The Trouble With Quotas and Privilege

23 Apr

Fair Warning: Controversy Ahead.

One of the few things I will agree with the privilege-checkers on is this: the person at the top, however defined, often doesn’t realise what it’s like for the people at the bottom. It is easier, from one’s lofty vantage, to divide people into subsets (race, gender, etc) than recognise that each and every person is an individual in his or her own right. However, this also has the massive downside that the people at the top are often unaware of their own ignorance. I once had a person tell me that I was privileged to go to boarding school and my first printable response was to snap that if that was privilege, I’d hate to be underprivileged.

Actually, that was the fifth thing that came to mind. The first response that came to mind was something that basically boiled down to “this idiot is ignorant and stupid and should be ignored.”

The point is that, if you’re on the top, it is easy to do a great deal of damage to the people at the bottom even if you have the best of intentions. If you are well aware of your own ‘white privilege’ – which is actually ‘class privilege’ – and not a particularly deep thinker, you might assume that everyone who happens to share your skin colour also shares your privilege. A moment’s rational thought would be enough to put the lie to this, but such people are rarely deep thinkers. They grow up in an environment that does not encourage it.

I mention all this because I came across an article on Medium today: The Difficulty with Quotas. The author had a moment of insight that surprised me.

I was reading this article about how Lesbians Who Tech (a tech conference aimed at lesbians) put in a quota system for their speakers. 50% had to be women of colour, 20% black and latinx, and 10% non-binary. And I got to this line here: ‘It meant saying no to very successful and established white women.’ And I was all, oh my god, I think I just understood Trump’s America.

“Actually, that wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was, well, I guess I’m never speaking at Lesbians Who Tech.”

She goes on to conclude, quite reasonably, that white people with ‘class privilege’ have basically ensured that they still get their places – she uses high-class colleges and universities as examples – which puts the squeeze on white people who don’t have class privilege,’ as they have to work harder than POC applicants. As she goes on to say:

This creates significant competition for less privileged white people when they are competing in systems with quotas, and this is why they’re getting angry.”

Anger is a poor servant and a worse master. If you feel that you have already worked harder than your POC classmates, you’re not going to be pleased when your classmates have problems. No, you’re going to chalk their failings up to them getting an unfair advantage over you. This is the sort of anger that, as I wrote earlier, tends to curdle. You end up with memes like this:


One commenter had an insightful remark of his own. It’s worth reproducing in full:

“People like to think that Affirmative Action programs work with a handful of people that are all equally qualified and a minority candidate gets 1 point added to the scoring system so they get whatever they are applying for by virtue of a slim margin. But that’s hardly ever the way it works out.

“I had this discussion with a group of people about 20 years ago and as we put the pieces together, it seemed to fit.

“Take, for example, a typical high school kid getting ready to graduate. Let’s call him “Johnny”. Johnny doesn’t come from a “well to do” family. They aren’t poor, just average. Let’s say he goes and takes the ACT test in order to get ready to apply to colleges and he scores a “27”. (For those not familiar with the ACT, the scale is 1–36 and the average score is usually just over a “20”. ) That 27 is a pretty decent score. Not outstanding but if you map the ACT score results on a bell curve, a 27 puts you in the top 25% of the pack.

“Johnny’s family can’t really afford to send Johnny to college so Johnny heads down to the local military recruiting office to find out about getting an ROTC scholarship. So the recruiter starts filling out paperwork and asks for Johnny’s ACT score and Johnny tells him.

“Now, if Johnny fills out the form and checks off that he is “white” and “male”, he needs a minimum score of 28 to be accepted into the program. If he checks of any other choices he only needs a 21 to be accepted. That may not seem like much (It’s only 7 points, right?) but if you line up everyone that is eligible, that 7 points represents 400,000 people that just stepped in line in front of Johnny just based on that one qualifying factor alone. And they ALL happen to not be white males. So Johnny doesn’t get into the ROTC program.

“And then Johnny starts applying to schools on his own hoping for scholarships. The same thing with watching thousands of people that aren’t white males step into the line ahead of him happens with both the acceptance and the scholarship programs.

“But Johnny finally ends up at a tier 3 school that he can afford to attend and graduates 4 years later with a 3.7 GPA. He moves back to his hometown, writes up his resume and starts submitting to job postings. He goes to interviews and every time he’s put in a room with other candidates to await their turn.

“And he looks around that room and sees his former classmates that happen to be minority candidates that got that ROTC scholarship, got accepted at a tier 1 school and graduated with a lower GPA than he did and now he’s competing against them through another Affirmative Action program to get the one open position.

“And when Johnny doesn’t get the job and gets frustrated and complains about it he’s told that he shouldn’t be bitter because he has all the advantages and privileges of being a white male. So here he is at age 22 or 23 wondering exactly which advantages he’s had all along here because for every major event he’s had in the last 5 years, he’s been shot down because of his race and/or sex.

