Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oh man...there she goes again...

Dear Anonymous person who still won’t take credit for his ideas:

I’d like to begin by thanking you for coming back to continue our discussion. It’s so nice to have a readership! However, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take issue with some of the things you mention in your most recent comment. I answer them this time because I feel so strongly about them. However, I think this will have to be the end of our dialogue because I also feel that in a publication, which is how I like to view this little blog of mine, you can beat something TO DEATH. And I think the rest of the readership gets tired of it. So I will answer you now and then this will be the end. (P.S. Text shown in purple is exact quote, copied and pasted from the comment. I refuse to take ownership of somebody else’s misspellings when I generate enough of my own.)

You say: “You may assert that certain groups of people have been oppressed throughout history, and maybe still are today; either institutionally, culturally, or on an individual basis, and I wouldn't attempt to dispute that. I do it myself. You do it. All sane human beings do it. It is an imperative of survival to make discriminatory judgement about another person's or group of persons' intentions when engaged in social transaction. If you don't you are soon extinct.”

I take issue with several things here. My first problem is that the fact that you refer to me making an “assertion” as though it were unsubstantiated fact or rumor. It is not. It is absolutely and 100% objectively true and, if you don’t agree with that notion, than I can’t hope to have an intelligent conversation with you because you are obviously incredibly deluded or you have just landed from another planet and have yet to read a U.S. history book (make that a truthful, unbiased U.S. history book). Secondly, one of the great things that separates us from the animals (besides opposable thumbs) is our ability to employ metacognition, our ability to think about how we think. Though many out there still act like it, we are not animals. We are, supposedly, highly advanced and well developed beings capable of employing rationalization to conquer the gut-reactions of base animal instinct. (This is demonstrable in that we have a criminal justice system that prohibits us from literally acting like animals to each other.) We are not in peril of extinction – far from it. And, again, if I am to suffer arguments of the impending extinction of the white, Christian masses, I must abandon any attempts at logical discourse. Long story short: We’re not animals, we’re supposed to know better.

You Say: “Life is unfair. It's a shame. What we can in an enlightened society is respect all people as individuals and judge them on their merits.”

First, I will not listen to another privileged, white male whine about the injustices of society. It’s like listening to a glutton whine about starvation. It’s bullshit. It’s easy, from your perspective, to say “Life is unfair, get over it.” Walk a mile in another person’s shoes for a week or two, brother, and then you can sing the blues with the best of ‘em. ( I suggest you do a little research on Standpoint Theory.) And secondly, if (and it’s a BIG IF) people in society WERE judged on their merits, then affirmative action programs wouldn’t be necessary. But it’s not, and you know it’s not. I know you know this because you just explained to me how it’s okay to be prejudiced. That, in fact, it is a matter of survival. Again…bullshit. If people were judged on their merits as individuals, then we wouldn’t have to make assumptions based on some perceived group membership.

You say: “The flaw is that you can not confer rights on a group, only on an individual.”

This baffles me, as a woman, since my right to vote is guaranteed under the 19th amendment which grants women, as a group, the right to vote. As much as I would love to have my name personally amended to the constitution, I don’t see it happening. And, besides, what about our basic rights as members of the human race? Laws NEVER name specific people or individuals. They ONLY apply to groups of people.

You say: “You offer many examples of discrimination and institutional oppression, yet there's no emperical data to back it up. Saying women are below he poverty line is just statistical hokum.”

