Her Hypocrisy Discredited Her Arguments

In a post about affirmative action in an episode of Ugly Betty, Angela Onwuachi-Willig [Correction: the post was written by Darren Rosenmblum] can't resist taking a pot-shot at Clarence Thomas:

Yet we should fear renewed criticism of affirmative action laws, now by minorities who deserve its benefits but refuse them as a sign of moral character. This isn’t Clarence Thomas, who benefited from affirmative action and then criticized it. His hypocrisy discredited his arguments.

This is wrong on three counts. First, there's nothing hypocritical about benefitting from affirmative action and subsequently criticizing it. A person may sincerely believe that affirmative action is bad, and yet decide that it's not worth unilaterally rejecting the personal benefits it offers. This is especially true in the case of Thomas, who has received not only the personal benefits associated with a seat on the Supreme Court, but also the ability to shape policy, including policy on affirmative action, for the better.

Second, even if we were to grant for the sake of argument Thomas's hyporcisy, that wouldn't discredit his arguments, any more than leftists' failure to return their share of the Bush tax cuts discredits their arguments against it. Failure to live up to an ideal is not a logical refutation of its validity. A professor of law should know better than to commit such a basic fallacy.

Finally, one of the most compelling arguments against affirmative action is that it causes people to question the qualifications of those who may have benefitted from it. In fact, Thomas himself has said that prospective employers questioned the validity of his Yale Law degree because of affirmative action, and this may have contributed to his opposition to it. And here Onwuachi-Willig Rosenblum is affirming the legitimacy of that argument by implying* that Thomas would not be in his current position under race-neutral policies.

Via Alas.

*Probably correctly. In retrospect, Thomas has turned out to be a fine Justice and the Court's most reliable defender of the Constitution, but it's unlikely that Bush would have appointed him if not for his race. Nevertheless, the fact that doubts about the qualifications of beneficaries of affirmative action are often legitimate does not diminish their destructive impact.

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Thomas wasn't a case of affirmative action

I'm pretty certain at the time Clarence Thomas was nominated to the supreme court, he was genuinely wanted there by the first George Bush. Not every time a black man is nominated to a position is because of affirmative action

**edited**

I don't think it was affirmative action that gave him his supreme court justice seat, although now that I research it more I see that he benefited from affirmative action before becoming a justice, such as entering College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts etc.

Did he?

I see that he benefited from affirmative action before becoming a justice, such as entering College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts etc.

This is true only if he would not have got in without affirmative action. The mere facts that (a) he got in, and (b) there was affirmative action, are not enough by themselves to demonstrate that he benefited from it.

A qualified black man in fact is harmed by affirmative action whenever he is accepted by an organization that practices it, because the existence of affirmative action creates a reasonable doubt in the mind of others that he is in fact qualified, harming his reputation.

Ungrateful Abolitionists

"This isn’t Clarence Thomas, who benefited from affirmative action and then criticized it."

Like those people who benefited from slavery and yet were against the practice. What were they called. Oh yeah, abolitionists.

Brandon did not read the post carefully. I was not the author.

Brandon:

You did not read the post carefully. I posted the "Ugly Betty" piece on blackprof for a friend. I did not write those words. The website clearly shows that. Please read more carefully next time.

Corrected, and I apologize

Corrected, and I apologize for the error. I didn't notice the attribution in the title of the post.