White Male Privilege and Placebo Politics

Placebo Politics creates the illusion that social ills are being cured when, in reality, no remedy has actually been administered. Common examples of Placebo Politics are:

  • The push, by Muslims in the United Nations -- and their apologists, elsewhere -- to outlaw criticism of religion.
  • The spread, in Europe, of multiculturalism (as opposed to pluralism) as a means to accommodate minority groups (namely, Muslims).
  • Social and political pressure to teach Intelligent Design alongside biology.
  • Affirmative Action and its insidious replacement, the social doctrine of White Male Privilege.

Muslims have inverted (in)tolerance, turning it on its head, and their Western apologists are stumbling all over themselves to help by limiting our freedom of speech. The same apologists bend over backwards to accommodate Muslim immigrants who won't reciprocate by accommodating their host countries. In mindless orgies of political correctitude, these countries go so far as to allow Sharia Law within their Muslim communities. Here, in the U.S., the public is so afraid of offending fundamentalist Christians that we're in danger of allowing them to teach bogus science in our public schools. And, finally, the main thrust of this post: the self-flagellating guilt-trip known as "White Male Privilege" (which replaces the old self-flagellating guilt-trip known as Affirmative Action).

Affirmative Action represents decades of faulty policy that mistook equal opportunity for equal results. The Supreme Court has finally recognized this fact and has struck down "discriminatory affirmative action" (i.e. affirmative action with potential for reverse discrimination).

We have plenty of laws to protect the interests of minorities. This does not mean that all groups will eventually compete and win equally or proportionately. For instance, Jews are ridiculously over-represented in Nobel prizes. Does this mean the Nobel committee should withhold future prizes to Jews? Of course not! Jewish excellence in science benefits us all.

Anti-discrimination laws have been producing slow but sure progress in the U.S. Women and minorities have made significant inroads (sometimes even achieving equality) in all the former bastions of good-ol'-boy networks. Hell, even the President is black and has an Arab surname. Everybody is free to succeed and realize his/her potential. If somebody tries to discriminate against you and hold you back, you have legal recourse. We have addressed the ills (discrimination) and leveled the playing field of opportunity. Now . . . if only everybody would seize those opportunities proportionately and equally . . .

We could always do more, of course. Why not make ALL education free? You could be a career student and get multiple doctorates, if you like. No charge. What the heck, give students room, board and monthly allowance too so that disadvantaged youths can get the same education as rich kids. That way, there would be no educational disadvantages in the job market. Huh? What's that you say? Not feasible? Who will pay for it? Oh, yeah, well . . . never mind.

No single group -- not even atheists -- define me adequately. Hell, if there were some combination of groups that defined me, the same combination would not define you. I am not a group. I am a person. An individual. As an individual, I want our laws to guarantee equal opportunity for all. I want everybody to compete as they choose and are able. What I don't want are laws that guarantee the results of that competition. We need to fix problems . . . not competitions. That means adjusting the rules -- NOT the scores.

And we HAVE adjusted the rules (anti-discrimination laws). We'll continue to do so as long as we can identify rules that need changing. But that's a far cry from adjusting the results. An imbalance in results may not even be something we can or should legislate away. Perhaps the imbalance, as with the Jews and science, has cultural explanations. Are we to legislate culture now too?

Some immigrant groups achieve more and enjoy a higher standard of living than other immigrant groups. Is this because of some "privilege"? Nope. They achieve more because their cultures value education and hard work more.

We are not a democracy of groups: we're a democracy of individuals. We're diverse people who stand or fall based on our own merits. That's the way it is in nature and that's the way it should be in human society. We should not be constrained by our greatest common denominator. It's excellence that makes the difference in our achievements: any policy or law that stifles excellence is bound to fail -- as well it should.

The law enforces, and needs to continue to enforce, equal opportunity for individuals -- NOT for groups. If incongruencies develop, then we need to address the CAUSE -- NOT the results. That's like applying a band-aid to a rattlesnake bite. It will look like you've done something helpful but, meanwhile, the venom is spreading.

Discriminatory affirmative action has been struck down by the Supreme Court, so White Male Privilege has reared its ugly head to replace it -- just as Intelligent Design reared its ugly head to replace creationism (also struck down by the Supreme Court). It's the same bad idea concealed behind a new label. Excellence should be rewarded WITHOUT REGARD FOR RACE, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, RELIGION, AGE OR CREED. The best person for the job: the contract to the best company or proposal. Period. Fixing society's woes by compromising excellence is a wrongheaded idea spearheaded by leftist apologists who expect us to feel guilty for being born white and/or male.

I'm male but I'm not white. Regardless, I recognize a bad idea when I see one. Multiculturalism instead of pluralism? Bad idea. Sacrificing freedoms or education to religions? Bad idea. Capping excellence for racial or gender reasons? Ridiculous. If there's 10 positions available and the 10 best candidates (by objective standards) are all white, then all those candidates should get those positions even if the city is 50% black. Of course, the same applies if the 10 best candidates are all black, asian, hispanic or whatever.

The world doesn't owe anybody a living . . . just an opportunity.

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Comment by unholyroller on October 9, 2009 at 10:17pm
No......no it wouldn't.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 9, 2009 at 8:26pm
Hi Steve,

It seems to me that the group-mixing situations you reference would be more common in Europe (where multiculturalism prevails) than in the U.S. (where pluralism gives us our "melting-pot" reputation). I think that public schools and the job market in the U.S. compels us to mingle more. But you're right that venturing outside one's comfort zone does not come easily to many of us.

