Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Feb 23 17:54:53 2012
Identity Politics

Two very different types of identity politics to talk about today:

The why of affirmative action is social justice, and in this case that's a strong enough concern to override the general preference we should have to tear down (rather than accept or build) distinctions. The specific things we're targeting here is a lack of feeling of vestedness in society, and seeding. In the first, we recognise a great social harm when groups (that we did not create, and were far more harshly discriminated against in the past) have members that grow up with the sense that the system is rigged against them because it once was. I claim that the system is no longer explicitly/intentionally rigged against them, but the perception persists; affirmative action demonstrates that they can succeed in the system. The second concern, seeding, is the concern about the continuity of condition between generations leaving people in the same position of degradation long after it is no longer forced on them; access to quality education in childhood and job opportunities after college are not possible without bootstrapping some portion of the population into those opportunities, enough to create seeds in their populations so their job/class spread more closely resembles the American mainstream. I am willing to accept these concerns overriding my general intuitions for a time under some circumstances that I claim we're near the tail end of.

The circumstances are as follows:

This is a philosophical argument, not a legal one. I don't have an opinion as to whether affirmative action is compatible with our legal system, or how to justify it in those terms if it is. I am arguing that it has been and remains the right thing to do for now.

I would be most comfortable having a publicly known schedule (ideally requiring a strong supermajority to change, as the principles counterweighing it are foundational) for the sunset of affirmative action, with certain years as milestones for its shift from being desirable, acceptable, regrettable, and forbidden here.