The Confederate Races Of America

Maybe we should abandon trying to swim against the tide, accept the inevitable, get with the program, and just agree to change our name from the “United States of America” to the “Confederate Races of America.” For, despite the lip service still given to such apparently quaint and outdated notions as “individual rights” and “equal opportunity,” our national fixation on fixing racial and ethnic “underrepresentation” and continuously monitoring and fine-tuning the proper mix is leading us away from “e pluribus unum” and to a de facto confederation of races, whether we admit it or not.

These gloomy thoughts are prompted by yet another report on “underrepresentation” that is so typical and generally unremarkable in the sea of such reports as to be utterly banal, and that’s what’s so depressing. This report, In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce, can be found on the web site of the Institute of Medicine, and it is discussed in an article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education. (Note how the appearance of the term “Compelling Interest” in the title signals that an argument is being made here for the legitimacy of racial discrimination to cure the identified problem.)

First, the familiar problem:

Hispanics comprised more than 12 percent of the U.S. population in 2002, but only 2 percent of the nation’s registered nurses, 3.4 percent of its psychologists, and 3.5 percent of its physicians. And while blacks accounted for one in eight Americans that year, blacks made up fewer than one of every 20 dentists and physicians in the United States.

Note that there is no mention of discrimination as a problem, only underrepresentation. But in the absence of discrimination, exactly why is “underrepresentation” such a pressing problem? Judith A. Winston, identified in the Chronicle article as a Washington lawyer and former undersecretary and general counsel of the Dept. of Education, has the answer:

“You can not provide care effectively without being able to communicate with people across a broad racial and ethnic spectrum,” added Ms. Winston, who served on the committee that wrote the report.

(The Chronicle doesn’t say, probably because one could guess, that Ms. Winston was an appointee of the Clinton administration.)

Note the stark assumption here that people of different races or ethnicities can’t communicate with each other. What, exactly, is the evidence for that? If it’s true, then it’s probably equally true that Red-staters and Blue-staters also speak different languages, and that the Blue schools should take active measures to ensure that Red-staters are adequately represented in faculties and student bodies.

So much for the problem; what’s the cure? Again, depressingly familiar:

• Programs that train doctors, nurses, and other health professionals should stress the importance of medical care that takes into account a patient’s culture, and they should establish guidelines for achieving a diverse student body.

• They should also require faculty members to demonstrate specific progress toward achieving the program’s diversity goals as part of the promotion and raise process.

• Schools should also set up an informal, confidential mediation process for students and faculty members who feel they are being harassed or discriminated against.

• Federal and state health agencies should expand loan-forgiveness and tuition-assistance plans that make education more affordable.

The only thing missing here is the familiar reassurance that “guidelines” that require the demonstration of “specific progress” toward “diversity” do not amount to (heaven forbid) a quota. Nor, for that matter, is it explained why limiting “loan-forgiveness and tuition-assistance plans” to minorities would be legal. Presumably it’s because in our post-Grutter world it is simply assumed that all such racially exclusive awards will be based on a “holistic” review, thus allowing Justice O’Connor the comfort of her delusion that she has done no lasting damage to a formerly fundamental principle.

ADDENDUM

The Chronicle article referred to above provides a link to an earlier (Nov. 24, 2000) article that is also quite interesting, “The Unusual Rules for Affirmative Action in Medical Schools.” What is “unusual,” claims the article, is the 30-year old policy of the Association of American Medical Schools “that limits racial preferences to African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, American Indians, and mainland Puerto Ricans.”

Thus the sad plight of Dafnis Carranza:

Dafnis Carranza lived in a remote village in El Salvador before escaping the war-torn country in 1981 and moving with her family to a cramped, one-bedroom apartment in South Central Los Angeles. A factory worker’s daughter who dreamed of becoming a doctor, Ms. Carranza might seem like an ideal candidate for affirmative action.

Certainly the author and Ms. (presumably now Dr.) Carranza thought she was an ideal candidate.

“I think they should look at an individual person’s economic status and background,” says Ms. Carranza, who was accepted by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine in 1998, a year after she received a stinging string of rejections. She’s now a third-year medical student whose growing debt is partially offset by a race-neutral scholarship.

“It seems silly to say that some Latino groups are eligible for minority scholarships and others aren’t,” she adds.

