Friday, July 17, 2009

Pat Buchanan Sees the Republicans as a Big-Tent Party (Full of Whites Who are Being Discriminated Against)

After President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to become the next Supreme Court justice, the issue of race has been discussed on Conservative talk-radio and by some Republican members of Congress. As Sotomayor was questioned this past week during her confirmation hearings, some pundits even referred to her as a "reverse racist" and undeserving of the nomination because she was an "affirmative action" nominee. One of these individuals was Pat Buchanan. Last night Rachel Maddow had him on to discuss his position on Sotomayor and ended up exposing Buchanan as a bigot...again:

Maddow is right when she says that Buchanan is dating himself and stuck in the 1950's. Republicans should be running far, far away from Buchanan and other bigots who are advancing arguments like this.


trey said...

Saying someone is 'stuck in the 1950's' or calling them 'bigots' without supplying any evidence is not a substantive argument. Was Martin Luther King a bigot because almost all his work trying to achieve a society where people are judged by character and talent instead of color was spent advocating for his race? It just matched up well. The Constitution said all people have the right to vote and it was blacks who were getting shafted. Pat is simply saying that the Constitution says that all citizens should have equal protection of the law and ,as revealed by the Ricci case, affirmative action law often means whites are getting shafted. Pat is at the same time advocating for his ethnic group AND advocating for the same lofty ideal King spoke of:a society that judges based on character and talent not on tribalism. I think it is becoming more and more apparent that all the liberal happy-talk about a multi-cultural nirvana really means the continual move toward a naked racial spoils system.

Chris Johnson said...

The evidence that you claim was not supplied, was contained in the video and in Buchanan's long history of claiming that the white males are an oppressed group in this country. (and his insistance that pushing this issue would be a beneficial strategy for the Republican Party).

Your question about MLK Jr. (and your subsequent comparison of MLK mission with Buchanan's arugments) is lacking of historical context and like comparing apples to oranges. Just in case, no, MLK was not a bigot because he focused on race. His work for social justice and equality needed to advocate his race for the simple fact that his race was being discriminated against and had been for hundreds of years. To compare King's plight to what Buchanan is arguing is ridiculous.

Pat Buchanan's arguments lack historical hindsight and assume that we are all living in a world where racism doesn't exist. Until everyone is starting from the same proverbial "starting line" preferential treatment is sometimes necessary in order to achieve equality. Buchanan made very clear in that clip that he thought he was just as smart as Sotomayor and opposed her not on her merits, but because, in his view, she is inferior and is only where she is today because she passed up white folks who may have been more qualified for this job.

trey said...

As a matter of course, Chris, I think when you hold up an interview for ridicule, you should point out exactly what you find objectionable. It makes for far more efficient deabating. I went through the transcript for the interview and I found nothing outlandish. It may differ from your worldview but Pat did not seem ever to be callously saying cruel things about another ethnicity.

I think the "Sotomayor is not qualified for the Supreme Court" argument is not the most powerful example of 'reverse discrimination' because an SC appointment is inherently political. But was Rachel Maddow going to ask Pat on to discuss the Ricci case (a very, very strong example of 'reverse discrimination) where she is less likely to 'win' an argument[not impugning the integrity of Maddow, who I've never seen (don't have cable), since all host I'm sure pick subjects where the facts are more favorable to their philosophy}?

Pat never said Soto was inferior. He just stated that she herself said she was admitted to Princeton and Yale Law through affirmative action and had appreciably worse scores than her classmates. Pat then just did the math and figured his scores were probably as good or better. I am not, by the way, completely opposed to affirmative action but since it appears that we are becoming more and more a credential-based society (where almost all our holders of highest office have Yale, Harvard, etc. degrees) it would be helpful to know if a prestigious degree means the same level of demonstrated intelligence across the ethnic board. Perhaps they could give some kind of post-college SAT (or other objective test) to see if affirmative action is actually finding diamonds in the roughs of an underpriviledged background or if colleges are just awarding a prestigious credential to a so-so student.

