Robert E. Lee Becomes Roberto Eduardo Leon: An Affirmative Action Controversy from 1979

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From People Magazine, April 17, 1979:

Anyone saddled with a name as fraught with history as Robert E. Lee might be forgiven the impulse to change it. But when retired Navy Captain Robert Earl Lee, 56, recently cast off that load in favor of Roberto Eduardo Leon, the response was something short of sympathy.

Leon, who earns $27,857 a year monitoring noise control for the Montgomery County (Md.) Environmental Protection Department, used the name change to apply for the county's affirmative action program—and the pledge of promotions ahead of equally qualified white males….

Leon bridles at the charge that he is an "instant Hispanic." He points to a Spanish grandfather and a childhood in San Diego, where, surrounded by Latino playmates, he began speaking Spanish in high school…..

Meanwhile the county's newest, most controversial Hispanic is getting accustomed to his new heritage, if not terribly serious about it. "One of my compatriots called me a Spic," he says, "and we had a big laugh over it."

I didn't see that one coming.

 

NEXT: It's Time To Leave Your City. Come to West Virginia With Me.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Hey! Who started the “I identify as ___” ? With the added bonus that once you attain the position you want, you may start identifying differently. It happens.

    1. Would a trans woman be eligible for Affirmative Retribution?

  2. Maybe there could be a certification program? It would be administered by each of the majority Spanish speaking countries to ascertain if any individual qualifies as ethnically or culturally Hispanic.

    1. Perhaps they could use the Nuremberg Racial Purity Laws of 1935.

      How’d that turn out?

      1. Did you just compare Hispanic people to Nazis?

        1. No, he compared people who think being Hispanic ought to get you some kind of benefit to Nazis.

          1. I think you’re correct Brett. But it’s just as offensive. There are good faith reason to oppose affirmative action programmes, just as there are good faith reasons to support such programmes. Making Nazi comparisons to either group is sort of a dick move.

            1. I can’t really argue with your last point, I tend to think Nazi comparisons should be restricted to groups that at a minimum go around beating people up, like the Antifa.

              I’m a bit more conflicted about the first point.

              Good faith is a bar arguments should clear to be taken seriously, but it’s a pretty low bar: It just means your argument is your actual position, not that it’s a particularly good or admirable argument.

              So, yeah, both opponents and proponents of affirmative action can argue in good faith, but I’d say that advocates of AA in it’s modern incarnation, (Not the original concept of going out of your way to find qualified applicants, who’d then be evaluated on their merits.) are arguing in good faith based on really nasty premises like collective guilt.

              1. I like AA not for collective sins-of-the-father guilt, but because I think our meritocracy is flawed, and we’re leaving a bunch of brainpower on the table as currently situated. AA is not a perfect solution even when properly performed, but it looks at more of the table than a color-blind system.

                1. Well, yes: Our meritocracy is flawed. Affirmative action is part of the effort to keep it flawed. It’s one of the largest of the flaws.

                  You don’t need race data to run a meritocracy. Not at all. You need merit data, which race categorically isn’t.

                  AA “looks at more of the table” than a color blind system, in order to racially discriminate. It’s somewhat tautological: In order to behave in a racist manner, you need to know people’s races.

                  1. Our merit data is tilted towards a certain background. I agree that race is not the best proxy for it, but it’s not the worst either. Being color-blind is just ignoring the tilted playing field.

                    I disagree with your characterization. A well-situated AA program looks at populations ignored by our currently tilted system, and tries to see if anyone in that population should not be overlooked.

                    1. “A well-situated AA program…”

                      The problem is, those are pretty hard to do:

                      “For instance, in Illinois you get favorable treatment as a potential government contractor if you “comply” with all sorts of insane progressive policy strictures. “Woman or minority owned business” or “small business owner”, as an example. Even a small advantage in the contracting process for (for example) the State of Illinois puts you over the edge. Competitors without (for instance) the Woman or Minority Owned Business certification would have to underbid a certified applicant by 10-15% (it’s all a complex points system) to just break even. It got so bad so quickly that the regs were revised to permit a de minimis ownership (1%). Of course, several regulatory lawyers quickly made a business out of offering minority or women equity “owners” who would take 1% for a fee (just absorb how backwards it is to be paying a fee to have a 1% equity partner) with very restrictive shareholder agreements. Then it became obvious that you’d get points for the “women” and “minority” categories BOTH if you had a black woman as a proxy 1% “owner.” There was one woman who was a 1% owner of 320 firms.”

                      And that’s always going to be hard to do … you can always have the wife own the business, after all.

