A Philosopher's Blog

MLK

Posted in Race by Michael LaBossiere on January 18, 2010

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Junior day.  This day, of course, honors Dr. King and his contributions to America and the world.

Obviously enough, this is a good day to reflect on race, equality and Dr. King’s dream of a better America.

In his classic speech “I Have A Dream“, Dr. King assessed the progress that America had made since the Emancipation Proclamation. In his speech, he notes that segregation, discrimination, and poverty were still problems in America. Now, here we are in 2010.

On the positive side, America has improved since 1963. The most obvious sign of this is that an African American is president.  Of course, there are still matters of concern. While discrimination and involuntary segregation are illegal, discrimination and segregation do still exist. Poverty is still a serious problem, especially due to the economic mess.

Overall, most Americans live in a better America now than they did back in 1963 and far more so then in 1863. This is, of course, a good thing. After all, what we should most hope to leave to those who come after us is a better world in which to live.

Despite this century of progress it should not be assumed that such improvements shall always continue. Nor should it be assumed that what has been gained must always remain. As such, a day of reflection should also be a day for looking ahead so as to help ensure that the dream shall not die.

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8 Responses

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  1. A.K.A.Alias said, on January 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

    An African American president is a sign of improvement, but not a huge one.Why? This should be analyzed by guys and girls who analyze for a living. I’ll wager that political considerations counted for more. A stronger political machine. The need to find hope and possibility in the face of the world Bush had wrought. The justifiable fear and dislike of George W Bush by 70% of the polled voters. No Palin on the ticket, etc. Just a guess but I’m thinking improved racial relations were further down the list of causes why we have an black president.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on January 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    The U.S. of today is nothing like the U.S. that MLK lived in. Lefties are stuck in 1968, but the rest of country has moved on.

    Consider this from VDH:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/truths-we-dare-not-speak/2/

    3) Affirmative Action

    The concept was noble, but now antiquated and mostly absurd. It requires the logic of the Old Confederacy to determine racial purity among the intermarried citizenry. Jet-black Punjabis get no preferences. Light-skinned Mexican-Americans of the fourth-generation claim privilege. Poor whites from Tulare don’t rank. The children of black dentists do. I see very little logic here.

    Asians? We both claim them as minorities, and yet we discriminate against them at the University of California admissions process on the basis of their own superior achievement. (Apparently, the deplorable record of discrimination against Asians is now deemed irrelevant due to the community’s own success. Ponder the ramifications of that for a bit: should Asians have been struggling at UC, they would be considered suffering from the legacy of oppression; since they are excelling, they need to be quietly discriminated against).

    As far as I can tell, here is the logic of this Byzantine system: Affirmative action in the 21st century has no logical basis in skin color, actual discrimination, poverty, class, or need. It is predicated on two archaic thoughts: previously discriminated against American minorities shall be defined as only Hispanic, Blacks, and Asians, and thus their children shall receive privilege for decades. BUT that new discrimination will not apply if such minorities on their own have prospered and are successful. (Why that would be so in some cases is again a taboo question.)

    So, Japanese-Americans, whose parents were put in camps, don’t quite qualify any more for compensation seemingly because they are successful and are thus “over-represented” in the racial spoils system. But Chilean immigrants do—if they can fraudulently piggy-back upon the Mexican-American experience by virtue of a shared language and last names.

    If one is of mixed race, nomenclature trumps all. Bob Wilson, the son of a Mexican-American mother, is liable to get nothing, Roberto Martinez will get quite a lot, if the son of a Mexican-American (or any Spanish-speaking) father. A Barry Soetoro is of mere pedestrian mixed ancestry; Barack Obama is not merely black, but exotically so.

    In short, the system is corrupt. In our society of intermarriage, immigration and mixed ancestry, we cannot any longer determine who is and who is not a certified “minority” (cf. the con of mostly white candidates claiming some sort of Native American ancestry).

    Class and need are no longer connected with race. Hyphenation only creates cynicism and enhances a professional class of grievance mongers in journalism, politics, academia, and the arts (yet somehow we quietly and unofficially drop affirmative action dictates when it comes to 747 pilots, brain surgeons, or nuclear power plant engineers, but no one sues to disregard competency exams for air-traffic-controllers solely on the basis of undesirable racial results).

    So what is left of affirmative action? Cynicism. Mostly it is an easy way for elite whites and Asians to feel good about themselves by helping the “other”—usually at someone else’s expense (cf. the lower-class white applicant from Tulare who is rejected with equal or superior qualifications, without the resources and preparations of the wealthy and connected.) It provides psychological alleviation of guilt, without the need to be tutoring in the ghetto, sending your kids to a mostly Hispanic school, or living among the lower classes. In that sense, the construction of Barack Obama, the former Barry Soetoro, and his apotheosis by elite whites, is again an unintended paradigm of the times.

    For those who find the above illiberal, I’m sorry, but after twenty-one years as a professor I have never quite seen any American institution so corrupt, unfair, and cynical as the practice of affirmative action.

    • A.K.A.Alias said, on January 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      affirmative action: a superficial fix for a deep problem It’a just possible that we can’t legislate all the racism out of racists no matter how many laws we pass. I’ll repeat that I believe Obama’s election said a lot less about the state of racism in our society than some would have us believe. And I’ll add one more need to the list I provided. The need give the appearance that we’ve moved out of the nineteenth century. And to do it all at once. By having both a black and a woman running for the nomination on the Democratic ticket.Prediction.We’ll see to it that that won’t be happening again in any combination any time soon.

      • T. J. Babson said, on January 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

        I submit that the U.S. is the least racist multi-ethnic society that has ever existed.

      • A.K.A.Alias said, on January 19, 2010 at 10:04 am

        I absolutely agree. But that fact doesn’t somehow excuse the level of racism in the U.S. 220 years after the constitutiton was written. And that doesn’t argue against anything I wrote. Its like sayin the US has the least number of murderous assholes of all countries with murderous assholes that have ever existed.. That can still leave you with more than enough murderous assholes. Right?

      • kernunos said, on January 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

        Ok……what will it take then? I will tell you this much though. I am absolutely baming this president’s failures on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.

      • A.K.A.Alias said, on January 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm

        I’m blaming your sense that Obama has failed on your ideology. And maybe a wee bit on your character. Which I’m judging based on your ideological choice. It would be easier if you were standing here in front of me. I could judge you on skin color. Im that kind of guy this week.

  3. magus71 said, on January 19, 2010 at 1:41 am

    “I submit that the U.S. is the least racist multi-ethnic society that has ever existed”

    Absolutely


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