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Chapter 5: Vicious Discrimination

The first several pages are complex but deserve careful explanation. Discrimination is the essence of intelligence. The Supreme Court uses invidious discrimination (has someone researched the origins of that phrase?); I used to employ it, but here use vicious. Invidious now means tending to cause offense for being unfair, whereas vicious means evil in itself and is thus more absolute. Vicious also means that malice is involved. Perhaps I should go back to invidious though there is little social discrimination that isn't regarded as malicious by whoever is damaged.


Principle V is an involved mode of demanding "equal opportunity for all." Proposition V asserts that the human mind, being alert to associations, can connect any trait imaginable to the "need" for a political disqualification. "Methinks that everyone is this world may be mad save thee and me," quoth the apocryphal Quaker, "and sometimes I am not certain of thee."


Barry Goldwater is reported to have quipped, with reference to the confrontation between Egyptians and Israeli on the Nile, "I'm probably the only man who would be shot at from both sides."


The story of Esther is a marvelous summary of the waves of anti-Semitism over the millenia. The last generation has seen a great decline in anti-Semitism in America, but I guess that you are already aware of an increase among blacks and, possibly, among working-class whites. With the increasing strains of upward mobility and an inevitable general decrease in the quality of living in America, anti-Semitism may really rise again. Bold and brilliant preventatives need to be invented to get at the causes that feed such irrational prejudices.


On the other hand, every vice can become a virtue sometimes, someplace. I am not, please not, taking the time to pass personal opinions as to whether a "true" vice is involved. These pages are relevant in that they reveal the often casual and remote basis for vicious discrimination; I am saying that political custom and power can make any behavior good or bad.


Policy V is stated in both the positive and the punitive, in the same sentence.


The pointing finger--"This means you!"--is an attempt to relieve you here and there of a little of the burden of hortatory and admonitory pedagogy. Better they should get mad at me!


If I had to do this chart over again, I would group the types of "group origins" better, and draw the bars thin or thick according to the percentages (though the latter would be on thin ice, indeed). Remind the students that the 1770 percentages are based on only 3 or 4 million people; there are more Mexicans in the U.S.A. today than this country's whole population in 1770.


Many Americans profess to be shocked at vicious discrimination all along the line. It never occurs to many, for instance, to consider the hardnosed attitude lowland, mostly English-origin people have taken toward highland, mostly Scots-Irish-origin people in the South for two centuries and more. Whatever the argument over kind and amount, the fact of worldwide discrimination is on the record. It is a product of individualism, of social atomism, of preexisting hostilities enhanced by new hardships, and other causes. We cannot average income, free land, or other indices of well-being through history nor can we cite all the successful people from different groups. An easy majority of all successful, accomplished Americans would attest to the fact of discrimination as a factor in their lives.

Of course, nothing I say should be construed as an objection to the vital presence of a great many Americans who have applied the Golden Rule. And it is well to point out that a mere 8 percent (?) of actively, viciously discrimination people can spoil a whole culture, even in the presence of an actively egalitarian proportion twice or three times as large. We can readily appreciate this phenomenon: the more active and vocal the denunciations of discrimination, the more the "victims" feel discriminated against, and the more the above hypothetical 8 percent plus the rest are encouraged. Unfortunately no gifted weaver has collected and put into proportions the thousands of scattered records, possibly because the task requires a quantitative mind working with mostly qualitative documents.


Biographies may be recommended to students who wish to pursue the ways of great women in history: Aspasia, consort of Pericles; Mary, Mother of Jesus; Joan of Arc; Caterina Sforza; St. Theresa; Catherine the Great; Jane Austen; Eleanor Roosevelt; Premier Golda Meir; Marian Anderson; Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; Ella Fitzgerald; etc. But they should not be treated as cream puffs. For some students, intensive interviews of women who have taken up new kinds of work in the community (police, politicians, armed forces, etc.) would be enlightening.

At this point, I would like to show you a cartoon I wanted to include in the Chapteron wealth and power. My first sketch (see page 37) was intended to be a multiple-entendre takeoff for the PESCALA discussion following page 293, but El Clarko, the artist, expressed my ideas as, partially, a spoof on Aunt Jemima. Quite an obstinate crew lined up against Esmeralda on grounds of Vicious Discrimination (Department of Perpetuation of Harmful Stereotypes), so I let it go by the board (you can't win `em all).

