Creative Destruction

May 5, 2006

Diversity? Please.

Filed under: Political Correctness,Race and Racism — Adam Gurri @ 3:48 pm

I'd like to take the time to mock this article, with no offense to Ampersand.

We have a president with the most ethnically and racially diverse cabinet in history, and when the people he hires or fires tips the balance in the other direction, then he is clearly a racist?

Come on.  There is plenty to criticize Bush for, but this is just absurd.  The man appointed the first black secretary of state, followed by the first black woman to be secretary of state, and replaced a white male attorney general with a hispanic one.

But all of this should be irrelevant.  Why are we measuring the proportions of any given ethnicity?  Why can't we just criticize the choices we feel are bad ones, without these self-indulgent race-based smears?

When idiots like Rush Limbaugh make offensive comments about a football player only making it because he is black, we rightly marginalize him and give him the boot from the gig he had picked up.  So how is it that we can stand out in the open and call someone a racist for appointing white people without much fear of being considered politically incorrect or prejudiced?

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21 Comments »

  1. If I’m reading the summary correctly, it says that although the absolute number of political appointees has gone up by several hundred, the absolute number of minority political appointees has gone down by several hundred. This suggests that the President is only interested in appointing racial minorities as highly visible “tokens.”

    Comment by Tony — May 5, 2006 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  2. Or it says that President is making appointments without attempting to maintain any particular racial balance.

    Comment by Robert — May 5, 2006 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  3. Bob:

    Or it says that President is making appointments without attempting to maintain any particular racial balance.

    Which, in a racist society, will have the effect of appointing whites far above what either their proportion in the population or their merits would justify. Race blindness, in a racist society, has the effect of perpetuating racism. What I favor is consciously opposing racism; what Bush is doing in his appointments, at best, is sticking his head in the sand and ignoring the problem.

    I don’t want to live in a society in which one race predominates in the ruling class more than their proportion in the overall population can explain. You say “without maintaining any particular racial balance” as if there was ever a possibility that Bush would end up appointing a disproportionate number of non-whites. In practice, however, “not attempting to maintain any particular racial balance” always means “we’re going to be hiring white people, primarily.”

    Adam:

    When idiots like Rush Limbaugh make offensive comments about a football player only making it because he is black, we rightly marginalize him and give him the boot from the gig he had picked up. So how is it that we can stand out in the open and call someone a racist for appointing white people without much fear of being considered politically incorrect or prejudiced?

    Adam, with all due respect, I can’t find any way of parsing this complaint that makes any sense to me.

    Are you saying that if anyone ever questions the overwhelming dominance of whites in any position, or to any workplace, that’s the moral equivalent of Rush saying a three-time Pro Bowler is only praised because he’s black?

    Is it ever acceptable to criticize racial disparities in hiring? How about in the 1950s – was it acceptable to question racial hiring outcomes then, or was that racist, too?

    Or are you saying that as long as someone does a good job with diverse hiring in one extremely visible area, that person should then never be subject to criticism about how he handles hiring in any other area, regardless of his performance?

    Comment by Ampersand — May 5, 2006 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  4. I don’t want to live in a society in which one race predominates in the ruling class more than their proportion in the overall population can explain.

    The US is 75% white. The political appointees in question are 87% white – not all that far off the mark.

    There are three numerically significant racial minority groups in the US – blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. I would bet long odds that the the percentage of Asians and Hispanics that Bush has appointed is roughly proportional to their presence in the general population, and that the minority deficit you perceive is entirely (or almost entirely) due to a shortage of blacks.

    The black intelligentsia in this country is overwhelmingly loyal to the Democratic party. We can argue the causes of that, but we can’t argue the truth of the proposition; it’s axiomatic. The population of available black leaders possessed of a desire to work for a Republican president is very small. I would bet that the Bush administration has hired pretty much every viable candidate in that group who is willing to be hired. (Not everybody wants to work for the government; I sure wouldn’t.)

    Accordingly, I would argue that it is much more likely that the Bush Administration has appointed all the politically acceptable blacks that it can find, than that they have decided to leave lots of black candidates out in the cold in favor of hiring more whites. That may be regrettable, particularly if you’re possessed of a representative-number mentality, but it isn’t racism – it’s a minority group being largely unavailable for hiring.

    Comment by bobhayes — May 5, 2006 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  5. Bob,

    * I disagree with you that the difference between “25%” and “13%” can be fairly summed up as not all that far off the mark; another way of looking at it is that there are half as many minorities as we’d expect based on population.

    * Your 75% number exaggerates the number of whites in the US, because it counts white Hispanics as being white. I doubt, however, that the study you’re refuting does the same.

