition of racism is the one that Ayn Rand used. I believe it's in the essay "Racism" in VoS. You're probably wondering why I didn't cite it. I simply didn't think it was necessary. If I cited every Objectivist idea in this essay, then it would wind up looking as though none of the thoughts were my own. These are my thoughts and I did not cite sources for all of them for the same reason that Peikoff and Bernstein do not cite Rand's books in all of their essays, even though that is where the ideas originated.

Lastly, a lot of your points are about things that I should expand on. The page limit for the assignment was eight pages and I wrote eight and a half, so I can't really expand on anything that I wrote. If I wind up revising the essay for my own satisfaction (too busy at the moment, but I probably will in the future) then I will certainly expand on my ideas. For this assignment though, I only put in the ideas that I thought were absolutely necessary.

Edited by Moose

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Racism is the notion that one’s self-worth or the worth of one’s ideas is somehow connected to his/her ancestry.

Moose is right here. Racism, viewed in a certain context, is the attempt, even by a so-called scientific or academic racist (one who claims his racism is based on "the facts"), to take Aristotle's, Einstein's, or Newton's achievements and claim them for himself by attributing them to some factor that will allow him to do so: in this case, race. So, Moose's statement holds: the emphasis on ancestry is racism's essence.

In other words, racism is a form of theft, because it is the attempt to confer upon oneself the glory for what one could never achieve. "White men" did not gather around Aristotle to say "do this, do that, write this, write that" when he came up with his marvellous ideas.

Observe that a proper statement of the essence of racism does not put the non-white on the defensive, which is what simply saying "racism is the statement that people of some race are, by dint of their race, better able to... usually something cognitive" would do. That statement still leaves the onus of proof on the "minority" or "non-white."

A proper understanding of racism, which as Moose writes and as Ayn Rand wrote in 'Racism" (see The Virtue of Selfishness), silences the racist - or anyone sympathetic to him - completely because it ensures that he evaluate himself as an individual, i.e., by the standard of reality. What has he himself accomplished?

Note that this shuts the door of racial grandstanding to any unaccomplished wretch whose visceral hatred of Condoleeza Rice leads him to attack her based on race. He would now have to ask: "can I do what she's done?" Not, "can the blacks do what the whites have done?"

Although I have not thoroughly read Moose's essay, another point that jumped to my attention was his claim that

In a world where Affirmative Action is the law of the land, many blacks are hired, not because they are the best qualified for the job, but precisely because of their ancestry. Whites are denied employment, not because they are unqualified, but because of their ancestry.

While David Odden's remarks are very useful still, I am tackling the issue from another angle.

Now, Affirmative Action is Evil; every rational person wants its demise. In education, it does cause some imbalance, as demonstrated by the cases of deserving, sacrificed individuals that come before the court in this respect. However, I am not aware of whites being turned down for non-governmental jobs because a black was selected in their place. I have never seen it before. But it may very well be the case.

What is more important is that the illusion is created that this is what is in fact going on. Thus, racial resentment and antagonism are heightened. What actually happens in societies where race is amplified is that individuals begin to identify more and more with "their" racial group and, thus, more and more of a vicious type of "nepotism" (for want of a better word) ensues until people eventually take to arms. For evidence, see Hitler's Germany and the Third World.

So, Affirmative Action actually, overall, increases hiring for the "majority" group (in this case, whites) and decreases it for the "minorities" (non-whites), unless there is a skillset required (thanks to egoistic private employers) where race must be overlooked (observe Indian software engineers in America).

Which is why Miss Rand uses the words she does at the end of her essay. She is telling her admirers, the most rational members of the majority population, to not allow the bitterness engendered by Affirmative Action engulf them.

Edited by Zeus

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I agree with your post. However, when I was describing a society where AA is the law of the land, I was just describing what would happen, were it actually to be enacted on a grand scale. To my knowledge, this has not happened in the private sector either, but I guarantee you that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wish it would be.

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