Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Equal in Diversity

A linked article, Are We Equal, by Walter Williams also appeared in our local newspaper; my husband drew my attention to it, as a topic in which I'd be interested. I read it, re-read parts of it but remained puzzled about the point of it all. The topic seemed too clear to have required a professor of economics at George Mason University to explain it. Then, yesterday morning, I noticed a report that the US Supreme Court is this week deliberating on the issue of Affirmative Action. Aha! That could be why Prof. Walter Williams chose to write on that topic at this time?

Affirmative Action refers to policies taking factors including race, color, religion, sex, or national origin into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in areas of employment, education, and business. It's a tool designed by Congress in the mid 1960s to ensure that positive steps were taken to advance qualified women and people of colour after decades of segregation and discriminatory practices.

In the 1960s, and for and a decade or so after, there was no doubt whatsoever that Affirmative Action was essential. The people of the USA, and especially those in Southern states had, for years seen African Americans as second-class citizens, treated them abominably through segregation - and worse. Women, unless of the wealthy privileged class, were still thought of as lesser than any male counterpart in matters of employment and education.

Those opposing Affirmative Action today bring arguments including the proposition that the need for this type of direct legislation has now passed. They propose that a new generation of women, and members of minority races, who have not been raised in, or with close memory of, segregation or ill-treatment, are no longer in need of the help afforded by Affirmative Action.

It will be interesting to find out what SCOTUS has to say on the matter. My view, for what it's worth, is that unless and until the day dawns when every last US citizen is free of every embedded, hidden unacknowledged racist or sexist feeling, there will never be equal opportunity and equal treatment for all. That point hasn't been reached in this country yet, far as I can tell. The next generation - another 20 or so years on - might see the dawn of such a day.

Back to Walter White's article. Surely, few people truly consider that we are all equal - on every level? Who has ever put forward that point of view? Is this what he had in mind? -
The opening of the United States Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, states as follows: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
All people of the USA have equal rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness .......It doesn't say that all people are equal in talent, insight, vision, skill, physical strength, mental strength. We each have those attributes in differing proportion and mixtures, but none of us, however wonderfully gifted, however powerful, however wealthy, is entitled to be treated under the law with greater preference.

We could, if we as the human race would only allow ourselves to do so, complement each others' proportions and mixes of qualities and strengths. We're part of a whole, part of the same huge jigsaw-puzzle of life. A piece depicting sky and clouds cannot be placed in the midst of a brick wall and still make sense. We are entitled to the same equal treatment before the law and before education authorities and employers, each according to our inborn and/or developed abilities and qualities. All pieces of our human jigsaw are equal, but equal for different purposes.


Vanilla Rose said...

Politicians pay lip service to the idea that everyone is "equal", but firmly believe that some people are much, much more deserving than others. And that they are in the very deserving category. The majority of the Cabinet (in the UK) are millionaires and yet food and alcohol at the House of Commons is subsidised. They have many perks and yet many still cheat on their expenses forms.

One Cabinet minister chose yesterday to answer the question, "Could YOU live on £53 a week?" with "Yes". I went into the supermarket this morning and the cashiers and other customers were all of the opinion that he couldn't. And said supermarket is not normally a hotbed of debate.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~~ Thanks VR - I've used your comment to begin today's - Wednesday's post. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Until February 7, 2013, the state of Mississippi had never submitted the required documentation to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, meaning it never officially had abolished slavery."


Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Interesting - thanks!
Doesn't/didn't any Federal government department chase or follow up on these requirements?
Seems like a highly inefficient state of affairs.....or as if they just didn't care. :-(