“If he’d been passed over at one stage by 1 point, people like Johnny would probably shrug it off. But after a while when you see people stepping in line ahead of you at every line you go to, at some point Johnny has to start wondering when he gets to compete on even terms. But the answer to that from affirmative action advocates is “never”.

“You saw it happen once and you kind of shrugged it off which, I think is pretty normal. Would you have the same response be if that was the 30th time you’d seen it? And what would be your response if each time you saw it happen was a building block towards another future event? Isn’t that what we refer to as “systemic”?”

There are people who will say that the above quote is nonsense, that it isn’t true. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that people believe it.

If you were born in some really high-class area and you happen to be white, there’s a good chance that you have a lot of privilege. This cartoon sums it up fairly well. But if you happen to be born white in Hillbilly Elegy country, you might reasonably ask why you don’t have white privilege? And then you might ask why people who have never worked a day in their lives insist that you do have white privilege? And then you start thinking that these people are, at best, as ignorant and stupid as the person I mentioned above … and, at worst, that they are racist class warriors out to destroy you.

Is it any surprise that people like that voted for Donald Trump?

The point most privilege-checkers forget, I think, is that most people are self-interested. They may not be selfish, not in the sense they will gleefully steal candy from children, but they will put their self-interests first. Why would anyone vote for policies that will make their lives harder? It’s not easy to get a job at the best of times. Why would anyone want to make it harder?

But it gets worse. The curse of identity politics is that it encourages people to think in terms of their identity – and ‘white male’ is an identity. Instead of coming together as a united human race, we are being divided into tribes and judged by our tribes. What may seem, to the people at the top, a scheme to redress historical disadvantages scans very differently to the people at the bottom. They see it as nothing more than racism. Not reverse racism, racism.

If you stack the deck against one group, for whatever reason, you are engaged in racism. Whatever excuses you use, whatever historical justifications you invent, you are engaged in racism. Instead of dampening racial tensions, you are inflaming them. You are harming the people least able to cope with it, pillorying them when they dare to protest … and then acting all surprised when they vote against you. Drowning men will clutch at any straws!

Look, I am a student of history. I know that injustices have been perpetrated throughout history. I know that people have often gotten the short end of the stick because of things – skin colour, gender – beyond their control. But one does not redress such injustices by perpetrating them on someone else. That merely makes them worse.

As a writer, I am not scared of even competition. If a writer outsells me … well, good for him. But if that writer has an unfair advantage that isn’t connected to writing – being black or female or whatever – it bothers me, because I can’t compete.

I’ve been told that, throughout history, writers were largely WASPs. That might be true. But it isn’t my fault, nor is it the fault of everyone else like me, and there is no reason that we should be made to pay a price for someone else’s misdeeds. And, for that matter, it is not fair on non-WASP writers to have to face the suspicion that the only reason they were published was to fill a quota. Why should they have to pay a price because someone with more power than sense thinks that quotas are a good way to rectify historical injustice?

As a historian, I am well aware that women generally got the short end of the stick throughout history. But, as the father of two boys, I don’t want programs that profess to rectify this injustice by piling injustice on my sons. Why on Earth would I want them to be at a disadvantage? And, if I have a daughter at some later date, I don’t want her to suffer a disadvantage either. And everything I know about history – and human nature – tells me that she will.

Coming to think of it, my kids are mixed-race. Do I want them to go through their lives unsure where they really belong? Or if they don’t have a tribe of their own? Or to have to waste their time calculating precisely where they stand on the indemnity politics roster?

A few years ago, I saw a marriage come to an end. And the reason it came to an end, from what I saw, was that both the husband and wife were fond of dragging up the past, from minor to major offences, and neither one could move past it and travel into the future. All relationships go through bumpy patches, but it is immensely frustrating to have the past dragged up and thrown in your face time and time again. At some point, people just stop caring. They get sick of being told that they cannot put it behind them and move on. And so they get bitter and they end up curdled.

And they start saying “why should I care about the injustice done to them when no one cares about the injustice done to me?”

We need to put quotas – and suchlike – behind us, once and for all. The past must remain in the past. We need to ensure a level playing field, with everyone having an equal shot at everything from education to jobs; we need to ensure that the laws apply to everyone; we need to prove, as best as we can, that the best person for the job got the job. I don’t say it will be easy, because it won’t be easy. But it has to be done.

I’ll let Dale have the last word:

“If you look around the world you’ll notice something. The real dead-end basket case countries and regions are usually the ones where old injustices or perceived injustices are most remembered and most important to people. [SNIP] None of this is to say that ignoring history is good, or even that ignoring old injustices is good. The reality though is that both the villains and the victims of history are for the most part dead, or have one foot on the banana peel … [SNIP] … The other reality is that dwelling on those old injustices tends to lead to situations where the guys who would normally be holding up convenience stores end up running around with AK-47s and RPGs in the service of one side or the other in the dispute.

