Minority Struggles: A Backlash?

Let the term minority refer to groups such as blacks, native Indians, gays, and even women and asians, that have faced (and some would argue, continue to face) serious discrimination in mainstream society. The OP acknowledges the differences in degree of, and the distinct features within, each group’s struggles.

Please allow me to use a particular concept to explain the OP.

Political Correctness
The consensus arrived at in a few GD threads on this remarkably hackneyed phrase is that it was not a consciously directed movement but rather a slew of related attempts to bolster polite talk in society through weeding out offensive slurs from the mainstream dictionary.

Now, it is a joke. It is used as a joke by everyone, political or apolitical, in the media, or at parties or in the workplace. It has come to suggest boldness. Someone who is politically incorrect is someone daring enough to expose something which we have tried to sweep under the carpet. It is used often in the context of challenging the minority group and its claims of being victims of discrimination.

“I know it is politically incorrect but…blacks are lucky to be here in America than in Africa” (a little incendiary example off the top of my head)

“WASPs are the only politically correct group that can be made fun of”

I perceive a notion pervading mainstream media and the populace that somehow the (hypothetically uniform) majority Caucausian population is being silenced and even vilified by the constraints of political correctness imposed by minorities.

Couple this with the following hot debates in mainstream media: Affirmative Action, Reparations, Church vs State, Homosexual laws (“I am forcibly subject to gays parading their lifestyle”) etc and I sense a larger notion that the hypothetically uniform majority actually feel discriminated against.

The phrase “reverse discrimination” has indeed entered mainstream consciousness. And, I want to ask two questions:

(1) Does the notion of “reverse discrimination” exist, whether verbal, social, political or economic? Is the majority losing college seats, jobs etc unfairly to minorities on a small or large scale?

(2) If no, how do you explain the notions that pervade mainstream culture? Is there an intangible backlash against minorities increasing their voices? Is this backlash orchestrated or is it a natural harmless dynamic within society?

[I am not sure I was able to elucidate my thoughts (for they are still deformed). I also apologise for relying on “notions” but, is there a way for us to discuss this with structure and rigor? I would be much interested.]

The notion of reverse discrimination certainly exists. Indeed, as conversations with my sister reveal, there are some folks who believe that it is the ruling principle of our country today. (I often use my sister as a touchstone of “people who don’t get out much”. She’s not malicious, but I do wonder how she and I came from the same household.) In essence, there is a belief, although I do not know how widespread, that the Powers that Be are actively conspiring to clientize “minorities” in order to keep themselves in power through a system of racial patronage.

Whether or not reverse discrimination actually exists aside from the notion of it is an entirely different matters. From what I’ve seen, positions of authority are still held primarily by white men, in a proportion greater than their proportion of the population.

So where does the notion come from? I’m a firm believer that stupidity explains better than conspiracy, and this is an excellent example. A quiet status quo sells no newspapers nor TV commercials. Thus, nobody hears about situations where affirmative action programs are causing few to no problems. The “news” media are profit-making enterprises, so they will only report on situations wherein affirmative action is abused.

Likewise, ultimately, affirmative action does violate simple fairness. It is special favorite treatment. The real question is over whether or not this treatment is justified. From the point of view of people who are already well-off–whose connections and family history mean that they can essentially end up wherever they like regardless of affirmative action, it is easy to justify. This is because affirmative action is no skin off their noses. It’s very easy to justify a social program when you aren’t the one paying the major price.

For people who are in the “majority” social group but live much more marginally, the matter becomes far harder to justify. Let’s face it, who wants to be the victim of “your record is good, but we have to meet our diversity requirements”? At that point, for that person, affirmative action becomes a very real injustice, impossible to justify. One can wave around all sorts of numbers, but all that matters to that person at that time is that he lost an opportunity because of affirmative action, not because of his lack of qualifications.

More people live on the margins than are well-off and insulated from potential unwanted effects of affirmative action. Thus, even if those cases are rare in reality, fear of those cases is fairly great.

Now, there is another issue to consider, an issue that people very often do not want to consider: I’d say that a large number of the “majority group” have essentially abandoned their children. Some fairly solid recent studies have shown that boys’ grades and college success has fallen behind that of girls in recent years. Look at the social milieu: Boys are rewarded for being athletes and punished for being scholars. Girls, on the other hand, are permitted to be scholars.

In other words, it’s not a simple question to answer.

So, you are saying that the notion does exist and has loose roots in reality but does not befit the skewed portrayal in the media?

But, IMHO, this pervasive notion is debilitating for society as can be seen from some of the recent race-related debates. In fact, this divisive notion reaches deep enough in people’s minds to influence their political choices. If indeed it is blown out of proportion, how do we counteract its power?