Shame: A Review & Response

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Adrian Rutt

Life is like one of those sand art thingies that gets destroyed after it's completed.

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20 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
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    There is a lot here. But fixing on one smaller point about affirmative action. It is a typical move to just focus on elite places and AfAm as if that is the only place it ever existed. But AfAm was about far more than that, it was in work places and all schools across the country. It wasn’t about sprinkling a few dark faces in a few of the elites.

    When discussing AfAm the auto conservative explanation seems to miss the most direct purpose of it; to open doors to minorities that had previously been closed. It was meant to break down barriers that had been erected based on various characteristics, mostly gender and race. It was about making whites feel bad or blaming the us. It was about busting down unjustly closed doors.Report

    • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to greginak
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      According to the Supreme Court (more or less), it may only be implemented to provide a diverse environment for the kids who would have been accepted anyway.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LTL FTC
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        says:

        Affirmative Action is far more than that ( it includes hiring). Are you thinking specifically about busing or just admissions in uni’s?Report

        • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to greginak
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          says:

          Specifically Grutter v. Bollinger and Bakke, which hold that diversity is the compelling state interest that makes some forms of AA at public higher ed constitutional.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to LTL FTC
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            Again, i’m talking about AfAm in general which included employment.Report

            • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to greginak
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              says:

              I know you were speaking of it more broadly. My response is to this in particular:

              When discussing AfAm[*] the auto conservative explanation seems to miss the most direct purpose of it; to open doors to minorities that had previously been closed. It was meant to break down barriers that had been erected based on various characteristics, mostly gender and race. It was about making whites feel bad or blaming the us. It was about busting down unjustly closed doors.

              Beyond the conservative explanation and progressive retort, there’s this weird middle ground that SCOTUS has used to carve out a constitutional niche for something that would (according to some) otherwise be discriminatory. It has taken on a life of its own beyond the narrow public university domain for which it was created. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the steady stream of “diverse teams are more productive” or “diversity sells” articles.

              For committed ideologues, this doesn’t hold. Even if achieving racial balance at your workplace/school/neighborhood imposed significant costs, a dyed in the wool progressive probably wouldn’t mind incurring those costs for a more inclusive society. But for the mushy middle, it sounds persuasive and is used often.

              *also, I keep reading AfAm as “African American” and not “Affirmative Action.” Using “AA” doesn’t make it any better. This is nobody’s fault, but it’s confusing sometimes.Report

    • Avatar notme in reply to greginak
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      says:

      I understand the purpose liberals claim to give it, however, I don’t see how we rectify past discrimination by practicing it in a different fashion.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to notme
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        says:

        I don’t’ see AfAm as discrimination. It isn’t legislating that some people may not get into a school or get a job based on their gender or race. It breaks down old bigoted barriers. That is a massive distinction. I know the conservative response is to see it as discrimination but that seems to miss a giant part of what is going on. White people can get a job at wherever or get into a school; they aren’t being kept out.Report

  2. Avatar Sam Wilkinson
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    I will never stop being astounded by an allegedly rigorous intellectual approach that ends up at, “What’s best for me just so happens to also be the right answer.” It’s just the damndest thing in the world.Report

  3. Avatar Saul DeGraw
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    I have to agree with Sam here. Especially on this paragraph:

    “I am somewhat ambivalent about multiculturalism as an explicit concept that should inform policy (how about that for fence sitting?). I have always struggled with the question of whether multiculturalism (and thus policies like affirmative action), when it is brought to the forefront, loses some—or all—of its meaning and worth. In other words and flipping it around, I believe when diversity becomes ‘second nature,’ when it fades from consciousness, we will have achieved a worthy goal. That is, when we happen to be seeking our diverse viewpoints because of the genuine necessity and willingness to do so, rather than due to a “superficial cosmetic manipulation.” The question becomes, then, is forcing diversity as policy necessary to get to this point of ‘second nature’ or is it, in the long run, harmful? I don’t think it is a question that can be answered at this point by either the Left or the Right—contrary to the definitive attempts to put the proverbial nail in the coffin on the issue.”

    The debate seems to be between people who want to recognize structural problems v. pretend structural problems don’t exist. I am a firm believer in the existence of structural racism. It exists, things have gotten better but it still exists. Yet structural racism can be defeated. Many top universities used to have a quota system against Jewish students and would only admit 10-15 percent of each incoming class as Jewish, if that. Yet this changed in the 1960s with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and other cultural changes.

