Affirmative Action Will Keep Minorities Down


The recent Supreme Court decision to, in essence, uphold quotas is a step backward for the nation. Twenty five years after his Bakke opinion in 1978, in which Justice Powell concluded that "the educational benefits that flow from an ethnically diverse student body” is a compelling state interest that justified racial preferences, the nation has been awash in divisive racial shenanigans that have done nothing to further under represented minorities integration into the mainstream. With Sandra Day O'Connor's decision in favor of the University of Michigan's race based admissions, we can look forward to another generation of contentious racial policy.

There were two cases decided. One was Grutter, involving the law school, the other, Gratz, involving the college. In Grutter, in a 5-4 split, the Supreme Court determined that although strict quotas were unconstitutional, the use of race as a factor in admissions policy was permissible thereby upholding racial discrimination. In the lesser Gratz decision, the court struck down the point system used in undergraduate admissions that assigned more importance to being black than having a perfect SAT score. The Supreme Court's split double header will serve only to, as Justice Scalia wrote, "...prolong the controversy and the litigation.” Race and the specious notion of "diversity” are now braced with constitutionality. The fourteenth amendment, guaranteeing "equal protection before the law,” and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits all official race discrimination, have once again been cleverly ignored.

"...Attaining a diverse student body,” wrote Justice O'Connor, "is at the heart of the law school's proper institutional mission.” What about teaching law? Diversity, now the operative faith of the liberal class, is filled with good intentions and fuzzy notions about its purported benefits such as improving "cross-racial understanding.” The reality is that it achieves exactly the opposite. As black author, Shelby Steele, has written, while the alleged benefits of Affirmative Action are unproven, the unintended and undesirable consequences of it are all too apparent. These include: "...racial divisiveness …stigmatization of blacks as inferior... damage to the principle of excellence... and its utter failure to close the academic gap between blacks and whites...” Furthermore the country is strongly opposed to it by overwhelming majorities of blacks and whites.

Affirmative Action is actually a way of avoiding the real causes behind the racial gap that results when academic standards are applied equally. By dodging the embarrassing spectacle of virtually non-existent black enrollment at America's elite schools, the liberal class can hide it behind a veneer of gerryrigged racially balanced classrooms. While the roots of the problem can be debated, the black-white divide has much less to do with discrimination than with other unpleasant details the elites would prefer to ignore. These include the 70% illegitimacy rate of black children; the excessively high rates of violent crime, drug use, and alcoholism in the black community; the lack of suitable role models and negative cultural attitudes towards education. And then there is the "...soft bigotry of low expectations...” as President Bush aptly put it.

It is also deceptive to imply, as Justice O'Connor did, that an elite school can reach its "critical mass” of 5-10% of black students by treating race as only one of many "plus” factors. If standards were applied equally to all, black registration at our top schools would approach zero. It is a "sham” as Chief Justice Rehnquist called it, to suggest anything other than that race would have to be a dominant factor to achieve such levels.

The Affirmative Action crusade, with the Supreme Court now firmly in its corner, will perpetuate racial division rather than heal it. It will "balkanize” the nation into competing groups some of which will have little interest in assimilation given the advantages of group identification. It will unfairly discriminate against innocent whites and Asians and reward those who are not victims. It will flout bedrock principles upon which the nation is based, including individual rights (as opposed to group rights) and equal protection. It will continue to engender a virulent anti-American multiculturalism in our Universities. It will stigmatize and insult blacks, based, as it is, on the assumption that they are inferior and cannot meet the demands required of others. It will push blacks further into a destructive "victim” ideology. It will also fail to address the core reasons for black educational failure which are chiefly cultural and self-inflicted. Clarence Thomas, the sole black Justice of the Supreme Court, said it best in a dissenting opinion in which he quoted Frederick Douglas: "...What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simple justice...” If the goal of the country was to create a color blind society, Justice O'Connor and the Supreme Court have set that cause back another generation.


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