|(32) Affirmative Action Out of Control
By George F. Will 3/1/01
|Affirmative Action Out
of Control (3/1/01)
Excerpted from George F. Will
"Advocates of affirmative action in higher education scored two [partially] debilitating triumphs in December when courts upheld the legality of racial preferences in admissions as administered at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan. A few more such victories and affirmative action will be completely incoherent. [See Especially: U Michigan Suit]
"Affirmative action originally concerned employment, not college admissions. It was a remedial -- and hence presumably temporary -- measure of restitution for injustice done to blacks by history. But both December cases turned on a different rationale -- "diversity," a benefit for campus culture.
"...Without serious national debate or congressional guidance, affirmative action has been broadened to include various other government-favored minorities, and increasingly it benefits immigrants and their children -- people who came to the United States voluntarily, not in bondage.
"... in neither the Michigan nor the Washington case did the court consider ... which minority groups should benefit from affirmative action. This even though [the Michigan and Washington] courts concluded ... that the two schools' plans are constitutional because they are "narrowly tailored" and serve a "compelling" purpose. But how could the courts know that without knowing who they were talking about?
"...as affirmative action metastasizes into a shapeless component of the spreading racial and ethnic spoils system, many questions are evaded, such as: How much minority ancestry must one have to contribute to "diversity" or otherwise qualify for preferences?
"[John Skrentny, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego], anticipating conflicts arising from "the convergence of affirmative action and immigration policy" writes:
"And on and on. Such arithmetic would have suited Nazi Germany's Nuremberg laws. It mocks America's premises.
"Even if affirmative action were restored to its original focus on black Americans, and even if the "diversity" rationale were jettisoned, John McWhorter and a hearty band of other black thinkers who agree with him would remain critics of affirmative action in higher education.
"In his new book, "Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America," McWhorter, a young professor of linguistics at Berkeley ... argues that [affirmative action] renders beneficiaries unconcerned about the fact that high-achieving blacks can never be properly confident about, or fully credited for, their achievements, and they come to feel entitled to evade rigorous competition and to make less than their best efforts to earn university admissions."
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