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A necessary policy

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A necessary policy

A necessary policy

“Man, we gotta do away with affirmative action before they all think they can become president.”

The ascendancy of so many African Americans to top positions in medicine, education, government and the business world has inspired conservatives to claim that there is no longer any need for affirmative action. This point of view unwisely conflates the dual purposes of the policy.

One objective of affirmative action is to provide a dispensation for blacks who might not be fully qualified because of disadvantages resulting from racial discrimination. However, the other objective is quite different. It establishes a standard of performance that might make it more difficult for bigots to practice their sordid craft without detection.

Almost every area of business is monitored by some sort of metric. Can you imagine a sales manager failing to impose on his staff a numerical goal for sales? Would a production manager be insensitive to cost cutting programs? So why should a human resources director not be required to demonstrate that all racial groups are fairly represented in the proportion of qualified employees?

In recent years it has become socially unacceptable in polite company to be found guilty of racial discrimination. As a consequence, many bigots have gone underground. Their overt behavior is cordial even while they conceal their dark secret. One way to uncover them is to note that they have continually failed to comply with affirmative action goals of hiring, promoting or admitting to college programs a certain number of blacks.

Opponents of the fair treatment of minorities have attacked any affirmative action goal as a quota. While some artlessly drawn programs have inadvertently established quotas, that is no reason to reject the concept of goals. Unfortunately, bigotry is still serious enough that America should not abandon any strategy to help eliminate this odious affliction.

Nonetheless, the scions of more affluent black families are now expected to perform at high levels. Their parents have overcome the impediments of discrimination. No less should be expected of them.

Bush’s double standard 

When Russian tanks rolled into the former Soviet republic of Georgia, President George W. Bush responded angrily. He said Russia’s action was “unacceptable in the 21st century,” and he claimed that “these actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world.” Many Americans felt the same way when Bush launched a preemptive strike against Iraq in 2003.

One of the major causes of war is an irreconcilable dispute over borders. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia lost control over significant territories like Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia. Russia has continually demonstrated an interest in expanding its influence over the breakaway territories.

South Ossetia has not been happy with becoming a province of Georgia since the dismantling of the USSR. When Ossetians tried to become independent, Georgia sent in troops. This was tantamount to sticking a finger in Russia’s eye, so the battle began.

It is difficult to conclude that Russia’s response is less justified than America’s invasion of Iraq. By Bush’s own standard, the U.S. has lost “… standing in the world.”