Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Affirmative Action: Euphemism For Discrimination

Last Friday night, I was involved in a debate with Shenna Bellows, executive director of the MCLU (Maine Civil Liberties Union), which is Maine’s chapter of the ACLU. The moderator chose three “set piece” questions for us including this one: “Are Affirmative Action programs constitutional?” What follows are my remarks.

Affirmative Action is a euphemism for government-required policies that discriminate on the basis of race, sex and national origin. The very same discrimination that government legislates against in some areas of public life, it mandates in other areas. It’s a kind of schizophrenia.

From the ACLU web site:

The [ACLU] Racial Justice Program supports affirmative action to secure racial diversity in education settings, workplaces and government contracts to remedy continuing systematic discrimination against people of color, and to help ensure equal opportunities for all people. As part of this commitment, we are working to defend affirmative action in states that are threatened for a civil rights rollback.

Hmm. Systematic discrimination against people of color? Where? It’s been illegal for two generations. The ACLU claims:

Affirmative action is one of the most effective tools for redressing the injustices caused by our nation’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, and for leveling what has long been an uneven playing field. A centuries-long legacy of racism and sexism has not been eradicated despite the gains made during the civil rights era. Avenues of opportunity for those previously excluded remain far too narrow. We need affirmative action now more than ever.

Hmm. Injustices caused by our nation’s historic discrimination against people of color and women. What injustices? Where? Students at our colleges and universities are 60% female. If there’s any evidence of discrimination, it’s against men, not women.

Professor Russell K. Neili summarized a study by two sociologists at Princeton of the admissions process at ten elite private colleges and universities:

To have the same chance of gaining admission as a black student with a SAT score of 1100, a Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have 1230, a white student a 1410 and an Asian student a 1550.

Is this what the ACLU means when it cites “the gains made by the civil rights era”?

When the ACLU says “we are working to defend affirmative action in states that are threatened for a civil rights rollback, they’re talking about initiatives like those proposed in several states like this one in California called the California Civil Rights Initiative:

The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

What the ACLU objects to are the five words “or grant preferential treatment to” of course, because those words shine the light on what affirmative action actually does. By lowering the bar for some groups like the aforementioned “people of color,” they must raise it for other groups with whom the preferred “people of color” are competing for employment, college admissions or contracts. To the ACLU, treating everyone equally regardless of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin is “a civil rights rollback.” That is what you call distorted thinking. Orwell called it “Doublethink.” What the ACLU wants to hide is that affirmative action does not preserve civil rights - it discriminates against whites, males and Asians by its very nature.
If one of my loved ones needed brain surgery and I wanted the best possible surgeon to do it, I’d have to consider what affirmative action has done with our medical schools. I’d have to look around for an Asian neurosurgeon and avoid black ones who could get admitted with the lowest scores. Wouldn’t you? I don’t like it, but this is the legacy of Affirmative Action.

People tolerated it back in 1965 when the Civil Rights Bill passed, but it been almost forty years - two generations. The ACLU insists we need it now more than ever. I don’t think so. Affirmative Action is racist and sexist. It should be abolished immediately in all its forms.


John N. Frary said...

If Hindus are over-represented in computer jobs than steps must be taken to reduce their representation since this can only be the result of systematic discrimination by someone. But who?

Anonymous said...

Love it!!!

Harvey in North Baldwin

Anonymous said...

It was pointed out to me during the last election that Mr Obama is a black man. This was from a very white middle class Liberal relative who was whining about the Tea Party folks. I suggested that this was discrimination and they have not spoken to me since.

Wake up and see the light cousin.

Brian said...

I guess I can't argue with you this week. Government should stay out of these things....who you are allowed to hire, who you are allowed to marry, etc.

You are right...for the government to try and meddle and control these things is descrimination.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to follow the story from the anon about his cousin.

So his cousin said that Obama was black? Very strange that the cousin would have to point that out to people, but ok, wacky cousin.

Then anon said that pointing this out was descrimination? Huh?

Strange stuff.

Frank Hedrick said...

Good point, Brian. Controlling who is hired is every bit as bad and descriminatory as controlling who can get married.

Sam Stone said...

Good article Tom.
Affirmative action seems like reverse discrimination to me. I'm one of the bad guys I guess but I could care less about the color of anyone's skin, the content of their character is much more important.

Kevin said...

I'm not sure you are going to get anybody against you on this, Tom. I am one of those hippy dippy liberals and even I don't know people who are for it. The less government interference the better.

Anonymous said...

I remember the UK Fire Service doing something similar, we finished up with people who fit the ethnic profile. We actually wanted the best people for the job regardless of their ethnicity

Earl said...

I member one time we's was forced to hire on a rather savage lookin dude of a dark persuasion at Ye Good 'Ol Boy donut shop in Clarksdale. Dang near scared off all our better customers until we runned him outta town. Darn tootin this stuff is descrimation.

Anonymous said...

Encouraging the common use of the term " people of color " was one of the cleverest tricks of the progressive liberals , a way for the blacks to include everyone except whites into their interest group. Orwellian is right ! But it seems no matter how absurd the concept, if you say it enough times, people will believe it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that affirmative action should not be a law, but I guess there is no stopping a college or an organization from following such policies if they want to. These unofficial affirmative action practices are already rampant and working in the favor of the pampered sons and daughters of the rich.

Take George W. Bush. He clearly got into Yale because of "affirmative action." Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential and rich family. How many students with better scores do you think got passed over to make way for daddy's little boy?

The Wall Street Journal reported that Harvard accepts 40% of applicants who are children of alumni but only 11% of applicants generally.

Anonymous said...


Finally something I agree with. Mostly anyway.

Races complain being looked down on or opressed yet demand it be easier for them in so many ways.

One of the biggest examples is all black scholorship programs or all black colleges.

If a white person tried to start an all white one, it would burn down in a week.

Racisim is wrong, in any form, but if you bring it on yourself by accepting something like Affirmative Action that basicly says you got in because of your skin color, stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

I suggest to some of you to consider why you feel this is unfair. Because to me reverse discrimination of white people is kind of ironic in nature. White people and white men are more likely to earn higher incomes. There is no doubt that we live and work in a white society. Even though many people are well-meaning, not having procedures in place that promote equality proves to be reckless.