Phi Beta Cons

Viewing People as Individuals or as Group Members

Thomas Sowell has a wonderful column on the different way blacks (and others deemed to be members of “minority groups”) are viewed. The Left looks at them as mascots, to be put on display without regard to competence. On the other hand, those on the Right really do look at the “content of one’s character,” as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, and gladly employ competent people without regard to race. He cites the example of Milton Friedman, who had a black secretary long before there was any demand for “affirmative action.” Moreover, Friedman never made a point of telling people about the race of his secretary.

Imagine how much better off the country would be if we had never gone the “affirmative action” route. Instead of the divisive idea that “we’re entitled to college and jobs just because of our race” spreading among blacks and other minorities, the constructive idea that “I can get a good job if I become really good at something” would have kept growing. That’s how blacks of Sowell’s generation looked at the world. Too bad the Left’s penchant for seeing people just as group representatives has uprooted that idea to such a great extent.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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