Discrimination By Any Other Name Is Still Discrimination

3 Nov

“If you want to know how Trump was elected, ask yourself how a laid-off, cisgender, straight, white, male coal miner who went back to community college to learn computers might react to [Madeleine Leader’s email].”

National Review

So this pops up in my Facebook feed.


Now, before certain people start catcalling, I will acknowledge from the start that questions have been raised about the email’s validity. There is at least a possibility that the whole thing is a fake. It is painful to believe that someone in charge of one of the most important political parties in the West was stupid enough to commit to writing something that is blatantly illegal, but given how much else they committed to writing – and then lost in a hack – it is not completely beyond the bounds of probability.

Let us assume, purely for the sake of argument, that the email is legitimate. In that case, what does it mean?

If you don’t mind, I’m going to approach the issue from a somewhat roundabout direction.

People have … call them attributes. Some of these attributes are set at birth (skin colour, gender, etc), some change as you grow older (age) and others are the result of education or other choices. An IT geek has a computer science degree as one of his attributes, a military sniper has a sharpshooter qualification. A criminal’s criminal record is one of his attributes; a child’s age is his or hers. Now, the important thing about attributes is that some of them are important and some aren’t.

For example, when I hire an editor, I want someone with experience in editing (specifically in the same genre). That’s the attributes I need to take into consideration. I wouldn’t hire an editor who specialised in romance novels for one of my fantasy books, even though romance and fantasy have a great deal in common. I’d look for someone with a solid background in the genres I write, with a good reputation for working with authors towards a shared goal.

What I won’t take into account are little details like age, gender, sexual orientation, skin colour … all attributes that have no bearing on the job at hand.

Why should I? What possible purpose would it serve? What do those details matter to me?

I think – and I’m pretty sure that most people would agree with me – that the person who is best qualified for the job should get the job. And it is fairly easy to come up with a list of reasonable – and defendable – qualifications for the job. You can even put in a physical description if you can prove those qualities are not arbitrary, that they actually matter – a Pakistani actress to play Kamala Khan, for example, or a female janitor to service the girls toilets in a co-ed school. But all of those qualifications – and their defences – should also be able to stand up to the common sense test. Why insist on a Pakistani actress when an Indian actress would be able to do the job?

If the best person for a particular job is a forty-year-old lesbian from Croydon, she should get the job. And if the best person happens to be a twenty-year-old straight white man from Glasgow, he should get the job. And very few people will complain. And, if they do, it is fairly easy to prove them wrong.

The problem with Affirmative Action (or whatever you want to call it) is that it adds an arbitrary and pointless qualification(s) to the job requirements. These qualifications can and do exclude people who would otherwise be qualified for the job. And, as I have written before, the effects are poisonous for everyone, up to and including the people Affirmative Action is intended to help. It merely breeds division into our society.

But there is a more fundamental point that must be noted.

Nelson Mandela’s particular genius did not come in leading a revolutionary moment. It came in understanding the importance of ensuring a victory that all sides – including most of the apartheid regime’s former supporters – could live with. If the choice facing white South Africans was nothing more than fight to the death, with the possibility of winning, or being brutally slaughtered … what sort of idiot would expect them not to fight? There were plenty of whites who wanted to end Apartheid – it was economically unsustainable, regardless of any moral issues – but why would they be willing to cut their own throats? Or surrender the reins of power, knowing that the state might be turned against them? If the choice faced is one between being the victim or the victimiser, it is obviously safer to be the victimiser.

On one hand, you’re storing up hatred for yourself and your descendents. On the other, you’re not being slaughtered now. And that is a plus by anyone’s definition.

The most war-torn parts of the world, as Dale Cozort put it, are the “ones where old injustices or perceived injustices are most remembered and most important to people. Look at the Middle East with its oil revenue poured into re-fighting its many age-old feuds. Look at the Balkans and the way the countries there periodically tear themselves and each other apart. Even within countries that are predominantly prosperous, groups that dwell on old injustices tend to end up in pockets of poverty.”

No one would deny that there has been discrimination in the past. But does this excuse perpetrating discrimination? Is this really the future we want for ourselves?

There comes a time when you have to draw a line between the past and the future. There comes a time when you have to agree to let bygones be bygones, when you have to agree to put the past where it belongs and walk forward together into a brighter future. But that will not come if you perpetrate discrimination against people who were not alive when the original discrimination began and have no moral responsibility for the crime. If [insert identity group here] thinks it cannot get a fair chance, why should it support political parties that seem hell-bent on punishing them for the crimes of their ancestors?

