Sunday, October 05, 2003

Is patriotism a crime?

I would never attack anyone from Holland who was proud of the Dutch national health care system - possibly the best in the world. I would never attack anyone from Japan or Taiwan or South Korea or Germany for pride in being part of one of the handful of nations to establish (with help, but many have tried and failed with or without help) successful democracy from autocratic beginnings. Here is someone who attacks my previous post for an excess of patriotism because I admire a partial solution to a problem many countries have failed to solve - even if in this case it is of our own making. We have emotional racial divides with large economic differences, but we are nowhere near civil war. I don't know which would be sadder, to find that Phil isn't proud of living in a country that started on the road to representative democracy well before the French revolution, or to find that he is but gets upset when other people are proud of their countries.

I have a critic from the opposite end of the spectrum as well (at least I assume Phil is a liberal), one who speaks more to the point. Arthur Fleishman of Untold Millions responds both on his blog and in my comment section. First to correct a couple of misunderstandings. When I wrote "They say that African Americans who achieve are stigmatized because people believe they only did so through affirmative action. Many people who believe this would hate them for other reasons even if there were no affirmative action." I meant that some people have argued that affirmative action hurts minorities because others will assume any minority member with a good job got it through affirmative action and did not deserve it. I agree with the latter clause. I'm not implying that all those who make this argument are racist, but I am implying that most of those who would automatically assume the person did not deserve their job are racist, and that getting rid of affirmative action would not change their mind about the minority employee, and that this argument is invalid.

Here is the question that I feel I've already answered but he feels I haven't.

"So I repeat the questions that you avoided. What has been the model for overcoming disadvantages? And why shouldn't African Americans have the opportunity to use the same model that has been so useful to others?"

Certainly many minority immigrants have found great success here. This model has not worked equally well for all however. I've believe I discussed some of the groups it worked best for - and the reasons that appeared to be so. The short answer however, is that this model has worked very imperfectly for some minorities. Of course, it would be silly to assume any problem is exclusively the fault of any one of the paries involved. I'm pleased to say I've read articles by black people concerned that elements of the cultures of certain black subgroups might be part of what was holding them back. Do the rest of us have the courage to think hard about what role we play in the problem, or not? Are you saying that since the system without affirmative action has worked well for some Asian and other groups, it must be perfect and bears no further examination? I have already commented on the problems members of certain minority groups faced not in the past but today, and why I consider it prudent to take action on an ongoing basis. I think it would be difficult to make any constructive changes in the program in the current emotional atmosphere, but I will think hard about which ones might help anyway. Do you have any ideas, other than saying we should ignore the fact that certain groups are not teated equally by many people when they can get away with it, and avoid giving those groups compensating advantages at all costs?

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