Racism is the practice of judging individual character or social standing according to one’s race. Like all forms of collectivism, it judges individuals by their membership in some group rather than by their own ideas and actions.
Racism is evil because it disregards the actual source of an individual’s character — his or her mind — and replaces it with physiologically determined traits, completely out of that individual’s control. It ascribes moral and social significance to that which, in fact, is of no consequence: a person’s genetic lineage. Doing so reduces rational individuals to animal pedigrees.
If an employer, for example, uses race as part of his hiring criteria, he is being unjust and irrational. His injustice stems from the fact that race is not relevant to a person’s character or qualifications. Justice demands treating individuals as they actually are, not as a collective stereotype. It means evaluating individuals based on their ideas and actions, not on their ancestry.
The same would apply to any irrational standard, such as eye color. To discriminate between individuals based on eye color when this physiological trait is irrelevant is irrational and unjust. It substitutes biologically determined qualities in place of mans’ mind.
Notice that racism is evil regardless whether an individual is judged favorably or unfavorably. Whether one is offered a job based on his or her race or denied one, the injustice remains. Using race as a criterion is gratuitous regardless whether that gratuity is condemnation or praise. It is the judgment itself that is irrational and destructive.
Now let’s apply this to affirmative action policies.
Affirmative action claims to address the injustices of racism. But it attempts to do so by adopting race as a standard. It calls for more focus on race, rather than less.
For example, UW’s Plan 2008 called for increasing representation “of members of four targeted ethnic groups.” Some of its goals are “to recruit more students of color” and help eradicate “social, educational, economic and emotional biases” due to race.
Targeting and recruiting individuals because of their ethnicity is racial bias. It is the act of evaluating applicants according to heretical factors beyond their control and irrelevant to their character and qualifications. How will a program based on racial bias achieve its eradication?
The racist nature of affirmative action is often rationalized by an alleged need for diversity of ideas. Targeting ethnic groups is said to “increase the depth of understanding” of “their values, customs, and experiences.”
Such a view treats values, customs and experiences as products of ethnicity rather than products of individuals. Yet every virtue an individual possesses is a product of his mind — his ideas, actions and choices. These are his and his alone. When an individual attends college he represents himself not as a myriad others who happen to share his race.
If cultural understanding is the goal, then the standard should be finding individuals who possess this knowledge regardless of race. It is unjust and degrading to ascribe certain values, customs and experiences to individuals because they happen to share a common ancestry.
There is no value in having some arbitrary mix of skin colors in a classroom any more than there’s a value in having a mix of eye color or shoe size. These are irrelevant to learning. If certain ideas or viewpoints are beneficial then it is these ideas that must be targeted, not ethnicity.
Affirmative action also claims to address disadvantages and unique needs of diverse applicants. But while it is true that extenuating circumstances may arise when judging an applicant’s ability, it is still his or her ability and qualifications that need to be judged, not his or her race.
An applicant whose grades are lacking because of a difficult home life may warrant special consideration. Or a bright student who failed to study adequately because of an imposing work schedule may still be a good candidate for college admission. But in any case, the standard is the ability, character and circumstances of that individual, not his or her skin color or ancestry.
There is no collective mind, ability or character. These are attributes of the individual. To offer someone a job or university admission based in full or in part on their ethnicity is to treat them, not as they actually are, but as a mindless representative of their collective ancestry.
The way to combat racism and other forms of collectivism is to adopt its opposite: individualism. Treat people as individuals with their own values, ideas and experiences. Encourage independent thinking in place of group identity. Organize around ideas, not ethnicity. Denounce racism when and where it exists and in all its forms. The antidote to racism is not more racism, but colorblindness.