“When that starts happening on a major scale, anyone with brains and/or money heads for the nearest exit. You end up with a downward spiral as jobs evaporate and people fight ever more bitterly over the remaining scraps of value. And of course a whole new generation of injustices are created, which will undoubtedly be used to justify the next round of victimizations. ‘Get over it’ isn’t the perfect answer. It does have some downsides, but it does work.”

40 Responses to “The Trouble With Quotas and Privilege”

  1. Billy April 23, 2018 at 9:25 pm #

    I saw this first hand years ago when I was just out of school.

    The Post Office was hiring and working in the Post Office you would get a high salary and all kinds of benefits like early retirement with giant pension etc.

    How the Post Office decided who to hire you took a test – it was a very hard test.

    First if you were a minority – non white : You automatically got so many extra points on the test.

    Next if you were a woman – you got so many extra points on the test.

    If you were a veteran , then you got so many points on the test.

    So if you were lucky enough to be a Minority, Woman , Veteran then you received 20 to 25 extra points on the test and you have not even taken the test yet.

    There were about a hundred people taking the test.

    Soooooo, I was out of luck – being a white male

    Even if you made a 100 on the test

    There were some who would have a 125 on the test.

    And even some who when you made your 100 would have made at least what you did by only making a 75 on the test.

    And on top of that , if there was a miracle and you were 100 and they somehow were only 100 (Even after all the extra points ) they were more inclined to hire those three other categories if all things were somehow equal .

    After that I never voted Democrat – Always Republican – sometimes I voted independent

  2. pkohonen April 23, 2018 at 10:06 pm #

    I don’t much like affirmative action, but as with other “Right-wing” concerns I wonder how big of an ACTUAL impact it really makes. In cold calculated numerical terms. That is a general problem with almost all “Right-Wing” concerns like immigration and so on (and even terrorism). At least in Europe immigration seems to be biggest concern in areas with fewest numbers of immigrants (Poland and Hungary) as opposed to London and so on. So could “affirmative action” be biggest concern for people who rarely if ever come into contact with it? Like all such pieces on this blog this one is well argued on emotional terms (as one would expect of a writer) but contains almost no discernable “facts” or any numbers or statistics. Of course numbers, statistics and verifiable facts beyond mere anecdotes are not the only way to argue, and arguably not the most effective in political terms. But an argument that is not numerically based or does not consider the “Big Picture” just does nothing to me. But I suppose I am in the “minority” in the audience, and perhaps among humanity. Maybe people who still only believe numerically and factually based arguments will eventually need affirmative action. The hope is that eventually sandcastles built on nothing will be washed away, but that hope may be in vain or may come too late.

    • MishaBurnett April 24, 2018 at 11:07 am #

      Affirmative action has an impact on everyone who has ever applied to college, everyone who has ever applied for a job, everyone who has ever applied for a loan, and everyone who has ever worked for a company that has submitted a bid for a government contract.

      I’d say that represents a statistically significant population.

      • pkohonen April 24, 2018 at 3:30 pm #

        Well what I mean is that there may be a widespread “impact” but it may be very small i.e., the effect size. As I said, women tend to “naturally” do better at school (all things being equal). This can be seen in highly equal societies like Finland. On the other hand, cultural influence can affect schooling outcomes, as seen with Asians and I suppose Jewish people in the U.S. – and I probably women (although males are at a disadvantage during teenage years in terms of school performance / attention span). I do not support affirmative action but, on the other hand, I dispute how big of an effect it is having when the distributions of people are similar with affirmative action (U.S.) and without affirmative action (Finland). And Finland has even more extreme distributions (larger proportions of women in universities), and probably more female engineers, just by being more “equal” in other ways. And possibly due to different cultural influences, i.e., more “Asian” work ethic but with less cultural discrimination towards women. In Finland males might argue for the need of affirmative action in universities, but this probably means that it won’t be introduced for anybody. I can’t really comment on the problems of African Americans. There discrimination, as early as 1960’s to 70’s, was clearly present (and still is to some degree), but any “affirmative action” should probably be tapering off by now.

      • pkohonen April 24, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

        A big problem in the USA is that not enough money is spent on schools, and the amount is too dependent on the country and state budgets, as far as I can see (not being a resident). Maybe there should be more federal money going to schools, so that most would have equal budgets (and every school should probably have more money). But this would entail raising taxes that republicans do not want… Trying to redress the balance with “affirmative action” is a bit too late. It is probably a genuine business problem in the Tech industry that there are too few female engineers, as it inhibits them getting more female customers. So there might be a genuine business case for “affirmative action” here. Although if a male could demonstrate that they can design tools that women like to use …

      • FarWalker April 25, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

        Agreed. Affirmative action is nothing more than legalized discrimination. That’s why, in large part, the white majority voted for Trump. I also note that while the elites call that white racist behavior nobody says a word when Hillary gets over 90% of the black vote and approximately 70% of the Hispanic vote. At what point does it become racist?

