"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
The "problems" he refers to are things like the Civil Rights Act, anti-segregation legislation, and other cornerstones of equal rights. Oliver Willis, and Robert Prather are calling for his resignation, and while I think that may be appropriate, a simple, honest apology would quickly make this a non-story. If Lott doesn't realize the inappropriateness of his comments, and he remains as Majority Leader in the Senate, then the GOP could use a good hard look at its priorities. It might want to assess if it really wants to have its platform read, "If only the Dixiecrat had won back in 1948... if only."
**Update** Lott has apologized. I think new Senate leadership should still be in store though.
Here is a good editorial that lays out the pluses and minuses of Affirmative Action and finds, correctly, that this practice is nothing more than, "racism with a progressive face." With the Supreme Court reviewing the issue in the upcoming session, we can only hope that it finally overturns the Bakke decision and stop the policy of division and separation that degrades minority applicants and unfairly limits the prospects of white applicants.
"[R]acial preferences impose high costs to achieve often elusive benefits. African-American authors such as Shelby Steele and John McWhorter argue that preferences perpetuate the noxious stereotype of intellectual inferiority, sending black youths the message that less is expected of them. Moreover, while preferences make the campus population more diverse, they also exert a pull toward racial Balkanization. At many schools, ''diversity'' dogma includes programs that smack of separatism - special minority housing, counseling, and freshman orientation sessions - and often encourage students to develop an identity rooted primarily in race."
Affirmative Action is unfair to all involved. It screams of revenge and inequality, two ideas against which the Civil Rights Movement was based. True equality has no preference attached. If we truely want equality, end Affirmative Action.
There have recently been some calls from some ultra-hawk commentators that the Bush administration give up on its stance that "Islam is a religion of peace" and call it what they think it really is, the catalyst for terror. This would be a huge mistake in my opinion. These are, by the way, the same people who are first in line to say that Iraq needs a good ol' invasion from the U.S. of A. Now, how well will it go over in Iraq if say, America proclaimed Islam the true evil, instead of the small subset of its population which has twisted the words of Mohammed into the motivation for terrorism? Not too well I'm guessing.
If the United States wants to create a lasting, secure Iraq blossoming with democratic notions of freedom and equal opportunity, portraying the religion of its people as an evil that must be eliminated surely won't endear their hearts to the United States. And isn't that what we are after in the long run anyway, the hearts and minds? That is where the root of the problem lies.
Also, to portray Islam as a religion of terror, or whatever these ultra-hawks would like to call it, would incredibly damage the chances of reform, in Turkey for example, where Islam and Democracy are showing their compatibility, or even in Iran, where revolution looms. The Bush administration has, fortunately, recognized the importance of showing this important compatibility and has gone to great lengths to hold Turkey up as its shining example of the possibilities of a peaceful, secular yet Muslim, democratic state.
As Paul Wolfowitz said last week when he visited Turkey in preparation for possible military action in Iraq, "Modern Turkey demonstrates that a democratic system is indeed compatible with Islam... There can be a separation of religion from the state that is completely compatible with personal piety." As is necessary, Wolfowitz and the rest of the the administration have viewed the election of the Justice and Development Party (AK) not as the threatening rise of Islamic elements in Turkey, but as a secular, conservative representation of the will of the people.
"The centrist Islamic-tinged Justice and Development Party won November's parliamentary elections because, Wolfowitz said, "Turks cast their votes for the concept of responsible and accountable representation." They sought honesty in government, not "to politicize religion." The new ruling party's "belief in a Turkish destiny in Europe" could lead to its evolution into a variant of Italy's or Germany's Christian Democratic parties."
And, as AK's unofficial leader and Turkey's unofficial head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said,
"We do not accept being characterised as an Islamist party. That carries with it too many misperceptions and anti-democratic associations. If you call yourself an Islamist, it suggests you are trying to impose some sort of Jacobin and intolerant uniformity. Furthermore, we believe religion is a personal issue. Just as no race is better than any other, so no one religion is superior to any other."
We shouldn't view the rise of AK as the failure of moderate Islam, because its not. Rather AK represents the ultimate success of moderate Islam. What better way to prove that your nation is not afraid of declining into fundamentalism than by electing a party that will keep the sacred secular (an oxymoron, I know) traditions of Turkey that Ataturk instituted in the aftermath of World War I, but also keep the overwhelming religious preferences of its people close at hand. Turkey's willingness to hold these two pillars of their society so close together is a marvel for the possibilities of a moderate Muslim state.
As I said before, who will be Islam's Martin Luther? Right now Erdogan and AK have my vote.