Measured Extravagance

18 January 2003 - 2:55 p.m.

Yom tov, y'all. For breakfast, I fried apple pancakes, and for dinner, there's an almond-plum cake cooling on a rack. After I clean up and put in some easel-time, it should be ready to glaze.

After following dichroic's link to Ebony's postings on affirmative action,I started a couple of entries in D's guestbook, cancelled them out because they kept evolving into rants, and finally concluded it would make more sense to preach to the policy pooh-bahs than the "kwah" (as a feller I know at William and Mary affectionately calls it):

From: mechaieh

Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2003 12:44:55 -0600


Subject: your statement about the University of Michigan affirmative action case

Mr. President:

May I suggest that, as long as you wish to eliminate preferential treatment to minorities based on race, you also give thought to the preferential treatment given to Caucasians? For instance, consider the "legacy" points awarded to the children of alumni, as is customary with many universities (including the University of Michigan). Given that many institutions of higher learning declined to admit minorities until the second half of the twentieth century - and given that it was not economically feasible for many families (of any race) to send their children to college until the same era, it could be argued that legacy-based admissions favor upper-class whites to the detriment of equally qualified applicants less fortunate in ancestry.

I would also draw your attention to the existence of numerous scholarships restricted to descendants of the Mayflower, the Confederacy, and other essentially white-only groups. It seems to me that if you wish to crusade against preferential treatment based on ancestry, you ought to include such awards as well.

All of this said, I am not in fact opposed to alumni or other ancestry-based criteria for admissions or financial aid. As such, I also support affirmative action as an imperfect but essential balance to the inequities that have created such marked (dis)advantages for prospective students based on fortune rather than merit. Last, but not least, I think a good many people complaining about so-called quotas fail to understand that the process of college admissions is not a science but a business: eliminate race/ancestry-based criteria and colleges will still offer and deny admission to borderline students based on geography, prospective major, personality, and other quasi-tangibles. (I volunteer as an interviewer for the admissions committee of my undergraduate alma mater and it has become distressingly clear to me that the students at the private and magnet schools are far better coached on self-presentation than the ones attending the general public schools. That, and/or they benefit from the explicitly college-preparatory environment of their schools. Either way, you could say that the experience has made vivid to me some of the less obvious disadvantages that non-affluent students are saddled with before the admissions officers even read their applications.)

In short? Please leave the University of Michigan alone, Mr. President. Please channel your resources towards improving the conditions and the offerings of our public grade schools - you'll do far more to create a fair playing field if you concentrate on not on filing lawsuits but funding functional science labs and improving college-preparatory counseling.

Sincerely, etc.

When the U of M case was first filed, I remember some then-undergraduates commenting that when they were rejected, they enrolled in junior college for a year or two and then successfully reapplied as transfer students. Their general verdict seemed to be that the plaintiffs were sore losers. Frankly, I'm inclined to agree with them.

If one were so inclined, one could devote the next week entirely to demonstrations: my in-box is full of notices for MLK Day and "Just Say Roe." And this:

THIS TUES: Nashville's Metro Council votes on an ordinance that, if passed, would prohibit discrimination in employment & housing due to sexual orientation in our city.  Anti-gay protesters from across the country are coming to Nashville to demonstrate against this ordinance.


A Peaceful Demonstration for Equality

This Tuesday, Jan. 21

begins PROMPTLY at 5:30pm (ARRIVE EARLY!)

on the courthouse steps at Union and 3rd

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Bring a candle and dress warmly.  ARRIVE EARLY so that we can secure a good location (anti-gay protesters will be there in large numbers trying to monopolize the space).

WHO IS SPONSORING THE VIGIL: A grassroots coalition of people from many groups (including Equality TN, HRC, ACLU & RCC, among others) are coming together to organize & support this vigil.

OUR VIGIL'S PURPOSE: To create a dignified, calm and peaceful response to the hate rhetoric of anti-gay protesters, including the extermists from Rev. Phelps' group.

WHY: The Metro Council will vote on an ordinance that, if passed, would prohibit discrimination in employment and housing in the metropolitan Nashville area.  The vote will occur sometime after 7pm.

Sigh. I don't want to show up to anything right now. But I think I have to go to this one. The co-sponsor of the ordinance is from my neighborhood, and a director of Catholic Social Services/Catholic Charities of Tennessee) - as far as I'm concerned, she's doing far more to serve and glorify God than that Kansas jackass, and I don't appreciate him trying to infect my town with his brand of hateful hysteria. Per The Scene: ". . .the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has gotten so angry about the measure that it may not hold its annual meeting here in 2005. (The idea does have a certain charm to it.) The head of the SBC also went so far as to say the ordinance could turn Nashville into "the San Francisco of the Southeast." (Horrors.)"

Two years ago: "I lost all fear of flying after commuting on Detroit freeways."

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