                      And that’s not even getting into the looming demographic problem of calculating the preference to give to someone whose ethnicity is 1/4 each Korean/Black/Polish/Native American.

                      It’s not good enough that something could hypothetically be done right; you have to be able to accomplish that in the real world.

                2. “I think our meritocracy is flawed”

                  That’s true enough. There are also limits on what we can do about it – ugly people are disadvantaged all through life, but there isn’t a lot we can do about that. Similarly, there is only so much the schools can do to give the child of neglectful parents the advantages doting parents give to their children.

                  “it looks at more of the table than a color-blind system”

                  I disagree there – looking at color misses a lot of useful info, which is why it lumps the Hmong with wealthy Chinese, lumps Soviet emigres with the other honkies, wealthy Hispanics who exploited their countrymen with poor ones they exploited, and so on.

                  Why not something more like:
                  1)Parental income based AA for college admissions. This way boat people, Soviet emigres, and the kids of Appalachian meth heads all get a helping hand until, and only until, they catch up.
                  2)Contracting preferences for small businesses. After all, when we are re-plumbing city hall, why should we advantage Ms. Smith, who inherited the 400 employee Smith’s Plumbing from her father over Mr. Jones, who just hung out his shingle after a desperately poor childhood?

                  Doing this avoids all the constant fine tuning of deciding how much preference immigrant Soviet Jews ought to get relative to wealthy Argentines of German heredity vs Koreans, in addition to avoiding figuring out what to do with the kids born when the Korean marries the Argentine.

                  1. I disagree there – looking at color misses a lot of useful info

                    I don’t disagree here. But it does better than ignoring everything, including color.

                    My sense is that income is part of it, but that also misses a lot. I used to be all in for income-based AA. But I recognize now that there’s a social component to our meritocracy and it overlaps with the social component of race in ways not captured by income.

                    I’m not sure there’s a good quantitative way – either racially or income-wise – to really our arms around the problem.

                    One thin we do need to do better is capacity building. HBCU-MI programs do an awful job of this at the moment.

  3. Did he vote for Biden? That is the gold standard for determining ethnicity.

  4. King Juan Carlos of Spain is surely Hispanic. And he clearly could benefit from some affirmative action. As could Julio Iglesias and Carlos Slim.
    If you actually have the acquaintance of anyone who comes from a Spanish speaking country you will know, that apart from ‘community organizers,’ there is little or no sense of common interest. Those in northern South America and the Caribbean play baseball. Those from Argentina and Chile look and mostly have the same tastes as any rabiblanco from the US. ‘Cause they are pretty much the same ethnically. Peruvians identify as Inca. It goes on…

  5. The last time Confederates tried to be Mexican, it didn’t work out that well.

    https://amzn.to/3go0X1m

    1. Maybe he could have become Brazilian, or is that an affirmative action category, I forget –

      https://amzn.to/3c7G4o8

      1. I always thought a “Brazilian” was something completely different …

  6. I understand the rationale for quotas for ADOS.

    What is supposed to be the rationale for quotas for descendants of conquistadors?

  7. You know, I agree Senor Leon’s actions are indefensible and there are many anecdotes involving silly applications of affirmative action.

    I must point out, though, that for centuries non whites were shut out of most of the economy which was essentially affirmative action for whites. And nobody much complained about that kind of affirmative action; it was only when affirmative action began to benefit non-whites that suddenly whites discovered the joys of anti discrimination. So please understand your complete lack of credibility on the subject.

    Of course, “you’re a hypocrite “ does not answer the question of whether affirmative action is, on its own merits, a good policy. It merely makes it laughable that whites, who were all for racial quotas when they benefited whites, have suddenly converted to strict racial equality now that AA is beneficial to someone else.

    1. I must point out, though, that for centuries non whites were shut out of most of the economy which was essentially affirmative action for whites. And nobody much complained about that kind of affirmative action; it was only when affirmative action began to benefit non-whites that suddenly whites discovered the joys of anti discrimination. So please understand your complete lack of credibility on the subject.

      I understand the rationale for quotas for ADOS.

      But why do we need quotas for descendants of conquistadors?

      1. First of all, I screwed up and accidentally flagged this comment for review. My apologies and admin, please disregard. Is there a way to unflag a comment if it was flagged in error?

        Second, in Latin America, where there is no real history of discrimination against the descendants of conquistadors you probably don’t. Boston and Los Angeles may be a different story.

        I’m not entirely sold on affirmative action, by the way. Merely amused at the timing of whites criticizing it as discriminatory.

