Back by popular demand: Thomas Sowell on the quest for cosmic justice. An excerpt:
Let me try to illustrate some of the problems with this approach by a mundane personal example. Whenever I hear discussions of fairness in education, my automatic response is: “Thank God my teachers were unfair to me when I was a kid growing up in Harlem.” One of these teachers was a lady named Miss Simon, who was from what might be called the General Patton school of education. Every word that we misspelled in class had to be written 50 times– not in class, but in our homework that was due the next morning, on top of all the other homework that she and other teachers loaded onto us. Misspell four or five words and you had quite an evening ahead of you.
Was this fair? Of course not. Like many of the children in Harlem at that time, I came from a family where no one had been educated beyond elementary school. We could not afford to buy books and magazines, like children in more affluent neighborhood schools, so we were far less likely to be familiar with these words that we were required to write 50 times.
But fairness in this cosmic sense was never an option. As noted at the outset, the impossible is not going to be achieved. Nothing that the schools could do would make things fair in this sense. It would have been an irresponsible self-indulgence for them to have pretended to make things fair. Far worse than unfairness is make-believe fairness. Instead, they forced us to meet standards that were harder for us to meet– but far more necessary for us to meet, as these were the main avenues for our escape from poverty.