“From all I've read about affirmative action, its proponents don't see it as the final and ultimate good, simply a necessary and temporary corrective. If and when racism ceases and POC have truly equal opportunities, affirmative action will not be necessary - and I haven't seen anyone suggest it should continue beyond that point.”
i) In a fallen world, racism will never cease.
ii) Affirmative action discriminates against POC in case you’re the wrong POC. If you’re Asian-American, then affirmative action discriminates against you because Asian-Americans are “overrepresented” in college.
iii) BTW, an unspoken assumption of your claim is that only whites are racist. Couldn’t be that POC are ever racist. No, racism is a one-way street.
“In fact, the bloggers I've read on the topic are transparent about considering it a necessary evil.”
Well, if you only read bloggers who reflect a certain ideological slant…
“What is your solution to the issue, if you are anti-affirmative action? Do you affirm that there is a problem with white people in positions of power giving other white people privileges over POC due to conscious and unconscious biases?”
Since you’re given me no reason to accept your racist stereotyping, why should I offer a solution to your prejudicial claim?
“Do you agree that being black results in decreased opportunities (AA aside) in education and the workforce regardless of other personal qualities?”
Why would I accept a sweeping claim like that?
“Do you admit that various races are not on an equal footing in the USA due to decades or centuries of small-scale and systemic racism?”
What about more salient factors like rampant single motherhood, a culture of dependence (welfare), a drug subculture, bad role models (e.g. hip-hop “artists”), &c.?
“Do you think something should be done about this?”
Done by whom? I don’t share your racial paternalism.
“Do you think the current racial discrimination is better than the legalised discrimination that AA mandates…”
You have a habit of posing loaded questions, which beg the question by building tendentious assumptions into the question.
I also don’t think that we should rectify injustice with injustice.
“Even though the latter has benefits to oppressed people…”
Throughout your comments you assume what you need to prove. Here’s what a black economist has to say:
In the United States, where many group preferences have sought to justify themselves as counterweights to discrimination that would otherwise prevail, such “discrimination” often turns out to be statistical “under-representation” in desirable occupations or institutions. The implicit assumption, tenaciously held, is that great statistical disparities in demographic “representation” could not occur without discrimination. This key assumption is seldom tested against data on group disparities in qualifications. For example, as of the year 2001, there were more than 16,000 Asian American students who scored above 700 on the mathematics SAT, while fewer than 700 black students scored that high—even though blacks outnumbered Asian Americans several times over. Data such as these are simply passed over in utter silence—or are drowned out by strident assertions of “covert” discrimination as explanations of a dearth of blacks in institutions and occupations requiring a strong background in mathematics.
False beliefs are not small things, because they lead to false solutions. In the field of medicine, it has long been recognized that even a false cure that is wholly harmless in itself can be catastrophic in its consequences if it substitutes for a real cure for a deadly disease. Proponents of affirmative action cannot console themselves for their false assumptions on grounds that their intentions were good, because social quackery likewise substitutes for real efforts to deal with real problems that can tear a society apart. Despite an orientation of asking what “we” can do for “them,” those who want to see blacks advance in fields requiring a mathematics background need to confront black students with a need to master this subject, even if that means giving up other diversions and giving up attitudes that doing academic work is “acting white.” This will win few friends and fewer votes. But the question is whether one is serious about results for others or simply wants to feel good about oneself.
Such data as can be gleaned from a variety of private sources in the United States suggest that the more fortunate American blacks receive a disproportionate share of the benefits going to blacks as a whole in the United States, just as the more fortunate Malays tend to benefit most from affirmative action in Malaysia or the more fortunate untouchables benefit from affirmative action in India.
Affirmative action programs also generate major social costs that fall on the population as a whole. Losses of efficiency are among these costs, whether because less-qualified persons are chosen over more-qualified persons or because many highly qualified members of non-preferred groups emigrate from a society where their chances have been reduced. However, the cost of inefficiency is overshadowed by the cost of intergroup polarization, violence, and loss of lives. Bloody and lethal riots over affirmative action in India are the most obvious examples, but there have also been young brahmins who have died by setting themselves on fire in protest against policies which have destroyed their prospects.
As the country which has had preferences and quotas for the less fortunate longer than any other, India presents the clearest historical picture of their consequences, as well as the clearest statistical picture. Its history is not one to encourage other countries to follow in India’s footsteps, much less the footsteps of Sri Lanka.
The history of blacks in the United States has been virtually stood on its head by those advocating affirmative action. The empirical evidence is clear that most blacks got themselves out of poverty in the decades preceding the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and the beginning of affirmative action in the 1970s. Yet the political misrepresentation of what happened—by leaders and friends of blacks—has been so pervasive that this achievement has been completely submerged in the public consciousness. Instead of gaining the respect that other groups have gained by lifting themselves out of poverty, blacks are widely seen, by friends and critics alike, as owing their advancement to government beneficence.
Within the black community itself, the possible ending of affirmative action has been portrayed as a threat to end their economic and social progress. Thus whites are resentful and blacks are fearful because of policies which have in fact done relatively little, on net balance, to help blacks in general or poor blacks in particular. Among black students in colleges and universities, those admitted under lower standards face a higher failure rate and those admitted under the same standards as other students graduate with their credentials under a cloud of suspicion because of double standards for minority students in general.
One of the most widely used defenses of group preferences and quotas is that there are precedents for them. In college admissions, for example, there have been preferences for athletes and for alumni children. Merit criteria have not been universal in other institutions either. Why then the objections to racial or ethnic preferences or preferences for women? As a strategic argument, this arbitrarily puts the burden of proof on critics of affirmative action, as if the demonstrable social costs of this program needed no justification. But of all justifications, precedent is one of the weakest. Everything that has ever been done wrong—from jaywalking to genocide—has had precedents. Any justification or criticism of affirmative action must be based on its actual consequences. If we took the argument from precedents as conclusive, then nothing could ever be corrected until there was perfection in everything else.