Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Times Change


 When the current US Supreme Court strikes down race-conscious admissions procedures...

...which they will almost certainly do in the next couple of years, the Court will, oddly enough, in this instance have majority sentiment on its side, if not elite opinion:   opposition to using race and ethnicity as factors in admissions decisions for colleges is quite widespread.  More than 60% of Blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats say race or ethnicity should not be a factor at all in admissions.  (Philosopher Thomas Mulligan [Georgetown] has called attention to this striking fact previously.)

Leiter links to Leiter, quoting Mulligan 

Whites oppose affirmative action because they believe it violates merit-based hiring. Blacks support affirmative action because they believe it enables merit-based hiring, by nullifying racial bias and other forms of disadvantage.

Despite appearances, when it comes to affirmative action, there is no moral disagreement. Both Blacks and whites believe that the best-qualified applicant should be hired. What we disagree about is a factual question: Does real-world affirmative action enable, or detract from, our shared moral goal?

"More than 60% of Blacks, Hispanics, and Democrats say race or ethnicity should not be a factor" 
They say that now. What did they say in the past?

The black respondents strongly endorsed all eight of the items. The average endorsement of the positive response was 78.7 percent. The range was from 59.6 percent to 91.3 percent (see Table 1). Item five, which elicited the weakest response, asked the respondents if they thought there would be "reverse discrimination against white men." This ia a perceptual item that elicits other reactions than just support for affirmative action. Nevertheless, it still contributed to the overall scale. Items three, seven, and eight, which simply asked how strongly they supported affirmative action programs, received the strongest responses. Roughly 90 percent of the respondents supported these items and only about four percent opposed them. Clearly there is strong support in the black community for affirmative action programs.
"Elite Opinion" gave us Brown v Board. Decades later, Derrick Bell dissented. Leiter would never agree with Bell's reasoning.

A 1963 Nation Opinion Research Center survey of black opinion as to priorities had voting rights and desegregation both at 13%.  Jobs came out at 58%

Mildred A Schwartz, Trends in White Attitudes toward Negroes, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, 1967 https://www.norc.org/PDFs/publications/NORCRpt_119.pdf

The 1956 Roper question was as follows: "Now there have been a number of different viewpoints about the Supreme Court decision against separate schools for Negro students. Which of these comes closest to expressing your own personal opinion? (1) Negroes should go to the same schools that white children do and separate schools should be done away with immediately in all parts of the country. (b) Every attempt should be made to do away with separate schools for Negro students, but a reasonable time should be given to work out the problem. (c) The time may come when Negro and white children should go to the same schools, but it will take years in some places and it shouldn't be pushed. (d) The Supreme Court decision was a mistake and white and Negro students should never be forced to go to the same schools"

The largest proportion, 31 per cent, felt that the Court decision had been a mistake. Twenty-three per cent were of the opinion that school integration, while desirable, would take many years and should not be pushed. Another 22 per cent wanted separate schools done away with, but agreed that "reasonable time" should be allowed for this. Altogether, then, 45 per cent opted for a gradual approach to school integration. Only 12 per cent were in favor of immediate integration. [The remainder had no opinion.]

 Leiter has no sense of history. He imagines a timeless world. 

Arguments could be made that the original intent of the reconstruction amendments was "unconstitutional", inconsistent with previous understandings, or that the framers wrote amendments in race neutral terms but then while they could promoted discrimination based on race. A brilliant decision, to set their own policies on auto-destruct, only after they'd begun to do their work.

[I]n 1867 Congress passed a law providing relief for “freedmen or destitute colored people in the District of Columbia,” to be distributed under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Of particular importance in the late 1860s was the Bureau’s operation of schools for blacks, to the point that black children in the South were often better educated than their white counterparts.

"Divide and conquer" Radical reconstruction wasn't radical. If it were, black and white poor would have been treated as equals and the wealth of the rich would have been seized.  But however it was done, affirmative action was always strictly speaking, both unconstitutional and necessary. It's still a white man's world, but not for much longer. 

"Whites oppose affirmative action because they believe it violates merit-based hiring." They have a point, but that's not the only reason they oppose it.

Politics is argument in time; it's low and high, vulgar and fine. It's force and logic, reason and interests. Leiter, like all philosophers, fantasizes a world of one without the other, where their own interests play no role.
More on Bell and Arendt a few months later, 5/22.

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