Affirmative action

Just & unjust at the same time

President Bill Clinton’s initiative on race is already running into the classic problem of American ventures in brotherhood and sisterhood: We can be nice or we can be honest, but we rarely manage both.

This is not a cynical statement. Nice means we try to get along, respect each other, and not pick fights. Honest means we’re upfront about our differences, not only between blacks and whites, but also among blacks, whites, Asians,...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...


About the Author

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist, professor of government at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury Press).