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Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court Made the Right Call

The Supreme Court was right to uphold Michigan’s affirmative action ban, but this doesn’t mean we can ignore the lingering effects of years of entrenched racism.

Published on: April 23, 2014
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  • Marcio Ronci

    There is no greater injustice and discrimination than unmitigated poverty. Policies addressing directly
    poverty, including K-12 education and health, would do much more good than setting up quotas based on race criteria to select candidates to College. Besides, as marriage across race lines and interracial offspring becomes more common, anyone could claim to have ancestors from minority groups (and prove it by genetic testing). Actually, this has already happened in Brazil, when the country’s lawmakers unwittingly approved the same race based quota system for selecting candidates to federal universities as in the U.S., instead of reforming Brazil’s deplorable K-12 education system.

    • Andrew Allison

      I submit that there is a greater injustice than unmitigated poverty, namely lack of good primary and secondary education. The latter condemns children to the same lack of opportunity as their parents, whether by not graduating from high school qualified for post-secondary education, or by being admitted on the basis of racial quotas and failing, thereby not merely wasting the cost of their education but starting them off in adult life as failures rather than successes.

    • Corlyss

      “Policies addressing directly poverty, including K-12 education and health, would do much more good . . . ”
      After 60 years of same, with the result we have now, what makes you think more of that will work any better than the last 60 years? As Murray says, we are unwilling to do that which we know will work (i.e., stress marriage and raising children in two parent families while stressing the much reviled middle class virtues), and what we are willing to do (throw money at the problems while pretending that unmarried parenthood among functional illiterates is “a lifestyle choice” with which the government has no right to interfere). It’s really ironic how much the government is willing to interfere with and harass parents in raising their children, while never doing anything much that will change the cycle of poverty and indeed in many instances the policies actually reward what is destroying society.

      • Marcio Ronci

        Let me clarify. I definitely
        agree with you that we do not more government intervention. Actually, we should
        cut back some programs and rationalize other programs as K-12 education. For
        example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, we have public high schools in well-off
        neighborhoods getting a bigger share of the budget for education than others
        leading to a lot of unproductive expenditure such as an excessive number of administrative
        staff. Some public high schools have become more like expensive private prep
        schools, while technical schools and vocational training are relegated to a
        second class status. The budget resources should be distributed evenly
        according to the number of students.

        • Corlyss

          “Some public high schools have become more like expensive private prep schools . . . ”

          They aren’t “more like.” They are exactly that. They probably have a 99% college graduation rate among their alums. And they will stay that way too. Montgomery is the wealthiest county in Md. It didn’t happen that way by coincidence. The people who live there have political clout and know how to use it. Nothing is going to change about that.

          “The budget resources should be distributed evenly
          according to the number of students.”

          Having lived in the region for almost a half century, I’m amused by your naiveté, or at least your earnest hopefulness that Montgomery County residents would ever in any conceivable universe abandon its privileged share of the Md school budget in favor of the likes of Baltimore Co. or Prince Georges Co. schools.

  • Pete

    Why, shut ma mouth!

    Prof. Mead might just be growing out of his Southern white-guilt complex and is actually coming out against the reverse discrimination policies of affirmative action.

  • Anthony

    WRM, “the only way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” (Chief Justice John Roberts) – a lot of unfinished business.

  • TheCynical1

    Professor Mead’s observation, “dealing with historical injustice is a hugely difficult task and there
    is little sign that today’s bureaucratic diversity industry is up to the job — or really even very interested in the job,” reminds me of a nice quote:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
    — Upton Sinclair (who was, by the way, a progressive)

    This also reminds me of my first sour brush with affirmative action, back in the 1980s, when I was a Berkeley senior, I was still quite liberal, and affirmative action was quite fashionable. One day, the campus was visited by admissions officers from law schools around the country, who came to answer questions. I introduced myself to the person from Boalt (the law school at Berkeley), a Chinese-American man. I made some comment that assumed I would receive affirmative action consideration there, but he then interjected, “Japanese-Americans aren’t a minority group that qualifies for our affirmative action program.” Stunned, I asked if all other Asian-Americans were eligible for affirmative action — and he replied that they were. Without explaining further, he then glared at me, as if to dare me to further question the obvious wisdom of these purportedly progressive policies. I just walked away.

    To this day, I still find it inexplicable why Japanese-Americans were singled out for categorical exclusion from affirmative action, at least at that place and time, as opposed to all Asian-Americans. I started to dimly perceive an ivory-tower mindset of grandiose social engineering that could not resist splitting hairs — and messing with people’s lives — to an obsessive-compulsive degree. Because of this and other disillusioning experiences with liberal dreams and schemes, I lost my faith in liberalism over the years.

    • TheCynical1

      One more observation, as long as we’re talking about diversity and the Supreme Court: I think too many people are still unaware that once Justice Kagan was appointed to fill Justice Stevens’ vacancy in 2010, the Court, for the first time, no longer had even one WASP among its members. Thus, this Court, though perceived as conservative-leaning, happens to be the most diverse in history.

  • Anthony

    “Setting up quotas and preferences in a dysfunctional system is not way to make progress in the United States.” WRM, here is timely response to above quote: “at a time when economic and racial stratification is growing, privileging the consideration of one over the other is a naive cop-out.” Author is intimating use of alternative form of AA – http://www.theguardian.com/julianne hing

  • Jim__L

    “Historical justice is in any case an impossible thing to define—much less to administer.”

    This brings to mind Hayek’s observation that Government interference cannot create, it can only play favorites… which is not justice.

  • William Ockham

    “A young women of Korean ancestry…is likely to have to do much better than her African American or Latino peers…to get a spot in the University of California.” You are too reserved in your comments. She will also have to do substantially better than her Caucasian peers.

  • tomdperk

    “A decent and serious society will not make educational or other
    important policy decisions without taking this history and this heritage
    into account.”

    And in a few decades, when no such history has any living victims, all AA must perforce have gone away.

  • J-P51

    It will be interesting to see the attitudes of the supporters of the elimination of affirmative action if colleges and universities actually eliminate ALL preferences including legacy, athletic, geographic, etc., and admit purely on academic merit. If that happens and the current trend continues, the majority of students will be women and Asians (including Asian Indians) – think “Tiger Moms” – and the number of white males admitted will shrink. Several years ago while taking my son to visit Princeton, the majority of students at the Admissions Office session were female and Asian and Indian, and there is no doubt in my mind that those students and their parents were highly motivated to succeed. Perhaps white males will be calling for affirmative action at that point

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