        1. Are you similarly amused by affirmative action for Rachel Dolezal? How about men transitioning to women who get a place on women’s sports teams?

          Calling government-mandated slavery and Jim Crow “affirmative action for whites” is about as enlightening as say Auschwitz was affirmative action for Jews.

          1. The fact that you can point to individual instances in which people abused the system doesn’t answer the question of whether AA is a good policy or not. There will always be people who abuse the system regardless of what the system is.

            How exactly did Auschwitz benefit Jews? That comment is so stupid I have to ask to be sure I’m not missing something.

            1. How exactly did LBJ’s War on Poverty help the poor? How exactly does affirmative action help minorities?

            2. You’re not missing anything. It really was that stupid.

    2. “I must point out, though, that for centuries …

      It merely makes it laughable that whites, who were all for racial quotas when they benefited whites, have suddenly converted to strict racial equality now that AA is beneficial to someone else.”

      I’m pretty sure that the whites who were in favor of suppressing slaves in 1850 are neither favoring nor opposing affirmative action today. The median age in the U.S. is 38 years, so a majority of the population was born long after Jim Crow. At some point you have to judge people as individuals, by their own actions, not those of their ancestors.

      And just for the record, I strongly supported AA in it’s early days; it was the least we could do to make amends. But that is going on a half century ago – at some point you have to reevaluate policies, or we’d need to have AA for the Irish.

      1. I’m not entirely sold on affirmative action but I don’t think the effects of Jim Crow are entirely gone. And that’s the standard: has the injustice you’re seeking to address stopped hurting people, not whether the people who committed the injuries are still here.

        1. Have you ever considered the possibility that affirmative action itself extends bigotry and the states excuse for further affirmative action?

          The way to stop government-mandated racism is to stop government-mandated racism. Affirmative action is government-mandated racism.

          1. Government mandated racism — supported overwhelmingly by the local populace — allowed one of those races to get 3/4 of the way around the Monopoly board and purchase most of the desirable properties before the other one had even collected $200. I don’t see it as racist to say that perhaps the second race should be permitted some time to catch up.

            Here’s what your argument boils down to: OK, so we stole from and abused blacks for 200 years. We’ll stop doing it, but we don’t have to pay back what was stolen.

            1. ” I don’t see it as racist to say that perhaps the second race should be permitted some time to catch up.”

              Yes, we’re aware that you have trouble noticing when you’re being racist.

              1. Actually affirmative action for black descendants of slaves makes perfect sense. And with respect to college admissions unfortunately so few black descendants of slaves meet the minimum requirements it really doesn’t end up having a big impact. So we would be better off cultivating blacks with STEM aptitude and matching them into STEM programs in which they will get a STEM degree. So affirmative action results in too many being shifted into liberal arts programs because their high school education didn’t prepare them for competitive university STEM programs.

                1. Yes, it makes perfect sense, the problem is, it makes perfect sense from a racist perspective. The “black descendants of slaves” are just that: Descendants, not the slaves themselves.

                  And, in practice, AA programs don’t bother themselves with investigating the geneology of applicants, to make sure that the advantaged really are descended from slaves, and that they get their advantage at the expense of the descendants of slave owners. (Not that this is justified, either.) They just go with skin color, and leave it at that.

                  1. It should work both ways then—nobody can inherit wealth because nothing that one’s ancestors do or gets done to them should impact their descendants.

                    1. You don’t get to inherit because of your rights, Sebastian. You get to inherit because of the rights of the person you inherit from: It being their stuff, they get to say where it goes when they die.

                    2. Ipso facto, my family benefits from the concept of inheritance so I support it…very sound reasoning as usual! 😉

                      With respect to college admissions Bush got in based on legacy at Yale and Cheney got in based on geographic diversity…so affirmative action is just as much a legitimate factor in college admissions as legacy and geographic diversity.

              2. Right because people trying to fix the effects of racism are themselves racist. Go peddle that crap to someone else.

                1. Yes, just because you’re “trying to fix the effects of racism”, doesn’t mean that the means you’ve chosen aren’t themselves racist.

                  1. White person steals from black person. Court tells white person he has to pay it back. White person says this is racist since only white people are being made to pay anything here. Krychek says, “Oh, I see you’ve been learning about what is racist from Brett.”

            2. Yes, segregated rail cars were so popular that the government had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to mandate it.

            3. Your “we” is mighty fine. I did not, and do not, steal from blacks, Indians, Hispanics, Asians, or anyone else.

              What gives you the moral authority to help government steal from me, as if that corrects the problem?

              Are you white? Then by your own definition, you are not deserving of giving yourself that moral authority, let alone delegating it to government.

