Saturday, May 9, 2009

Equality Before the Law

In the book The Biblical View of Man it discusses justice. In this section it mentions an idea that one would think should be obvious. However, in this day and age it seems like this simple idea does not get proper attention. It says,

"Equality before the law is also proclaimed in order to protect the rich from the results of the poor winning unjustified sympathy. Thus, parallel to 'you shall not subvert the rights of the needy in their disputes' (Exodus 23:6) there is also the commandment 'nor shall you show deference to a poor man in his dispute' (Leviticus 19:15)."

This seems to be something that escapes people nowadays. People are always ready to demonize the person with the upper hand. Don't get me wrong, I believe that the poor man's rights should be protected, like mentioned in Exodus. However, it seems like for some reason that people are considered undeserving unless they are the underdog. This article can illustrate my point:

"Conversation at a South Side fire station heated up when the topic turned to affirmative action. 'White firemen are mad because blacks get extra points added to their tests,' declared a white lieutenant perched on the bumper of a fire truck. If it were not for department policies that favor minorities, he said, he would have had his silver lieutenant's bars sooner.

The white officer did not get any sympathy from his black coworkers. 'These white folks are mad because they won't have as many jobs,' said the station's captain, who is black. 'What about all those years they were leaving us out, when the promotions were 100 percent white? Whites thought everything was fine and never said a word.'

True, there were horrible conditions back in the day where blacks were discriminated against, but did these white officers discriminate against those blacks? No, it was the whites of several years ago. However, this station captain thinks it is fine to "payback" the whites. That seems like revenge and not equality. Is that the American way? Is that justice?

Another situation happened recently at another fire station. The article can be found here: "WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over whether a Connecticut city's decision to scrap a promotion exam for firefighters because too few minorities passed violates the civil rights of top-scoring white applicants.

As is often the case with closely fought social issues at the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to hold the key to the outcome. He seemed concerned that New Haven, Conn., scuttled the test after it learned that no African Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be promoted based on the results."

These issues reveal a very telling problem in our society, discriminating against the majority in order to give an advantage to the minority. How is that fair? Shouldn't everyone be equal? Just because there has been discrimination against minorities in the past, does that mean that the majority should be discriminated against in the future? Is that how to fix the problem? Or maybe the real answer is to make everyone equal, that way there is no discrimination. This is what the Torah is telling us. That real justice discriminates against no one and treats all equally.

1 comment:

FrumJewInYU said...

And add to that the fact that, theoretically at least, the test is to determine who would do a better job when promoted. So, if the test is accurate, that means that some would choose getting revenge on white people for past oppression over having the most effective firefighters. Revenge over public safety - affirmative action at work.