      • Andrew Clayborne Jones May 3, 2018 at 5:02 pm #

        Spending more money on schools is actually one of the solutions that’s been repeatedly tried. Unfortunately, there seems to be no increase in benefit to accompany the increase in spending. In the USA, either the schools are not equipped to do a good job using the money, or money isn’t the problem.

    • chrishanger April 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

      One can argue – many do – that it doesn’t make much of an impact at all, objectively speaking. But the vast majority of people feel that it does. And not being allowed to assess it openly doesn’t really help.

      Thinking about it, one may argue that the people outside London saw what immigration had done to London (fairly or unfairly, as there has always been a lot of anti-London sentiment in Southern England) and decided they didn’t want any themselves. The same could be said for Eastern Europe – they looked at the upswing of crime in Germany and thought … hell, no.


  3. Bewildered April 24, 2018 at 7:11 am #

    A very good piece.

    While at university a number of years ago I did a course in which, as a male, I was a definite minority – not the sole male, but definitely a minority. On more than one occasion the female lecturers came to class and talked about scholarships available for minority candidates i.e. the females in the class. A number of years later there was a newspaper article about students at the same university complaining about how they were completely ineligible for scholarships being, like the Johnny above, neither Black, nor female, nor any other class meriting privilege. While generally attacked for their view I completely sympathised as the notion of WASP males being a majority is pure myth. Many institutions have a 2:1 ratio of female to male students, and of course some courses are more radically proportioned. International students are common at many institutions, even comprising a majority in some faculties, and the non-White population in many Western countries is significant – roughly 15% in the UK, 25% in the US, and about 26% in Canada and New Zealand. Homosexuals comprise roughly 2% of the population, though they are vastly more common amongst millennials, and the female:male ratio is slightly better than 50:50. Despite these facts – that straight White males are at best the largest minority at most universities, and at many only the second or third largest minority, policies opposing their supposed privilege or granting equality to supposed less privileged groups are demonstrably prejudiced.

    A totally different example comes from when I spent a period of time in Asia. There were quite simply no Whites in my neighbourhood, and possibly no English speakers either. Many days I’d see no Whites at all, unless I’d arranged to meet up with a foreign friend. I was quite comfortable and didn’t feel underprivileged in the least. In fact I became so acclimatised to the situation, despite the massive challenges, that when visiting Japan I was blown away by just how many Whites there were around. Obviously there’s not a lot, but still they were far more common than what I was used to.

    So what’s the difference? I’d suggest privilege and expectation. It is a privilege to be in someone else’s country and you should not expect things to work the way you’re used to, or that suit you. By contrast, when your own country tells you that you’re privileged to be in it, and that should not expect equality, then a hostile response is the only reasonable outcome. Dale’s notion of ‘get over it’ is an imperfect answer (unless you mean all sides move on) but I dispute your claim that it works. Within moderation I agree it is the best alternative, however too much compromise is slavery or worse. Consider South Africa where the government is now talking about stealing White land with the goal of following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe. While there is no question that Whites were privileged in Apartheid South Africa, that was decades ago, and affirmative action policies have failed to benefit the non-White population. All that has been achieved is ever deepening racial divides, a worsening economy, and muttering about race war. Get over it in that context will not work, and that is the outcome where only one side is expected to get over it. As I see it there’s 2 more probably outcomes. The first is Trump. Despite being accused of racism and bigotry by SJW types, nothing I’ve seen suggests he isn’t an egalitarian, it’s just his version of equality includes equality for Whites something the SJW elite oppose on grounds of ‘privilege’. The second alternative is the one SJWs should fear. A leader who is genuinely racist, who preaches White identity but not equality and yet that is the logical outcome of SJWs telling the unprivileged that they have to sacrifice so that others have the same level of privilege as they’re claimed to have .

    Newton’s Third Law is that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. For decades SJW types have been arguing that Whites are privileged, and that other groups merit special privileges. What happens when there is an equal and opposite reaction? What happens when society recognises Whites have no privileges, but that only SJW nominated groups do? American Reich anyone?

    • pkohonen April 24, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

      In Finland women outnumber men in almost every subject in the university. In some fields by as much as 4:1, including medicine (though not quite as extreme). This is to some degree natural: women tend to more studious and in a “fair” competition tend to winout when competing for academic places. Also men tend to have difficult time concentrating at school at the most critical times 14-18 years of age due to puberty and teenage years intervening in their lives. This is to some degree mitigated by the ability to take longer at highschool (normally 3 years but can be done in 2-4) or being able to repeat classes as an adult (and getting to university when older). In Finland studying at university is free, so scholarships etc do not factor in. There is no affirmative action per-se, although it may be that there is some unofficial affirmative action to let more males in for instance as teachers. It is a real problem that boys do not perhaps have as many male teacher role-models. Only male-dominated areas are computer sciences and some hard engineering disciplines (anything with “bio” in it has more females studying it).Some complain about the paucity of female engineers, but not about the paucity of male teachers or nurses so much … so a bit of a double standard. I don’t see this as a problem per se. This is probably the natural distribution. But more needs to be done to make boys perform better at school, despite the problems with teenage years and so on. Women still tend to be stuck in life after school, not making it into higher positions to the same degree. But that will likely change due to the disparity in schooling numbers (eventually). In the meantime some men are being left behind and this is a potential social problem (also reducing birth rates, as these men are not getting married and having families). So clearly at least in Finland more needs to be done to make sure that more men do not fall behind, while at the same time getting opportunities for women to advance according to their abilities.

