Affirmative Action Distorted Again

The current affirmative action debate exposes a resentful class of white male critics. They use tortured truth and convoluted facts to spew anecdotal misinformation regarding federal programs and policies designed to correct past racial and sexual discrimination. A recent column in the Montgomery Advertiser, “Nation Now Has Legal Caste System” by Paul Craig Roberts provides an excellent example of the Orwellian language some critics use while attacking these programs.

Mr. Roberts, a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, began his column with an irresponsible statement designed to undermine confidence in the nations air traffic control system. He wrote: “If air traffic safety takes a turn for the worst, at least we will know who to blame.” Then he precedes to name William Jeffers, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) director for air traffic control. Because Mr. Jeffers has committed his agency to filling “one out of every two vacancies with a diversity selection,” Mr. Roberts wants him fired. Plus he wants to blame any future airplane crashes on the FAA’s affirmative action policy.

One can only wonder, is there some poor dim-witted soul out there who will read this asinine article and actually formulate an opinion about air flight safety? Worst yet, will there be a political attempt to reserve air traffic control jobs for white males only, as once were the case for airplane pilots. Certainly Mr. Roberts knows that until President Roosevelt established the Negro airmen’s training project at Tuskegee, Alabama during World War II, only white males were considered fit to pilot aircraft.

So when Paul Craig Roberts writes “Over the past 30 years unaccountable government officials and federal judges have been slowly recreating a status-based legal system” he knows that this is untrue. Yet there may be some nincompoop out there in a militia, that may read this and blow-up another federal building, or send a letter bomb to another federal judge.

“Unaccountable bureaucrats and judges are turning American society in to a caste system with two classes of people: those who are protected by civil rights regulations and white males who are not,” asserts Mr. Roberts, a white male. Of course, Mr. Roberts, doesn’t believe that America is returning to a caste system with white males taking on the status that all non-white people and women occupied forty years ago. One can ponder, but no one will ever know really know, how many Timothy McVeigh’s or Mark Fuhrman-types this one article will inspire to act.

We aren’t talking about Pat Buchanan out in the heart-land speaking at a political rally, this is man who knows better. This is someone who has served at the higher levels of government and knows it is not true when he writes: “There is a caste, and white males are so disadvantaged that merit offers no protection.” This kind of malignant rationalizing is contagious. It infects our society with the harmful viruses of racism and sexism.

Who is Paul Craig Roberts trying to reach with his message? Is he attempting to influence legislators? Is he speaking to the stereotypic “angry white males?” Is he trying to drive a stake in the heart of the movement toward “equal opportunity” in the country? There is no answers to these questions here, only ideas.

One idea is that Mr. Roberts may not be trying to influence legislators in so much as he is attempting to influence voters to replace legislators. This article is a blatant effort to inflame sexist and racist passions, and fuel economic insecurities within that class of 20-plus million white males who are supposed to feel displaced in our equal opportunity based meritocracy.

This 20-plus million; most lack educational abilities necessary to function in today’s highly technically work environment. Nevertheless, these men want and expect the same status and job opportunities their fathers enjoyed a generation ago, as white males. Then, skin-color determined one’s social status and career opportunities.

Today, laws mandating equal opportunity has combined with individual merit to move qualified women and minorities in to positions historically reserved for white males. So it is understandable that when qualified women and minorities take some of the positions, lessor qualified white males will resist being dislodged. Especially since some critics of affirmative action would have them believe that each minority or woman in a position above or equal with them, irrespective of their own educational level or experience, to be in that position because of affirmative action.

Mr. Robert’s obvious convolution of the FAA’s affirmative action policy is outrageous. His Orwellian torture of the truth compels one to view the product of his work at the Cato Institute as a distinguished fellow and the Institute for Political Economy where he is chairman with suspicion.

Originally Published: 7 September 1995, Montgomery Advertiser

© Copyright – 1992-2004 – Major W. Cox and Montgomery Advertiser.

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