Friday, January 17, 2003
Affirmative action and college admissions: Wednesday President Bush came out against what he termed a "quota system" in place at the University of Michigan's campuses.
The time for affirmative action at the nation's universities needs to come to an end. Is racism in American society eradicated? No. Some people will always harbor hate for those different from them in their hearts. But, especially among Gen X and Y, there is significantly less racism than at any time during our nation's history. We've come a long way in the nearly four decades since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Just look at our popular culture -- most people no longer bat an eye at interracial couples. The movie "Finding Forrester," one of my favorites, features a bit of interracial romance (though never fully realized). Thirty years ago, that sort of thing could be cause for riots in the South. Nowadays that sort of thing causes nary a whimper.
Look, the Democrats, Civil Rights leaders and assorted members of the liberal left that have spent the last two days implying that Bush is anti-minority (if not harboring a little bit of barely repressed racism in his heart) are mostly in their 50s, 60s and up. These people remember Jim Crow -- many of them lived with it for some portion of their lives. But times have changed. For the overwhelming majority of the people applying for admission to the University of Michigan for this coming year, Jim Crow is something they learned about in their high school history class (hopefully).
People who never instituted or enforced Jim Crow laws, nor practiced discrimination are passed over by people who never suffered from Jim Crow or any other kind of discrimination. (Note that I'm making a distinction here between the U of M's program and other remedial programs at institutions that do have a recent history of discrimination.)
If the goal is diversity, as the program's defenders claim, then that can be done without taking race into account. Programs like those in Texas which allow admission to the top 10 percent of high school graduates -- regardless of the quality/location of the school -- is a good way to achieve this.
The way the U of M's program is set up, diversity is only skin deep. All other things being equal, the son of a black lawyer and doctor is preferred over the son of an asian dishwasher and maid.
If you want real diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of abilities -- then it takes more than simply checking the correct box labeled "race."