              1. You’ve bought into the libertarian notion that everything is about you. Well it isn’t.

                1. You’ve bought into the collectivist notion that nothing is about individuals, that everything is about the collective, and that you are one of the elite in charge.

                  1. No, some things are about individuals. This just doesn’t happen to be one of them. Some problems cannot be solved at the individual level.

            4. “…allowed one of those races to get 3/4 of the way around the Monopoly board…”

              Life ain’t Monoploy. Everybody in the world has, to some degree, their current status determined by past prejudice. Do you think we should try to unwind all of it?

              1. Rewinding all of it would be a bit overambitious. How about starting with that part of it that was done here, and few enough generations ago that it can still be unwound?

                1. “few enough generations”

                  We’re making progress, in that we’re discussing exit criteria – how long to do AA should have been discussed right up front. How many generations do you envision?

                  And it’s worth mentioning groups who the U.S. has horribly exploited after Jim Crow ended, like the Hmong. This country really shafted them. They are very economically disadvantaged. And yet we are currently using AA to further discriminate against them, because they are lumped in the meta group ‘Asian’. How long do we continue to dump on them and call it ‘being fair’?

                  (and of course, one answer might be ‘give the Hmong preferences’, but that still misses the point – what about the ethnic Chinese boat people, or an Uighur refugee …)

                  1. “how long to do AA should have been discussed right up front. How many generations do you envision?”

                    He’s been explicit on this point: He’ll continue moving people around like toy soldiers until the people go where he wants them to without his having to move them around. His end criteria for ceasing to treat people like pawns is for them to act like pawns on their own.

                  2. Please recall I said initially that I’m not that sold on affirmative action; I’m merely responding to the hypocrisy on the part of some who oppose it. However, since I’m playing devil’s advocate, I would say that some categories definitely need to be re-worked but that’s a separate question from whether the idea itself is a good one. Just because gerrymandered congressional districts are a bad thing doesn’t mean congressional districts themselves are; it means you keep the concept of districts but draw the lines in a fairer fashion.

            5. Read and weep for your precious racism:

              https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/jason-riley-on-state-sanctioned-racial-discrimination/

              Graduation numbers increased after affirmative action was banned.

              1. The plural of anecdote is not data. As for it being my precious racism, same thing I told Brett: Go peddle that claim to someone else; the people trying to fix the effects of racism are not the racists.

                1. The problem with asserting it, is that you’re not even trying to make a case that it’s true. You’re JUST asserting it.

                  Why can’t they be trying to “fix the effects of racism” in a racist way?

                  1. I don’t disagree with you that there is such a thing as doing a right thing in a wrong way, or that there is such a thing as a racist method of trying to remedy past racism. I just don’t think affirmative action is either of those.

                    It’s not about punishing white people. It’s about allowing those who were deliberately kept at the back to move to the front. Is it perfect? Of course not, no solution ever is. That necessarily requires being honest about who was deliberately kept behind.

                2. “plural of anecdote is not data”
                  A cute slogan, but for social “sciences” it is simply bogus.
                  Are 10,000 anecdotes data? What about 1000? Or does it just depend on whether the anecdotes support your position.

                  1. No, Don – you need to curate a bunch of anecdotes before they become workable data.

                    Anecdotes are rarely a random sampling.

                    1. Curation rarely is, either.

                    2. True, Brett. But it does at least look for something like a baseline.

                      Don Nico seems to just be endorsing confirmation bias. Which did a great job for humanity for centuries, but not so much these days.

      2. Why do we not have affirmative action for the Irish?

        1. Because the Irish no longer need it. If this were 1920 rather than 2020, maybe we should.

          1. Or they could simply not emigrate to racist countries. That is why diversity is so dumb today—Latinos and Africans shouldn’t come here if we are a racist country. A nitwit like Ilhan Omar has a in England and she is free to move to Canada or England if America is so terrible. That idiot senator from Hawaii complains about Japanese internment but her family came here in the 1950s…how many black Americans moved to South Africa during Apartheid??

            1. Sebastian, you’re seriously arguing that racists have the right to make policy?

              1. Don’t come here if you think we are a racist country.

              2. You are apparently arguing that only the woke are entitled to make policy or even have an opinion, and you, being one of the woke, are the only one entitled to decide who is woke.

                1. Racists are entitled to their opinion. They’re not entitled to actually punish people’s for being different from them.

                  1. Japan is full of racists and so they have very few immigrants.

          2. Because we integrated before anybody got such a stupid idea.

          3. So why do Spanish still need it?

          4. “Because the Irish no longer need it. If this were 1920 rather than 2020, maybe we should.”

