The other day I flipped the dial on my radio (ESPN is covering too much baseball for me) and wound up on "The Big One" (700 WLW - I am still not used to "W"s for radio call letters after forty years in the west). The talk show host was railing against affirmative action and used the term "soft bigotry" to describe his feelings about it. He suggested that if you are the recipient of affirmative action benefits, you are admitting that you are weak and in need of help. He says it is based on the idea that the white, well-endowed community pities other races and sees them as inferior (less able to make good for themselves) than whites. By creating affirmative action, advantaged whites were ensuring that other incomes and races would continue to see themselves as disadvantaged and inferior to the white community. On this basis, he called for the end of affirmative action so that everyone who achieves would know they had done so on their own, according to their own efforts, not based on a hand-out that disrespected them in a fundamental way.
What do you think of this idea?
I couldn't help but wonder if he had accounted for white privilege (kids who get into colleges on the strength of a parent's income or alumni status or get jobs because of family connections)?
President Bush, apparently, popularized (coined?) the phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
I do see how there can be a point at which the affirmative action has an opposite effect to the one intended. When you know that an advantage is being given to you due to race or gender or income, perhaps there is less incentive to strive against the tendency to rest in that expectation. I saw this happen in my world growing up with regard to income expectations. Kids who had wealthy parents had little to no incentive to get jobs or take care of their possessions because they knew that more money stood behind them.
So how do you see affirmative action? Has it outlived its usefulness or is there some other kind of bigotry going on here that leads the far right to want to end it?