You might Xerox the cartoon and ask the opinion of your class. My own class switched back and forth twice on it. I reasoned that the goddess angle, the woman-in-power, the "complicated" economics, and the Jolly double spoof would erase all suspicion. Not so. But the class had a great discussion on public opinion, stereotypes, racism, and the complications of expression.


The cartoon on class mobility refers to the threefold Roman system of determining social affinity groups in the order stated, commerce, sociability (eating together), and intermarriage. You might ask students what social class this family belongs to and to note the details that suggest the class placement. (I would suggest that the Lloyd Warner "LL, UL, UM, LU, UU" scale be employed.)

(Incidentally footnote 7 defines caste only vertically. It exists horizontally when different ethnic, religious, and cultural groups live side by side with many strictures and constraints about their intercourse.)


I think it is significant that a good Marxist textbook does not exist. The reason may be that all the other Marxists would assail its author; he would have to commit himself on dictatorship and liberty; he would have to consider internecine warfare among Marxist nations and within Marxist parties, the benefits of nationalization in the light of recent worldwide experience, the heavy psychological erosion of Marxian "realities" under anthropological, psychoanalytical, and phenomenological scrutiny, the widespread hatred of bureaucracy and the factory system found in communist countries, etc. Still, we are all Marxists in the proper sense that Marx and his disciples made substantial contributions to the study of ideology, to an understanding of the intricate penetration of political and social activities by branches stemming from economic roots, the theory of revolution the pressure for uplifting and energizing the masses, and the theory of chauvinism.


The "vicious cycle of class position" chart shows that the process of class change (mobility) is fluid and quantitative. Marx and Marxists performed a disservice to social science by freezing the concepts of social class for polemical reasons. (This is one reason why Russian social science, for instance, has so much of a static and Aristotelian character.)



Perhaps a prize should be given the student who writes the best account of what the boss (Gerald Jason) is thinking to parallel the mental processes of William Brown.


On the three issues of busing, open admissions, and attacks upon the police, I am explaining conditions, rather than making specific proposals. Regarding the police, see Chapter10, pages 301 ff. Senseless attacks upon policemen are infuriating, as are senseless attacks upon citizens. In a given year, the chance of an average policeman being killed by a felon in America is half the chance that an average American will be killed in an auto accident. (The figures are fashioned from the U.S. Statistical Abstracts, using 1969 as an example. I get 86/500,000 : 55,000/200,000,000.)

Regarding open admissions (which by the way are never open because your family has to have some money to keep you going to the open school), you might discuss in class: 1) whether it constitutes a healthy shake-up for pedantic and precious tendencies in academe; 2) whether we shouldn't cut back the BA to a gymnasium type of degree and encourage everyone to go for it including the elderly; and 3) whether we should institute the "voucher" or "per capita credit" system (see also PESCALA, pp. 293 ff.) so that some educators can build new and better schools and some students can find better schools. It seems to me that vouchered education is a way out of the busing dilemma, too, as are open occupancy and constructing a number of integrated new cities.


I enclose here a rewrite of a news item from the New York Times (June 15, 1972, p. 21) on youth employment. The class might analyze it. What could be the motives involved? Are the young being taken for a ride?

The Labor Department is mulling the idea of allowing seafood processors to employ young people between the ages of fourteen and sixteen as crabmeat pickers.

The Department had once regarded food processing as dangerous and undesirable work for the young, but Dale Kloak, the chief of the Child Labor Division, has remarked that the experiment may be tried for two summers.

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen objected officially to the plan to use young workers and called it "nothing short of an effort to exploit child labor in order to maintain subnormal wages.

Patrick E. Gorman, the union's president, said that if despite high unemployment the seafood processors were unable to find enough adult workers, "it must be due to the fact that the industry pays such miserable wages and provides such poor working conditions."

On the other hand, Everett A. Tolley, Director of the Shellfish Institute, declared that the basic issue " is a desire to provide gainful (summer) employment" for these teenagers while at the same time giving "the shellfish industry relief during a very important period in seasonal industry."


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