Affirmative action, contrary to the apparent beliefs of some, was never intended as a means for enforcing or upholding civil rights against job discrimination. Limbaugh says, ‘‘Even if we get rid of affirmative action, there are anti-discrimination laws on the books. . . .’’ But if there were in fact a reliable way of detecting discimination in the workplace, then something like affirmative action never likely would have been necessary to begin with. Because, absent their wearing a pointy white sheet or having a swastika tattooed on their forehead, it’s not real easy to prove that an employers hiring practices are based on race or sex as opposed to qualifications. There never likely will be a practical way of detecting or preventing most acts of hiring discrimination. The only realistic way for the government to counter widespread discrimination is by issuing hiring quotas.

More than anything I believe affirmative action was our government’s way of making much faster inroads into the American economy for women and minorities than ever could have been accomplished were this to take place in its own natural time. Taking into account the sorry state of our racial and gender affairs as a result of hundreds of years of intense prejudice, this certainly was a positive thing to have been put into effect. And though affirmative action cannot be solely credited for the progress made in the last few decades, it was undeniably helpful in opening doors of social acceptance for a great many women, Latinos, African and Asian Americans.

Of course, ideally businesses should be left alone to do their own thing, independent of any government interference in who they do or do not hire. But then, in an ideal world the government never would have allowed white men to enslave and repress others to begin with. There’s simply no denying the harm our government’s apathy helped perpetuate against women and minorities; is it so much to ask that the same government finally try to make amends?

Affirmative action is undeniably a form of reverse-discrimination in that it passes over qualified Caucasian applicants simply on the merit of their race. But it is not a discrimination based on intolerance or the desire to hold another down; instead it is favoritism based on the desire to help right a heinous wrong, to economically assist those who for so long have been held down.

The problem is that in the conception of affirmative action, nobody appeared to think ahead as to what to do when progress is made and the playing field gradually becomes more leveled. Affirmative action surely was never intended as a permanent solution, but a temporary stepping stone. Well, we’ve reached a point now where it’s necessary to recognize affirmative action as something that must soon end. This isn’t to deny that much intolerance and prejudice still exists today; but the playing field, though hardly even, has leveled to such a point that workplace affirmative action seems more like the source for a poor self-image than that of economic beneficiary. Eventually all stepping stones must be put behind us if we’re to make yet further progress.

But how exactly? When and how do we put affirmative action behind us? (The workplace aside, it might be a good idea if affirmative action were to continue for college scholarships. That may sound odd coming from a college dropout, but hey, I learned a lot in that first semester.) Probably most important is setting a specific date sometime in the near future so as to allow those people most impacted by affirmative action know it’s going to end a fair amount of time beforehand. You can’t blame people for having harsh reactions to this when it’s done so spur-of-the-moment impulsively.

The real question then becomes that of getting our political representatives to either accept someone else’s vision or come up with one of their own for how affirmative action can thoughtfully be phased out of existence.

That’s the question. That’s the issue.


But Limbaugh says affirmative action must be stopped not only because it’s a form of reverse-discrimination, but because race and sex are no longer relevant to one’s success. On his radio show Limbaugh said, ‘‘I would like to, on this program, conduct a funeral for racism. ’Cause I think racism is not nearly as prevalent as everybody thinks that it is.’’ He points out that, ‘‘Oprah Winfrey cannot become the richest and most popular, most watched daytime television talk show host with only black people in her audience.’’ And rhetorically asks, ‘‘How in the world can Bill Cosby have become the number one television show without white viewers?’’

Ah, there’s that golden Limbaugh logic sputtering away again. Because of course if all these whiteys are supporting black entertainers, then surely racism is no longer a hindrance. By that same logic, if you look at how many white people were supportive of blacks during the Civil War, then surely racism couldn’t have been all that bad way on back then. It’s not like blacks could have been emancipated with only black people fighting the cause——indeed, they had enough white supporters that they were able to win a massive war. And in a time when so many white people were supportive of blacks (like they are today, as the Nielson ratings clearly indicate), by Limbaugh’s logic one could then argue that racism was no longer a major issue during the most volatile of our nation’s civil unrests.

To further illustrate the non-hindrance of one’s race, Limbaugh mentioned the success of pop-star Michael Jackson, athletes Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan, and, his greatest examples, Gen. Colin Powell and Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas.

Surely the ability of minorities to rise to positions of prominence and power is greater than it’s ever been; but speaking just in terms of accomplishment, if one is to point to the success of Thomas and Powell as proof that race is no longer relevant, couldn’t one make a similar argument in reference to civil rights leader Booker T. Washington, scientist George Washington Carver, or sociologist Kelly Miller? Are we then to believe that racism was no longer relevant to the lives of African Americans back in the late 19th and early 20th century?

Prominent black Americans have existed throughout the history of our country and will continue and increase far into the future. Certainly there’s far less oppression today, and the opportunity for minorities to succeed is greater than it’s ever been. No one would deny that. But to claim this as proof for the nonexistence of discrimination, and to conclude that race and sex are no longer relevant, is absolutely asinine at best, a conscious lie at worst.

’Nuff said.


