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Racial and Multicultiral Tolerance vs. Economic and Societal Benefits

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Submitted By bromanderc
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Racial and Multicultural Tolerance vs. Economic and Societal Benefits

We exist in a society where intolerance for the racial and cultural differences of others is commonplace, and solidly rooted. Whether you live in the US, Middle East, Europe, or Asia, situations can be found where matters of money, domestic dispute, war, torture, and rape, have been incited or settled based on the ethnicity of parties involved (amnesty.org). Though it has for over a hundred years been the outspoken goal of certain societies to change this environment of unfairness, and in many cases injustice, – with the United States being the forerunner in this endeavor – the change, especially in the past several decades, can be considered modest at best (Lewis Mumford Report).

For years we’ve listened to politicians support visionary ideas of bringing together people of varied ethnic backgrounds. “Until justice is blind to color,” stated Lyndon Johnson during his presidency, “until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skin, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.” Government programs like affirmative action were designed with the hope in mind of them being the keys to closing the gap between the economically and socially superior, and the historically underprivileged (Ravitch). Futurists and creative thinkers have come and gone preaching the idea, the dream, of a time when racial injustices would be a thing of the past, and yet it ironically seems we have a great distance to travel before this becomes reality.

Perhaps it is not the assumed impossibility of closing this gap that keeps people from supporting these dreams. When one considers the motivators of society today, it’s difficult to not see why most would choose to put these concerns on the backburner. We are a world based on economic needs, status quos, we see matters in black and white only when it suits us or when it is profitable. Dreams are enjoyable to indulge in from time – dreams of a more fair future, of a society void of the vagaries of ethnic and cultural biases – but until they become a natural component of what dictates our everyday logic, dreams are what they will always be.

The purpose of this paper is to stress the severity of this situation, though not in the typical ideological or visionary tones most people have grown up listening to, but in a fashion that focuses on what is arguably most important to humanity today – economics and societal efficiency. It is the purpose of this paper to show that while we have for decades stressed the need to alter the ethnically intolerant environment that can be seen throughout the world, and to encourage the acceptance of cultural diversity, these integrated roots of bias are in fact in place through the existence of our own illogical, short-sighted goals of personal gain, favored by those could otherwise change the face of the system completely. It is hoped that the stance taken in this paper will show to any audience how important it truly is to embrace co-ethnic ideals that have over time been highly pressed by some and actively disregarded by most.

We begin by asking ourselves, how do you define societal benefits? What is it exactly that can increase a society’s efficiency through the acceptance of ethnic tolexzrance? For those unaccustomed to viewing the situation from this perspective, the underlying benefits may be difficult to spot. Elements in government, economics, and war typically tend to be of the highest societal concern, and so these factors demand to be addressed.

The settling of racial and ethnic indifferences is commonly seen as a problem handled effectively by government interventions. Affirmative action, established in 1965 by US president Lyndon Johnson, is a system designed to overcome societal discrimination of the past by forcing privileges into the hands of minorities (Brunner, par. 1). According to the president of the National Organization for Women, “If it weren't for affirmative action programs…at virtually every selective university across the U.S., diversity on campus would be an empty promise…”. The benefits can be seen in college enrollment, higher level job positions, and in the government (Toutkoushian, par. 4-9). Affirmative action is designed to aid society in the long run by placing minority individuals of varied ethnic backgrounds in places where they can not only benefit those around them but where they can eventually establish a solid standing in society and eliminate the anti-ethnic environment that exists.

The effectiveness of the matter is argued on the grounds of economics. According to some, the benefits of affirmative action cannot be clearly seen and the negative affects on the economy outweigh the potential benefits (Murrell, par. 12-15). The privileges awarded to minorities translate into unquestioned college enrollment, job opportunities, and additional resources.

Heralded as a great step in the fight for civil rights, affirmative action has indeed helped to bridge the racial gap among citizens of varying status. However, amid these good intentions, downsides in the system became obvious as early as the 1970’s, brought into the open by the famous case of Allan Bakke (Brunner, par 3). Bakke, a white college student had been turned down by a medical school twice, while reserved positions went to under-qualified minorities. Similar cases of protest against affirmative action have been heard over the years (Brunner, par. 3-10) shining light on the unfairness of a system designed to bring society together.

