Affirmative action: Text review
Affirmative action has been a topic that has attracted heated debates in the government for many decades. The debates about affirmative action actually started in the 18th century and many researchers and authors have undertaken projects in the field. This essay compares the texts from three authors regarding the issue and discusses the similarities in the three texts: “When affirmative action was white” by Katznelson; “People power and politics” by Roberto Satow; and “What the social classes owe each other” by Sumner William.
In the book “When affirmative action was white”, Katznelson seeks to offer a wider historical justification for the present affirmative action programs (Katznelson 11). The author focuses on two social programs: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the Harry Truman's Fair Deal developed in the 1930's to 1940's. Katznelson argues that those programs both discriminated against blacks and contributed in the widening of the gap existing between the whites and black Americans. He explores how the two deals have contrasted the white and black Americans in terms of their achievements in education, quality jobs, housing, and attainment of incomes.
Katznelson argues that affirmative action is important to address the social injustice that has been created against black Americans. Katznelson believes contends that the judiciary and policy makers have in the past been insensitive to the fact that blacks had been victims of racial discrimination by the government in the years preceding the civil rights revolution. Katznelson. He argues that the black Americans still face far too many obstacles in enjoying America’s growing abundance just like was the case that history is trying to avoid (Katznelson 15). The author takes the reader through an analysis of the today’s policies and legislation and compares this with what has been experienced in history. He examines how the federal government discriminated against black citizens as it created the sweeping programs to ensure a vibrant, secure middle class in America. He addresses policies such as on minimum wage, unemployment compensation, social security system, workers protection rights, as well as the bill of rights, which were all intended to be revolutionary.
Katznelson demonstrates that though the new legislation was bent on addressing the discrimination of the black Americans, it is white who end up benefiting more. He notes that while the new deal for example offered the blacks the fairest access they had ever experienced, the gulf between the black and the white still persisted, the negroes reaped less benefits than did the white (Katznelson 36). Katznelson uses facts and statistics on all his arguments to show how the intended grants on the poor, largely black ends up benefiting the white. In the G. I. Bill the African- American veterans received significantly less help than their white colleagues. Katznelson cites the 1940’s study which concluded that the bill was was carried out as though it was deliberately aimed at discriminating the blacks by accommodating the Jim Crow. The Africans veterans missed out on housing, business loans, as well as college and university admissions.
Sumner gets his motivation from the Darwin’s evolutionary theory and applies it to social evolution where he argues that Government must not try to interfere in addressing social imbalances. He argues that social existence is a competitive struggle among individuals with different natural capacities and traits. Just like in the Darwin’s evolutionary theory, persons with better traits achieve success and grow wealthy and powerful while those lacking in intelligence or discipline sink into poverty. Sumner contends that attempts by government to interfere to improve conditions only preserves bad traits and penalize those with good traits. The author holds that the existence of conditions that requires reforms only serves as an indication that the society is functioning as it should naturally be and that reform policies only imposes burdens on the middle class.
Sumner feared the development of a welfare state to be a retrogressive one: he supports the enhancing of societies based on contract. In this, kind of society men are free and independent and forms ties without favor or obligation. This kind of society offers the utmost possibilities for individual development, self-reliance, and dignity of free persons (Sumner 115). Sumner contends that the only legitimate role of the government is to protect citizens’ rights. He argues that social revolution should be left to determine its own course. Sumner argues that if each person takes care of his business and mind himself the society generally improves for everyone without any government intervention.
Satow evaluates Sumner’s ideologies to discuss the situation in America. He aims to find out whether there is any class, which is under the duty and burden of providing for another class, and whether it is indeed true that the government only owes it citizens’ peace, order and rights protection. Satow contends that classification of some persons as poor or weak is misguided and wrong and must be done away with. He further argues that in America today relations are based on contact and therefore man cannot be charged with helping the other or claim such help. He explains that the idea of free man has been developed with the development of a middle class man who commands independence and must not be bound be state policies to help other men. The free man has a responsibility to himself and his family otherwise; he becomes a burden to the society (Satow 116). The free man only has a responsibility to his neighbor only if he does it for respect, courtesy, or goodwill.
Sumner further argues that the pursuit of happiness does not entirely mean possession of happiness. This assertion means that a right does not pertain to a result, but only to a chance. Rights pertain to existing conditions of existence struggle. This means that not every man has a right to desired property (Sumner 119). Satow further uses this idea to develop an argument that men cannot be equally happy. Therefore, the existence of imbalance in economic endowment does not indicate failure in our society but that how they ought to be.
The three authors have some commonality in their message. Katznelson studies and arguments reveal that the government’s attempts to interfere with the social imbalance in the society have had little successes in addressing the injustices vested on the black Americans. The evaluation of the “New deal” and the ‘fair deal” reveals that the country has not only sustained the minorities’ class but also developed a solid middle class. This message by Sumner that government intervention would only succeed in preservation of bad traits is clearly manifested in the fact that the blacks experienced minimal benefits from the intervention policies, which ended up benefiting the white Americans. Sumner and Satow agree to the fact that the social imbalance is natural and that a free man society with where interactions are based on contract is the most ideal society structure. The two aouthors agree that government intervention is inappropriate in trying to improve conditions. Katznelson reading serves to prove Sumner and Satow right by analyzing the conditions in America.
The message from all the three authors regards affirmative action. Sumner’s message is so deep if everyone would understand it and appreciate it as Satow does then the notion of classes would be dead and buried. This would lead to a situation where affirmative actions are not necessary and where every persons is well aware of that failure to struggle would lead to perishing as Sumner indicates. The conditions for everyone in the society would without doubts improve. There will also be no need for affirmative action since the society will understand that we people cannot enjoy the same level of happiness and product possession. I agree with the message from all the three authors. However, the success of eliminating the idea of poverty and classes of weak persons cannot be achieved easily. For this reason this reason affirmative actions are important to lift the conditions of fellow human beings already in the poverty. As Katznelson notes the addressing of historical injustices is not possible without sacrificing liberty of the persons being forced to assist. Scrapping the affirmative action will let the system adjust itself naturally, as Sumner provides and with time bear good fruits.
Katznelson, Ira. When affirmative action was white. An untold history of racial inequality in twentieth century America. W.W. Norton and Company. New York. London. 2005. Print.
Satow Roberta. People, Power and Politics.York Politics. New York: New York University Press. 2008. Print
Sumner, William. What the social classes owe each other. 1983. Print.