Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Toobin v. Thomas

Jeffrey Toobin reviews Clarence Thomas's book in The New Yorker. This bit about Thomas's belief in a color-blind Constitution comes near the end:
...Thomas dismisses diversity as “a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti,” but it is one that has been endorsed in state houses and school boards whose leaders, unlike Supreme Court Justices, are democratically elected. Thomas pays them no mind. “Old Man Can’t is dead” —so, according to the Justice, says the Constitution.
Obviously, Thomas's opinion on race-based affirmative action matters a bit more than Toobin's. But which one is right? (Not about the delightfully anti-Toobinesque implication that Thomas should listen to the public on deciding a Constitutional issue, but whether the public actually supports the program in question.)

I think Thomas hits it on the nose. Okay, maybe "faddish" is wrong since the use of diversity as a slogan rather than a true belief goes back decades. But as to which side the public supports, it's not close. Whenever the people are allowed to vote freely, despite all the money from the powerful trying to convince them othewise, they oppose government sponsored race-based discrimination, no matter how benign. It's been forced on them by an elite, more often unelected than elected.

Toobin is apparently part of this cognoscenti. Whether he knows his beliefs can't stand up to a referendum (and thus uses rhetorical dodges), or actually believes that the people must agree with it because all his bien-pensant friends do, I can't say.


Blogger QueensGuy said...

You want a "referendum" huh?

There's a telling scene in Borat where the eponymous character is riding along on a roadtrip with some white, male University of South Carolina students. Apropos of nothing, one of the student comments that "here in this country, the minorities get all the advantages." The others nod sagely.

I once saw a documentary years ago (or was it just a 60 Minutes segment?) where a poor, white, rural man was being interviewed. He complained bitterly about "those blacks" living on welfare benefits. When asked if he and his family received public assistance, he said "yes, but the blacks get more."

I think that pretty well sums up your referendum right there.

11:18 PM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Hey, it's Toobin who complains that Thomas isn't listening to the voice of the people on affirmative action, not me.

Of course, no matter what the issue, if you dig deep enough, you can find plenty of creeps on either side.

12:40 AM, November 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone think those idiot frat boys in Borat (made to look as bad as possible by editing) are an argument for affirmative action? They just show how it breeds even more hatred and resentment than you'd get otherwise.

You know what? At the risk of being compared to those drunken boobs, they have a point. It is literally, even happily, the official policy of the United States that, legally speaking, white males are second-class citizens. Apparently though, they're not even allowed to complain about it.

1:16 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

And thus Anonymous lays out the basis of the Republicans' overwhelmingly successful Southern Strategy. Yes, the lack of opportunity you face as a white male in our society is a shocking disgrace. Oh and who, may I ask, is stopping them (and you) from complaining?

I'm reminded of Monty Burns' line in the Simpsons Movie "Well, for once, the rich white man is in control!"

9:03 AM, November 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nailed 'em, Queens Guy. Nice job.

9:39 AM, November 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the mutual admiration society.

Queensguy makes the same cliched argument they always use--the ends justify the means. You're doing just fine, so shut up when you lose a spot because of the color of your skin (since that less qualified rich black kid deserves it). No, that's not good enough--you should go on record saying how great this discrimination against you is. Just because it goes against the clear wording of the law, not to mention Supreme Court decisions, who cares--race now, race forever, and if you dare complain, no justice, no peace.

Racial disrimination, even when supported by the left, is pure poison for our society--it hurts everyone, blacks more than whites (queensguy should agree with that since he doesn't think whites are being hurt in any important way).
And as long as the left buys into this hateful ideology, they deserve to lose over and over.

10:25 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Note- they are "cognoscenti" when you disagree with them and "the people" when they agree with you.

10:49 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Nailed 'em, Anon #3. Nice job.

11:02 AM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Actually, New England Guy, as I've claimed before, I'm naturally an elitist, not a populist. If the people agree with me, so much the better, but I don't feel the need to claim my political beliefs enjoy the support of the public. Apparently, Jeffrey Toobin does.

11:05 AM, November 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, they've polled African-Americans and a majority of them don't support race-based affirmative action. Of course, what do they know.

12:56 PM, November 14, 2007  
Blogger QueensGuy said...

I know I'm late getting back to the party, but Anon 12:56, here on PajamaGuy, when we interject poll results, we try to actually cite them.

I also find it fascinating to see all the beliefs (and supporting rationales, even!) you've attributed to me. In case my real beliefs hold any interest, I think race-based affirmative action is usually a bad idea, but there are areas where historical discrimination leads to an effectively white-dominated system (see, e.g. the New York City Fire Department) that requires purely race-based temporary corrective action. There are meaningful benefits to my city having a police force that looks like the population they police. It no longer requires race-based preferences to achieve that benefit, but it was temporarily required. Did some worthy white kids miss out on being a cop? Sure. Their opportunity was sacrificed for the good of the many. Sometimes that's ok. Not usually, but sometimes.

8:15 PM, November 15, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

"there are areas where historical discrimination leads to an effectively white-dominated system."

True enough. But Toobin and Thomas are discussing a "diversity" rationale for affirmative action, not corrective one, since diversity is the one reason the Court allows anyone to take race into account.

8:18 AM, November 18, 2007  

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