The problem with most groups based on identity politics – everything from Black Lives Matter to Men’s Rights Activists – is that they’re too interested in emoting to think about how they look to outsiders and, more importantly, what sort of world they might create. A group that sidelines others will not enjoy their support, a group that is outright intolerant will be hated and detested even if it had a valid point when it started! One has to have an endgame in mind, one that outsiders can tolerate. Or face the prospect of accomplishing precisely nothing.

I’m not scared of free competition. If a publisher comes to me and says “we’d like to publish you, but [author] sold ten times as many books as you and so we’re going with them instead” I’d understand. I wouldn’t be very happy, but I’d understand. And if the publisher said “we’re looking for stories by military vets only” I’d understand – I could have joined the military but I didn’t.

But if the publisher said “we’re going with [author] because [author] ticks a box in the diversity checklist” … I’d be pissed. Of course I’d be pissed. How the hell am I supposed to compete against that? It isn’t my fault that I was born with a number of unchangeable attributes. And this would poison my attitude towards that author.

On the micro scale, the attitude expressed Madeleine Leader might go some way towards explaining the problems facing the DNC. If they’re choosing everyone from gofers to presidential candidates to tick a diversity checkbox, rather than competence, they should count themselves lucky they hadn’t had more problems. But on the macro scale, as Rod Dreher points out, it explains why the Democrats lost. And why people who would otherwise be repulsed by Trump will not vote for the Democrats.

People are not, as a general rule, selfish. But they are self-interested. They look for the advantage for themselves, for their families, for their communities. And what sort of idiot would expect someone to sacrifice the best interests of their family for strangers?

29 Responses to “Discrimination By Any Other Name Is Still Discrimination”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    Some persons were posting “Whites Are Human Too” signs on the grounds of a couple of universities.

    The “usual suspects” are calling the signs racist. 😦

  2. Ron November 3, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    > I think – and I’m pretty sure that most people would agree with me – that the person
    > who is best qualified for the job should get the job. And it is fairly easy to come up with a
    > list of reasonable – and defendable – qualifications for the job.

    Of course, everybody agrees with that statement.
    The trouble is, in the end it’s a human being who makes the decision to pick person A rather than person B.

    A human being, not a computer program scoring objectively experience and competence, but a human being with all his or her build-in prejudices, and reactions… and over-reactions as in this case.

    And the result is not always pretty and definitely not giving equal chances for everybody.

    And no, I have no solution.

    • David Graf November 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

      Let’s cut to the heart of the matter. Which one of you who is white would trade places with a black and affirmative action?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

        LOL! 😆

        Anymore, I hear more about “screams about being oppressed” than “actual cases of being oppressed” from blacks.

      • David Graf November 4, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

        Paul Howard – You just failed the laugh test.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 5, 2017 at 12:21 am #

        “You want more Trump? That’s how you get more Trump.”

    • chrishanger November 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

      I generally find that smart requirements and choices can be defended.


      • PhilippeO November 4, 2017 at 4:38 am #

        Its not that easy. There seems exists misconceptions that “better qualified” candidate is easy to find. It is very difficult. Most positions (jobs, university, etc) have LOTS of QUALIFIED applicants. Harvard could use lottery on its applicants and STILL get overqualified applicants. and when difference is minimal, personal prejudice is often unconsciously be decider.

        If you publisher and have choice between dozens of author to have six books published. You couldn’t just use number of previously books sells or number of Likes in facebook. Difference would be minimal. choosing one author for having 6032 Likes while other 6027 Likes would be silly. use of ‘one woman author among six books we publish this year’ helps oppose (often unconscious) prejudice.

        And the fact until 1970s – 1980s white male is practically only one get any position, cause majority of higher position in publishing company, school admission, or employment division is white male who likely choose someone who ‘similar’ to them. Its make white male had MASSIVE advantage over others.

    • PhilippeO November 4, 2017 at 4:23 am #


      Prejudices (against blacks, against woman, etc) STILL exists

      affirmative actions, quota, scheduled caste and tribes, etc is a way to deal with that.

      • chrishanger November 5, 2017 at 9:30 am #

        That might be true. But, at the same time, it also perpetrates it.


