Is Affirmative Action Only for Whites?

James Taranto debunks Ellen Goodman's claim of immunity from being a white supremacist due to her presumed moral superiority with respect to the achievements of Clarence Thomas and other progressive non-whites in his opinion article on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page:

Let's focus on one of Goodman's tropes: "We know Thomas as a man who benefited from the affirmative action he scorns." Goodman implies, and others among his critics have stated directly, that because Thomas (purportedly) "benefited from affirmative action"--that is, from racial discrimination in favor of blacks--he is morally obliged to favor such discrimination, and to hold it constitutional.

Ellen Goodman is a person of pallor, and her bio tells us that she finished college in 1963, the year before the Civil Rights Act became law. Thus she is old enough (sorry, Ellen) to have benefited from discrimination because she is white. Would anyone suggest that therefore she is morally obliged to support discrimination in favor of whites? Of course not.

In the white liberal's worldview, if a white past beneficiary of discrimination favors racial equality or even discrimination against whites, that is an act of atonement or principle. But if a black past beneficiary of discrimination favors equality, white liberals view him as a traitor to his race. To put it another way, white liberals expect blacks to act out of self-interest based on race, while they expect whites to act altruistically. They attack blacks like Thomas who rise above racial self-interest--and they do so in explicitly racial terms--while faulting whites who fail to do so.

This may be the most invidious racial view to remain respectable in 21st century America. The idea that whites are on a higher moral plane than blacks is a form of white supremacy; and the attacks on Thomas and other blacks who embrace equality and reject racial self-interest are an attempt to keep black people in their place.

White liberals often claim that racism is everywhere, "just beneath the surface." Given the intensity with which they target blacks who reject liberal orthodoxy on race, one suspects they are telling the truth--about themselves.


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