            This kinda undermines your point, doesn’t it?

            1. No. That the Irish were treated badly is not a reason to treat anyone else badly.

              1. But treating whites badly because blacks were treated badly is fine?

                1. How is it treating whites badly? It’s compensating people for past injustice.

                  And on the merits, it doesn’t even treat whites badly. 30% of Harvard’s admissions are legacy, which means 30% of its incoming seats are set aside for wealthy whites. That’s double the number of blacks who get there, via affirmative action or otherwise.

                  1. How is it treating whites badly?
                    Discriminating against someone isn’t treating them badly?

      3. Bottom line is that two of my Great-Great-Grandfathers left Maine to free the slaves. One came home without a foot and the other didn’t come home at all — they can’t even tell me where he was buried.

        Reality is that one White man from the North died for every 10 slaves that were freed — and there is a concept known as subrogation.

        Hence to whatever extent to which reparations are owed, a subrogated debt to those who died freeing them is also owed.

    3. Ah, yes, the enlightened theory that if you’re descended from (or even have the same skin color as) someone who perpetrated an injustice before you were born, you’re guilty of their crimes.

      That was, if I recall correctly, the very argument that slave owners made regarding the “Curse of Ham”.

      1. Not so much guilty of their crimes as heirs to the benefits they derived from their crimes. Though that’s not really the issue.

        If I recall correctly, Germany’s last reparations payment for World War II happened some time in the 1990s, after the policy makers who started the war were all long dead. But the damage they did didn’t magically go away when the last one died.

        1. I believe collective punishments are a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Affirmative action, by your definition, is collective punishment. I did not inherit stolen black property or wealth. I did not declare war on blacks. My ancestors fought for the Union; where is my collective reward?

          1. It’s not punishment. It’s restitution. And yes, sometimes collectives really are responsible for the acts of their members.

            1. Redefining language to suit your woke feels does not make it so.

              1. So do you not understand the difference between restitution and punishment? There’s this great invention called the dictionary that might clear things up for you.

                1. Do YOU know the difference between restitution and giving somebody somebody else’s stuff? The difference is that restitution comes at the expense of somebody who’s actually guilty.

                  1. In this case, the heirs of someone who’s guilty.

                    1. “In this case, the heirs of someone who’s guilty.”

                      So, to pick a hypothetical out of the air, a young Ukrainian who emigrated to the U.S. circa 1975 wouldn’t be included in your class of those owing restitution, because they aren’t the heirs of anyone who was guilty[1]?

                      I agree that makes things more equitable than just lumping all caucasians as guilty. Of course, it also makes divvying up the pie harder. Anyway, next we can talk about the descendants of, say, abolitionists who fought in the Union Army.

                      (this isn’t to say I agree with inherited guilt or debt – we don’t ask Madoff’s kids to pay his debts, or prosecute Manson’s kids for their father’s crimes. Nor do I agree with the whole notion of group, rather than individual guilt/indebtedness. But you’re making progress!)

                      [1]In fact, it’s pretty hard to find a group of people who were dumped on harder than Ukrainian Jews in the 1900’s. The Czar, the Revolution, Stalin, Hitler, then the USSR again … I think a rational person would rather be Black in the Jim Crow south.

            2. Subrogation?!?!?

          2. You ought to demand subrogation rights…

        2. Not so much guilty of their crimes as heirs to the benefits they derived from their crimes.

          Oh? Not guilty of their crimes? Then how, exactly, is it hypocrisy for them to oppose affirmative action?

          I mean, if they have inherited guilt, if the behaviors of their ancestors are by transmission their own behavior, then sure, it’s plausible to say they’ve engaged in “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform”.

          On the other hand, if you reject that, then they very clearly aren’t hypocrites, and you libeled them in your post above.

          1. It’s not about guilt; it’s about restitution.

            1. “It’s not about guilt; it’s about restitution”

              Well, we sure treated the Chinese immigrants badly, so we’d better give them restitution as well. Not to mention Catholics, Jews, etc. The KKK didn’t like them very much either.

              1. That’s called what aboutism. It’s also irrelevant to a discussion about affirmative action, which is about increasing minority representation in places where they have typically been under-represented. So if someone who is Chinese, or Catholic, or Jewish, can show that they are under-represented in a particular field because of past discrimination, then yes, they might be entitled to affirmative action as well.

                1. Yes, it’s “whataboutism”, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with “whataboutism”. “Whataboutism” is just putting things in context.

                  The only people who object to “whataboutism” are people advancing arguments that depend on avoiding putting things in context.

