When does a Group Deserve Help?

When a community gets frustrating, it can be tempting to debate its merit for deserving help, or skip the debates and neglect it out of spite. Such is currently most evident for the community of self-proclaimed racists, whom no larger group will seem to adopt. Debating the worth of its ideology is one thing; deciding what to do with its people is another, more objective matter. When we can get past whatever it is the self-proclaimed racists truly have–an intrinsic desire for the annihilation of all races but Caucasians, or a poorly expressed defensive against what they see as a neglectful America–there can only come empathy.

There are three main reasons for eventually reconciling with this group, or any poorly performing minority group. The first is despite however much a community is hated, it cannot be completely removed, at least humanely, either through genocide, or mass deportation or unprovoked incarceration. And, as much as it might tempt people to evoke their childhoods and pay the group the silent treatment, ignorance does not solve problems.

The second is a loss of potential productivity if the group is neglected. Despite how unproductive or harmful a group is, there is potential to derive more productivity from it. That is, it can do better, but with neglect, it may only do the same or worse. Investing with both physical and mental resources gives a group more opportunity to add a net benefit for the economy and general welfare of people. Happy people make people happy. It is also learned through history, specifically Germany after WWI, that through neglect can come rebellion. It seems this is why our Neo Nazis have risen (somewhat) in the first place. They were feeling ignored, abused, and seem to come largely from backgrounds of poverty.

Lastly within my system of ethics regarding group reconciliation is the fact of a group’s sheer humanity, its members’ qualities of being human. Although this is preference, it is worth strong consideration. Any people of a group, even one as vile as the Neo Nazis, are not anything less than human. If your ethics revolve around some intrinsic goodness in humankind, as most systems of ethics do, you should try to do good for humans when possible. The caveat comes within a utilitarian consideration: humanity may be favored, from a large scale, by neglecting or mistreating a people, if by doing so, more happiness, or more lives, are gained.

Reviewing these options with the Neo Nazis, for a more practical understanding, a rough outline can be produced: While we would choose not to perpetuate the bigotry we see in their speech, we cannot kill, or forcibly remove them from society. If they must remain, we may as well make the most of their productivity by investing in them, with capital, but at least with empathy; we should also refuse them reason to grow into something more sinister. And in the end, they are not all too different from us as we may think. Rather than being subhuman, it is likely they share qualities many humans do, such as self-preservation and some intrinsic motive to do good. To note, these are reasons to be had after we can get Nazis to stop Nazi-ing. Until then, protest is apt.

These options can be applied to any poorly performing community, disadvantaged or not. In the end, it makes sense not to judge a group’s merit for deserving help, but to judge the future outcomes for helping or not helping a group.