Chris Matthews and his producers apparently just can't quit having on affirmative action expert and resident MSNBC racist Pat Buchanan to weigh in on matters regarding racism and social justice. Eugene Robinson deserves better than having to argue with this bigot when it comes to matters of race relations in the United States.
As I've said already, why MSNBC feels the need to keep bringing this relic on who's still fighting the battles we should have settled ages ago is beyond me. He does nothing but race bait every time they allow him on the air for one of these discussions.
MATTHEWS: Back to Hardball. On Friday, Democratic senator Jim Webb of Virginia tackled Affirmative Action in "The Wall Street Journal." Senator Webb wrote, quote, "Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa do not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact, have frequently been
the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years. Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African- Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end."
Is Senator Webb right? MSNBC`s analyst -- political analyst Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post." And Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst, and very important figure in American life, I should say.
Pat, let me start with you and this question. I`m not even sure, since this subject has only been brought up today, over the weekend...
PAT BUCHANAN: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... how much is left of Affirmative Action in terms of -- I know schools, private schools look for diversity because they think it helps all their students.
What`s left that bothers you in terms of Affirmative Action, that you think...
MATTHEWS: ... should be gotten rid of, along with, apparently, Jim Webb, who wants -- the Virginia senator -- wants to get rid of? What`s left as a remnant of Affirmative Action you want to see gone?
BUCHANAN: Well, there`s an enormous amount of it in the federal government and the federal workforce. I`ve been looking at that as part of a book. But Chris, let me say this. Jim Webb`s point is important and courageous. What he`s saying is, Don`t treat white America as a monolith. The folks he came from Scots-Irish Southerners, mostly Appalachia -- those folks never benefited from the WASP ascendancy in Boston and New York. They were the victims of that form of discrimination. And they are today the victims of the form of discrimination practice and Affirmative Action, quotas, set-asides and things like that.
And ask yourself, Chris, what is the morality? What is the justice of discriminating against Appalachian white folks, whose father may have fought in Vietnam, whose grandfather fought in World War II, in favor of folks, say, from El Salvador or from Ethiopia or from Asia, India, something like that, discriminating against them, when those newcomers never suffered under slavery, never suffered under Jim Crow. They simply happen to be people of color who are here.
What is the argument for discriminating in favor of a person from Puerto Rico and against a person from Portugal?
MATTHEWS: So I`ll mark you down as having no problem with Affirmative Action for those who suffered under slavery.
BUCHANAN: I think the original Affirmative Action thing to rectify the injustices of slavery and Jim Crow had a real moral argument behind them. I don`t understand the moral argument for discriminating against working-class folks from the South or from Appalachia or Tennessee who never had a break.
MATTHEWS: Gene Robinson?
EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, Pat and I actually agree on one thing on Affirmative Action, which is that there was a moral argument behind the original intent of Affirmative Action, to rectify slavery and Jim Crow and hundreds of years of oppression. But...
MATTHEWS: Well, hundreds of years of free labor in America.
ROBINSON: Well, exactly. Now -- now, I think it would come as a surprise to native Americans, to many Latinos, in fact, that as Senator Webb says, they`ve never been discriminated against in this country. I mean...
MATTHEWS: But under the law? Were they ever discriminated under the law?
ROBINSON: It is -- different.
MATTHEWS: Like blacks were.
ROBINSON: It is -- it is different. And...
MATTHEWS: Blacks were legally held as prisoners and forced free labor.
ROBINSON: Absolutely. And I do think that`s a different category. In fact, I would take it further now because I think what`s needed now is a concentrated program of Affirmative Action aimed specifically at the black lower class, specifically at that 33 percent to 40 percent of African- American...
MATTHEWS: Who are children and grandchildren of slaves.
ROBINSON: ... yes, and who have not made it into the middle class and for whom the gap between those who did not and those who did seems...
MATTHEWS: Pat, are you against -- I`ve never noticed this from you, but I`m not -- I`m not going to be tough on this because I think we`re all growing in this question about where we`re headed as a country into this century.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it makes sense in the 21st century to do something like Gene says, a limited notion of Affirmative Action, not for everybody of color, everybody who`s not white, but for those people who remain, and they are descendants of slaves...
MATTHEWS: ... who`ve moved to the Northern cities, in many cases, or are still stuck in the -- or down in the cotton South or tobacco South...
MATTHEWS: ... and who have suffered? They`re on the other side of the digital divide. They haven`t gotten the good schooling. They haven`t gotten the break into the high-tech society. Do they deserve Affirmative Action?
MATTHEWS: I`m listening to you.
BUCHANAN: All right. Let`s -- well, I would drop the idea of doing it by race. There are folks in the South, there are folks all over this country who have suffered various kinds of discrimination and impairments and who probably need help, but why separate it out from race?
Chris, you and I know Frank Ricky (ph) and his friends, those firefighters, they are not beneficiaries of some great WASP affirmative action in the old days. Those guys were discriminated. Their proud fathers probably fought in our wars.
What is the justification for saying, well, because since your ancestors came from Italy, we`re going to discriminate against you, and some fellow who may have just arrived here in the last 40 years, never knew Jim Crow, we`re going to be discriminating against -- for him because he`s colored? What is the moral argument for that?
ROBINSON: Well, I think you could have means testing, for example, and say the cutoff really is income.
However, I do think the nation has a special obligation to African- Americans. I do. I think that moral obligation has not been fulfilled. And I think -- and so I guess I would differ with Pat on that question.
BUCHANAN: No, but, Gene, let me ask you this.
