“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963
Several years ago, James Ewell Brown Stuart University in rural Alabama established white-themed dorms. The purpose of these dorms is to immerse students in the history and experience of Anglo-Saxon culture. The administration says the dorms are not segregated because “no more than 50% of each dorm can house individuals fitting” the white ethnicity. To live in this dorm, “you have to agree to take on a project fitting” the white ethnic theme. In other words, dorm residents “of any race might have to write an essay about some aspect” of the white “experience on campus, for example. There are also educational and cultural programs within the dorm.”
Fortunately, James Ewell Brown Stuart University does not exist, nor does this despicable and ridiculous white-themed dorm. Unfortunately, my alma mater, Stanford University has similar programs for African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians. I had nearly forgotten about them until a Los Angeles Times columnist recently attempted to justify their existence following an obligatory dancing on Andrew Breitbart’s grave.
I caused a bit of a firestorm on the site by calling Dan Turner’s editorial exactly what it was:
“Wow. In a single editorial you manage to dance on a man’s grave and justify reverse discrimination. If someone on the right made a similar argument they’d be called a bigot. It amazes me that supposedly respectable newspapers like the Los Angeles Times have no problem with publishing this filth.”
Nearly every comment from the left in response attacked my character, my intelligence, or both rather than my argument. The reason they attacked me personally is something psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance “is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.” In this case, the left’s belief in a society free from racial discrimination stands in stark contrast to dorms clearly favoring one race over others. Since they cannot reconcile these two conflicting items, they respond irrationally rather than addressing my argument.
What follows are some screenshots from the ongoing debate:
Returning to Mr. Turner’s column, he does at least make an attempt to acknowledge the right’s position by admitting that the dorms may seem unfair to many white people. His defense is that they are justified because whites are in the majority and don’t face the same challenges that those in the minority do. He argues:
“And to some white people, it seems unfair: Why do black people get to have their own dorm, when a similar white-themed college dorm would bring down liberal fury? The simple answer to both concerns is that white people aren’t minorities. We don’t have to go out of our way to be around people like us — they’re everywhere.”
However, Mr. Turner’s argument just doesn’t make any sense today, especially since non-Hispanic whites no longer represent the majority of the population in California, the state in which Stanford is based. They don’t even represent the majority of Stanford’s undergraduate population (Stanford classified 39% of American undergraduates as non-Hispanic whites as of October 2011).
Yet despite the fact that America has elected an African-American president, Mr. Turner still supports policies that are the very opposite of Dr. King’s vision for a colorblind society. It’s time for things to change.
Racial discrimination is still a very nasty thing that preeminent American institutions of learning should not be in the habit of promoting.