Affirmative Action: Gone But Not Forgotten

Victor Davis Hanson in a recent column provides multiple reasons for why affirmative action programs are neither fair nor reasonable. In fact, it may be hard to come up with a more comprehensive list than his of why a majority in national polls believe such programs are undesirable. AA’s beneficiaries are not the victims of those who are being discriminated against; nor were they victimized with very few exceptions by the ancestors of those who are now being disadvantaged. Racial ancestry has become increasingly mixed; and in many cases white applicants make extravagant claims to being nonwhite to beat out someone else for a job or admissions slot. Some groups that have been the victims of past discrimination, like Asians, have done exceedingly well without heavy-handed discrimination in their favor. Ironically, Asians, who were past victims of discrimination, are now being discriminated against in favor of blacks, that is, blacks of all social classes including those coming from affluent families. Even more grotesquely, those who benefit from programs that were set up to favor certain disadvantaged minorities are sometimes tricksters like Elizabeth Warren, who parlayed her bogus Native American credentials into a tenured position at Harvard Law School.

Finally, the expectation expressed in earlier Supreme Court decisions, most famously by Justice Lewis Powell, that affirmative action would be a temporary form of compensatory justice for blacks has turned out to be false. This program goes on and on and has incorporated other official victim groups, who (let’s not be coy!) are useful as Democratic Party voters. AA is also being implemented at medical schools with AMA approval, and if those apparently in charge are obliged to graduate minority members, the health results could be catastrophic. Accrediting a semi-literate gender-studies teacher is one thing. Graduating incompetent physicians to fill minority quotas is a more serious matter. We can also be sure that once graduation quotas are met, requisite minority licensing will follow.

Despite the fact that national polls show that a majority of Americans oppose AA, the Democrats may be justified from a self-interested perspective in continuing to push this policy. Although blacks in a recent survey expressed opposition to affirmative action programs by a 47% to 36% margin, the issue could be framed in a way that helps Democrats. Republican opposition to AA could be rephrased as an attempt to deny blacks deserved help after a history of discrimination. Black Democrats in Congress are already hammering “Republican” judges who voted against a policy they favor. And the Congressional Black Caucus may be playing to its base when it attacks “the legitimacy” of the Supreme Court.

Equally important, our media and academic authorities insist that AA may be integral to the pursuit of equity. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion enterprise may implode if AA is thrown out the window, or so I learned from reading the latest issue of Chronicles of Higher Education. Self-described “experts” speaking about “the Supreme Court’s decision…outlawing race-conscious admissions” tell us that “college administrators who work in diversity, equity, and inclusion say their efforts to recruit and retain a diverse student body, and to help students of color feel a sense of belonging, are even more critical now that colleges will not be allowed to consider race as a factor in admissions.”

Let’s not rule out the rage of all those officials who draw paychecks by pushing equity programs! The Supreme Court’s ruling against AA may be regarded as a direct threat to their professional interests. Chronicles of Higher Education suggests that not only blacks, but all victimized minorities will suffer grievously once the bell for “race-conscious admissions” tolls The Court’s move.

For Democrats and their constituencies, AA, like support for reparations to blacks, is part of a spoils system that the party carefully maintains. The Democratic Party thrives by claiming to serve those who view themselves as victims of white male Christian privilege. Even if the Democrats are now playing with what seems a poor hand, they may still hope to win this game, of course with media assistance. Just because a majority now oppose affirmative action programs hardly means that the Democrats can no longer use it to their advantage. They do have the power and will to change reality.

Thus, Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro plans to cut off aid in Pennsylvania to charter schools, educational institutions that disproportionately serve blacks. Shapiro announced this after promising to honor voucher programs, which go to among other destinations charter schools. The governor may be assuming blacks will vote Democratic, no matter what. Meanwhile catering to teachers’ unions, which loathe charter schools, could bring the Democrats larger contributions for future elections. Our state media so far have judged this action to be a “rare misstep” by a beloved Democrat facing a “budget impasse.” I’m willing to bet that even this apparent misstep can be successfully rebranded as a victory for the victimized.

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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