Saturday, July 2, 2011
The never-ending, constantly resurrecting debate on the socalled reproductive (and even gender) rights reminds me of an old debate in the US of A (as monitored by me through the American articles I've read and the few responses at home): the similarly long-standing argument for and against the concept of affirmative action. To review, affirmative action simply means the official granting of state privileges to a segment of the population on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, or origin in response to or as a corrective for the historical discrimination against these populations. It is a concept that obviously means well, but may, in fact, result in even more subtle forms of discrimination, as the socially engineered arrangement operates from an assumption of victimization. This way, affirmative action never solves the problem because it makes the recipient perpetually in an inferior role and the majority population in a superior role as the former's (false) savior.
I realized this strong analogy between the RH Bill's strong socialist agenda (which looks benign on the surface) and the outcome of affirmative action in the land of its birth, after reading this old but excellent, excellent analysis by Shelby Steele, a half-black, half-white writer, in his article, "Affirmative Action: The Price of Preference," from his book The Content of Our Character (1990). In this article, he outlines important distinctions:
- affirmative action via racial preference (through enforeced quotas) VS true equality via equal opportunity
- jerrybuilt racial diversity VS racial parity
- superficial social reengineering VS real (educational/socioenomic) development and antidiscrimination
- special racial (and by extension sexual/gender) rights VS basic constitutional rights (basic human rights)
- false discrimination VS true discrimination
In the case of the RH Bill, affirmative action is ensured by sanctioning, nay coercing (under threat of heavy fines and incarceration), people to give special preferences to various target groups: the poor who reportedly can't afford contraceptives, poor women who want to decide on RH matters independent of their partner, etc. While apparently aiming to eradicate poverty by limiting population growth, the Bill actually perpetuates discrimination by playing on the 'victim' status of people, as though there are no laws yet that have been passed to pave the way for equality, justice, and progress for all (or in today's jargon, "level the playing field").
No wonder interest groups such as the progay and prodivorce camps are all for the RH Bill's passing in Congress and the Senate; they will certainly benefit from its victimization and enforced social reengineering mindsets, both of which have proven to be bereft of wisdom (if not entirely suspect) and, correct me if I'm wrong, have long been rejected in their land of birth.