Decades of Failure: Part 2 – Failed Approaches: The Failure of Persuasion

Opponents of racial quotas are no closer to having them abolished now, than they were back in 1978 when the Bakke decision provided the first glimmer of hope.  In fact, quotas have become even more blatant and entrenched, and we are rapidly moving toward a time when they will be explicit and unassailable.  Current efforts have failed, and it is important to acknowledge this and understand why.  Only then can we alter our approach to a more effective one.  I decided to write a lengthy article, bit by bit, about the failure of quota-opponents to make any progress over the last few decades.  I will post each part of this article as soon as I have completed it.

Part 1:  Running on Empty, is here.

Decades of Failure

The Fight Against Quotas 

Part 2:  Failed Approaches:  The Failure of Persuasion

   Efforts to persuade our opponents seem to fall into two main categories; appeals to morality (fairness) and appeals to the self-interest of minorities. 

   The appeal to fairness would seem self-explanatory to almost any European-American.  May the best man win…May the most qualified applicant get the job.  Disciples of this approach continually walk away frustrated because they fail to understand the simple fact that the desired result of our opponents is to effect the outcome itself, and not the process that leads to it.  Whites have the harmful tendency to incorrectly take it as a given that other cultures share European (in particular Anglo-Saxon) values with regards to justice, opportunity, and responsibility.  In reality, many, if not most, of the world’s population has absolutely no problem with the idea of assigning individual outcomes on the basis of one’s group identification.  Many immigrants to America come from parts of world where a person can be held legally liable for the actions of their blood relatives.  Appeals to righting real or imagined historical grievances committed by the white majority, through the imposition of collective group punishment, are readily accepted by these segments of the population.  Other cultures practice forms of in-group morality, where individual fairness may be cherished within the in-group, but either neglected or discouraged in dealings with out-groups.  Still other cultures may encourage individual-based justice, yet value it lower than the prospect of personal financial gain.  Appeals to a value won’t influence people who either don’t hold that value or do not prize it over conflicting ones.  The views of Thurgood Marshall, probably the most distinguished black American to have worked in the legal profession, which is supposed to be the pinnacle of fairness and blind justice, are representative of the feelings of most non-whites; “you guys (whites) have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it is our turn.”  These appeals to morality will not even work on white quota-supporters who were born and raised in a society cherishing these values.  For them, again, the outcome, not the process, is the object of their efforts.  They don’t care about a minority getting a fair shot at a job, they care only about that minority actually getting said job.  Reasons for white support of quotas vary.  In its malignant form, support for quotas among whites can be caused by racial self-loathing, leading to a desire to see whites displaced.  In its more benign form, it can result from moral status seeking, where individuals hope to able to point to a given number of minorities elevated to higher positions as concrete and tangible proof of their concern for others, as demonstrated by the results of the policies they championed.  Either way, what they desire is the actual awarding of the empty position to a minority.  At the end of the day, arguing about the merits of a process won’t convince an individual that their desire for a given result is wrong. 