ROBINSON: But I do think -- but I do think, Pat, that you could make an argument in
this day and age for means testing of affirmative action, so that, for example, the son or daughter of African-Americans who have reached the middle class or the upper class or whatever, I think, is perfectly justifiable to ask, as President Obama asks, but he never quite completes the sentence, should his daughters get any sort of special treatment?
He asks that question. He never quite answers it.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go to the red-hot issues, the working-class -- black against the working-class white. This is where it gets really hot.
The firefighter, the white firefighter who may be Italian or whatever ethnic group he is who has been busting his butt, staying up all night, passing the exams -- he passed the exam. The African-American guy doesn`t. What do we do? Do we do it by diversity or by who passed the test? What do we do? That`s where the tire hit the road.
BUCHANAN: Chris, we go by the Olympic model, if you will.
Look, if the top 10 slots in sprinters are all African-American guys, the top 10 guys in high jump and all the rest of it, and the top 10 guys who happen to be on the swimming team or on the hockey team are all white guys, let`s go with the best.
Whoever wins in fair and free and equal competition, that is what America is all about, the Olympic model.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I think a lot of NBA teams carry white players. Do you think so, Pat, just so they have some white players on the team? I think they do.
BUCHANAN: I don`t know. But the NFL is...
BUCHANAN: The NFL is two-thirds African-American, Chris, and that`s as competitive as you get.
ROBINSON: Steve Nash was MVP three years in a row. He`s the best point guard in the lead.
MATTHEWS: I didn`t say Steve Nash.
ROBINSON: Dirk Nowitzki is not bad.
ROBINSON: OK. So, let`s not dis on white players in the NBA.
BUCHANAN: I think Larry Bird got where he was because he was the best.
ROBINSON: The white players, they at least have got to be able to shoot. OK.
BUCHANAN: They can`t jump, Gene.
MATTHEWS: I`m trying to shoot down -- I`m trying to make Pat`s point here, which is quality and performance should not be the only standard -- or should be.
ROBINSON: Let me make Pat`s point.
In the firefighter case, was, OK, you have an exam. And the question was, does the exam -- is the exam itself discriminatory against a certain group? And so if the instrument isn`t perfect, then the result isn`t perfect.
MATTHEWS: They will argue that it was.
BUCHANAN: If it`s a biased exam, I agree.
ROBINSON: Well, that was a finding. And then there was a contrary finding.
BUCHANAN: If it`s a biased exam, I agree.
But, Chris, you know what the Southern coach said when he was asked how many black players he plays? He three at home, four on the road, and five in the playoffs. I think that`s what...
MATTHEWS: You play the best players when you have got to win. That`s very American.
ROBINSON: Pat, you are such an American realist. And I say that with a certain degree of rue.
MATTHEWS: You know who integrated at the ACC, when Charlie Scott when he started winning for UNC. All of a sudden, everybody wanted to get into the act.
MATTHEWS: Here`s Senator Webb. Let`s get back to the world besides sports.
"Policy-makers ignored such disparities within America`s white cultures when in advancing minority diversity programs they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy-makers -- or policies -- were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas, including business startups" -- these are set-asides -- "academic admissions, job promotions, and lucrative government contracts."
Now, there he is get getting to the point here. If an African- American family is well-off, should they get any affirmative action, Gene?
MATTHEWS: If they`re well-off?
ROBINSON: In this day and age, I say no. I say take that aid, take the value of that aid and redirect it toward low-income African-Americans who need...
MATTHEWS: OK, Pat, where do you think this is taking us?
I think that Jim Webb, who is a Democrat from Virginia, which is a traditional Southern state in many ways, conservative state in many ways, how is this going to
advance the conversation? You have already advanced it by saying you acknowledge that there was a merit, even if you didn`t share the agreement with it...
BUCHANAN: Well, sure there is a moral argument.
MATTHEWS: ... for redressing the evils of slavery and Jim Crow. Where are we going now in terms of affirmative action from the conservative point of view?
BUCHANAN: Well, here`s what happened.
In three states, big states, Michigan, California, and Washington, affirmative action was abolished by voter referendum. If it is not abolished by voter referendum, and if the Supreme Court doesn`t overturn it, Chris, I think we`re headed for real racial, ethnic conflict, because the only folks now you can discriminate against are white males, because all of women get preferential treatment, et cetera.
And they`re only one-third of the population. And they`re diminishing. And you know and I know from all our arguments in the last year there`s a rising racial consciousness here. I think Jim Webb is on the cutting edge of a huge national issue.
MATTHEWS: Well, we will see.
Thank you, Gene.
MATTHEWS: Do you have a final thought?
ROBINSON: Yes, just a final thought. There`s another question here, which is, this nation, as Pat pointed out, is becoming more diverse. The leadership class of the nation had better be diverse as well. That`s what we`re going to do best.
MATTHEWS: That was one of the things I began to realize in college...
MATTHEWS: And I was...
MATTHEWS: ... Holy Cross, particularly...
MATTHEWS: ... African-American kid, for that reason.
BUCHANAN: Chris, take a look at the limited diversity you now find in the Ivy League. Robert Nayeli (ph), the scholar at Princeton, said no poor whites need apply, that there`s discrimination against people, of Future Farmers of America, Junior ROTC. Read his article, 2,500 words. It`s very dramatic, just hit a week ago.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s all be positive on this. It is a tricky subject, Pat. Let`s be
positive. I agree with you.
Thank you, Eugene Robinson.
Thank you, Pat Buchanan.
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