Thank you for writing to express your views on affirmative action. Although the article to which you responded is one I wrote nearly three years ago, your argument is timeless. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action.
I want to thank you for saving me from being the token affirmative action opponent in the “forums” my university occasionally holds on the subject. Recently, I was asked to join one such “forum” to discuss the subject with five affirmative action supporters. A “forum” with five supporters and one opponent was my university’s first attempt at viewpoint diversity in nearly a decade. That was because a student organized the event. If the administration organized the event, I would have received no such invitation.
But I declined the invitation for the same reason I once declined a philosophy professor’s kind invitation to share my opposition to affirmative action with his class. The reason is that I simply don’t have enough material to “support” my position. I’m just opposed to racial discrimination. I cannot muster more than that one sentence. I’m just opposed to racial discrimination.
And so I have always considered it the duty of proponents of affirmative action to convince me that I am wrong. Today, Owen, you have done just that. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action.
In your missive you also indicated that there is nothing I can do to fully erase the debt incurred by what “my people” did to “your people” before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Correct me if the following misrepresents, in any way, the crux of your position:
Regardless of whether he is guilty of racism, a person is to be punished for racism carried out by other members of his racial group. Regardless of whether he is a victim of racism, a person is entitled to benefits for racism carried out against other members of his racial group.
The implications of your position are potentially far reaching, especially when I consider that my mother’s side of the family is German. Does your logic apply to nationality, Owen? Does it apply to ethnicity? What precisely do we German-Americans owe to American Jews?
The questions are troubling but, for now, I’ll just accept your strong feelings on the subject. You are black. I am white. Therefore, I “owe it to you” to support race-based affirmative action.