As long as I’m already on the topic of workplace discrimination. . . . The favorite argument of people who are against homosexual anti-discrimination laws is that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be given ‘‘special rights’’ based on their sexual preference. But are such anti-discrimination laws truly a special right so much as a basic civil right? How would such opponents feel if they were themselves turned down for a job they were perfectly qualified and capable of doing because, as the employer they were being interviewed by flat out told them, ‘‘We don’t hire heterosexuals’’? Would they view this in the same light they do homosexual discrimination?

During one of his daily news conferences in March ’95, House Speaker Newt Gingrich disclosed his own disparaging feelings on the subject of gay rights. ‘‘I don’t think you should have a right of filing a federal lawsuit or appealing to the federal government to protect you based on your sexual behavior.’’

To excuse why he feels homosexuals shouldn’t have any legal recourse against hiring discrimination, Gingrich said something of the most inexplicable ignorance: ‘‘Does that mean a transvestite should automatically have the right to work as a transvestite? I don’t think so.’’ But homosexuality doesn’t necessarily have a thing to do with being a transvestite. There are any number of transvestites who are heterosexual, guys with wives and kids who simply, for whatever reason, enjoy dressing in women’s clothing.

The argument for giving homosexuals legal recourse against hiring discrimination isn’t about allowing employees to behave or dress however they like. It’s about the right to privacy; it’s about people being fired for things they do on their own personal time which in no way affects their job performance.

For example: If a heterosexual female goes to work dressed like a ballerina, then that should give her employer all the right in the world to fire her ass (unless, of course, she’s actually a ballerina); but they shouldn’t have the right to fire her just because she’s heterosexual. It should be the same for everyone: if an employee’s personal life in no way interferes with their ability to perform their job, then their employer shouldn’t have the right to fire them on the basis of this.

Why is that such a difficult concept to grasp?

The law states no one shall be discriminated against based on their race or gender, but nothing is mentioned about sexual preference. Why should it? A person’s private life should remain just that, private.

That’s exactly why we do need a law protecting people from discrimination based on their sexual preference, to protect a person’s private life. Newt said, ‘‘I don’t see as a general principle that getting into your private life is something we ought to have a legal standard on.’’ What he once-again fails to comprehend is that so long as there is no law specifically meant to protect a person’s private life from workplace discrimination, then this is essentially the same as having a legal standard that allows a person’s private life to be the basis of such discrimination. Either because of a law or because of the absence of one, the government affects and gets into the private lives of anyone subject to unjust discrimination. I thought the whole purpose of legal standards was ‘‘getting into’’ people’s lives, seeing to it that citizens and business owners don’t have the right to use any possible power they may possess over another in a malicious or prejudice manner. You’d think the Speaker of the House of Representatives would understand a legal principle as rudimentary as that. (Then again, it was Gingrich who proclaimed Limbaugh an honorary member of the 104th Congress.)


Gingrich further stated that America should not return to ‘‘repression’’ of gays and lesbians, but that neither should it ‘‘promote’’ a homosexual lifestyle. When did America ever stop its oppression of homosexuals? That’s news to me!

What Mr. Gingrich fails to recognize is the fact that he himself is a repressor of homosexuals. He may like to believe that the only people who can be said to really repress homosexuals are skinhead Nazis who bash their skulls in, but the fact remains that the majority of gay and lesbian repressors has always been and continues to be people just like himself: uptight homophobic conservatives.

How does Gingrich think homosexuals are repressed——by burning them at the stake? Or by making them feel ashamed of who they are, afraid to disclose their homosexuality to anyone lest they should be ridiculed, rejected, or discriminated against?

By him saying that people shouldn’t have any legal rights against hiring discrimination based on sexual preference, Gingrich is in effect repressing homosexuals. He wears his homophobia on his sleeve clear for all to see by accusing homosexual activists of ‘‘recruitment in so-called counseling programs,’’ by warning against the idea of ‘‘explaining that homosexuality is a reasonable alternative lifestyle,’’ and by saying that he is ‘‘very cautious about the idea that you want to have active homosexuals in junior high school and high school explaining to young people that they have all of these various wonderful options.’’ He honestly seems to believe that to talk about homosexuality, to explain that it’s not a mental sickness or disease or perversion, is to actively encourage kids to become homosexual. Almost as if he believes it’s something you just choose to do one day. ‘‘Gee, I think I’ll become a homosexual today . . . all my friends are doing it . . . seems like the ‘cool’ thing to do nowadays.’’

Gingrich is separating homosexuals from their homosexuality so that he can criticize and reject it while still believing he’s not criticizing the people themselves. Why else would he refer to it as a ‘‘sexual behavior,’’ as if it’s simply something homosexuals chose to do or to become? That’s almost like saying blacks shouldn’t have any so-called special rights based on their ‘‘racial behavior.’’ Or that women shouldn’t have any rights based on their ‘‘gender behavior.’’

It’s the exact same thing——it’s who they are, not what they simply chose to become. Homosexuality isn’t an act people choose to engage in any more than heterosexuality is an act people choose to engage in. Whether they’re celibate their entire lives or not, a person is still either homo or hetero. A person’s sexual orientation is ingrained within them and beyond their control as much as a person’s race or gender.


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