How to prevent bigotry

With Harvard defending itself in court on Monday against a charge of bigotry, one wonders how we can stop discrimination.  A little background may be helpful.

In economics class, one learns that in a free market, businesses must maximize their profits, or they will go under.  If a business favors employees based on a non-work factor, such as race, religion, or gender, it will fail.  Bigotry is impossible in a free market.

When there is a lack of a free market, there is the opportunity for discrimination.  When an industry has monopoly power, with no alternative to its product, there is room for mischief.  For example, in the 1920s, Harvard had an overt policy of quotas for Jewish students.  Unfortunately, there is only one Harvard.  Fortunately, there was popular backlash against this policy, and it was dropped. 

Harvard is now accused of treating Asians similarly, thus causing the university's legal difficulties.  Harvard maintains its snooty reputation.

In what kind of political system can bigotry flourish?  Only in one where the government has a lot of power.  In the fascist Germany of the 1930s and 1940s, Jews were put to death because this was their government's idea of efficiency.

In another example of too much power, tsarist Russia routinely carried out pogroms against the Jews.  For the duration of the Soviet Union that replaced it, anti-Semitic policies continued.  This intensified under Stalin.  For example, in 1952 and 1953, there was the infamous Doctors' Plot, in which Jewish doctors were falsely accused of plotting to assassinate Soviet leaders.  Fortunately, Stalin died of natural causes, and the case was dropped.  Ironically, the American Jewish couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union at around the same time.  They helped those who hated them.

In both cases, the head of state of an oppressive country had enough power to demonstrate his prejudice.  It is not enough to avoid fascism and communism.  Any government oligarchy, in which power is held by a few, is ripe for the prejudices of those few to flourish.  This means that socialism, however nicely packaged, is a breeding ground for prejudice.

A mistaken belief cited by the liberals of today is that the fascism of Nazi Germany was "right-wing" and just like the Republican platform.  Their argument is that all Republicans are Christians and all Christians hate Jews.  If Republicans are given power, then Jews will be oppressed.  This argument shows ignorance of Republican values.  Republicans seek a limited government.  These limits prevent prejudice.  Even if there are anti-Semites in a limited government, they will not have enough power to implement anti-Semitic policies.

The moral of this story is that, to avoid supporting bigotry, you should prevent your government from being too powerful.

With Harvard defending itself in court on Monday against a charge of bigotry, one wonders how we can stop discrimination.  A little background may be helpful.

In economics class, one learns that in a free market, businesses must maximize their profits, or they will go under.  If a business favors employees based on a non-work factor, such as race, religion, or gender, it will fail.  Bigotry is impossible in a free market.

When there is a lack of a free market, there is the opportunity for discrimination.  When an industry has monopoly power, with no alternative to its product, there is room for mischief.  For example, in the 1920s, Harvard had an overt policy of quotas for Jewish students.  Unfortunately, there is only one Harvard.  Fortunately, there was popular backlash against this policy, and it was dropped. 

Harvard is now accused of treating Asians similarly, thus causing the university's legal difficulties.  Harvard maintains its snooty reputation.

In what kind of political system can bigotry flourish?  Only in one where the government has a lot of power.  In the fascist Germany of the 1930s and 1940s, Jews were put to death because this was their government's idea of efficiency.

In another example of too much power, tsarist Russia routinely carried out pogroms against the Jews.  For the duration of the Soviet Union that replaced it, anti-Semitic policies continued.  This intensified under Stalin.  For example, in 1952 and 1953, there was the infamous Doctors' Plot, in which Jewish doctors were falsely accused of plotting to assassinate Soviet leaders.  Fortunately, Stalin died of natural causes, and the case was dropped.  Ironically, the American Jewish couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union at around the same time.  They helped those who hated them.

In both cases, the head of state of an oppressive country had enough power to demonstrate his prejudice.  It is not enough to avoid fascism and communism.  Any government oligarchy, in which power is held by a few, is ripe for the prejudices of those few to flourish.  This means that socialism, however nicely packaged, is a breeding ground for prejudice.

A mistaken belief cited by the liberals of today is that the fascism of Nazi Germany was "right-wing" and just like the Republican platform.  Their argument is that all Republicans are Christians and all Christians hate Jews.  If Republicans are given power, then Jews will be oppressed.  This argument shows ignorance of Republican values.  Republicans seek a limited government.  These limits prevent prejudice.  Even if there are anti-Semites in a limited government, they will not have enough power to implement anti-Semitic policies.

The moral of this story is that, to avoid supporting bigotry, you should prevent your government from being too powerful.