    Striving for diversity is nothing that should be laughed at and I don’t think the problems of race and racism can be gone forever by allegedly ignoring them. We still live in a world where the effects of official and unofficial racism are being played out. Our schools are usually in de facto segregation. School funding is a good example. We fund schools based on local property taxes. Since minorities still tend to live in cities where most people rent instead of own, school funding tends to be kind of fucked up and on the low end. White people tend to live in middle-class and upper-middle class suburbs where school funding is usually an easy issue. There are exceptions to both but those are exceptions that prove rules. I am not sure that there is a race-blind way of ignoring this problem.Report

    • Avatar LTL FTC in reply to Saul DeGraw
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      says:

      Yet structural racism can be defeated. Many top universities used to have a quota system against Jewish students and would only admit 10-15 percent of each incoming class as Jewish, if that. Yet this changed in the 1960s with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and other cultural changes.

      The funny thing is that this particular bit of structural racism was solved by removing quotas and letting Jewish students compete against the entire applicant pool based on the same metrics, which is the opposite of affirmative action as currently practiced.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Saul DeGraw
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      says:

      I don’t read Adrian as saying there’s a “race blind” way to resolve these problems, and I don’t see him “laughing at” diversity, and I don’t see him as denying there are structural problems. He’s suggesting, I think (and he can correct me), that diversity qua diversity isn’t going to solve these structural problems.Report

      • Avatar Adrian in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Thank you. I am just getting around to seeing these comments today, so my first reply shall be a tip of the hat to you.

        I understand that with the topics I post I am going to get some heat – deserved or otherwise – but what I can never understand (or at least wrap my head around) is how a criticism of method always seems to be conflated with a denial of existence. One can, I think, acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and structural problems without having to commit to a non-critical approach to the methods aimed at eradicating the former. Nor is a criticism of said methods to be conflated with a wholesale repudiation of them. I understand nothing is perfect, and to criticize or question for not being perfect will always miss the mark slightly. “The better is too often the enemy of the still better”

        Just as I can support law enforcement while realizing structural reforms can and should be taking place within that institution, so too can I criticize multiculturalism without denying the need for it – or in my case the need for something like it.

        Long story only slightly shorter, you have me exactly right Gabriel; I don’t believe diversity as it stands right now (as a policy, attitude, etc.) is necessarily the right path. You may not follow me here, but I would much rather have it that deeper traits are what are focused on like a difference of perspective necessitating (somewhat subconsciously) the need for diversity; not, as it were, diversity for diversity’s sake.

        Who knows though, I could be way off the mark and diversity as we have it now might lead to a very tolerant and inclusive society; one in which we value (and are shown to value) diversity in and of itself rather than value it for the sake of numbers on a page.

        (The philosopher Louise Antony has some interesting takes on some of these issues, and someone who I see as staking out a sort of middle ground.)Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Adrian
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          says:

          Thanks, Adrian. Speaking for myself, I have mixed feelings about diversity as a goal/means to solving the structural problems. It’s not harmless, but I think it’s harm is small. It does some good–and in some cases, like addressing racial inequities in college admissions, it might be one of only a few tools that are actually doable in our current regulatory regime–but probably in the big scheme of things a focus on diversity isn’t going to help much. On the other hand, I don’t have a clear idea of what would work on a practical level.

          tl;dr: I think I agree with you.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Insofar as race is a social construct, it’s pretty much intertwined with culture.

    One of the things that we’re finding out is that the gulf between the races is also a gulf between cultures and the gulf isn’t really going to be addressed by a diversity that embraces people who share the same culture (even if they don’t share the same skin tone).

    The problem is that skin tone is regularly used as a proxy for a lot of other things.

    And so it also is by those who call for diversity.Report

    • Avatar Adrian in reply to Jaybird
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      Are you saying that skin tone/race is misused by both sides? (Implying that multiculturalism is simply a misuse by one side as racism is the other? Obviously the former to combat the latter).

      I’m honestly asking for clarification here… I hate that I have to say that all the time so I don’t come across as an ass. haReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Adrian
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        says:

        Misused? I don’t know the proper way to use skin tone so I can’t say whether someone is not using it correctly.

        I’d just say that it’s used as a proxy for culture (among many other things that are used as proxies for culture).

        I’ve said before (and I’ll say again) that there is a very particular flavor of multiculturalism (I call it “EPCOT Multiculturalism”) that is 100% down with exotic spices and recipes and outfits and songs and holidays but that’s pretty much it. You have to agree with stuff like gay marriage and agree on the whole personhood of women thing and, essentially, be culturally “American” even though you’ve got an “exotic” gilding.

        Under the gilding, you had better god damned well conform.

        It is 2016.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    From what you’ve quoted it sounds like Steele would be very excited by a politician promising to Make America Great Again!Report

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