    • Conrad Bassett Jr. November 4, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      Let’s cut to the chase I am really sick and tired of hearing people talk about affirmative-action . The largest beneficiaries of affirmative action are white women . That’s based upon the BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics studies that show that white people more often than black people benefit from affirmative action . However the anger and the outrage about unqualified black people mythology continues to this day . In 2007, the ETS educational testing system did a study of 150 Ivy League colleges . This is what they found that white people with lower GPAs poor letters of recommendations and weak test scores, were more than likely to be found on these colleges black people who had to rely on affirmative action . Affirmative action in the law and the statute specifically states that black people must be qualified in order to get into various positions colleges and what have you . However , this myth of unqualified black people persist.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

        If “Affirmative Action” doesn’t really help Blacks, why is it Racists to be against “Affirmative Action”?

        You’re “sick and tired of anti-Affirmative Action talk”?

        I’m sick and tired of “Whites Are By Definition Racist” talk and “Since Whites Are Always Racist, Whites Can Only Accept it because there’s nothing Whites can do to change it” talk.

        Of course, if you are a White Male, then you are Automatically Sexist.

        When Liberals paint an entire group as “evil” without a “way for individuals of the group to be good”, then Liberals are encouraging toward that group and are encouraging hatred by individuals of that group toward anybody outside that group.

        Sorry, the message that I’m getting is that Whites are always Racist (and White Males are always sexist).

        So since as a White Male, I’m evil and can’t change that, why should I care what Liberals think?

        Since I can’t be “good”, why not go even more evil?

        Fortunately, I’ll continued to treat Blacks and Women the same as I would want to be treated because that’s how I think God would want me to behave.

        But then, the Liberals/Left consider Christianity evil as well.

      • Farwalker November 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

        Well said Paul.

  3. Jas November 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    You make some very good points Chris, and the affirmative action principle has gotten out of control in some areas. Where I work we have gender and race specific jobs and courses now, so if you are a white hetro-sexual male of good health under the age of 60, you have no hope of a promotion, in some cases, jobs have been threatened.
    There have been recent developments were people have realised things have gone to far, but at one stage it was a bit of a joke that I had a chronic back injury because at least I was disabled, that’s how far it had gotten out of control for a while with printed material and opportunities.
    As I said, thankfully, equality is starting to have more meaning again.
    Having said all that, I would like to see a world in which we have complete equality, were people are chosen, as you said Chris, based on the position, not their attributes.
    I just don’t know if we are going to see that in our life times, or even if our kids will?
    It is a good place to dream of though 🙂
    Good post Chris thanks 🙂

  4. Billy November 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

    A good example in the USA is the post office.

    When I was a young (white) man , I went and applied to be a Mailman.

    I did the application, the test and interview.

    I quickly figured out that they went by the test score. Because I was a white man
    the highest grade I could get was 100.

    If you were a Vet (I could be wrong on the amounts as it was 30 or 40 years ago) you got 10 points added to your score. If you were a minority, you received another 10 points and if you were female another 10 points etc.

    So even if I made 100 on the test. (Which was unlikely as that test was difficult) A lot of the other people taking the test already had at least a 30 point advantage (Maybe more) before we even took the test.

    I still am upset about that , I suppose I always will be.

    Because that is a very high paying job here, with all the health and retirement benefits you could want.

  5. Pyo November 3, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    The point of AA is to break up existing hiring patterns. If discrimination were a thing from the past, if hiring was entirely “objective” (which is ridiculous, way too many jobs where soft qualifications matter and how are you going to objectively measure those? and so on), we would’t need it.

    But neither is true, so there we go.

    It’s a measure to force a process that otherwise probably would happen but also would take ages. I’m not sure quotas or automatic “extra points” or whatever are the way to go about it either.
    But I’m also not dismissive about it. There’s areas where it’s clearly not necessary. There’s however also areas where the “old boy club” mentality is still very much present. I could see the point of such measures there.

    I’d like to say that at some point “discrimination” will be done (whether by race, sex, gender or anything else). But like the “Never again!” goal of Holocaust survivors it’s nothing that’s ever done. We won’t ever live in a society that automatically is perfectly inclusive and equal. It’s something we’ll always need to work at. There’ll always be a need to educate people in this, to show adverse examples, to, perhaps, use political measures.
    It’s inevitable, and I don’t think “get over it and then we can all be in harmony” is a productive mind set in any way or shape. It’s not realistic; it’s dangerous. ^^

  6. Big Ben November 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

    And here’s the third rail …. religion.
    Most religions have entire categories that are not only acceptable to discriminate against, according to whatever holy book you’re adhering to you are required to discriminate against these groups.
    Children grow up in these institutions, witnessing these behavios first hand and being told that it’s what God wants.