      • Bewildered April 25, 2018 at 9:49 am #

        What constitutes fair? At high school there were 2 girls recognised as the top 2 scholars. One was Asian, the other was accelerated but had some sort of physical limitation. Both were incredibly studious, and of course it paid off with their marks. There were also optional national or possibly international English, science, and maths exams which could be taken each year out of personal interest. While I was perfectly comfortable hanging out with the A crowd, and kept up in class, I rarely performed at that level at home, nor have I ever been studious – think AD(HD) more than a swotter. Despite my mediocre performance I always came second in those exams – each girl was better at different subjects but my raw intelligence was superior to one or the other in each exam. Whilst doing postgrad at university I was part of a group assignment which included one mature PhD graduate, and another mature student. We got a near perfect score for that assignment whereas I believe my results usually tended to be more the B mark. Clearly given the right circumstances I can perform at that level, I just very rarely do. Should the system be changed somehow so that I”m not penalised for my disinclination\inability to keep nose to the grindstone, or perhaps the system be changed to encourage it somehow? And if changes are possible would this be at the expense of female performance? Remember research suggests males do better in co-ed facilities whilst women perform better in women only facilities. Any such changes would be militantly opposed as sexist and damaging to female equality. As for women being stuck in life after school and not making it to higher positions, you need to remember that many women don’t want those positions, and that they want to stay home and raise a family so the real number of women competing with men is far far lower than 50:50. And where women want to compete directly with men they’re hampered if they choose to have children even if they choose to merely spawn and run rather than take substantial time off to care for them. There’s also the issue that research suggests men tend to work longer hours and have heavier workloads then their female peers despite ostensibly having the same role. Even basic shop assistant roles can see women expecting the men to do the heavy lifting despite no difference in pay or role. It’s fine to talk about doing something to ensure men don’t fall behind, but even before you do that you need to find terms which acceptable to all, and that’s highly unlikely to ever occur.

      • pkohonen April 25, 2018 at 3:27 pm #

        Bewildered. Some interesting sentences: 1) “Clearly given the right circumstances I can perform at that level, I just very rarely do.” 2) “Despite my mediocre performance I always came second in those exams – each girl was better at different subjects but my raw intelligence was superior to one or the other in each exam.”

        These are typical preconceptions that males have or are encouraged to have. Male success = talent, intelligence. Female success = studiousness and work. The latter is much more conducive to success because it gives you a way to perform better. Intelligence just is, although this is probably a misconception as well. One reason girls do better at school because they are encouraged to work harder. Same for Asians (boys and girls). Boys do have more biological impediments to concentration in their teen years but I doubt this is the only reason. I am not so certain that there is any reason why boys should have dramatically more ADHD and so on, or why that should make such a big difference in performance. Of course success in school is not same as success in life, and here men tend to catch up.

        One should not assume that all women want to stay at home. And it is blatantly clear that there is still some discrimination in job life, otherwise the numbers could not be so skewed for the highest positions. It may be that more men will always aspire for leadership positions than women, but I am not so sure. They should at least be given chance.

        Taking advantage of women’s talents is pretty much the only competitive advantage that Western countries have left (besides democracy which reduces corruption somewhat and also makes societies run more efficiently in that way). We should not jeopardize that with short-sighted and stuffy old policies holding women back.

      • Ryan April 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm #

        Gonna disagree with your assertion that women are more studious. That’s pure bunk. What you’re seeing is how leftists have destroyed male enthusiasm for learning all the while shaping the education system to benefit females. There is so much sexism (towards males) in modern education that many boys give up and coast through schools.

        Studies have proven that females are graded less severely than males.

        Studies have proven that questions from females are answered before males.

        Studies have proven that curriculum is designed to appeal to females over males. e.g. choosing books and topic that focus on feelings over facts and analysis.

        Studies have proven that teaching methodologies utilized today benefit females over males. e.g. group projects over competitive projects.

        The general rambunctious behavior of male children has been pathologized and enormous numbers of male children are drugged up. Of course, the activities used to channel that energy has been removed from schools: physical education is all but gone, recess no longer exists, shop class is gone, etc.