If you don’t know of the vast libraries of information and resources that empirically back up my exact statements, then I’m guessing you DID, in fact, just land here in a space ship. Try looking at the U.S. Census Data, for one. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington D.C., though only one fifth of all families are headed by a single mother, they make up nearly half of all families in poverty. A family headed by a single mother has an 86% higher chance of experiencing poverty. In 2002, almost 30% of female-headed families were living in poverty. Or, if you really want statistics, I can give you some that hit close to home. In the last fiscal year, the agency I work for sheltered 68 women and 74 children who survived domestic abuse. In addition, they handled 773 domestic abuse crisis calls and 70 sexual assault crisis calls, served 573 domestic abuse clients not receiving shelter and 221 sexual assault clients who did not receive shelter. So yeah, I do know what I’m talking about and can back it up with statistics. I could go on all day. I could write a book citing all kinds of empirical data sources to support every single point I mentioned. It IS NOT “statistical hokum.” That, sir, is a cheap-ass, “liar, liar, pants on fire,” bullshit cop-out. And, besides, it’s just not true. (P.S. Cheers to your wife. I wish more women AND MEN could afford to stay home with their children. You’ll hear no feminist rhetoric from me that puts her down. Raising a child is the hardest job a person can do. She’s a hero, plain and simple.)

You say: “There's no shortage of studies showing how allowing applicants into universities they're less qualified for only increases the chances they're going to fail; wasting the time and money that would have been succesfully invested at a lesser school.”

If all public schools received the benefit of equal funding, there is no doubt in my mind that there would be a better showing, in general, by ALL college students. A recent study shows that the reasons for lower graduation rates among minority students are "many and varied," including "personal or family financial problems." (i.e. not just because they’re dumber or less appreciative). Apparently, black and Hispanic students' "comparative lack of financial resources" and the striking differences in financial assets between whites and blacks, could be at fault. And let me just clarify one thing: one cannot confer rights on groups, but one CAN summarily disparage them as intrinsically “less qualified” solely on the basis of race? Ouch. What happened to looking at individuals? Fact: people ARE NOT getting an “equal shot” if they’re not starting from the same place. In addition, it IS NOT the student’s fault when he/she is not “qualified” for higher education. It is a failure of our public education and the failure of legislators who are okay with the fact that some schools have the best of everything (i.e. swimming pools, state-of-the-art technology, bathroom doors) while others are sitting desks that are falling apart and using textbooks that are 10 years old. For you to blame the student is just plain wrong. Unless you’re going to assert that some “groups” are just inherently less qualified. At that point you become racist and/or sexist AND wrong.

You say: “I would be so unbelievably resentful that I'm viewed as intrinsically less qualified to the degree that the government has deemed it necessary to give me special treatment.”

BELIEVE ME….those who benefit from affirmative action programs ALREADY resent our society for the endless crap they put up with in the course of trying to hack it through daily life. (Again, I refer you to an exploration of Standpoint Theory.) When it comes to getting a “break” from the government (or other affirmative action program), most people are happy for the break from the struggle. (And don’t even try to tell me how “bad” you have it. If you have a computer and time to comment on blogs, then you have no idea what “bad” is.) Affirmative action programs don’t confer low expectations on people. They acknowledge the lack of opportunity with which these people have been presented and attempt to level the playing field in light of it. And, furthermore, for you to even presume to think for these people is, to use your own words, “arrogant” and “condescending.”

You say: “How will we ever get past this nonsense until we live up to the ideals laid down by the framers that ‘all men are created equal.’?”

You will find the answer in your own quote. The framers of the constitution DID NOT include those same rights for women or people of color. At that time, in fact, people of color were not considered to be part of the human race at all, and the words you quote were not meant to apply to them. You have heard of the famous Three-Fifths Compromise, perhaps? That each slave counted as 3/5 of a “real” person? The rights set down in the constitution applied only to white men. And THAT is the source of the problems today. Those men were given privileges that women and people of color were denied. Those privileges have become so institutionalized since that time that some people fail to recognize their continued existence at all, though they are very much alive and well in our society. (Note: this writer wonders how smart it is to live up to the ideals of persons with poor grammar. But, I digress…)

You say: “I resent, however, that the support of the MCRI and proposal 2 somehow makes me a racist.”

It doesn’t necessarily make you a racist…it could actually make you sexist too. If you really weren’t either racist or sexist, then you would want women and people of color to have the same chances for success as those poor, privileged white man. If things truly were equal, then our Congress would be 51% female and would have a racial make up with proportions matching those of our population as a whole. Argue with those statistics.

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