Thursday, January 31, 2002
1. They feel guilty. They look and see that there are few people of a certain group in their housing development, and decide that there must be something wrong. To fix this, they either invite members of the missing populace into their social group or go slumming. In the former, they're almost practicing colonialism. They believe that they have the White Man's Burden of bringing culture and riches to the downtrodden and making everyone into one nice, happily equal family. This sounds pretty good, and indeed it would be if it were done the right way. However, too often they tell people that they deserve to be the same, and that if they're not, someone's oppressing them. If you take a group that hasn't had the benefit of a good education, tell them falsehoods, and begin giving them things, they may actually believe you. By doing this, the do-gooders are essentially addicting them to their "generosity" and treating them like dogs by not giving them a true stake in their future. They take away their self-respect and potential by offering the carrot of moderate wealth. If you're a single mother working two jobs so you can feed your children, you're going to jump at the chance to have some security, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, if you make the option to give up your liberty actually attractive instead of something to only do as a last resort, it causes a permanent stagnance in thought among those very people you tried to help. Slumming isn't quite as bad, since the condescending attitudes are easily seen, and those possessing them are soon separated from their money by guile or force, and smarter adolescents may actually learn that they're not helping anyone.
2. They feel noble. They look at themselves, and realize that unlike 99.9% of the world, they've been given access to the best education, the best health care, and the most opportunity. Knowing how much they've been given, they (reasonably) decide that they should try and give others a hand up. Sometimes this is very productive, as with charities like the Salvation Army and many scholarship programs. Unfortunately, many of these children have been taught by former Hippies, and thus try to convince the people of Kenya not to eat meat because animals have rights, instead of seeing that the Kenyans are far more concerned with actually getting something to eat in the first place. This is usually good for a laugh, but can turn insidious and lead to groups claiming to work for "the people" while being very out of touch with the man struggling to feed his family and send his kids to school.
3. They are cunning. Nothing makes you popular like appearing to care for others. By constantly telling people how much you care about the disadvantaged and making demands (however unreasonable) ostensibly on their behalf, you can usually seize the moral high ground. This is what Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson did/do, and it worked very well for them. You can get rich without actually doing work this way, and earn yourself a place in history if you're good enough at it.
4. They are stupid and/or ignorant. I'm from Fairfax County, ranked the second-best school system in the US. However, many of my English and History teachers were ignorant themselves. With poor teachers, you get poor students. To get good grades in English and History classes, the best bet is usually to take extensive notes on what the teacher says and then to regurgitate it right back at them, perhaps adding a personal anecdote to prove that you're an original thinker. You don't have to be all that bright to do this. Having secured the best GPA, you can go to the best colleges, and get good jobs. If you feel noble like in my second theory, you can become a teacher in Fairfax County and have a starting salary of $40,000. From there, you can raise a new generation of sycophants and keep the cycle going.
Of course, I could just be wrong.