Rethinking Discrimination

On Jan. 3, 2014 at 4:45pm a blog posted on announced that “Greta Van Susteren is one of few people who understands how to talk about racism.” Beneath that was the comment, “If national talks about racism could all be led by Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, we’d all probably be in a better place.”

I checked out the comments she made on “Off the Record.” To summarize, Greta says racism exists and it’s terrible. But using the race card wrongfully is just as bad. Public figures who stir up the pot are dividing the nation, not healing it. They’re doing a real disservice to those with valid grievances. She called for “Real Solutions to Solve Real Racism.”

The first comment on her remarks was posted by BMRCG, who wrote “Bravo Greta! Although it is your opinion and it is commentary, I agree 100000000% with every last word. There are many in society that perceive life through emotion and feeling, much in the same way animals perceive their world. They have either lost the ability to think critically or never had it to begin with.”

I second this enthusiastic comment! Since Affirmative Action was my obligatory subject as a grad student in the UW-Madison Department of Educational Administration, I had to think long and hard about discrimination. As part of my story, Rethinking Survival has a lot to say on the subject.

So here are a few samples:


Affirmative Action Was Doomed from the Start.

Why it Matters Now

The American Declaration of Independence names three kinds of law: the laws of man, of nature and nature’s God. The Book of Change is based on the laws of natural change. They emanate from and depend on divine law and serve as the rightful foundation of civil law. Clearly, human laws legislated in ignorance of or in opposition to natural and divine law are not likely to work out well. Policy makers at all levels would do well to give this point careful thought.

– P.E. West. The Common Sense Book of Change

In 1976, I participated in an educational law seminar, “How to Enforce Affirmative Action Legislation in Higher Education.” This assumption-driven premise (en-force) was backwards from the start. I applied the standard of natural law to social dynamics, backed it up with Jungian psychology, and arrived at the conclusion that the legislation was not only unenforceable. It would trigger backlash. Though hardly a popular viewpoint then, with twenty years time, my analysis proved correct.

 I wrote that we must first correct critical mistakes in our thinking which prevent both naming the problems we face and solving them. Experts mistakenly dismiss everything that’s not exclusively “rational” as “irrational.” The super-rational, highest octave (intuition, conscience, and divine guidance) and the sub-rational, lower octave (emotions and animal instincts) are lumped together as the “unconscious.” Poetic, biblical language is taken literally. Light and dark, male and female are mistakenly equated with physical bodies and skin types rather than dualistic pairs of cosmic energetic compliments which operate within each of us.

Based on this analysis, I made recommendations for what I called a Positive Action alternative for achieving valid Affirmative Action goals.


 Affirmative Action legislation was but one example of the disconnect between policy and practice which results when levels of law are out of synch. So long as rules of the knowledge game (epistemology — who has permission to know what, and in what ways) continue to close people off from the richness of their inner lives, negative discrimination (projection and scapegoating) will also continue.


A keystone of this philosophy is the virtue of moderation. It acts as a fulcrum, balancing the alternating, see-saw ups and downs between opposite extremes. An example related to Affirmative Action legislation was the upsurge in the 1960s and 70s of radical feminism and angry black power in reaction to dominant oppression by white males. They are two extremes, opposite and equal mistakes. However, two wrongs don’t make a right. The second compounds the first, making a bad situation even worse. Solutions rest elsewhere. An easier way to approach the same understanding now would be to work with the derivative Positive Paradigm Wheel described in Part Two.


 In accepting an internship in 1976 at the Wisconsin Association of School Boards as their Affirmative Action advisor, I was intentionally seeking to broaden my horizons in what Goleman describes as “self-directed learning.” I was taking on an unfamiliar role within what, for me, was a whole new world. I was a relatively young, inexperienced woman being initiated into an old boys’ club. I was a university grad student mentoring with street-smart lobbyists who despised pointy-headed intellectuals. And the approach to “change” I brought to both the UW and to WASB — The Book of Change (the boundary-spanner’s handbook) — was continents and centuries apart from their ideas about change.

WASB’s Director, George Tipler, hated Affirmative Action legislation with a passion. As his staff secretly confirmed, the only reason I’d been brought on board was to get federal monies. The Association had been awarded a grant to train school board members on the school administrator hiring process, but only on the condition that an Affirmative Action component was included.

Nevertheless, when I pushed his buttons (as he said,“Put up or shut up”), George gave me his grudging respect. He introduced me to his lobbyist world, taking me to the Wisconsin State Capitol. He included me in lunch meetings with legislators, where he elaborated emphatically on his opinions.

But he also distanced himself, signaling to his constituents that it was okay to ignore my work. I organized a mandated state-wide seminar on Affirmative Action for school board members and district administrators. He set its date as the first day of deer hunting season. Morbid symbolism aside, no self-respecting rural school board member could be expected to attend.

To satisfy mandated requirements, I collected an anthology of papers written by seminar presenters. He had each article printed on different, pastel-colored paper. His staff snickered, “the fruit salad” manual.

However, there was some fun along the way as I managed to score enough “points” to keep the leader board even. My favorite example was the state-wide seminar on “How to Select Your School District Superintendent.”

For the sake of a five-minute presentation, I had to sit all day up front on the panel podium. Wearing my navy polyester pants suit, power red-white-and-blue neck scarf, and navy pumps, I was posed like politically correct window-dressing, while Lyle Bruss, the main presenter from Green Bay, droned on about selecting and interviewing candidates. His assumption: all were males.

Every time Lyle used the “he” word, I (quite inadvertently) winced. “Yeuch.” An audience member picked up on this, winked at me and elbowed his neighbor. Pretty soon, every time Lyle used the “he” word, the whole audience was going “Yeuch” back at him, chortling. It took Lyle several minutes to catch on. When he finally did, he turned beet red and made a flustered remark about having four daughters, all of whom were referred to as “he.” Point made, without my having to say a word.


In his later bid for the presidency, Perot focused on the national deficit. He overlooked the greatest one of all: the leadership deficit. He propounded laudable policies, but was unable to enforce them, even within his own organization.

Just as policy was not enough to make Affirmative Action goals a reality, so policies out of synch with natural law fail miserably in corporations as well. The deficit which begins with limiting, skewed education incapacitates management. This reflects in government and world economies alike — a disaster of Titanic proportions.

The knowledge deficit — the change science sadly lacking in leadership training — cripples us. Politicians continue to talk about the urgent need for change. But they know not whereof they speak, any more than did the pseudo-Shogun honchos at E.D.S. Federal.


 . . . tacking Affirmative Action legislation as an overlay on the surface level, while failing to address a deeper, divisive worldview, couldn’t help, and most likely would make matters worse. (Figure II.14 shows why enforcing morality with Affirmative Action legislation backfires, as well as the alternative Positive Action approach which works.)


Bottom line: exploitation is an energy dynamic, a symptom of self-destructive imbalance. To the extent that individuals operate on incomplete, inaccurate and false paradigms, they remain insecure, unconscious and functionally disconnected from their higher potentials. Out of that pain and suffering, like Kissinger, like Soros in the extreme, they will continue to feel justified in dominating, controlling and exploiting whomever they can, however they can — playing out power addictions with hypocritical talk of philanthropy.

Affirmative Action legislation has not changed these dynamics — nor, as discussed earlier, could it. Looking in the wrong places doesn’t help. Blaming outside enemies as an excuse to avoid self-examination and correction is a futile waste of precious time and energy. Although venting frustration in politically motivated social movements — even terrorism and outright war — may temporarily feel good, it doesn’t address the underlying paradigm deficiency that drives hatred, violence and injustice. It therefore can’t put an end to catastrophic outcomes.