Of course if “they” looked at “an individual person’s economic status and background,” then they wouldn’t be awarding preferences and money based on race or ethnicity, would they?

What is truly “silly” is not that “some Latino groups are eligible for minority scholarships and others aren’t,” but that anyone should be entitled to a preference simply for being Latino, of any group. If Latinos, why not Arabs or Afghanis or … ? Why should a poor Salvadorean immigrant be assisted in graduating from medical school debt-free while a poor Appalachian student should not?

Say What? (21)

  1. Mike R. February 6, 2004 at 11:32 am | | Reply

    How come this argument for diversity ceases to exist when it comes to Major League Sports? It seems you can use this argument every time, but it simply gets dismissed. For some reason you can’t compare athletic ability with intellectual ability. Why can’t it be stated that the fact that there aren’t as many Hispanics or Blacks in the medical professions (when compared to their general population numbers)is because they are not as smart as the others?

    It is very easy for me to say that the reason there aren’t as many whites in the NBA (compared to their general population numbers)is because they aren’t as good as the others playing the game.

    Why can’t it be stated that some people are genetically smarter than others and some are genetically more athletic? If those characteristics happen according to racial lines, so be it. It should be the most qualified person for the job. And the only place where that seems to apply is in professional sports.

    Of course what do the racial preferences say about sports franchises: that since minorities make up the majority of the players, now we need more representation of minorities in the upper management positions of the franchise. Do you think you could make that argument for a hospital? Since the doctors in this hospital are mostly white, we are going to continue the current make-up of our board which is 90% white. And even if there is a more qualified minority candidate out there, the next position has to be filled by a white candiate to continue to follow the percentage of our employees.

    Sorry for the long and most likely incoherent post, but the analogies and hypocrisies are endless when it comes to sports and the preferentialists society.

  2. Mike R. February 6, 2004 at 11:33 am | | Reply

    How come this argument for diversity ceases to exist when it comes to Major League Sports? It seems you can use this argument every time, but it simply gets dismissed. For some reason you can’t compare athletic ability with intellectual ability. Why can’t it be stated that the fact that there aren’t as many Hispanics or Blacks in the medical professions (when compared to their general population numbers)is because they are not as smart as the others?

    It is very easy for me to say that the reason there aren’t as many whites in the NBA (compared to their general population numbers)is because they aren’t as good as the others playing the game.

    Why can’t it be stated that some people are genetically smarter than others and some are genetically more athletic? If those characteristics happen according to racial lines, so be it. It should be the most qualified person for the job. And the only place where that seems to apply is in professional sports.

    Of course what do the racial preferences say about sports franchises: that since minorities make up the majority of the players, now we need more representation of minorities in the upper management positions of the franchise. Do you think you could make that argument for a hospital? Since the doctors in this hospital are mostly white, we are going to continue the current make-up of our board which is 90% white. And even if there is a more qualified minority candidate out there, the next position has to be filled by a white candiate to continue to follow the percentage of our employees.

    Sorry for the long and most likely incoherent post, but the analogies and hypocrisies are endless when it comes to sports and the preferentialists society.

  3. Funky Ph.D. February 6, 2004 at 11:55 am | | Reply

    My dentist, the neurologist I saw last year for persistent headaches (exacerbated by my having to confront daily academic lunacy), the orthopedic surgeon who fixed my knee a few years ago, and three of the four physicians in my doctor’s medical office are Asian-Americans. I’ve never had a problem “communicating” with any of these fine medical practitioners, despite the impassable gulf of cultural difference (?) that is presumed to exist between us. Yet again the dishonesty of AA is revealed by the case of the Asian-American, whose experience of racial discrimination (especially here on the west coast, where I’ve lived all my life) included internment in concentration camps– within my parents’ living memory. I’m too lazy to look this up, but I’ll bet people of Asian “descent” are vastly overrepresented in the medical professions. Why doesn’t that prove the absurdity of the argument that black or hispanics can only talk to black or hispanic doctors?

  4. Claire February 6, 2004 at 1:32 pm | | Reply

    It doesn’t ‘prove’ it because it’s not the ‘right’ answer. Just as the liberal lefties: they know what the right answer is. Now stop trying to confuse them with such irrelevancies as ‘facts’.