The emphasis of immigrations should be integration, not isolation. That should be made clear up-front. If potential immigrants understand the social forces at work in a melting-pot nation, those who don't like the idea can change their minds before actually immigrating. Hell, let them go to Canada, or Europe.

Now, everybody, let's not run to the races with comments on cultural diversity. Yes, I want a pluralistic society, a melting-pot nation. Cultural diversity can still be preserved, despite social integration. It's admittedly more difficult but the effort can be made as long as culture remains strong. Will immigrant culture eventually be diluted? Of course. Irish, African, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Native American, etc. They all retain cultural influence despite the dilution of their cultural identities. This is a natural process that adds flavor to our character without erecting barriers between groups.

As the world keeps getting smaller, homogeneity will get stronger. Think about it. Would it be healthier for humanity if, as the world keeps getting smaller, our differences get stronger?
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 9, 2009 at 8:05pm

Yes, I wonder if a preference for one's own race is the same as prejudice against another. They're obviously very similar but it appears to me that, perhaps, the greatest difference between them is intent.

I was in management for the last 5 years before retiring, in June 2006, at the age of 52. My employer had right around 100,000 employees. My boss was black but hired a low percentage of black people (lower than any other manager). On the other hand, another manager was Chinese and hired a high percentage of orientals (more than any other manager). Such trends were not supposed to develop because the vetting process excludes the hiring manager until the finalists were presented for final interviews. The candidates screened and presented to the hiring manager should be the most qualified according to objective standards (education, experience, achievements) and subjective interviews. However, good bullshitters would sometimes make the final list. But the fact was, we could (discretely) let it be known who we wanted, from the beginning, and usually end up with that person in the finalists list. This was management's worst-kept secret.

When I interviewed finalists for positions in my section, they were almost always similarly qualified. The difference was usually their personalities: who would mesh better? On one occasion, I wanted a particular Korean guy (from another section) who was exceptionally skilled and intelligent but who was being kept under thumb and was extremely unhappy where he was. I let my fellow managers know the guy's story and he was eventually presented to me in the finalist list. I hired him and he turned out to be, by far, our best employee. Interestingly, over the course of 5 years, there were only 2 females ever presented in my finalist lists and neither one was as in the top 3 (from which I always chose). So I never chose a female . . . this might look like bias but it is not. I insist on hiring only the best. By choosing from the top 3 finalists, I minimize the chance of having my choices challenged: which happens from time to time but never happened to me.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 8, 2009 at 8:21pm
By the way, everybody, my blog post had a narrow focus. As I reread it, it occurred to me that it mentions competition a lot but doesn't mention cooperation as well. Please rest assured that I'm not an ogre and do believe in fair play and humane work environments, social security, unemployment checks, food stamps, Medicare, charity and the kindness of strangers. It's just that my focus was narrow. It wasn't my intention to write a treatise or book, just a blog post with a specific, narrow topic.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 8, 2009 at 8:00pm
I agree with the need for greater education and awareness, Nerd.

We should always do what we can to promote understanding.

My old employer held mandatory sexual harassment classes. There were thousands of employees, so it took time for everybody to get trained. When it came my day to attend, my boss asked me, "Are you going to the sexual harassment class?" I replied with, "No thanks, I already know how."

LoL . . . I was kidding of course! Actually, the class was boring and I didn't learn a single thing I didn't already know. But at least my employer was sending the right message to everybody.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 8, 2009 at 7:53pm
Hi Nerd,

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 seems fair enough. I don't see anything objectionable about it. Why do you ask?
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 8, 2009 at 7:48pm
I agree, Steve,

Of course there's prejudice and bigotry out there. People and companies can evade or confound anti-discrimination laws until they establish a pattern of discrimination. Even then, a lawsuit might not end in justice. There's no way to ensure absolute conformance to law or that violators will be caught and successfuly brought to justice. That's just a sad fact of life.

Also, some prejudice is normal. For instance, would you allow an ex-convict -- who has done his time and paid for his crime -- to manage your store or date your daughter? I wouldn't. If I had the means to prevent it, I would.

And not all prejudices are covered by law. Many people are biased against obese or physically unattractive people. Absolute justice is a pipe dream and precisely as (un)likely as absolute goodness across humanity. People are basically good . . . but there will always be exceptions and the good ones aren't perfect.

We can't legislate humanity.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 8, 2009 at 2:44am
Hi unholyroller,

Yes!! Affirmative Action was wrong after all . . . who'd a-thunk it?
Comment by unholyroller on October 7, 2009 at 11:23pm
I couldn't agree with more. I was very nearly run out of a classroom when I was at University back in the '70's when I said RIGHT OUT LOUD that afferative Action was a dumbass idea and would likely result in America sinking into a morass of mediocrity. Skill, education and talent would no longer be valued and whoever whined the loudest would be be rewarded the most. I'm soooo glad I lived long enough to see myself proved wrong.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 7, 2009 at 8:48pm
Hi Steve,

I've come to expect great insights from you. And once again, you've highlighted very salients points in your comments and described many of the problems with multiculturalism (which shares similarities with WMP).



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