    * Blacks are about 12% of the population of the US. For the 13% minority deficit to be “entirely (or almost entirely) due to a shortage of blacks),” Bush would have had to have appointed virtually no blacks whatsoever. Black conservatives aren’t that hard to fine.

    * If the Republican leadership really finds virtually all black Americans politically unacceptable, I’d say that indicates a problem with Republican ideology, not with black Americans.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 6, 2006 @ 11:58 am | Reply

  6. There are three numerically significant racial minority groups in the US – blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.

    I can tell Robert lives in a small town…

    Comment by mythago — May 6, 2006 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

  7. Are you saying that if anyone ever questions the overwhelming dominance of whites in any position, or to any workplace, that’s the moral equivalent of Rush saying a three-time Pro Bowler is only praised because he’s black?

    No, I’m saying that making accusations of racial motivation behind who is appointed for the most racially diverse administration in history is just as bad as the Rush example. I’m not arguing that questioning racial dominance of any sort is bad in principle, just saying that a case should be judged on its merits rather than pointing to numbers or skin color as if it were proof of something in it of itself.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 6, 2006 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  8. Mythago, I live in Colorado Springs. But I’ve lived in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and other urbs. I’m not sure what that has to do with the demographics of the US. We have three big minority groups: blacks, Asians, Hispanics. There are lots of other minority groups; they’re all demographically small, in terms of a study that is using whole percentages. 1% of the US population is 30 million people.

    If you have an example of a demographic group not fairly falling under the rubric of black, Asian, or Hispanic that has 30 million people in it, I’d love to read it.

    Amp, “politically acceptable” meant blacks who could accept working for a Republican administration, and whose appointment would not be an obvious compromise of conservative principle; Bush cannot realistically hire (say) a black communist; the communist wouldn’t work for him, and the other members of the conservative coalition wouldn’t accept the guy on ideological grounds. I don’t have time to run numbers right now (maybe tonight or tomorrow) but my scenario is not implausible demographically.

    Comment by bobhayes — May 6, 2006 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  9. Sorry, 3 million, not 30 million. Math is hard.

    Indigenous Americans are about one percent – guess Mythago was thinking of all those Navajo living in NYC. Next biggest is Pacific islanders, with 0.2%.

    Comment by bobhayes — May 6, 2006 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  10. No, Robert, it’s just that I am always amazed about the demographics of ‘race’ being so crude.

    Comment by mythago — May 6, 2006 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  11. Adam:

    I’m saying that making accusations of racial motivation behind who is appointed for the most racially diverse administration in history is just as bad as the Rush example.

    So you are saying that as long as someone does a good job with diverse hiring in one extremely visible area, that person should then never be subject to criticism about how he handles hiring in any other area, regardless of his performance.

    By the way, I’m looking for where the report was “making accusations of racial motivation,” and I don’t see it. I think you’re just playing the conservative’s race card – whenever race is brought up, you start yelling “how dare you call [whomever] a racist!,” thus making reasonable discussion impossible.

    Regardless, however, I disagree that saying “George Bush is a racist” – even if mistaken – is just as bad, morally, as making a flat-out racist statement, as Rush did. This is probably one reason so few Blacks are Republican; the idea that being concerned about possible racism and racial disparities is morally just as bad as being a racist.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 7, 2006 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  12. Bob:

    Amp, “politically acceptable” meant blacks who could accept working for a Republican administration, and whose appointment would not be an obvious compromise of conservative principle; Bush cannot realistically hire (say) a black communist; the communist wouldn’t work for him, and the other members of the conservative coalition wouldn’t accept the guy on ideological grounds. I don’t have time to run numbers right now (maybe tonight or tomorrow) but my scenario is not implausible demographically.

    I understood that’s what you meant by “politically acceptable,” and if you’re correct, I think that indicates a problem with the Republican party.

    No need for you to run the numbers; it’s already been done. You’re correct to say that almost all the decline comes from a huge reduction in Black appointees (pdf file).

    Of course, there’s no way for us to know the cause of the decline in black and female appointees. I don’t think Bush or Cheney ever said “hey, let’s hire fewer blacks and women”; nor do I really believe that every qualified Black and woman who would take an appointment under Bush, has been given one.

    What I do believe is that Bush hires mainly through cronyism (not just his personal cronies, but also friends and relatives of his campaigns – how else can you explain the hiring of that idiot George Deutsch?) (no relation), and the overwhelming majority of Bush cronies are white men. If Bush had been willing to put in the effort of seeking out and recruiting more blacks and women, I think he could have found many more who would work for him, and who would be just as qualified as his other appointments (although that’s setting the bar very low). But instead he just ignored the issue, and as a result there was a 70% decline in the proportion of black appointees.

