Time to End Affirmative Action
Born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky, no one thought this impoverished and uneducated hillbilly could ever aspire to be anything more than a grocery store clerk. Little did everyone know, however, his intelligence was more impressive than his 14 shoe size (big feet can mean intellectual endowment as well).
He studiously read law and political philosophy books whenever he had the chance and went onto become a lawyer, house representative, senator and the first Republican President. You guessed it. Abraham Lincoln.
As the Republican Party was founded on an anti-slavery platform, Honest Abe dedicated his life to opposing pro-slavery activists among the Democratic Party. For all the shocked tea-sipping hippies, please take a moment to wipe the strawberry mocha chai you just spat across your computer screen and come to terms with the unbelievable fact that the Republicans were the good guys.
As for the Democrats of the 19th century, many argued that slavery was an important social institution that improved the collective welfare. The Republicans, on the other hand, could not tolerate the suppression of individual freedom and refused to accept anything less than abolition. Unwilling to acknowledge that black people were not possessions, the Southern Democrats led the succession from the Union and unleashed the most brutal war in American history. Once again, Abe’s intelligence won against the odds.
Even after emancipation, however, African Americans did not enjoy civil rights until a Georgia boy from a staunch Republican household entered the political arena. You probably heard of him: Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Appropriately, he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the footsteps of the Lincoln monument in honour of the man who set his people free. Now it was his turn to give his people equality.
There were colossal obstacles, however, in the way of progress. If we look at the voting record, of the 26 major civil rights bills since 1933, 80% of Democrats voted against civil rights while 96% of Republicans voted in favor. Even during the civil rights movement, members of the Democratic Party called the Dixiecrats continued to support segregation in order to maintain collective welfare at the cost of individual rights. However, when it was realized that black second class citizenship was unsustainable, John F. Kennedy (who initially voted against civil rights as a senator) made King’s dream come true.
In an attempt to advance equality, Republican Arthur Fletcher implemented an affirmative action policy to provide education and professional opportunities for disenfranchised African Americans. Additionally, Republican President Gerald Ford ratified Black History Month every February to “to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Only 43 years after Dr. King’s death, however, it is nearly impossible to neglect the accomplishments of African Americans. In 2011, the most powerful man in the world is Barack Obama. And who’s the most powerful woman? Oprah Winfrey (She’s like a president but far mightier). Although the Democrats oddly take all the credit for this advancement, conservatives are just happy to see the American dream extended to so many people in such a short amount of time. After all, sitting on the back of the bus to sitting on Air Force one is no easy feat. But giving a 275 person audience brand new Volkswagens is even more remarkable.
When we reflect on the rise of prominent African-Americans, we see many similarities with Abraham Lincoln. Many come from modest backgrounds and attain greatness through their own efforts. For this reason, it seems that while affirmative action may have been relevant in the past, African Americans no longer need to be given special advantages in a generally non-racist meritocracy.
The most meritocratic industry is undoubtedly sports. Success is completely based on skill and performance and only the best man (or woman) for the job is hired. The fact that 67% of the NFL and 82% of the NBA is composed of African Americans has absolutely nothing to do with affirmative action. For being only 12.4% of the total US population, this is certainly a disproportionate figure that does not reflect demographic realities. But who would argue that tomorrow’s Super Bowl is racist because it does not replicate American diversity?
If we were to truly level the playing field, we would also have to extend affirmative action to culturally-unsophisticated-mobile-home-inhabitants (the new politically correct term for white trash). From my scientific observations of the Jerry Springer Show, there is no way this welfare dependent community of inbred mullet-heads is capable of contributing anything to society besides hours of daytime entertainment. But does that mean we should give these fine folks special consideration? No. We simply cannot by-pass merit based achievement just so Billy Bob can fill a quota at Harvard.
In fact, affirmative action is resented by many prominent African Americans who believe it undermines their success by creating an atmosphere in which it is assumed that their achievements do not reflect worth but special consideration. This must get really annoying for Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Flava Flav who are all simply better than everyone else.
As we commemorate Black History Month, we need to appreciate that great African American figures were not given their place in history: they earned it.