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Affirmative Action and Collective Responsibility

Affirmative Action and Collective Responsibility

It is not surprising that affirmative action is under attack: along with welfare, it benefits a section of society with very little political clout. It is a convenient place for the displaced anger of working-class white men who have seen their real wages decrease for the past thirty years. It stirs up feelings of racism that politicians are quick to publicly denounce but even quicker to exploit. There is, however, very little serious discussion about affirmative action underway; more often it is supplanted by buzzwords such as “quotas,” “set-asides,” and “reverse discrimination.” A serious discussion of affirmative action must begin by addressing the question of collective responsibility.

Affirmative action opponents firmly reject the notion of collective responsibility, claiming that it is unfair to punish those alive today for crimes committed by their parents. One letter to the editor received by The Progressive Review reads: “I never owned slaves, and have never discriminated against anyone. Why should I have to pay for someone else’s sins? Slavery ended over a hundred years before I was born, and over seventy years before the first of my ancestors arrived in the United States.” Unfortunately, responsibility for the effects of slavery and discrimination cannot be so easily shirked. Even if our direct ancestors did not participate in the slave trade, we are nevertheless members of a society that did; part of the “individual responsibility” so fervently worshipped by neo-conservatives must include taking responsibility for things done by our society. When a person becomes an American, he or she must accept not only the glory and honor of our history, but also the sh…

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… condemned to exist as a perpetual underclass, trapped in poverty by the racism to which their poverty gives rise. Racism will not eradicate itself; in a society ruled by the almighty dollar, one cannot separate legal equality from economic equality. That is the most fundamental flaw of conservative opposition to affirmative action: the belief that those who live under bridges have the same rights as those who do not. Unless we make an active attempt to undo the effects of three hundred years of oppression, there will never be a color-blind society. The complaints of a few white men who miss their traditional ascendancy seem insignificant in comparison to the alternative: an unbroken cycle of misery for everyone else.

True peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”

Hamlet As A Revenge Tragedy In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

A revenge tragedy is a style of drama, popular in England during the late 16th and 17th centuries, in which the basic plot was a quest for vengeance and which typically featured scenes of carnage and mutilation. The first, and perhaps most popular of the revenge tragedies, is Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which two characters, Hamlet and Claudius, take revenge on each other, each having different motivations to do so. Hamlet defined the outline that every proceeding revenge tragedy would follow which included the development of major characters as avengers and the avenged, the structure of the play, and the question of morality in every aspect of the play create a thrilling story for the audience which ends with the demise of all the characters.…show more content…
The exposition usually has a ghost who provides a motivation for revenge to the main character. Obviously, in Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and prompts him to avenge his murder. The anticipation comes when Hamlet decides to have a play performed which reenacts his father’s death so he can watch Claudius’ reaction and “…catch the conscience of the king,” (II, II, 634). The dramatic irony involved with “a play within a play” is a common aspect of revenge, and even though the audience knows the truth behind the death of the king, they anticipate how Hamlet will act to Claudius’ reaction. The confrontation comes when Hamlet sees Claudius praying and decides to spare him at that time. This action also delays the progression of the play, as it allows for a second confrontation between Hamlet and…show more content…
Modern audiences see revenge as ill because it takes the law into inappropriate hands, but the idea of “an eye for an eye” in the Elizabethan time periods caused audiences to view the play in an honorable way. The plays also took place in foreign countries where audiences believed these barbaric methods of getting revenge were more likely and far enough away from their home country to ensure safety. Hamlet takes place in Denmark, so English audiences feel they are a safe distance away from where the tragic events are occurring to know that they do not affect them. Clearly, this distance justified the revenge to the Elizabethan audiences, however, modern audiences would find the actions of the avengers in Hamlet to go against law and

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