   The second main approach of efforts to persuade quota supporters seems to focus on attempting to convince minority beneficiaries that quotas are harmful to them.  Simply put, this will not work because it is not true.  The conventional wisdom, believed by many “mainstream” quota opponents, is that quotas benefit only a small percentage of minorities, and at the same time, stigmatize the vast majority of minorities, who hold positions that they are deserving of.  To begin with, large numbers of minorities will never oppose quotas because, far from being harmed by them, they are actually beneficiaries of them.  According to Richard Hoste, of the 351 blacks admitted to a top-14 law school in 2008, only about 57, or approximately 16%, had at least the required LSAT score necessary to be truly deserving.  In his 1999 analysis of the effect of affirmative action on whites, the anonymous statistician La Griffe du Lion came up with numbers, based on the distribution of IQ and 1997 incomes, that would suggest that about 4,239,000 of 15,428,000 black workers, or approximately 27.5%, were in income quintiles higher than the ones they would belong in under a meritocracy.  There are two things to keep in mind when considering this number.  First off, 13 years later, quotas and discrimination against whites are much more prevalent now than they were in 1997.  Second, his analysis just tabulates the number of blacks who do not belong in the income quintile that they are currently in.  The first four quintiles have a range of about $10,000 to $15,000, and the fifth quintile consists of all of those making $45,000 a year or more.  So this method wouldn’t take into account a black head-janitor making $18,000 a year (2nd quintile), who was really only qualified to be a regular rank-and-file janitor making $16,000 a year (also the 2nd quintile).  When you take these two facts into consideration, it is entirely arguable that at least 50% of blacks currently hold a position of which they are not deserving based on merit.  This means that any randomly selected black, that you try to convince to abandon support for quotas, is just as likely to personally benefit from them as he is to be unaffected or harmed by them.  Good luck with that!  The idea that quotas unfairly stigmatize hoards of deserving professional-class minorities is also false.  The hilarious irony of the “stigmata” argument is that it tends to be completely inverted from reality in that it is typically directed towards high-status and/or professional blacks, attempting to convince them that quotas further down the socio-economic ladder cause whites to incorrectly think that they don’t deserve the high socio-economic positions which they hold, and that they obviously do deserve by virtue of their…well…holding them.  A typical example of this would be a statement along the lines of the following:  “Colin Powell [or fill in your distinguished black professional of choice] should be against quotas…he obviously doesn’t need them…look at how articulate [a favorite adjective of those explaining the success of a given black professional] he is…look at how successful he is…there is just no way that he could have risen to that level of prominence due solely to affirmative action.”  This line of reasoning seems to be based on the unfounded belief that somewhere…somehow…there just has to be some occupational status threshold-level beyond which quotas no longer have any effect.  Old Colin had a ready-made response for our naïve imaginary friend.  With regard to the harm caused to the alleged legions of capable blacks holding high status positions that they actually deserved on merit, Powell’s advice, as quoted by Richard Hoste was to “get one of those well-paying jobs (through affirmative action) to pay for all the therapy they’ll need to remove the stigma.”  Powell’s lack of concern is typical of the black professional class.  The reason for this is that the black intellectual, statesman, or pundit whom the quota-opponent is trying to convert is actually more likely to be helped by quotas than the lower status black who is supposedly stigmatizing him.  Trying to convince a black college professor to oppose quotas because the hiring of an undeserving black auto-mechanic has tarnished his holding of a professorship, of which he is deserving, won’t work because a given black college professor is actually less likely to be deserving of his job than a black auto mechanic is of his.  Assume that members of Group B (which make up 10% of the population), on average, have lower intelligence than members of Group A (which make up 90%), and that intelligence is a valid predictor of occupational capability.  Let us also assume that members of Group B make up only 5% of those with IQ’s over 120 (hypothetically the occupational requirement to be a professor) and only 8% of those with IQ’s over 100 (the hypothetical occupational requirement to be an auto mechanic), and that members of Group B are required to make up a proportional 10% of both professions.  Average IQ of 85 or not, it doesn’t take that much brain power to realize that a higher percentage of Group B professors will be unqualified for their jobs than the percentage of Group B auto mechanics who are unqualified for theirs.  Truth be told, mentally contrasting the difference in abilities of Samuel Huntington and Henry Louis Gates probably has more of a negative effect on how the average White views the abilities of a black auto mechanic than the effect mentally contrasting the difference in abilities of auto mechanics Patrick and Kareem has on how the average White views the abilities of Cornell West.  We can look back now and clearly see that decades of efforts to persuade our opponents have failed both to convince them to abandon their support for quotas and to halt the actual practice of quotas.  Legislative efforts haven’t fared any better.

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2 Responses to “Decades of Failure: Part 2 – Failed Approaches: The Failure of Persuasion”

  1. Utah Steps up to the Plate! « Disparate Planet Says:

    […] It would have been nice for him to mention that the injustice faced by whites is also a legitimate problem.  But even without that, I’m heartened that he at least admits that AA causes “less qualified” students to get in, rather than arguing against AA on the basis that it “stigmatizes deserving blacks.” […]

  2. Decades of Failure: Part 1 – Running on Empty « Disparate Planet Says:

    […] Part 2 is available here. […]

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