The Virtue of Discrimination Essay

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The Virtue of Discrimination

Discrimination is a word that has taken on a negative connotation in today's society. Since the beginning of the equal rights movement, the perceived meaning of the word discrimination has shifted from that of a useful virtue to one of an insulting, derogatory word. Robert Keith Miller wrote an essay for Newsweek in the summer of 1980 that focuses on the discrepancies in the use of the word discrimination. “Discrimination Is a Virtue” points out the differences in the dictionary’s definition of the word discrimination and the perceived societal definition of the word. Miller explains the confusion of the word discrimination with the words discriminate against and worries that discrimination may be
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He seeks to eliminate the negative association with the word discrimination and writes the article in an attempt to illustrate the need for discrimination in society. Miller presents discrimination as “a virtue which we desperately need”(87). He uses the issue of “mainstreaming” in the school system to illustrate its’ lack of discrimination and similarly, our mental health systems perceived rush to return its’ patients to the “real world”(86). Miller also points out the irony of our societies ability to use good discrimination in our day to day lives but not as a group when making important governmental policies(86). These examples are used to illustrate the benefit of discrimination in our schools, mental health system and governmental policy making. He ultimately seeks to keep his readers open-minded, “but not so open-minded that our brains fall out” (87).

“Discrimination Is a Virtue” uses a compare and contrast structured argument to illustrate the virtues of discrimination. Miller begins this argument by first defining discrimination as “the ability to tell differences” (86). He also uses the Oxford English Dictionary to define it as “discernment; the ability to perceive the truth, use good judgment and to profit accordingly” (86). This same Dictionary “traces this understanding of the word back to 1648 and demonstrates that for the next 300
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