If philosophy is questions that may never be answered, and religion is answers that may never be questioned, then politics is asking the wrong questions in order to avoid unwanted answers.
There are times when truth is the bane of politics, often justifiably so. It is one of the most central tenets of our nation that everyone is treated equally under the law.
Or so we say.
If a man and a woman go out for a walk topless, only one of them will be arrested for indecent exposure.
When they turn 18, only one of them has to register for the draft.
Sometimes it is somewhat less certain. If a couple are getting divorced, which one is going to get the kids and which one is going to pay the child support? We all know the answer, most of the time.
In Arizona, if you look Mexican they will ask you for your papers.
Age discrimination is so rampant in our legal system that we wouldn’t even know how to remove it. We consider our kids to be old enough to go overseas and kill and be killed in war years before we consider them to be responsible enough to drink a beer.
And then you have groups who claim to be crusading against discrimination, arguing to mandate it in their favor in order to balance the scales. They argue that high crime rates and low test scores among their constituents are the result of poverty and tests written by the majority for the majority. They suggest that the solution is affirmative action. Grants for minorities, hiring quotas, and legal protections against discrimination based on their minority status.
I would argue that these things cause the very things they claim to prevent. You can’t just give an opportunity to one person without taking it away from another. Denying a job to the most qualified candidate in order to give it to a lower scoring minority breeds dissension and lowers productivity. It foments racist and sexist thoughts in those who are turned down for the job they are best at.
It also creates a perception of incompetence. Would you want to be a minority who had earned their position through skill and hard work, only to have everyone figure you were given the job to fill a quota? I’m not saying such policy should never be made, but that we need to be honest about all of the effects it will have, rather than optimistic cherry picking. If the state of repression is significantly more serious than the ill will generated, such as slavery or segregated schools, then so be it, but there comes a time when the only time you approach equality is when you take the training wheels off.
I say approach equality rather than achieve equality because I don’t believe we will ever get there. There is no divine entity making sure that everyone’s weaknesses are perfectly balanced out by some hidden strength. Some people are just bad people. Some are weak, some are strong. Science tells us that many of these traits are passed on genetically.
So what do we do when science tells us that people with short index fingers are more prone to violence? What happens when a racial profile accurately predicts aptitude? When a gene predicts that you will cheat on your spouse?
Most of us don’t even want to admit that it might be possible. Pretending that such data doesn’t exist is just hiding our head in the sand. It’s out there. People read it. People act on it. The Amish riding around in buggys doesn’t prevent the existence of military satellites.
If we are to have equal treatment under the law, our only hope is to studiously prevent our government from collecting, interpreting, and acting on details of our personal data. This means in order to prevent such profiling, we also need to be rid of the quotas.
These kinds of issues are things I occasionally ponder. If you are interested in getting a much deeper understanding of the news and issues surrounding the battle between reality and social expediency, there is a blogger who seems to devote his every waking hour to the subject, and I’m sure gets a daily earful of people calling him a racist for doing so. Whether he is or not, he’ll make you think, and alert you to news you just won’t hear elsewhere, for example:
The Cherokee Nation voted to amend their constitution to remove the citizenship of descendants of slaves once owned by its members. More casino money for the rest of the tribe?