  5. M February 6, 2004 at 2:42 pm | | Reply

    “Why can’t it be stated that some people are genetically smarter than others and some are genetically more athletic? If those characteristics happen according to racial lines, so be it.”

    Moronic.

    I don’t know why I’m bothering but I’ll answer… Because the observed differences might alternatively be explained by the fact that culture and economic status might also be correlated with race.

    Statements about “genetic superiority” are both dangerous and unproven. I would also suggest that there is significant evidence that culture is really the key.

    Your statement is just plain disturbing.

  6. nobody important February 6, 2004 at 3:40 pm | | Reply

    Overlooked in the assessment of underepresentation is the choices individuals make – whether to go to med school, or play sports, or whatever.

    What if African Americans, by choice, don’t want to go to med school? Should they be forced? IF too many Jews want to become lawyers, should they be barred?

    Coersive Utopianism at its finest (ugliest).

  7. Sigivald February 6, 2004 at 3:44 pm | | Reply

    February: Culture doesn’t make the Masai really tall. Not wanting to get into the intelligence morass, I don’t see how we can deny that phenotypical differences (which are roughly analagous to race, though by no means isomorphic to it) are anything by genetic (at least in terms of primary causation; Masai who get little calcium in their diet won’t be as tall, but that changes nothing in the general case).

    That these phenotypical groups are not the same as the “races” as they are divided by casual/folk use (as there is, indeed, no real scientific use of “races” lo these many decades) doesn’t change that some things really are primarily genetic in nature.

    (The folks over at Gene Expression will be happy to talk about scientific evidence for genetic differences in intelligence, but I’m not going there, except to opine that as long as we assume that intelligence has any sort of correlation to the body, which seems undoubtable, there has to be a genetic component, and any genetic components will tend to be more or less expressed in any divergent populations. That’s Just How Genetics Works.

    That some bigots think “black people are all genetically stupid and inferior” (or other equally stupid statements) doesn’t mean that we should abandon inquiring into distributions of intelligence across population lines – it means only that we must use caution when doing so.)

  8. Sigivald February 6, 2004 at 3:45 pm | | Reply

    Oh, yes, forgot the obligatory link to Gene Expression.

  9. Michelle Dulak February 6, 2004 at 3:54 pm | | Reply

    M,

    I agree with you that culture and economic status correlate with race. And I’d say that culture is the more important of the two, as regards academic achievement. But what about athletic prowess? Are you saying that culture and economic status explain the overwhelming dominance of some races in some sports? That, say, the NBA is mostly African-American because having been brought up in poverty is a positive advantage in a basketball player? I think one could argue even that, but I’d like to see you try.

  10. Michelle Dulak February 6, 2004 at 3:56 pm | | Reply

    Sigivald,

    I think “February” was part of the date stamp ;-)

  11. nobody important February 6, 2004 at 4:25 pm | | Reply

    I’ll take you up on that, Michelle. Basketball is an amazingly cheap sport. All you need is a basketball, easily purchased or stolen. In most urban areas there are hundreds of outdoor courts. Given that other sports are more costly (like hockey, skiing, skuba diving, figure skating, polo, etc.) it makes sense that a higher proportion of urban dwellers would gravitate to basketball. With this large pool of players, the competition would be very high, thus producing more high caliber basketball players.

  12. Rich February 6, 2004 at 4:55 pm | | Reply

    # For, despite the lip service still

    # given to such apparently quaint and

    # outdated notions as “individual rights”

    # and “equal opportunity,”

    I would like to point out that the words “equal opportunity” do not occur in the Constitution. Further, the federal govt was never empowered to muck with opportunities to begin with. And the problem with mucking with opportunities is that doing so denies equal protection under the law as a prerequsite.

    What the federal govt should be doing is simply punishing the discrimination does occur. Currently, in the name of the false god of “equal opportunities” the govt has destroyed equal protection under the law as well as the very concept of Civil Rights.

    There is no such thing as “equal opportunity” and no way to create it except the way the russians did, if we are all at the lowest common demoninator.

    Further, all so-called equal opportunity programs do nothing but deny me opportunities, same as so-called diversity programs, my being of the wrong race and color.

    Equal opportunity is a slight variation on ‘diversity’, and should be treated as such.