    It’s easy to point to the more extreme sects of certain religions – requiring women to be completely covered when in public, or not allowing women to drive or work outside the home.
    But even some of the large “western” religions directly discriminate. No female priests in the Catholic Church, let alone bishops, cardinals, etc.
    Homosexuality condemned as a sin and “those people” shunned and shamed.
    Even “religious” bakers operating a for-profit public business refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The very definition of discrimination.
    And when you stand up and call this outrageous, blatant discrimination you’re shouted down and blamed for infringing on their freedom of religion.

    Religion. The last bastion of acceptable discrimination.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

      Do you really want the government to tell you (or your religious friends) how to practice their religion?

      On second thought, perhaps you would approve of the government “banning” certain religious practices.

      • Pyo November 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

        The problem is that in many countries the devision isn’t always entirely clear. It’s one thing to be all “what they do in their private life is their business”, but for example in Germany, churches are allowed to collect membership fees / taxes through the state. They are allowed to hold religious eduction in school. They are allowed to run partially state-financed kindergartens, care facilities, and so on.

        And there is unsurprisingly a debate about how much discrimination can be tolerated when it’s financed by public money.

        And when it comes to things like marriage, even if it’s state registered and done by state officials, people often start talking about “Christian traditions” and so on, non-sense that it is (like, let’s start burning witches again, too, that’s also very traditional…).

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

        Yep, refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings is “just like burning witches”. [Sarcasm]

        Oh, it is very interesting that the Spanish Inquisition got quickly out of the “witch hunt” business because they saw no evidence that the “witches” had any magical powers let alone using said powers to harm others. 👿

      • Pyo November 3, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

        No, but it serves to illustrate that “traditions” don’t mean anything except for “it’s been done a long time”. Traditionally, children were kept quiet with alcohol (stupid idea). Traditionally, bloodletting was a treatment for nearly everything (equally stupid idea). And so on. Some of that stuff is still done today. New stupid stuff is becoming “traditional” variously every day.

        What I’m saying is that “tradition” is no argument for anything. If your only argument is that it is tradition, you have no argument.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 3, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

        And because it’s “just tradition”, the government can force people to change their religion.

        Sorry Pyo, I’m not going to argue “gay marriage” here nor am I going to argue religion here.

        My position is that Government has to have a Damn Good Reason to mess with Religious Practices that harm nobody.

        And don’t bother talking about “how things are done in Europe” as I am firmly against the “State Supported Religion” that exists in Europe.

        Of course, what worries me about Europe’s state religions is that I think that the Left would use Europe’s practices as an excuse to force American Churches to practice Religion as the Left would want them to do.

      • Vapori November 4, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

        I actually think as well that the government should have areal good point when it tries to influence religious practices. still it’s intermingled with all form of double standards and discrepancy.

        Be it in the US or in Europa or outside of the western cultural circle.

        For example the president swears on the bible or two as the last two presidents did. (most presidents in europa do the same.)

        Then still American presidents talk a whole lot more about Religion then most European politicians I’ve seen so far.

        Still governments have always tried to regulate religion not always with good consequences.. but sometimes it was likely necessary. to keep the peace

    • Bewildered November 7, 2017 at 7:05 am #

      The problem is you’re conflating a bunch of different things and blaming religion. You’re also ignoring other forms of discrimination. Take the ‘homosexuality is condemned as a sin’ point. Yes, yes it is. The Bible – I’ll focus on Christianity here, is quite explicit that homosexual intercourse is condemned by God. There’s no wiggle room so the only question is do you obey God, or reject the Bible? You’ve listed that as discrimination, but what about LGBT. K-12 classes in schools? Children are taught that homosexuality is normal, natural and right, that only bad people reject it. What then of those whose children who identity is Christian? They are automatically defined as bad people in that school context by virtue of that identity. When you oppose this outrageous scientifically unsound and legally questionable agenda you’re shouted down and accused of opposing human rights.

      LGBT. At the forefront of the new bigotry and tyranny.

  7. Me November 4, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Yay reverse racism
    Lets be fair the problem is not with the fact it was done but the fact it was mentioned.
    Doing it is acceptable and even encouraged(like you wouldn’t complain if there were nothing but white men).