                  “Your shit stinks!”
                  “What of it? So does yours.”
                  “Whataboutism!”

                  1. Whataboutism is just changing the subject. It’s a criminal defense attorney arguing that other defendants also did bad things. True, but so what?

                2. You’re not worth arguing with. According to you there is only one valid point of view: yours.

                  Your theory of inherited or gained benefit for immigrants who came to the US after 1900 is “whataboutism” writ large.

            2. It’s not about guilt; it’s about restitution.

              Excuse me, you seem to have lost track of your own argument, so let’s remind you that your originating comment, the first statement in this thread, was not about the merits of affirmative action. To quote you verbatim:

              Of course, “you’re a hypocrite “ does not answer the question of whether affirmative action is, on its own merits, a good policy.

              Accusing someone of hypocrisy cannot be about restitution instead of guilt. You can either admit you libeled white people opposed to affirmative action by falsely declaring them hypocrites, or declare you believe in inherited guilt; pivoting to talk about issues other than the ones you brought up in your first post (like the basis for affirmative action) is admitting you can’t defend your own words.

              You have two choices at this point. You can profusely apologize for and retract your original post in this thread, or impicitly confess to moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

        3. What crimes are the ancestors of Korean immigrants guilty of in this context, so that they deserve to be screwed by affirmative action in college admissions? What benefits have they historically reaped from slavery or Jim Crow?

          Thanks to affirmative action, Asians have to meet the most stringent standards, even higher than those of white students. Is this in response to the entrenched historical power of Asians in our society? Did the Confederacy rise to protect the power of the yellow man? Was the Constitution translated from the original Korean?

    4. “I must point out, though, that for centuries non whites were shut out of most of the economy which was essentially affirmative action for whites.”

      I’m not clear why this should matter, though, unless you can identify somebody who’s centuries old. Everybody involved on both sides of that is long dead.

      1. Because the damage done by Jim Crow didn’t magically disappear when the last person involved on both sides of that died.

        1. Perhaps you can identify clear exit conditions for sunsetting affirmative action. That would be a feat!

          1. That’s easy. AA ends when minorities are proportionate in all rungs of the economic ladder.

            1. As defined by you, of course.

              You idiot. Such a nebulous concept is undefinable for any single person, let alone great conglomerations selected by you. You can’t define any of those terms:

              * minority
              * proportionate
              * rungs
              * economic
              * ladder

              None of them have any definable meaning. Tell me, O genius, where Obama, say, fits into this. He just bought a $14.5 million dollar seaside mansion, incidentally demonstrating how little he actually believes in global warming. He’s got more than me. He’s half white, half black. What rung of your economic ladder is he on? Does his (true African) black half deserve restitution form his white half? Where is my proportionate restitution for his gain at my expense?

              1. If words don’t have definable meanings then nice talking to you. And from an economic standpoint, Obama is an outlier.

            2. “That’s easy. AA ends when minorities are proportionate in all rungs of the economic ladder.”

              If you’re trying to fix economic inequality, you should base AA on the parent’s income or something. You don’t fix economic inequality by giving rich kids from one group preference over poor kids from another group.

              1. I’m fine with factoring that in. However, if a particular school or employer has a history of discriminating based on race, then skin color is not irrelevant to the issue even if some members of the disfavored minority managed to climb up the ladder by themselves.

            3. “That’s easy. AA ends when minorities are proportionate in all rungs of the economic ladder.”

              Do you support affirmative action for Whites in California, since they’re a minority and other minority groups make more money than them?

              Why or why not?

              1. Is there a history of discrimination against whites in California?

                1. There is discrimination against white in California, yes. I can find examples if you want.

                  Moreover they are a minority in California, and make less on average than a different ethnic group.

                  So, do you support affirmative action for them? Why or why not?

                  1. Asians, the only cohort that makes more than whites in CA, are even more of a minority so your thesis seems questionable.

                    1. And so?

                      If the rich group is a minority percentage of the population, racial groups who make less than them, but are greater proportion of the population (but still a minority), don’t deserve affirmative action? Is that the argument being made?

                    2. What argument are you making?

            4. Why don’t you read The Bell Curve before you embarrass yourself any further?

              1. Yep.

                Yep.

                This is why affirmative action discussions around here bring.

                That book is debuked BS with flawed data. Methinks you should do some reading, dude.

                1. Really, somebody’s come up with a test of mental abilities that doesn’t consistently produce better average scores for East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews than other groups? Wow, what’s the DOI on the associated paper?