Forget the MLK analogy, he's become so deified (and I don't mean that as a societal critique but as just a matter of fact statement) its probably just a poor debate strategy to compare him to the living. But I think Pat is correct in advocating for his race when it is being groosly discriminated against. Do you honestly think that throwing out a fair, objective test (like in Ricci) because too many of one race did good is not serious discrimination? I do not doubt discrimination of minorities is alive and well but think the best way to combat it is by moving the criteria for receiving major goods of society (like jobs and school admittance) to a more objective basis rather than awarding them to achieve some myopic group quota.

Chris Johnson said...

trey, you stated:

it would be helpful to know if a prestigious degree means the same level of demonstrated intelligence across the ethnic board.

You say that you want to focus on merits and not race yet you argue for a new kind of test to be administered after college in order to measure the level of intelligence among different ethnicities...(just to be sure that minorities are really earning their degrees.) You can't be serious.

Affirmative action is not the same thing as quotas. Quotas determine a set number of minorities that must be present at, in this case, schools while affirmative action simply takes race into consideration (as well as all other merit-based factors). Why is this needed - because due to hundreds and hundreds of years of discrimination against people of different races has created a system that has left them at a disadvantage. They are not starting from the same starting line as whites, so sometimes preferential treatment is needed to have everyone start from the same starting point. If racism didn't exist, if there were statistics that showed that races are treated equally (equal opportunity, equal pay, etc.), then it would be a different story. To ignore history and the disadvantage that minorities have seen and continue to see in our society is to wrongly claim that we live in a colorblind society.

The argument that Buchanan is making is that Sotomayor got into schools based upon affirmative action, so her subsequent achievements are automatically of lesser value than white males (who he presumes got into school based on merit alone). Buchanan continually dismisses any of her achievements, claims that she isn't that smart, and says that universities just give out high-level degrees to anyone. That is misleading and condescending to Sotomayor and her achievements. I would argue that in order to achieve the exemplary academic standing that Sotomayor graduated with potentially took more effort on her part. If she started at a disadvantage then she would have had to work even harder to earn high grades and graduate with high honors. Buchanan completely ignores her achievements and her seventeen year legal career in his critique. He dismisses her solely based on what is, in his view, a Latina getting nominated for a job that she isn't qualified for over the consideration of white men.

trey said...

"You can't be serious (about a post-college objective test)"

Well to be honest, I just thought that up while writing the last post but it still sounds useful to me. It actually sounds useful for the whole student body. [Well now that I think about it, I actually think I saw some big-shot education commentator suggest this is a better measure of the quality of a school- how much a student improves his objective test scores over his 4 years- than the current system used by U.S. News, etc.] But as your line of argument sort of suggests, perhaps the biggest fly in the ointment for this seemingly common-sense idea may be the AA lobby who may fear that such a test may expose with actual quantitative data that scores of AA students don't improve that greatly. I don't understand why you would oppose this (in theory) if you weren't a little worried about what the data would show.

"AA not the same as quotas"

As I said, I'm not against a little outreach to underpriviledged minorities but, call it what you like, things like what happened in the Ricci case (which is in no way anomolous)are designed for the sole purpose of getting a set number of a particular group into desired openings.

"Condescending to Sotomayor"

This is high-level national politics. She is going to have a remarkable amount of power in deciding the path of the country for next 20-30-40 years. I think perhaps a little rough questioning is in order.

In response to your last paragraph: Pat is just making the case that one of the drawbacks of large-scale AA in college admittance is that it makes it harder for outside observers (which is like the whole US population) to rely on a credential (which is sort of necessary in a largely anonymous society) if they are different for different groups. Whites who took the SAT know its a hard test and that any white who got into Harvard, Yale had to get a 1400 (old scale) or higher to get in. But if some minorities can get in with 1150's, you no longer can use that as an across the board criteria. No other credential offers near the objectivity to the interested outside observer than uniform, objective tests.

"Not starting at same starting line."

This is true but then you need to explain why Asians and Ashkenazi Jews are doing so well academically.