  8. Vapori November 4, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    On a second note, we don’t know how many white males there are when compared to the overall number of possible techs when compared o the labor marked statistic.

    Maybe it’s reasonable to do so, if nine out of ten techs are white males, there is no date beside the fact they are in a majority.

    And when Employing somebody it’s also often stuff that can’t really be compared.
    somebody might be more qualified, but a less qualified person might have more potential for further growth.

  9. Big Ben November 5, 2017 at 1:04 am #

    It’s not the government getting involved in religion that’s the problem. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
    It wasn’t but a few years ago when the United States government denied legal marriage to same sex couples. For many – if not most – seeking to wed, it had nothing to do with religion. They wanted the same legal rights afforded to everyone else.
    -The ability to claim certain tax benefits.
    -Offspring issues, from custody to adoption to the myriad rights of the non-biological parent.
    -Hospital visitation and end of life decisions.
    …. in other words, all the legal stuff that the government gives heterosexual couples without a second thought.
    Not religious stuff …. legal stuff that the state denied a certain group of citizens based solely on religious doggerel. So much for all folks being equal with the same inalienable rights, etc., etc.
    It took a while, but the Supeme Court finally straightened that mess out. Thank goodness, ‘cause congress couldn’t find sand if they were lying naked on the beach.

    Here’s a couple of fun thought experiments:

    What if the KKK formed a religion? I honestly don’t know how you go about legally establishing an evil church, but if Westborough Baptist can do it, it’s obviously possible.
    Then every racist and white nationalist could discriminate to their hearts content and it would be perfectly legal … anyone who says otherwise is infringing on their religious freedom.
    “I’m a baker and a pious member of the KKK Church so I refuse to bake a wedding cake for anyone who isn’t as white as I am.” ….. yes, it’s stupid on the face of it, but so is the Christian bakers argument.

    Better yet, what if millions of women got together and established their own religion?
    One where birth control is an inalienable right and thou shall not suffer a rapist to live.
    One where corporations who don’t have equal pay for equal work will be sued on religious grounds.
    Where males are treated the same way women have always been treated by most major religions. (well, keeping men barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen runs into certain biological issues ….)

    The Word of God is incomprehensible perfection, but I believe it basically translates to Treat Others As You Wish To Be Treated.
    It’s us dumb humans who keep screwing it up.

    • Pyo November 5, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      There’s already the issue of cults and such. Scientology maybe being the most famous.

      No country can afford to be all “well, people say it’s a religion, we can’t do anything about this!” How much they actually do or don’t and tolerate or not depends of course, and sometimes leads to bizarre court cases (for example, Jehova’s Witness don’t accept blood transfusions on religious grounds, so some of them went to court over having their lives saved…).

      And it’s obviously a difficult and multi-faceted issue and I don’t think there is one solves-it-all solution.

      But I absolutely agree that while it’s one thing for religion to discriminate among its own members, it’s an entirely different thing for them to mess up the lives of non-members. They can have an opinion, like everyone, but don’t meddle. It’s not their place.

    • Bewildered November 7, 2017 at 7:21 am #

      Actually the government intruding into religion is the problem and a clear breech of the separation of church and state principal. By contrast there has never been a rule that individuals within the church should be prevented from participating in government. Since marriage is a religious act, the government redefining it means an invasion into religion, and dangerous legal ramifications. Countries which have seen SSM pass have seen other citizens stripped of their equality and punished. Obviously God given inalienable rights are not inalienable and can be stripped from a citizen, or class of people, the moment a court decides to do so.

      Since the Satanists have their own temples and stuff – though I’m not sure how serious they are, it should be quite possible for the KKK to form their own fake religion.

      Personally I wouldn’t have a problem with that approach – it’d be a return to freedom, though I’d hope that the KKK baker struggled to find business. As it stands the government is dictating how a person may practice their religion. Arguably as bad, you’re conflating skin colour with lifestyle choice.

      So a theocracy? The problem is only Atheistic and Islamic nations have conflated government and religion in the fashion you’re talking about. In the West it’s always been about trying to keep the government from intruding too far into religion. On a side note I don’t see a problem with allowing people to sue where a company fails to provide unequal pay for unequal work. There’s a number of cases where guys do the same job for the same pay as the women, but don’t have the same work – any heavy lifting is men’s work etc.

      The Word of God is perfectly comprehensible, it’s just all too many humans refuse to accept that it means what it says so keep insisting it must mean something else.

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