A friend of mine recently expressed shock at the fact that nearly half of the electorate still approves of the job performance of President Barack Obama. In his view, the poll numbers defy common sense. Obama's foreign policy has exuded Carter-like weakness. Obama's lone domestic policy "achievement" has been crumbling since its inception. Why would so many people still approve of his performance? The answer, of course, is simple. People are applying a lower standard to Obama. And it isn't because of his personal charm and charisma. It's because of his race.
In academia, the tendency to hold blacks to a lower standard is deeply ingrained even though it isn't universally acknowledged. Several years ago, I wrote about the issue in a column on Town Hall. After I wrote the column, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor publicly attacked me for stating the obvious. The attack, which occurred during a Q&A following one of my speeches on affirmative action, illustrates one of two distinct but inter-related problems with affirmative action:
1. When whites publicly deny the existence of racial double standards, they are motivated by self-interest. This selfish motive often translates into behavior that is harmful to blacks generally.
2. When blacks privately accept the existence of racial double standards, they are motivated by self-interest. This selfish motive also translates into behavior that is harmful to blacks generally.
Regarding the first problem, whites in denial (like the UNC professor who attacked me) do such things to curry favor with minorities. They are also trying to boost their own self esteem. The problem is that those who are willing to lie in order to win the favor of blacks are also willing to treat blacks differently in order to retain others' approval (and their own sense of moral superiority).
I began to see this trend when I was in graduate school in sociology. Instructors were sometimes afraid to fail black undergraduate students even if they were functionally illiterate. In one particularly egregious case, a professor assigned someone to write a black graduate student's master’s thesis for her. She simply wasn't able to do it herself.
It wasn't that these educators were merely afraid of accusations of racism. They were also afraid of admitting they were wrong. To do so would expose the lie that affirmative action is "just a tie breaker," rather than a deeply racist policy that assumes black inferiority and then uses the assumption to justify admitting unqualified students on the basis of race.