In recent years, the strongest failings of affirmative action have been revealed: the inability of minority students -- accepted on an affirmative action basis -- to graduate college (Ravitch, par. 7). The “social promotion” policies of affirmative action end up pushing students with inadequate grades into college where, when faced with having to make a return to remedial teaching, find that graduation is almost impossible (Ravitch, par. 11). The soul of the matter, suggested by Ravitch, exists at an adolescent level where a student‘s social and/or family status affects how he or she learns.
The final question that deserves to be asked on this topic: Is affirmative action truly ineffectual, or are those against the program motivated purely by negative economic points, by the idea that the money lost could be handled better in the hands of others? Does it not make sense to promote racial desegregation regardless of the monetary downsides? Perhaps society is less motivated by logic and more concerned with the idea of possible monetary gain. This is indeed a paradox, considering that the benefits of a program like affirmative action could deliver into the hands of society a far more bountiful future.

An even more controversial topic is that of warfare, and the elements that generate it. In the early 1950s, conflicts between Palestine and Israel began to be recognized (Middle East Policy Council, conflict statistics) throughout the world. Based on severely opinionated and religious differences, the Israeli/Palestinian war has escalated into a horrid situation of lost life and economic pitfalls.

According to Thomas Stauffer, an economic analyst in Washington, the amount of taxpayer’s dollars that has gone towards supporting this conflict is almost unparalleled by the expenses of any other military endeavor. Since 1948, it is estimated the US has given Israel nearly 2. 7 trillion dollars to support their war against the Arab nation. In this case, we do not have a collection of ideological jargon delivered to us from some visionary source. It is not a mystery shrouded in misinformation and political spin-doctoring. 2.7 trillion dollars. This is what Israel’s hatred for its Palestinian neighbors has cost American citizens since the late 1940s. A hatred based on ethnic difference. If people today are affected by matters concerning their pocket book, then this should indeed raise an eyebrow.

Money is not the only resource thrown to the wind in this matter. Is it incorrect to say the loss of human life is just as prominent of a concern? Is it not a greater concern? To date, the number of people reported to have been tortured and/or killed during the Israeli/Palestinian war is unknown, but the number since September 2000 comes to over 3400 (Middle East Policy Council, conflict statistics). It is estimated that between 1982 and 1996 alone, approximately 17000 civilian lives were lost in the heated conflict (Cooley, par. 11). In our personal quests for achievement and prosperity, we have to ask ourselves if this loss of human life is conducive to a productive future for mankind.
On the part of Big Business, the counter argument comes in form of support for the capitalistic standards we all adhere to. The economically astounding figures revolving around this conflict, while stressing the existence of a horribly illogical societal quarrel, illustrates the positive monetary energy that can be generated by a population’s need to support a conflict based on hatred for it’s neighbors. The United States’ continuing involvement, revolving around its insatiable need for a solid oil supply, further illustrates that global “problems” like severe ethnic divide are, and have always been, minor concerns when compared to the financial well-being and living conditions of those who strive to remain economically superior. With this fact in mind, supported by it’s historical significance, one has to ask themselves: are problems like racial divide and animosity among varying cultural groups a problem that demands to be dealt with - or do these circumstances simply arise as natural byproducts of human nature, a harmonious chaos supporting our way of life? The 2001 estimate of Israel’s GDP totaled to 110.2 billion dollars, making it the fourth most prosperous country in the Middle East (Arab countries versus Israel, www.science.co.il) and the thirty-fourth most prosperous country in the world (Province, cylist.com).

Through these cases, we see the answer to our initial question very clearly. Societal benefits equal a prolonging of human life and a concern for the status and education of others. It also includes the matter of economic perpetuation. Through evaluating these situations, the answer, as to whether or not concepts like racial desegregation and ethnic blending actually serve to augment society in some beneficial way, is apparent. Maintaining a system where prejudice and ethnic intolerance is adamant is illogical with respect to the flow of society. Is the downward spiral created by this not apparent?
Perhaps we exist in a world where the vagarious effects of human perception, bias, and partiality towards a societal “norm” cannot be escaped from. Though compassion and kindness are integral parts of what it is to be human, we allow ourselves to be influenced in ways that sabotage our ability to use these tools of open-heartedness. This is an important matter for all to take into consideration. Is personal comfort and gain so meaningful that choosing to adhere to these values is more important than using, say, ones compassion in their judgment? If so, then can it not be seen that prejudice or maintaining ethnically bias opinions of others is just as illogical in the sense that it ultimately serves to undermine the efficiency of society and the economy? With the greatest of hope, perhaps we can begin to open our minds to the truth of the matter, and someday we’ll see through to what is the most logical course.

Works Cited

Pro

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Con

Ravitch, Dianne. “How Affirmative Action Harms Minorities.” Forbes Nov. 1997: 112.

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