                  1. The Bell Curve used South Africa as a country without racial bias. And included some out-of-context studies about badly educated manual laborers and cut out the associated work with students, because it didn’t fit the narrative.

                    It’s junk science, but certain people treat it like gospel truth.

                    Telling.

        2. When are you going to come out with collective punishment for those current black Africans who sold their black enemies into slavery for hundreds of years ago? Obviously the restitution should come from them as the original slavers. Perhaps you would approve of sending all African-Americans “back” to Africa as proper restitution, since you do believe that all modern whites should pay for what some of their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

          1. That’s a dispute between the groups involved.

            1. Suddenly your magesterial definitions fail you when faced with reality. What a copout!

              Loser. Sad, pathetic, incompetent, incapable, loser.

              If your great collectivist punishment, excuse me, restitution, can’t even cope with such a clear case of first wrong as the Africans who kidnapped other Africans and sold them into slavery, how the dickens can you ever hope to handle all the much more complicated situations you expound upon at such great lengths?

              Come, Mr Woke Collective, surely your collective wokeness can’t be that weak and frail, can it?

              1. I didn’t say it wasn’t an obvious wrong. I said it was a matter for the groups involved. What happened in the US is my business; what happened in other places not so much.

                1. “What happened in the US is my business; what happened in other places not so much.”

                  And yet we deport Nazi war criminals long after the fact. Is the notion “what happens in Africa stays in Africa, but what happens in Europe doesn’t”? That seems a little dismissive.

                  1. Nazi war criminals who come here have made them our business by coming here.

                    1. I’m not sure I understand the principle. On one hand you distinguish German immigrants who were Nazis from German immigrants who weren’t, but you aren’t distinguishing immigrant descendants[1] of slave traders from the descendants of the slaves they traded.

                      Even if that was a logical distinguishing principle, it would imply there are no worries about buying goods manufactured in horrible conditions by child labor overseas, since they aren’t here? Yikes!

                      [1]to be clear, I don’t favor having either blame or credit being hereditary; I’m going along with your views there.

                    2. Because loading people into gas chambers, and actively shutting them out of the job market, are different. They are both bad, but there are different levels of badness. In the case of actual nazis, punishment is in order. In the case of the heirs of those who benefited from past racism, punishment is not in order because they’re not the ones who did it. But restitution may well be.

                    3. “Because loading people into gas chambers, and actively shutting them out of the job market, are different. They are both bad, but there are different levels of badness”

                      We’re talking here about putting people in gas chambers on the one hand, and raiding villages and forcibly abducting people and selling them into generations of slavery on the other. That was the “immigrant descendants of slave traders” part.

                      One can argue that killing people is worse than enslaving them (I’m not sure I would agree), but surely both are pretty far out on the axis of evil. Also, n.b. that some guesstimates are that half of the abducted slaved died before reaching America, and that estimates of the total fatalities exceed the Holocaust by an order of magnitude, so the slave trading tribes may have actually killed more than the Nazis, with the ones who survived into slavery added on top of that.

                      So I don’t think I’m on board with the whole ‘what happened in Africa stays in Africa’ thing.

    5. If you think most whites of today were silent centuries ago about white privilege because they liked their status, you are greatly mistaken. There’s a much more basic reason why I, and others like me, didn’t speak out centuries ago.

      1. Do enlighten us

        1. Duh. He wasn’t around then, to oppress anybody else living today who also wasn’t around then.

          Come on, genius, explain your lapse.

          1. The do enlighten us referred to his incomprehensible first sentence rather than his second one. For someone who likes insulting other people’s intelligence, perhaps you could learn to read more carefully yourself.

            1. You think his first sentence was incomprehensible, but you’re the one throwing aspersions about reading comprehension?

    6. I don’t feel called upon to defend whites as a group, only to defend the liberal principle of equality under the law regardless of race. If you see that as a one-way ratchet benefiting certain groups only, very well.

      If you’re looking for a non-hypocritical race, where will you go? Blacks? Asians? People of Spanish or indigenous American heritage? Where will you find a consistent defense of liberal principles over the centuries?

      I guess everyone’s related by race with groups with no liberal moral standing, so we should just apply racial preferences on behalf of whoever can get the votes.

      Of course, in 1964 a predominantly white Congress voted for what they were told was a liberal bill to prohibit discrimination based on race. I suppose they were sufficiently “racist” that, if told in advance that that law would have been administered to *promote* racial discrimination, they might have voted against it.

