[Ibram X.] Kendi purifies the argument for affirmative action and removes all the complications and ambivalence written into court doctrine around it. He says that the way to know if there is racism present is if disparities are present. If disparities are present, then racism is present.
It’s very hard for liberals that have accepted the case for affirmative action to reject Kendi-ism, though many, like Ezra Klein, are discomfited by the purified version of the fuzzier, hazier practice they’ve embraced.
It’s precisely the fuzzy haziness, however, that made affirmative action a workable kludge in a system purporting to confer rights onto individuals rather than groups and that proclaimed itself meritocratic
And it’s precisely the fuzzy haziness that kept in check the dictatorial dimension of a policy that seeks to equalize group outcomes through government coercion.
In other words, the current murky legal status of and thinking about affirmative action encouraged people to Not Talk About It and, on the positive side, to try to keep it to manageable levels and not get carried away: Johns Hopkins hospital should employ more doctors than it would if it had colorblind hiring, but there wasn’t much to demand that if Baltimore city is 5/8ths black, then 5/8ths of Johns Hopkins’ doctors should be black. Instead, nice people should quietly, very quietly, pick a nice number.
But now Kendi comes along with his somewhat iSteve-like knack for logical reductionism and promotes the idea that any racial disparity is proof of racist policy pushed by racist ideas. Either me, Dr. Prof. Ibram X. Kendi, is right or … Charles Murray is right. Whose side are you on?
Ezra Klein can sense that if Kendi’s principle is put into practice, uh-oh, Zimbabwe here we come in our big cities. But Ezra can’t articulate an objection without putting himself on Charles Murray’s side of the argument, and it will be awhile before that happens.
In 2003, Sandra O’Connor’s ruling anticipated the sunsetting of affirmative action in 25 years.
The energy in the culture and its dominant institutions (schools, corporations, the federal government) is lurching toward the Kendi-ian terminus even as the 6-3 SCOTUS majority moves toward the Harvard Asian-American lawsuit
Back in the early 1980’s, the conservative movement founded the Federalist society in a bid to recapture the courts from what they regarded as a liberal consensus legislating from the bench.
At around the same time, the Critical Race Theory movement in law schools began advancing a radical critique of American institutions as irremediably tainted by a foundational racism
Both of these projects reached the end of two respective long marches through institutions toward the end of the Trump administration
My gut tells me that the nominally conservative, right wing supermajority on the court is too much a vessel of elite consensus to make a frontal assault on an elite moving rapidly toward Kendi-ism. It may rein things in on the margins.
Conservatives chose to invest in taking back the courts; progressives in winning the educational apparatus and culture. We will find out who invested more wisely.
An anonymous iSteve commenter adds:
Related, I think, is the paper by, I believe, Linda Gottfredson, that found (with my interpretation and embellishments):
— During the affirmative action era, in effect blacks were given a 0.5 standard deviation handicap in hiring.
— In other words, employers decided to, for average office employees, hire a cohort of blacks who tested 7 or 8 IQ points beneath the whites in the same job. Gottfredson started out as a vocational psychologist and this was a favorite area for her.
— This was the evolutionary outcome of employer behavior, not an Elders of Zion™ explicit plan or conspiracy.
— By giving blacks a 0.5 handicap, the hiring gap was partially alleviated, while at the same time no particular workplace was burdened with really stupid people way out of their depth. The economy still moved on. White, et al. employees could babysit, monitor, and otherwise keep an eye on black employee output as long as they were no more than 0.5 SD down. This led to gripes (“I have to work twice as hard”) from blacks, but was generally kept in check.
— Some occupations, particularly in STEM and very high-level jobs, did not have a black handicap and thus had few or no blacks; some DMV style jobs had a larger handicap.
— For public consumption companies supported full-blown affirmative action, and publicly blacks would erupt in protests from time to time.
— This Rube Goldberg regime would seem to be precarious, but it hit a symbiotic sweet spot and was remarkably stable for decades.
“Equity” is simply someone calling out the emperor’s new clothes, and Kendi is simply the child who doesn’t know any better than to notice and say what is obviously true: that blacks have been permanently shut out of population proportionality in higher level jobs.
The bomb that Kendi threw led to Charles Murray publishing his book pointing out that yeah, Ibram, it turns out that blacks in fact are dumber than other groups, and no, nobody hates you. Nobody is happy about it, but absolute black proportionality would kill the money tree that blacks depend on, yet have no understanding of.