I Recently Realized I Am A “P” Man: Musings on Affirmative Action
Recently a friend, Shelle, requested that I write a blog concerning my thoughts on Affirmative Action. My first thought was how 80’s of her. Then did a bit of research and found it is still a very prevalent issue. It is probably not a subject matter I would ever selected from my own strange head filled with floating weird ideas; yet it is important and since extremely white dudes like myself are often the ones most adversely affected by it, I might want to be armed with an opinion and give this one a shot. For those uninformed, Affirmative Action is an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, particularly in relation to employment or education. In other words, it is giving favor to those who have suffered from discrimination in the past while affording them preferential treatment. It is the interviewing white firefighter who scores a 90% on the exam yet is passed over in favor of the Hispanic interviewing firefighter who scores an 85%. As I think about this issue, I realize that what drives my various opinions and political leanings are my attitudes toward people in general. I generally really love people (not all, trust me, though most) particularly the underdog and those really in need of help and assistance. I place people far above what I call general principle or policy. In other words, if there is a law or a policy that wrongs a group of innocent people, to hell with that law or policy. I am the guy who would steal a loaf of bread (break principle) for a starving family (people). My blog readers may have already surmised that I am far from a black and white, letter-of-the-law type individual. Duh. Yet why? I do not respect the law. I somewhat respect the spirit of the law. I do respect people. And if a law hurts people, to hell with that law. Laws are boundaries we set up, essentially, to make our lives better and more functional in a civil society. We need some of them yet I do not respect them as in and of themselves they are nothing but constructs created to work in a specific cultural context. Life is far too ambiguous to respect a law as we all need to break them every now and then. Be it breaking traffic laws to take your asthmatic child who could not breathe to the emergency room (it has happened) or simply parking in a no parking zone because you see the street sweeper already made its pass, (by the way, those policy-first asses will still give you a ticket even though you clearly did not violate the intent of the law) laws prove to be suspect and susceptible if enforced with a “policy” mentality rather than a “people” one. I do not respect that which can readily change and mean absolutely nothing if not applied contextually. When I see a sign that says, “Buckle Up, It’s The Law” -I shudder…stop threatening me assholes! It wasn’t a law 20 years ago though was still a good idea to buckle up. How about, “Buckle Up, It’s a Good Idea.” Be nice. It’s a tough life. And I was not always this way. I used to be a “p&p” guy, a principle and policy follower. Now I am just a “p” guy, people. And much happier. Take my position on Undocumented Students (read: illegal alien students). If I were driven by principle or policy, I would take the position that anyone undocumented should be deported from this country. There really would not be much to discuss. Yet, alas, I am not driven by “p&p”, I am driven by my love for “p.” To think we would take a group of people who were brought up and have always lived in this country since a very young age and deny them certain civil rights is just mean. Our current immigration laws are fundamentally flawed…am I supposed to respect them? I don’t think law first, policy first, or even America first…I think people first. All people. All people all over the globe. I am not sure what that makes me politically. I do know it makes me sympathetic toward the issue of Affirmative Action as it gives back to those groups who have historically suffered…and that is good thing. “But, Jimmy, is that policy not hurting a group of other people, namely white people?” Thanks for asking white man. The question assumes fairness is a fundamental right afforded every human being. It is not. We live in a screwed up world with a lot of very flawed people and flawed system. If whitey now has to take a back seat to people of color as pay back for centuries of hurtful behavior toward minorities, do not blame Affirmative Action, blame your forefathers who now screwed it up for you. Those who might call Affirmative Action “reverse discrimination” would be akin to calling your dentist a masochist because of the pain she inflicted while extracting a long rotting tooth. Life is not fair. Just ask any older southern African American who was not even allowed to drink out of the same water fountain as whites, let alone get a decent job; no, life is not fair…never has been and perhaps never will be. Yet I do see Affirmative Action more as a temporary corrective measure to remedy a solvable problem. And once that social ill has been cured? I would opine that it makes no sense to provide medicine for a healthy patient. Are we there yet? Have we solved the problems of prejudice and discrimination? That is a different blog for a different day… I do think we are closer than ever. If more people would be “p” people we perhaps would already be there. And if you would like to make blog suggestions and add to a head filled with floating weird ideas, you know where to find me.