Under Biden, meritocracy is breathing its last gasps
Joe Biden is overseeing massive sociological damage. Meritocracy and competence, bulwarks of our society, are being replaced with diversity and equity. Biden has surrendered to the extreme left wing of the Democrat party, which endorses the replacement of meritocracy with race-based criteria for advancement. "If you're black or Pacific Islander or Hispanic, go to the head of the line for a job, a promotion, a place at Harvard," said author David Horowitz. "If you're white, forget that place at Harvard, you're screwed."
Biden's dislike of meritocracy is supported by current notions of diversity, equity, and Critical Race Theory. Meritocracy and diversity are opposites. Instead of promoting people based on competence, advocates for diversity want promotions to be based on race and sex. Heather Mac Donald, author of The Diversity Delusion, has warned about the consequences of this trend. Countries like China and Russia, she said, are meritocracies. When you are a scientist in China, they don't give a damn about your race or sex. If the U.S. falls prey to identity politics, we will never be able to compete on the world stage. Within twenty years, we could easily turn into a third-world country.
Evidence of the trend is everywhere. Colleges and universities are using a quota system for admission based on race. United Airlines announced last year that by 2030, 50 percent of its flight school students will be chosen from among minorities and women. At 30,000 feet, who wants an affirmative action pilot sitting in the cockpit?
Biden has delivered on his promise that the next Supreme Court justice will be black and a woman. Biden did not say, I'm going to appoint the most competent jurist I can find, and if it happens to be a black woman, that would be good for the country. He made it clear that he intended to bribe black voters and women by appointing a black woman.
Because women and minorities have allegedly been oppressed, Critical Race Theory argues that giving them preference is justified. Hiring quotas based on race and sex violate basic notions of fairness and meritocracy. You cannot say in the same breath that giving preference to white males is racist and sexist, but giving preference to women and minorities is not. It has to work both ways.
The objective of "equity" is equality of outcome. Everyone should have the same income, job success, house, neighborhood, etc. To accomplish this, equity says we must give marginalized groups special treatment in order to even the scales and compensate for past injustices. Equity means affirmative action in employment and college admissions. Equity in housing and neighborhoods. Equity in compensation. Equity in film casting — starting in 2024, a movie that doesn't have the mandated percentage of minorities in cast and crew is not eligible for an Academy Award. The Oscars people don't care if movies are good. They have to be equitable.
Affirmative action has a divisive effect on society. "Far and away the most egregious form of government interference with the contractual rights of private persons and organizations is carried out in the name of affirmative action," says Richard Pipes in Property and Freedom. "Initially conceived as a means of enforcing principles of nondiscrimination in regard to black citizens ... [affirmative action] was soon extended to other groups and ultimately turned into a vehicle for reverse discrimination against whites and males." Nor does it do justice to the intended beneficiaries. Affirmative action recipients at colleges and universities experience a high dropout rate. Mismatch theory describes minority students who are accepted at schools beyond their aptitude, creating a sense of failure, depression, and alienation.
The left would like to see our standards lowered across the board, which would "level the playing field" and reduce our competitiveness in the world. Should we seek social justice by lowering the standards to the lowest denominator via affirmative action, or should we require the lowest denominator — in this case, minority students — to meet the higher standard? Lowering standards has given us an educational system that is producing substandard results. Statistics that show the U.S. lagging behind in educational accomplishments are proof that the left is succeeding.
Six black English professors had a tantrum in 2020 because they believe that correct grammar is a ploy of white supremacists. They allege that requiring black students to use standard rules of grammar is racist because those rules were created by whites. The danger posed by this attack on English grammar and usage is that, if taken to its logical conclusion, it will lead to a demand that the pursuit of excellence is unacceptable because it is intrinsically a product of white supremacy.
Going in for surgery will become an act of suicide, as surgeons will no longer be held to "white" standards of excellence. The expectation of safe air travel will become a thing of the past as the requirement for competent pilots is discarded as another symptom of white supremacy. Excellence developed by white people in any and all forms of human endeavor will become manifestations of systemic racism. No longer will we admire successful businessmen such as the founders of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Brilliant legal scholars — as functionaries of the white legal system — will be despised. And, of course, the entire structure of American government, including separation of powers and checks and balances, will have to be jettisoned because it was developed by racist white people.
Affirmative action is not enforced in the NBA, whose players are 74 percent black. All that matters is how well you play basketball. For the same reason, merit ought to be applied to airline pilots, Marines, and brain surgeons. When I am flying over the Pacific Ocean, I want the most qualified pilot sitting at the controls. As a former Marine, I appreciate that combat units should not have their standards lowered simply to accommodate women or transgenders. When I am being operated on for a brain tumor, I don't want to look up and see the winner of this year's social justice award.
We can't afford to do away with competence. The only way to assure the pursuit of excellence is to affirm our belief in meritocracy.
Ed Brodow is a conservative political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of eight books including Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America. He is a former U.S. Marine officer, Fortune 500 sales executive, and Hollywood movie actor.