The Need for a Pariah Exposed in Those Who Walk Away From Omelas

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The Need for a Pariah Exposed in Those Who Walk Away From Omelas

Affirmative action is perhaps the political hot potato of the decade. Its divisiveness has escalated racial tensions all across the nation, in forums political and academic. It also creates problems on a daily basis for millions of Americans in the workforce, education, housing, and so forth. Affirmative action, by its very definition, uses discrimination to attempt to create equality. Its ultimate goal is to make everyone equal to everyone else- intellectually, ability-wise, and (dare I say?) socially. What the proponents of this racial and gender communism do not realize is that society can only function in the absence of complete equality. Society is always in need of someone - be it a nationality, religion, or gender - to look down on. This point is most clearly made in the short story Those Who Walk Away From Omelas, a 1973 work by Ursula K. Leguin. The central message of Omelas is that society needs a pariah- someone to look down on in order to maintain its own happiness.

Omelas begins amidst a festival in the seemingly utopian city of Omelas. People are in a holiday spirit on this day, as they are every other day in Omelas. Mirth and good cheer seems to be the moods of all of the citizens. Though blissful, these people are by no means ignorant: They were not simple folks, you see, though they were happy...They were not less complex than us. The seemingly perfect city offers something to please every taste: festivals, good-natured orgies, drugs that aren’t habit-forming, beer, and so on. The citizens of Omelas have a complete love of life. There is no war, no hunger, no strife; in short, Omelas seems like the pinnacle of perfection.


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...t this system is branded a racist or narrow-minded. Hence, those who would oppose affirmative action are becoming the objects of scorn and derision; this coupled with the fact that they are discriminated against by affirmative action policies means that they have become the pariahs! Leguin’ss story is now an allegory for them- they are now they small child, trapped and abused in the closet. So, in its attempt to eliminate discrimination and the oppressed society, affirmative action has created one instead! Few who support affirmative action because they loathe bigotry realize that by doing so they are themselves bigots. Leguin’s powerful statement that the pariah culture is omnipresent rings true when one considers that the pariah culture is merely perpetuated by the attempt to eradicate it.

Works Cited:

Ursula K. Le Guin, 'Those Who Walk Away from Omelas'

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