      • Bewildered April 26, 2018 at 8:50 am #

        pkohonen, what preconceptions? By perfomance I meant the marks I received in various pieces of assessment. The exams I mentioned tested something akin to raw talent, whilst the post-grad group assignment required nose to the grindstone effort. Usually I have no interest or drive so earned decent but not high marks. Those rare occasions where my interest was caught, or I was part of a group which encouraged effort I received high marks. Ryan argues that Leftists have radically reshaped the education system to disadvantage males. While I wouldn’t go so far, it is unquestionable that without an incentive to work hard, or something to grab your attention, there’s no reason to. Asians, and Western girls seem to have cause so there are clearly cultural differences.

        I never said all women want to stay at home, nor that they should. And yes there is discrimination in job life, but the question is which way it flows. A managerial role I am aware of for instance was given to a woman who was off on maternity leave, and was then split into a job share position at her request before she returned to work. In other works she was given a position she couldn’t fill, then had the terms of the role changed because she didn’t like them. Those under her hated the situation but couldn’t do anything about it. While there is a lot of talk about the glass ceiling it seems to me that men frequently have a harder time of suceeding – far more competition within their own gender, and no preferential treatment granted to make up for theoretical or actual disadvantage.

        No taking advantage of women’s talents is not a competitive advantage Western nations have left. The Orient also employs women so the playing field is level. And both the West and the Orient have population issues. The West is encouraging other nations to colonise them to make up for the lack of children despite this policy being a self-evident failure. If the West wanted a real advantage they’d encourage a return to a more historic model whereby women have and raise children thus giving the West the population it needs, and imbuing such children with the talents and interests they have. Obviously the devil is in the detail since not all women want to or can marry and become mothers.

    • chrishanger April 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

      Weirdly, the only place i ever saw ‘white privilege’ was in Malaysia, which is not a majority-white country. But then, there is also a lot of Malay Privilege too.


  4. PhilippeO April 24, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    – You assume injustice is about “the Past”, you are wrong. Injustice still exist in the present, that’s why people care.
    – You assume identity didn’t exist before identity politics, this also wrong. Identity politics is “reaction” to already existing practice of society. People categorized as white, black and Hispanics before identity politics born (just look at Operation Wetback and Jim Crow laws)
    – You are assuming quota preventing “best person for job” to get it, that is wrong. It corrected for prejudice and connection that already exist, without quota person promoted not necessarily “best person for job” but some white male who know admission officer instead (look at some New England high school that had 100% Ivyes admission rates)
    – There are nothing preventing “Scotch-Irish Appalachian” to organize themselves as minority groups and demanding quota themselves, since their education and wealth is beyond average, they can and should.
    – if Selfishness is condition for human races, then minority and women who benefit from quotas should be selfish too. Why some selfishnessshould be more concern than others ?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard April 24, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

      IE This is Still A Racist Nation and Quotas are Still Necessary to fight Racism.

      You defend “Affirmative Action” by saying that our society is still racist and the government accountable to the people of our society is not racist thus can/should enforce Affirmative Action.

      Sorry Mister but that’s nonsense.

    • Bewildered April 25, 2018 at 9:12 am #

      Injustice exists because as Chris noted, White candidates are discriminated against on the basis of race. The example of Johnny, a better than average but not first class candidate denied options because he’s White.

      The reaction to identity politics is the creation of White consciousness. Where once White was simply the norm, increasingly it is an identity, and one to be defended. Efforts to protect it however are reviled by the Left as racism since the Left cannot accept Whites as anything other than stigmatised.

      Affirmative action has no effect on connections or networking. As for prejudice, affirmative action simply establishes which prejudices are acceptable. White males who know the admission officer will still have a far better opportunity than someone who doesn’t know the officer, however the Black candidate who doesn’t know the officer will have a better chance than the White male who likewise doesn’t know the officer. Affirmative action has simply established an extensive hierarchy of discrimination.

      Scotch-Irish Appalachian isn’t a racial group. Whites however are a group, but any efforts to organise a White race group will always be militantly opposed by the Left. And attempts by Asians asserting competency should trump quotas have similarly been rebuffed by the Left.

      Why do you think selfishness is an argument in favour of affirmative action? Affirmative action means non-Whites and women get preferential treatment. Selfishness means these privileged groups will prefer their own kind. The end result of such action is blatant discrimination protected by legislation, and this is what is being seen. I don’t understand why you consider this a positive.

  5. Daniel April 24, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

    Thank you Chris this is very thought provoking. It’s good to challenge ones mind. I also had no thought how this could have created Trump voters. (I am a New York jew who grew up just in the lower middle class) so my attitude is skewed by my own experience. And being from lower NY I see Trump as well a very poor option because New Yorkers have seen what trump does.

