Justice for minorities

Suppose Donald Trump were handicapped (physically) would life become easier for all the handicapped people in the United States?

This question is in reaction to an opinion piece in the Guardian defending the leaders of the British Labour Party’s youth movement for organizing a conference from which straight, white, and able-bodied men were barred because “Luckily for them, they are not oppressed in politics.” As an older, white, straight and formerly able-bodied male this blogger feels uncomfortable with this article not because I am not eligible to attend but because I think it is a misguided way to solve problems.

I have three concerns.man-in-wheelchair-800px

The first is a fundamental problem with a parliamentary system, that of asking one person to represent a group. Most electoral areas have within them a range of interests and opinions. The person who gets elected may represent some of them but maybe not even everyone who voted for him or her. Some representatives use their position to support the interests of just a few friends. Most of us wear several different hats and it is expecting lot to expect an elected representative to wear all the hats worn by his/her  constituents.

A second concern is that I like to make distinction between speaking for and speaking about a group. This came up in Canada recently when it was found that a writer who had written novels about native people had a minimum if any of native blood in his body. He was being asked by media to speak for native people some of whom objected to this. This blogger lived on an Indian reserve for four years and knows the truth is that nobody can speak for all natives because they are a diverse group of people with vastly different life experiences. However some people, myself included, can speak about natives and some of us may see things differently from how they see themselves. When these young people exclude some people from their conference they may be excluding some very caring and knowledgeable people. Some of the excluded people may be hurt by this policy. Two wrongs do not make a right.

My third concern is that we all have disabilities and there is lots of injustice in this world. Probably most of us experience some injustice during our lives. Who is to say one person’s disabilities or injustices are worse than another’s? We should be sympathetic to all disabilities and oppose all injustice. Is it legitimate to ask governments to correct all injustices? That is asking for a lot intrusion into our lives.

An article in a recent The Economist about women in the board rooms of European corporations says there is little evidence that wide-spread quotas for directors has either improved corporate performance or done anything for women at lower levels of the corporation. This is not promising for those who want minorities to be more represented in government.

It appears this conference was trying to address two issues by not allowing some people to attend. Politics is highly competitive and complex. One way to win any competition is to eliminate the opposition. The other issue is injustice which most of us have to deal with. That too is a complex issue . There may be more rewarding ways to deal with injustice than trying to win elections.

If Donald Trump lived in a wheelchair my guess is that he would still be Donald Trump and about half the people would still hate him.

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