It was New Years Eve, maybe 1989 or 1990, and I was at a party in the home of a close friend. I'll not say his name, but refer to him as WC. He lived in an apartment with his wife. I think they'd been married less than one year; I was in his wedding as a "co-best man." Brief aside: I'd never heard of a "co-best man" before, and haven't since...I'm sure there must be some bad luck attached to that arrangement, because we ain't friends anymore, nor is he married.
Anyhow, Mr. & Mrs. WC were hosts to some 12-14 people, and the mood was light and friendly throughout. There was eating and drinking, but I don't think anyone got over-served. I can't remember witnessing any vomitage or breakage of items. Midnight came and went, celebratory glasses were raised and good wishes were extended aplenty. Maybe there was kissing, but I had come stag to the party, and know that I went home alone, so there couldn't have been much to it. Around 1am, or so, the other guests had gone and Mrs. WC had excused herself to bed. This is when WC brought out his manuscript, the first chapter of a novel he was writing, and asked me to read and critique his work. Can you guess how this was going to turn out?
Let's say that the reading took maybe 20-30 minutes, and afterward, a brief reluctant assessment was rendered. There was absolutely nothing memorable about the prose, so I can't conjure up a phrase that justifies or explains my reaction. I do recall a statement that included "no redeeming value, of any kind" being uttered by me. I said it was reluctant, and it was. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but the fact of the matter was the writing started off bad and got worse. Maybe that's not it...maybe it was that the first chapter never really went anywhere or actually said anything. I remember worrying about the fact that if this was the first chapter, then there might eventually be more of it at some later date, and that would most certainly NOT be good.
Bottom line though, gentle as I was, the review wasn't particularly well-received. In spite of my efforts to twinkle-toe around the ugly truth, his feelings were hurt. But that's not the worst of it. Somehow, either in an attempt to change the subject, or maybe it was some element of the "book"...the subject of Affirmative Action was brought up, and a question was posed to me, "Would you not give up your job so that a black man could have it?"
In the already turbulent environment, I proceeded carefully. "If you ask me, 'All things being otherwise equal, if I am applying for a job and a black man is also being considered, who has everything to offer that company that I do, would I want any favoritism for myself?' The answer would be 'no'. And, I should have no problem if the hypothetical employer chose a black man, because of his skin-color, in an effort toward so-called affirmative action" I said.
I was pretty sure this would be a great, clarifying, diffuse-the-situation reply, and I meant it. I thought of myself as, more-or-less, progressive at this point in my adulthood. But, my statement only served to inflame him. Which only shocked me. "You mean to say, that you would not give up your job, your current job, to a black man who needed it?!"
"Just on the basis of need? Or a feeling of guilt, for his race's previous sufferings? That I should abandon what I have earned, so that someone else, through no exhibited qualification of his own, could have it, instead? Only to satisfy some collective definition of equality? The answer is emphatically, 'NO'."
This was the moment of absolute antipathy. Both of us were genuinely stunned at the other. I'm sure there was more said, and I think the argument lasted for a few more hours. But in that instant, the friendship was set on its downward spiral. At some point, he ordered me out of his house.
And, to this day, I do not understand his stance, nor in any way subscribe to his opinion. It did open my eyes, though. I learned on that day that there are people who honestly believe that the pendulum swing of justice toward "wrong" but in a perceived opposite direction from a previous wrong, is in some way honorable. Because of this attitude, Affirmative Action not only persists, but has contributed to the election of a man to this country's highest, and most important, office. This man, Barack Obama, can not claim to have ever led anyone, anything, at any level, and yet, will be sworn in today as Commander-In-Chief...president of the United States. No qualifications but his rhetoric and charm and the color of his skin gained him this position. He has never, not even once, accomplished anything by his own hands, except getting elected, and even that can be owed to his allegiences and accomplices. And many of these same accomplices carry a lot of quite scary baggage in my book.
This day, the inauguration will take place, and it looks like the media and pop culture view it as a coronation. A cult of personality. An orgy of celebrity. I, myself, will not indulge. The only thing "historic" about today's events is how despicably low we've allowed our society to sink. The media's embracing of one side, and hatred of the other, won this election. And you out there, WC, wherever you are today, are victorious. Affirmative Action has won its greatest prize. And so, I propose that it should immediately be shut down and abandoned. There are no longer any excuses for this ethnic minority, or any other, in the struggle for success in America.
Change? For its own sake? No thanks. Change to something better, if that were defined? I would have been all for it back in November, and I will jump in with both feet now, if and when I see it. Obama, you abolish Affirmative Action, and I'll start thinking that your notion of change might have some relevance. Appoint a socially and fiscally conservative supreme justice and I'll sing Kum Ba Ya with your minions. Hell, I'll go so far as to kiss Ashley Judd right square on the mouth if you'll reaffirm President Bush's label of "axis of evil" to Iran's Ahmenijahd. But, back to the point.
Today, for me, I'll use it to celebrate 7+ years of safety. I thank President Bush for that. He deserves the credit. I cast my vote for him (both times), hoping that he would have the fortitude to stand up to the terrorists. I had hoped that he would go back to Iraq, and finish the job. I didn't care then what excuse there was. WMD's? Who cares. I certainly didn't. I would've gone to war against Hussein, if I'd have had to go alone. Me, myself, alone. I was prepared to go fight under my President and flag. And I applaud your bravery, President W, for standing up to the liberal Washington peace-mongers and the ineffective UN. Perhaps I'd like for him to be able to say, "NU-clee-uhr" but I'll trade polished public speaking for honest effective leadership, every time! I give President Bush a B+.
Not to offend, please! I do not wish to diminish this day for black people. You should be happy, and I should be happy for you. I wish you had a better representative to be happy about. I, personally, would have voted for Herman Cain over every single one of the Republican candidates, including Senator McCain (although I had long fantasized about seeing Jane Fonda publicly tortured for her traitorism in Vietnam, and thought maybe Johnny was the man for that job). But that's another blog, for another day, and I have actual work to do.
Wherever you are, WC, you can go to hell for wishing this on my country.