    • chrishanger April 26, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

      You don’t have to agree with Trump’s voters to understand their point of view


      • Ihas May 7, 2018 at 10:51 pm #

        I think quotas are just one of many, many flies on the windshield of the pickup truck that Trump voters collectively drove to the polls. For example, one might propose replacing quotas with a system whereby people voluntarily view presentations or other media delivered by people of different races and sexes and answer multiple choice questions about what they viewed. Participants could be assigned a rating reflecting their ability to be aware of their bias and correct for it. White males could get good ratings the same as other demographics, and get extra points on exams and applications based on those ratings. Would that not be more fair and even more effective at counteracting bias in the workplace, etc.? After all, recent studies show that women are more biased than men against women. Quotas to put more women in charge, without confronting women about their counterintuitive bias, may be counter productive.

        But I think Trump voters would hate this system even more than quotas. The issue is really a religious crisis. America was settled by religious nuts. And the average Trump supported was told that there is a God who commands the oppression of women, the segregation of races, and the execution of gays, and they decided to worship that God. Gay marriage, a black man or a woman in the White House, these and other things are perceived as an attack on their way of life. That’s what really drove that truck on that day.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 7, 2018 at 10:59 pm #

        Oh yes, we are deplorable people and it is so terrible that you have live on the same planet with us. [Sarcastic Grin]

      • Ihas May 7, 2018 at 11:54 pm #

        I did say “average Trump supporter.” That doesn’t apply to you. You are far below average.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 7, 2018 at 11:58 pm #

        LOL 😆

      • Ihas May 8, 2018 at 12:45 am #

        I’m also LOLing at the concept of an above or below average Trump supporter.

      • Ihas May 8, 2018 at 1:15 am #

        Kind of like an above average or below average pedophile.

        Maybe I should g with typical and atypical.

  6. Aleisha April 24, 2018 at 9:38 pm #

    I love that you aren’t afraid to do your research and challenge your own world views even before you write something that could be controversial and that after you have written it, you listen to what people have to say about it, even if what they have to say doesn’t necessarily align with your own written views. I love even more that you aren’t afraid to address an issue more than once, having clearly listened, and are willing to develop a more nuanced view. It’s sadly rare these days to see an actual conversation anymore. Part of the problem, I feel, with affirmative action is that it’s a simple solution to a complex problem. That sort of thing very rarely goes well for anyone.

    In my own case, I’m in a position to claim several of those affirmative action benefits or whatever they are, if I cared to but I don’t and I don’t want to. Part of it might be that I’m simply a proud and contrary sort of person by nature, but I don’t like being categorized and I feel that the work I do should be judged by its own merits. In the past I’ve felt that affirmative action does serve a purpose in allowing people who might not otherwise have any chance at all of playing on a level playing field with those who enjoy certain other advantages, and while the inequality is still there in many cases, it is my feeling or perhaps just my hope that we are approaching a time in our history of current events where the prejudices and attitudes that made affirmative action a necessary good will erode away and the strictures will no longer be necessary. Now whether they will go away on their own or not is another matter.

    • chrishanger April 26, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

      I try.

      I don’t claim to know everything, or even a majority of everything. If someone points out a flaw in my logic, I’m willing to change my mind. The problem these days is that too many people see changing their minds as a de facto admission of weakness, or guilt, etc.


  7. Billy April 25, 2018 at 2:47 am #

    I just saw a news post on my Facebook feed where someone was slammed for asking a college student if he got there by merit or quota ?

    I can see a potential employer asking a collage graduate –

    Did you get into college on merit or quota ?

    And if quota – the outrage that question could bring.

    It is something a employer would be interested in knowing.

    Quota = a closer look to see if they have the knowledge and learning to actually do the job.

    Kind of like the news post of the football star that got through college and became a Teacher ( for years) and could not even read.

    If it would be legal to ask or not ? That is the question.

    • chrishanger April 26, 2018 at 12:12 pm #

      Or POC would simply not be offered an interview, because everyone would assume they got into the college on quota, not merit.


  8. Ryan April 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

    What really angers me about the identity politics push is how they’re normalizing mediocrity. It’s OK to fail because you’re a and it’s not your fault.

    I’m a white guy and NOTHING was ever given to me. I graduated high school. I paid for my own college by going to a small school instead of a huge state school. I ran out of money and worked dead end jobs for a couple of years before finally joining the military so I could finish my degree while getting some real job experience. I don’t buy useless stuff; I live frugally. I now make a good living as a software engineer.

    In short, I took control of my life.

    What’s ironic is I DID face some overt racism when I was younger. I used to work summers at an IBM plant assembling computers. I walk into the staffing office the second summer and the hiring manager flat out tells me they were going to hire me because they wanted more migrant workers. However, since I worked for site manager before and she remembered me being a good worker, they would hire me again. When I get there, there are 2 other white guys, 1 black man, and 1 black woman. The ~50 people are all Hispanic from various countries. They tell us these are jobs Americans don’t want to work, which is a load of crap — they just won’t hire us.