    7. “I must point out, though, that for centuries non whites were shut out of most of the economy which was essentially affirmative action for whites. And nobody much complained about that kind of affirmative action;”

      People complained a lot about it. The argued that it was unfair to treat people differently based on skin color or national. And they argued so effectively that they convinced most of the country.
      But somehow we have people, in this case some people from Latin America, who are convinced that it’s unfair to treat someone from Spain the same as them.

    8. I must point out, though, that for centuries non whites were shut out of most of the economy which was essentially affirmative action for whites. And nobody much complained about that kind of affirmative action; it was only when affirmative action began to benefit non-whites that suddenly whites discovered the joys of anti discrimination. So please understand your complete lack of credibility on the subject.

      Your timeline is wrong, so you have cause and effect backwards there. Whites discovered the joys of anti-discrimination first; then affirmative-action entered the picture.

      Of course, “you’re a hypocrite “ does not answer the question of whether affirmative action is, on its own merits, a good policy. It merely makes it laughable that whites, who were all for racial quotas when they benefited whites, have suddenly converted to strict racial equality now that AA is beneficial to someone else.

      That argument cuts both ways. Minorities were all for colorblindness when they were oppressed. As soon as they got political power, they suddenly converted to racial preferences being fine.

      1. Minorities were all for colorblindness when they were oppressed. As soon as they got political power, they suddenly converted to racial preferences being fine.

        Reconstruction rather says differently.

        1. History tends to repeat itself, and you are talking about what happened *after* Reconstruction.

          1. No, I’m talking about what a bunch of blacks wanted *during* reconstruction, but didn’t get.

            It was not very color-blind.

  8. I had a plan for my wife to give birth to our son in Mexico. That way, he would officially be classified as a Latino, and he can enjoy the benefits from all that affirmative action goodness. Unfortunately, my wife vetoed the idea. Perhaps I can officially Latinize his name now? He does love tacos.

    We’re Chinese, BTW. He’d vault from the absolute bottom of the affirmative action ladder to near the top.

    1. My grandmother was from Chile. We resent that the fellow from the governor’s commission on Hispanic affairs thinks that Hispanic means tamales and enchiladas. We eat empañadas and congrillo.

      1. or Cerviche (from Ecuador, of course – where the best cerviche on the planet is made). 🙂

    2. I have to remind my wife to list our kids as Pacific Islander not White. She’s an immigrant and is used to the hierarchy being reversed.

  9. I’ll say it again, but maybe the government just should not be in the business of deciding (1) what race you are and (2) if you receive special benefits because of that race. I know this is a revolutionary concept, but it might just work.

  10. Wow. I don’t feel so badly, from O-6 Captain to $28K. I might try for a little Affiermative Reaction to salvage so wasted a career making Captain O-6.

    Thank you for your service Captain Robert E. Lee.

    USN SS ‘69 – ‘75

  11. “You don’t become Hispanic by liking enchiladas and tortillas.”

    It is as good as any other definition of being Hispanic. I have a brother in law from Peru. He was raised in a household with slaves. They don’t call them that, but when someone has been in your family’s service since they were born, to their parent who is still also in your family’s service, and they have no education, and nowhere else to go, it is slavery. But now that he is a legal resident of the US married to a US citizen, he gets to be a poor downtrodden hispanic. So too his kids. He does not however like enchiladas or tortillias. So at least using that test, as one who grew up in a household using slave laborers, he would be correctly identified as not being worthy of special preferences.

  12. Mr Bernstein is not familiar with Hispanics. To him they are an alien race, just this side of those spaceship creatures in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

    1. (1) Kids’ closest friends are mostly Hispanic, schools they have attended/attend have generally been about 40% Hispanic; (2) Lived in Peru, before which I became moderately conversant in Spanish after private tutoring with a Peruvian; (3) Several of wife’s closest female friends are Hispanic–Peruvian, Argentine, New Mexican; (4) Almost all of our nannies/babysitters over the years have been Hispanic, including our current one, who has been with us for 7 years and for whom I got a green card; and (5) Wife and kids of partial Sephardic descent.
      Hispanics? Aliens, of course.
      I’m not sure what any of that has to do with my post, but it’s fun to show when CC is talking out of his butt.

  13. Just a reminder that while any discussion of AA inevitably seems to wind up discussing slavery, Jim Crow, et al, a supermajority of those eligible for preferences are not descendants of Americans slaves. And while African Americans get especially significant preferences in elite higher ed., in gov’t contracting Julio Iglesias or some other wealthy, white Spanish immigrant gets exactly the same preference as someone black who grew up in the inner-city with a single mom.

  14. So, Romanians are Latinos, but not Hispanics, right?
    Pass the stuffed cabbage, por favor!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.