When the man who unleashed Colin Powell to preach affirmative action to the traditionally opposed Republicans takes a stand ostensibly against race quotas, skepticism is in order.
The president’s filing of a legal brief challenging racial preferences in student admissions at the
Anyone who suggests the
The problems of affirmative action, as libertarians will point out, are the peculiar province of state-controlled schools. It goes without saying that in a free market for education, schools would be able to establish any admission criteria they like. If a school wants to give preference to African-American albinos, that’s the prerogative of private property. Predictably—although ironically—the ideology promoted in state-controlled schools is also responsible for producing a mentally monolithic population. This is to be expected when the State has the power to define and enforce politically correct diversity.
Small consolation: Any public institution practicing affirmative action does open itself up to 14th Amendment due process and equal protection claims.
Inequality under the law is of no particular consequence to Democrats. Their commitment to legally protect the febrile sensitivities of every self-styled victim group is unwavering. Why, diversity-quota devotees such as Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschele and Senator John Kerry even feign forgetfulness when it comes to the 1963 words of their hero, John F. Kennedy:
Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.
Close enough, considering the source of the quote, although at least one of the “simple” oversights Kennedy makes must be corrected: The nation’s personal income tax burden rests on roughly 32 million people, most of whom are white men. Affirmative action is a zero sum scheme, designed to disenfranchise the very people who foot the bill.
A closer look at the Bush brief, however, ought to quell denunciations from Democrats and minorities alike. Bush agrees that the American “Constitution makes it clear that people of all races must be treated equally under the law.” “Yet we know that our society has not fully achieved that ideal,” he equivocates. “Racial prejudice is a reality in
The prevalence of deep-seated racism the president infers from the fact that African-Americans lag behind whites in academic and socio-economic achievements. This, of course, is a post hoc error, one that most Americans reject, root and branch.
Upheld by Mr. Bush, this error is the central tenet of affirmative action. According to the president’s diversity doxology, justice is achieved when racial and ethnic groups are reflected in academia and in the professions in proportion to their presence in the larger population, an impossibility considering individual and age-long inter-group differences. Absent such representation, Mr. Bush concludes that racism reigns.
This non sequitur is even harder to sustain when considering the Asian minority, a minority that has had its own historical hardships. In professions and academic pursuits where mathematical precocity is a factor, Asians are overrepresented and consistently outperform whites. If underrepresentation signals injustice, then overrepresentation must, too, reflect an unfair advantage. Surely justice demands that overrepresentation of any group, not only of white males, be similarly corrected by the State? (How about making the NBA reflect
Malaysian governments certainly adopted this logic toward their Chinese population, whose starting status as indentured laborers didn’t stop them from rising to dominate business, professions and universities. To achieve “racial balance,” pro-Malaysian affirmative action laws were mandated in all government-controlled institutions.
Did not Hitler awaken to the same logic? In proportion to their numbers, Jews were also overrepresented in the economic and cultural life of
Bush refuses to second this; his brief shies away from addressing “the outer bounds of the Constitution,” but only the case in its narrowest sense. Since he accepts racial discrimination as a cause for African-Americans’ lag in achievement, the president intends to reject only the methods associated with this faulty formulation. Diversity directives are to go full throttle ahead so long as they are “racially-neutral.”
Mr. Bush’s “road map” includes encouraging schools to come up with racial cue cards such as “a statement people can make about whether they’ve overcome hardship.”
The Condi, (Andy) Card and Karl (Rove) Crack Team has achieved a triumph of triangulation. The Bush base, of which 92 percent is white, will swallow the bait, believing, as it did after the landmark 1978 case of Bakke, that quotas had been outlawed. Despite Bakke, universities continued to take race into account. Same in this case: With presidential imprimatur, the Michigan point system will be palliated somewhat, but business as usual will see public funds diverted to other, less conspicuous, race-friendly recruiting methods, much to the glee of the ‘civil rights’ industry. The appeasement of both sides, while further entrenching the politically correct and favored side, is an example of slimy Clintonian tactics.
It is debatable whether Bush should be intervening in the admission standards of one
©By ILANA MERCER
Ludwig von Mises Institute
January 24, 2003