    I have a sister that graduated from a large state school with a degree in psychology. She’s in debt and can’t find a good job due to her useless degree. She gripes endlessly about her male colleagues earning more and getting promoted. When I ask her what she’s doing to prove her worth to the company, she’s silent. She just blames sexism. THAT is what identity politics is doing to the modern world.

  9. Ihas April 25, 2018 at 9:02 pm #

    I think a lot of the reasoned justification for a quota system was based on trying to integrate the good old boy network so women and other minorities would find opportunities for business and employment as readily as white males. As an attorney at a firm that has received awards for gender inclusion based on a commitment to have 20% female partners by 2020, I think I am in a position to see that what seems like an easy mark is not so easy. Partnership at a law firm is largely based on one’s ability to generate business. White male attorneys seem to have much less difficulty doing that, possibly because the general counsels at domestic businesses are still mostly white males, and other countries tend to be even more patriarchical. However, recent studies have shown that women are even more likely than men to discriminate against women. Perhaps we need to study the issues more objectively and in greater detail before implementing potentially counter productive measures like quota systems.

    Perhaps we also need to recognize that there are different kinds of privilege. For example, black men were able to own property and vote long before white women in the US, and black men make about 20% more salary than white women for the same job. However, unarmed black men who resist are much more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white women who resist. So privilege, or the lack thereof, can’t be experienced uniformly.

    Assumptions about privilege and prejudice complicate both study and countermeasures. Quota systems are clearly not perfect counter measures, but critics of quota systems should be prepared to offer alternatives other than no quotas. Quota systems are already in place, and they are unlikely to be withdrawn without a better solution to take their place.

  10. Hanno Frerichs April 26, 2018 at 8:49 pm #

    Well, its a tricky topic I guess.

    Affirmative Action is partly successful at speeding up certain processes of equalizing a population or groups there off after a former discrimination against them. Even if the goals for those actions are usually wildly optimistic.

    So, while black might be freer to get good jobs and the like when they are not discriminated against, very few will initially. and very few can build a stock when they came from nothing, so the average white american household is currently owning 116800$ while the average african american household owns 1700$

    (the Number’s I used were found on Forbes 2018.02.18)

    The income gap might be lower but the ownership gap is still a great canyon . Now income of course helps to close that gap. at just a quarter less then whites on average.

    Still in my option it’s not really done well.

    The first one who had a very hard time getting merit or showing ability and a quota is often the only way to open the old networks up for them at all, usually to the dissatisfaction of the ones already in that network. Small private companies of course and rightfully so don’t want to be forced to take people in that may not have the ability.

    So the quotas for bigger companies or if not for them public services get very large.

    Another and in my option better option while nobody would be discriminated against based on a point system would be a goverment agency that gives a number of cheap credit to people of color who need it. It would still be taxpayers money, but it would be easier for blacks to open a Business or getting a student loan without that much risk of getting drowned in dept.

    That would of course be more expensive on paper, but with some luck a good deal of the money is paid back while hopefully more people are able to earn good money for them self.

    in some cases not even paying it it back directly, but paying it back by paying taxes over the long term.

    Doing nothing really to archive some form of equality between now still devided groups will not be helpful.

    I guess that is partly how the current affirmative action system and came into place they should e relatively cheap. but of course that caused friction when distributing some limited resources.

    • Andrew Clayborne Jones May 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm #

      I think you’ll find the numbers grow much closer when adjusting for behavior. People who have no criminal history, aren’t involved with drugs, have marketable skills and wait until married to have children, wind up looking much more alike. The real questions are “why are these behaviors different?” and “what’s the best way to spread these behaviors?”.

      In the end, people don’t have much control over the privilege or biases of others (whatever form they may take), but they do have control over their own behaviors.

  11. Confused April 30, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

    Not “Pride & Prejudice”

    More “Privilege & Prejudice”

  12. Billy May 1, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

    Here is a good comparison on Merit and Quota

    President Obama got the Nobel Peace Price a couple weeks after he became President on Quota. (He did absolutely nothing to earn it – during his entire Presidency )

    President Trump is currently fixing to be in the middle of hauling off all the Nukes that are in North Korea on a Semi – Truck and taking care of all that = Merit .



    Big difference.

    • Billy May 1, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

      Correction Price = Peace

      • Billy May 1, 2018 at 1:29 pm #

        I am not awake

        Correction Price = Prize

  13. Andrew Clayborne Jones May 3, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

    My observations are that the disparity in social capital has the biggest impact on what has come to be called “privilege”. The set of behaviors that generate stable social capital; developing a marketable skill, avoiding trouble with the law, avoiding addiction, not having children until married, are accessible to all. While more could be done to make people aware of such principles, they are, by and large, only applied by personal internal change.


  1. Who’s Side Are They On? | The Chrishanger - April 1, 2019

    […] needed – a political leader who was unambiguously on their side. The unfortunate result, as I noted earlier, of identity politics is that it encourages tribalism … and, inevitably, we end up with […]

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