Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall on judgment day when Justice Clarence Thomas has to explain his antipathy to affirmative action to the Almighty?

Of course, I am not even close to being neutral on this subject, I'm simply baffled that it is even an issue. I think the opposition to affirmative action represents a misunderstanding of justice and the phenomenon of human existence.

Justice is not simply everyone gets the same treatment everytime, so what is done for A, must be done for B, etc. The State's role is not to treat everyone the same but to make sure that everyone has equal and fair access to its fruits. That would mean, in cases in which classes or groups have been at a historical disadvantage, preferential action can be taken to remedy historical wrongs. Justice is an aspect of human history and society and for this reason cannot be treated independent of history.

If A and B are in a competition and A immorally destroys B's training facilities and everything that would make B prepare for the competition. And then come the day of the competition it is discovered that A engaged in such activity, justice would require that the historical disadvantage be taken into account in remedying the situation and further, being A had the resources to engage in such actions, justice demands that structures be put in place to prevent such actions in the future. Now whatever decisions are made appear unfair to A on that competition day because he was ready and trained and ready to go, but the fairness and justice in regard to that situation cannot be measured by the decisions on the competition day but by the history that is brought to bear on that day.

Historical circumstances cannot be absent from the notion of justice and retribution and reparation always hurt in some way those from whom retribution is sought.


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