    Rich

  13. Rich February 6, 2004 at 5:02 pm | | Reply

    # Statements about “genetic superiority”

    # are both dangerous and unproven. I

    # would also suggest that there is

    # significant evidence that culture is

    # really the key.

    #

    # Your statement is just plain disturbing.

    I think you misunderstand, he was talking about *individuals*, not races.

    Some ‘individuals’ are more intelligent, some are more athletic, some are more poetic, and some are more asthetically pleasing to the eye.

    There is nothing disturbing, racist, or wrong in saying this.

    Rich

  14. Stu February 6, 2004 at 7:13 pm | | Reply

    Let’s see if I understand this correctly. The goal is to create more African-American docs–a material portion of whom will not be qualified according to current standards–to treat African-American patients. Thus, insuring those patients on the whole face the prospect of inferior care. Are you certain David Duke is not behind this?

  15. John Rosenberg February 6, 2004 at 8:03 pm | | Reply

    Stu makes a good point here. We’ve seen that preferentialists don’t like the term racial preference, preferring affirmative action instead. Fine, but what if we could persuade every pollster/surveyer who used that term to include a question on their poll/survey along the lines of the following:

    “Would you prefer to be treated by a doctor, or drive over a bridge built by an engineer, or fly in a plane with a pilot who a) had met all the normal and customary standards of his profession, or b) who had been admitted to professional school, practice, or career on the basis of lower standards reserved for certain minority groups?”

  16. Richard Nieporent February 7, 2004 at 4:56 pm | | Reply

    If we take these diversity bigots at their word, what they are arguing for is good old segregation. Whites doctors should treat white patients, and black doctors should treat black patients. Didn’t we try that once and find it wanting?

  17. John Rosenberg February 7, 2004 at 5:19 pm | | Reply

    Michelle Dulak has been having trouble posting comments here. I might have inadvertantly blocked her server in trying to block spammers. Anyway, she’s just sent this comment:

    nobody important: You make a very good point about basketball. (It would go also for boxing, and for running, both sprinting and distance.) But I do think your list of “other sports” (“hockey, skiing, skuba diving, figure skating, polo”) is a little . . . weird. Scuba diving isn’t even a competitive sport — at least, not that I know of. Polo?? The day I find polo coverage in my local paper is the day I’ll know I’ve entered the Twilight Zone. Where are . . . um, football and baseball, the other two major team sports, both of which need a lot more space than basketball, and as such would tend to be less accessible to urban youth than to suburbanites?

  18. Michelle Dulak February 7, 2004 at 5:42 pm | | Reply

    Just a test post here

  19. nobody important February 9, 2004 at 8:42 am | | Reply

    I suppose I did tilt the comparison somewhat with my list. I was trying to enumerate some expensive sports (competitive or not) that might not have a large number of urban (and hence minority) participants.

    Both baseball and football have much higher white participation (in the professional ranks) than does basketball. And baseball has a significant Latino participation. These sports can be somewhat more expensive than basketball, but when I was a kid we’d play football in the streets and baseball anyplace we could find (school yards, parking lots, open fields, etc.)

    Not to be underestimated in the choice of sports is a strong macho culture among African Americans and Latinos.

  20. Alex Bensky February 9, 2004 at 10:26 am | | Reply

    I, for one, strongly support programs to expand the number of Hispanic and black dentists. Does anyone seriously suggest that a white dentist (“white,” of course, includes everybody from Appalachians to Jews, all of whom have common experiences and cultures) is able to treat blacks or Hispanics adequately?

    It’s common knowledge that, say, black molars and Hispanic bicuspids are reflections of the unique characteristics of black and Hispanic culture, characteristics which cannot possibly be understood by anyone who isn’t of those cultures.It verges on malpractice for a white dentist to presume to be able to deal with Hispanic teeth.

    As to the posters who analogize college admissions with sports: sports are different. They just are, that’s all. That’s why maintaining high school honors classes in English is elitist and discriminatory but it’s OK to deny students places on the school football team merely because they don’t have any athletic ability.

  21. [...] of the United States is, or should be changed to, E Pluribus Pluribus. “Maybe,” I added a year or so later, “we should abandon trying to swim against the tide, accept the [...]

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