Let's Call it Infirmative Action

Burt Prelutsky

8/7/2009 12:01:00 AM - Burt Prelutsky

My wife and friends often find it bizarre that I answer every e-mail I receive from my readers, including those who merely write to insult me. On occasion, even I, not being a masochist, have asked myself why I do it. There are a couple of reasons. The first is common courtesy. I figure if someone has taken the time to write, the least I can do is respond. I do permit myself to cut off communication if by the third exchange I haven’t persuaded them to stop calling me a racist, a fascist or a moron. Insulting me is one thing, but boring me is quite another.

My second reason, though, isn’t even slightly altruistic. I have found, at least once in a great while, that in the process of trying to explain my position on a specific issue to a really stupid person, I am compelled to clarify my own thinking. And when I say a really stupid person, I am naturally referring to a typical liberal.

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So it was the other week when a reader, a black woman we’ll call Ms. D, took me to task for an article in which I not only shared my uncensored feelings about the Obamas, but also took the opportunity to attack Affirmative Action.

She opened with a question: “Why do you assume that any acceptance of non-whites into educational institutions is due to Affirmative Action? What you’re saying by making that assumption is that non-whites couldn’t possibly have gotten into Ivy League schools on their own merits. Some non-whites don’t even indicate their ethnicity for this very reason. Even if one is accepted because of A.A., he/she has to work twice as hard to prove himself. Nor can A.A. be credited for non-whites who successfully complete their academic careers.”

I replied: “I wish you would just say blacks instead of non-whites. After all, Asians are non-whites and they don’t receive Affirmative Action. Next, I never said that blacks never get into good schools on their own merits. It’s liberals who say that and believe it. Otherwise, there would be no such policy. You don’t see it in play for Asians. But, then, 50% of Asians don’t drop out of college without getting their diplomas.”

“When,” Ms. D went on, “did Mrs. Obama ever say that America was a mean country, as you claimed she did?”

“She said it in one of her speeches during the campaign. It was around the same time that she admitted that until her husband ran for president she’d never been proud of our country.”

“You misquoted her. She said that for the first time, she was really proud of her country. The context of the statement being that America had looked beyond color for a change.”

“Lady, if you want America to look beyond color, why aren’t you opposed to Affirmative Action?”

“When did America start using Affirmative Action to elect its presidents?”

“As non sequiturs go, that’s a doozy. I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I do find it ironic that Obama billed himself as the first post-racial candidate.”

“Why is that ironic?”

“Well, it’s one thing for him to get 90% of the black vote in the general election inasmuch as blacks will give 90% of their votes to any Democrat even if, like Robert Byrd, he was once a proud member of the Ku Klux Klan. But why would 90% of blacks vote for Obama over such a devout liberal as Sen. Clinton in the primaries except that Obama was 50% blacker than Hillary? So why is it you think that whites should look beyond color when it’s so obvious that most blacks don’t?”

“Even if Affirmative Action was why Michelle Obama was accepted into schools, should that mean that she can’t acknowledge or be cognizant of racial and other societal ills in America? Should non-whites do a step and fetch jig and say thanks Massa for dis here opportunity? I owes everything to you for my success. Are you saying that Affirmative Action is to cover up or excuse racial problems?”

“Affirmative Action should be called White Guilt in Action. If you don’t object to having your entire race patronized, I guess I shouldn’t mind. The only reason I do is because in order to make room for black underachievers who haven’t done the work and earned their way into colleges and universities, Asian students are being discriminated against. Too many blacks who say they only want a level playing field are lying through their teeth.”

“The success of those blacks you mentioned in your article in no way proves that we are not a racist society. Not when whites still rule America in every sector.”

“Hey, wake up, lady! There are only about 40 million blacks in a country of 300 million. At the rate things are going, Latinos may soon be in charge, but since when do 40 million people get to rule 260 million?”

“Not when most black males in America know what it’s like to be pulled over for no other reason than DWB, Driving While Black. Oh, that’s right -- all black men are drug-dealing gangbangers, so that’s probably why they’re profiled.”

“I don’t want to sound too condescending, but you should probably leave sarcasm to the professionals. I’m not black, but I was stopped by cops any number of times when I was young. When I first began driving at 16, I looked like I was 13 or 14. Then, when I was at UCLA and began riding a motorcycle, I was pulled over on a regular basis, especially when I was working late at the Daily Bruin or on the humor magazine. The problem was that I had to ride through Beverly Hills to get home, and Beverly Hills cops are particularly alert to suspicious characters. Somehow, though, I managed to survive the trauma with my manhood intact. I guess it did help that I wasn’t using or peddling drugs. Yes, Ms. D, it’s shocking but true that a lot of young black men actually traffic in illegal substances. Some black people are outraged that, in spite of Affirmative Action, more black men go to jail than go to college, as if that’s the fault of white society. Don’t you find it the least bit embarrassing that blacks blame whites for their problems with the same regularity that Democrats blame George Bush for the present mess in Washington?”

Ignoring my words as usual, Ms. D steamed ahead: “In your response to your critics, you never addressed whether or not you are indeed a racist. Do you in fact believe that non-whites are to conduct themselves by some societal code or standards determined by whites?”

“I believe that everyone in America should abide by a code of decent behavior. Walking around with a chip on your shoulder isn’t going to gain you the respect you obviously crave. At most, you’ll have to settle for contempt and handouts from politicians looking to lock up your votes.”

“You use a lot of words to say absolutely nothing. Do you hate non-whites or not? As evil as white supremacists are, at least one knows where they stand and what they believe about people that are not like them. Where do you stand?”

“I have always said that anyone who hates another person because of his race, religion or national origin, is just a lazy so-and-so because the chances are that if you simply make the effort to know him as an individual, you’ll come up with a much better reason to despise him. That being said, I don’t think you really care where I stand or will believe what I say, even though I have no reason to lie to you, seeing as I’m not running for office. But since you asked, I like people who play by the rules and who don’t think they’re entitled to a free ride or a lot of perks just because their great-great-great-great-grandparents happened to have been slaves. If I were you, I’d detest slavery, just as I and most other Americans do. But just as a certain black New York Times reporter confessed some years ago, I’d personally be grateful that as a result of that terrible evil, I was lucky enough to have been born in a country where one’s intelligence, drive and perseverance, are the only things limiting what any American can achieve. Sincerely, Burt Prelutsky.”