Friday, October 12, 2012

Affirmative action goes under the microscope

A fine review of Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor's book, well timed to coincide with the Supreme Court's deliberation on the Texas affirmative action case:

Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It

To Sander and Taylor, the real problem is not just for those who are passed over when large racial preferences come into play, but for the beneficiaries themselves. In many cases, they say, minority students would perform better at less elite schools than in institutions where their incoming academic credentials put them at the bottom of their class. This is the “mismatch” that the book identifies: students provided sizeable admissions preferences struggle academically.

Affirmative action is wrong for several reasons:

1) Discrimination based on race is always wrong. White or black, help or hurt. It is wrong to treat people differently according to race. Why is this so hard to understand?

2) Discrimination by race today does not rectify discrimination by race in the past. The people harmed and helped today are not the people culpable and injured in the past. There is certainly persisting injustice because of past racism-- on all sides. Racism doesn't nullify racism, just as violence doesn't nullify violence. Racism merely perpetuates racism.

Chief Justice Roberts got it right: "the way to stop discrimination by race is to stop discrimination by race."

3) Affirmative action by government is an obvious violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the law.

4) Affirmative action harms many of its 'beneficiaries'. By definition, it places minority students in academic situations for which they are less prepared than their classmates. This sets them up for failure, which is personally devastating and readily avoidable. Many minority students who fail academically because of affirmative action could have prospered if they had been admitted to programs with their academic peers.

5) Affirmative action gives rise to a ponderous bureaucracy of time-serving politically-correct race-sifters, who are more often than not a millstone around the neck of the institution they purport to serve. The resources wasted on race-collating and litigation could be used for productive non-racist endeavors.

Affirmative action is morally wrong, constitutionally illicit, organizationally oppressive and plainly harmful to many of the people it ostensibly is intended to help. All it accomplishes is to help its proponents feign virtuousness.

In other words, it's a run-of-the-mill liberal social program. 

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