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Recognize personal prejudices

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Maybe I misread the Oct. 14 article by Karamia Porter, but for some reason or another, it did not make any sense. First she expresses her amazement over a comment she overheard – a comment with very strong factual merit, yet she wonders how anyone could dare to make that comment in her presence. Then she claims to advocate tolerance, though she herself just showed her own intolerance of opinions, however defensible, which she finds unpleasant. Finally, she calls for more open dialogue about racial issues, citing the recent affirmative action panel discussion.

I have read the account of that panel discussion and from what I could tell, there was about as much diversity of viewpoint on that panel as there is on The New York Times editorial pages. Positions ranged all the way from “affirmative action is terrific” to “affirmative action is good.” I do not remember seeing any mention of anyone who argued that affirmative action is unjust, divisive, and harmful to the very people it is supposed to help, setting them up for failure while rewarding them for underperforming and burdening them with the soft bigotry of lower expectations. No wonder Porter wants more dialogue like that, where everyone agrees with her.

Of course whites are only going to express their real opinions in private, when doing so in the company of people like Porter brings swift and automatic accusations of Klu Klux Klan membership. The real mystery is how she can marvel at this. Call people racists for saying something totally reasonable and maybe even true, then say you want more open discussion – sounds pretty inconsistent to me.

Porter argues that we all have prejudices, and we should confront them. I agree totally, and I think hers are fairly clear and easily identifiable – for instance, she seems to believe that all problems in the black community are the result of white racism, and I would confidently predict that if anyone were to mention drugs, crime, illegitimacy or other unflattering possible causes, she would flip out and call that person a racist. So maybe she should take some of her own advice, and face her own intolerance and prejudices before assuming them in others.

Joel Duncanclass of ’01Oct. 14