    By the way, during the same time period, the proportion of blacks civil service workers hired through the competitive, merit-based system went up slightly. It’s only the hiring directly controlled by the administration that saw a vast reduction in Black hiring.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 7, 2006 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  13. Regardless, however, I disagree that saying “George Bush is a racist” – even if mistaken – is just as bad, morally, as making a flat-out racist statement, as Rush did.

    Fair enough.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 7, 2006 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  14. On rereading, this:

    I think you’re just playing the conservative’s race card – whenever race is brought up, you start yelling “how dare you call [whomever] a racist!,” thus making reasonable discussion impossible.

    …seems overly harsh. Although I’ve seen many conservatives play this card, my phrasing could be read as suggesting that Adam plays the conservative race card frequently. I didn’t mean to imply that at all; for all I know, this was the first and only time Adam had ever made that style of argument. I was talking about conservatives in general, not Adam in particular. Sorry ’bout that, Adam.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 7, 2006 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  15. I was talking about conservatives in general, not Adam in particular. Sorry ’bout that, Adam.

    Well, I did actually cry a river over this one, but that’s ok because it really helped the agriculture around here :p

    I think we can agree that race cards of any kind suck, when cards is all that they are. Reasonable discussion, as you say, is the key–is someone a racist? Or is someone being favored/put down because of their race? These things can be discussed on their merits.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — May 7, 2006 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  16. By the way, during the same time period, the proportion of blacks civil service workers hired through the competitive, merit-based system went up slightly. It’s only the hiring directly controlled by the administration that saw a vast reduction in Black hiring.

    So, blacks that sought jobs from the administration got them.

    If Bush had been willing to put in the effort of seeking out and recruiting more blacks and women, I think he could have found many more who would work for him…

    And I am Marie of Romania.

    Barry, 95% of blacks vote Democratic. Are you seriously contending that there’s this huge pool of black professionals who would just love to have the chance to be called “house negroes” and Uncle Toms by the black leadership? Look at the abuse that’s been poured out on the blacks who work for Bush. It might be worth being called a race traitor to be Secretary of State. Is it worth having your neighbors revile you to be third deputy undersecretary for collating?

    I understood that’s what you meant by “politically acceptable,” and if you’re correct, I think that indicates a problem with the Republican party.

    Are you seriously contending that if the bulk of a particular ethnic group rejects a political party, that is automatically indicative of a problem with the party? Asians pretty much completely reject the DSA. Does that mean the DSA sucks?

    Or is just blacks who have the ethnic veto?

    I make the reverse argument. The rejection of the Republican party by the bulk of “leadership” blacks is indicative of a problematic lack of maturity on the part of those leaders.

    Comment by Robert — May 7, 2006 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  17. Robert Hayes: The rejection of the Republican party by the bulk of “leadership” blacks is indicative of a problematic lack of maturity on the part of those leaders.

    That’s one interpretation, but I don’t see it so simply. If it’s true that blacks represent a constituency with its own agendas (which I largely reject but admit most people think is true), then I suspect that the Republican Party doesn’t serve those agendas very well. Over time, of course, the position has become hardened, which might account in part for what you call immaturity. But then, that’s true all across the political spectrum.

    Comment by Brutus — May 7, 2006 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

  18. So lets imagine that Bush or another President manages to find enough successful, professional willing-to-serve non-whites to make up the gap.

    Leroy the toilet attendant isn’t going to be one of them. So how is he going to be any better off?

    Comment by Daran — May 7, 2006 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  19. Role models for his kids.

    “Why work hard in school, daddy? What’ll it get me?”

    “It’ll get you deputy undersecretary for collating, young man, and that’s a hell of a lot better than I had a chance to achieve. Now get your ass in that room and study.”

    Comment by Robert — May 7, 2006 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

  20. Hey, Robert, it turns out you were right – the reason blacks aren’t hired is that they don’t plan to vote for Bush.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 11, 2006 @ 10:45 am | Reply

  21. I think the real question is why more blacks aren’t conservative. With leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, you think there would be a mass-falling away from the Democrat party.

    I agree with the initial premise of this post, though. It’s silly to criticize Bush for racism in his appointments when it’s obvious he’s put more minorities in major positions of power than any president in history.

    And when you get down to it, race is irrelevant. How can we ever be a color-blind soceity if we demand quotas instead of merit?

    Comment by Chaltab — September 25, 2006 @ 11:20 am | Reply


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