Affirmative action

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brettz9
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Affirmative action

Postby brettz9 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:06 pm

I'll venture to say that the following quote is fairly well known to Baha'is:

"… If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community…."

(Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1793)


This establishes that at least in the case of an equal number of ballots or qualifications for office, the minority race/faith/nationality should be unhesitatingly accorded priority.

While the above does not at all preclude support for affirmative action beyond tie votes (e.g., quotas) nor even more controversial possibilities like reparations, and Baha'is are not to get involved in political discussions and advocate for or against specific policies, I recently discovered the following quotation which I think at least may temper the views of some, in that it does seem to suggest that there are at least certain limits on how far affirmative action should go:

"Regarding the position of the Bahá'í women in India and Burma, and their future collaboration with the men in the administrative work of the Cause, I feel that the time is now ripe that those women who have already conformed to the prevailing custom in India and Burma by discarding the veil should not only be given the right to vote for the election of their local and national representatives, but should themselves be eligible to the membership of all Bahá'í Assemblies throughout India and Burma, be they local or national.

"This definite and most important step, however, should be taken with the greatest care and caution, prudence and thoughtfulness. Due regard must be paid to their actual capacity and present attainments, and only those who are best qualified for membership, be they men or women, and irrespective of social standing, should be elected to the extremely responsible position of a member of the Bahá'í Assembly."

(Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 3, emphasis added)


Also note that even the first quote is not quite as stark as some might get from a superficial reading, e.g., the clause "If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated" is not very strong in endorsing reverse "discrimination", even if the sentence does go on to make restricted provisions for it and even if the duty to "nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority" need not be confined to preferences in the case of tie votes.

Thoughts?

Best wishes,
Brett

brettz9
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Re: Affirmative action

Postby brettz9 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:15 pm

There is also this quote which, while allowing for consideration of "diversity" (as well as age distribution and gender), qualifies it by saying it should be "among the pool of those whom the elector believes to be qualified to serve":

"From among the pool of those whom the elector believes to be qualified to serve, selection should be made with due consideration given to such other factors as age distribution, diversity, and gender."

(Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj_bahai_electoral_process )

brettz9
Posts: 1367
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
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Re: Affirmative action

Postby brettz9 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:25 pm

Also, I've started a wiki page on this topic at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Affirmative_action


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