Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Justice by percentage

Ta-Nehisi Coates gets interviewed on NPR and James Poulos reflects:
Ta-Nehisi was challenged to affirm that a Senate which lacked even one black Senator, in this day and age, was by definition an unjust and/or unacceptable Senate. . . . "Okay," I told the radio evenly, "imagine I grant that a Senate without any black and/or African(-)American Senators is unjust and/or unacceptable. Why doesn’t the minimum threshhold then become two such Senators? Or three? Or…?"
Or how about 12? If 12% of the U.S. population is black, and the Senate is a representative institution, then why aren't blacks equally represented? And why aren't there 51 women senators? Why don't we have a Senate that "looks like America"?

We are once again back to the liberal fetish of equality, rooted in the hidden premise that equality and justice are the same thing, the obverse of which is that wherever one finds inequality, one has also found injustice. And James discovers CNN giving voice to Latinos who assert that they are underrepresented in the Obama Cabinet.

The unexamined "truth" that equality and justice are synonymous is pernicious enough when it involves ethnic mau-mauing over political spoils. Egalitarianism is actually more dangerous when applied to economics, as Ronald Reagan once wryly observed:
We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one.
And it is this same egalitarian fallacy, I have argued, that motivates both feminism and the gay-rights movement. Mere liberty -- the freedom to live their lives with a minimum of government interference -- will not do. Rather, they demand that the coercive power of government be applied to rearrange society for their benefit.
Believe me, sir, those who attempt to level, never equalize. In all societies, consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levelers, therefore, only change and pervert the natural order of things; they load the edifice of society by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground.
The egalitarian fallacy rears its ugly head not merely in complaints of underrepresentation, but in overrepresentation, as in the ADL's fearfulness that some people suspect Jews of controlling Hollywood. Well, they do -- so what? And, to bring the subject back around to the Senate, while Jews are less than 2% of the U.S. population, they are 14% of the Senate. My own ethnic group, redneckus Americanus, might be said to be overrepresented among NASCAR drivers and country music stars. Is this evidence of a fiendish hillbilly conspiracy?

When children are thwarted, they are wont to complain, "That's not fair!" And as my parents inevitably replied, "Whoever told you life was supposede to be fair?" There is something puerile in the complaint that every inequality is unfair. Political maturity -- statesmanship -- requires a certain indifference to such complaints, and if Obama can resist pressure to apportion his appointments by quota, he will deserve praise for his statesmanship.

1 comment:

  1. Anybody who sincerely believed the election of 0bama as president would finally mean the end of the race-grievance industry with its quotas and victim-pimping, was quite simply an idiot. It's like assuming that making a terrorist a head of state and giving him a Nobel Peace Prize would mean the end of terrorism.

    All together now, people: When you reward a behavior, you get more of it.