Front Page
NMJ Search
Editorials
Commentary
Archive
NMJ Radio
Constitutional Literacy
Islamofascism
Progressivism
Books
NMJ Shop
Links, Etc...
Facebook
Twitter
Site Information
About Us
Contact Us
  US Senate
  US House
  Anti-Google






Archive Email Author

About Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. http://www.victorhanson.com
Social Bookmarking
Print this page.
The New Affirmative Action
Victor Davis Hanson
March 14, 2013
Sometime in the first years of the new millennium, "global warming" evolved into "climate change." Amid growing controversies over the planet's past temperatures, Al Gore and other activists understood that human-induced "climate change" could explain almost any weather extremity -- droughts or floods, temperatures too hot or too cold, hurricanes and tornadoes -- better than "global warming" could.

Similar verbal gymnastics have gradually turned "affirmative action" into "diversity" -- a word ambiguous enough to avoid the innate contradictions of a liberal society affirming the illiberal granting of racial preferences.

In an increasingly multiracial society, it has grown hard to determine the racial ancestry of millions of Americans. Is someone who is ostensibly one-half Native American or African-American classified as a minority eligible for special consideration in hiring or college admissions, while someone one-quarter or one-eighth is not? How exactly does affirmative action adjudicate our precise ethnic identities these days? These are not illiberal questions -- given, for example, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren's past claims of being Native American to gain advantage in her academic career.

Aside from the increasing difficulty of determining the ancestry of multiracial, multiethnic, and intermarried Americans, what exactly is the justification for affirmative action's ethnic preferences in hiring or admissions -- historical grievance, current underrepresentation due to discrimination, or both?

Are the children of President Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder more in need of help than the offspring of immigrants from the Punjab or Cambodia? If non-white ancestry is no longer an accurate indicator of ongoing discrimination, can affirmative action be justified by a legacy of historical bias or current ethnic underrepresentation?

Does a recent arrival from Oaxaca who fled the racism and poverty of Mexico warrant special compensation upon arrival in the United States? And if so, when? A day, a month, a year, or a decade after crossing the border? How about a Chilean, Korean, or Iraqi immigrant? Should particular lines of employment match the nation's racial composition -- jobs on the faculty, but not jobs in the NBA, or in the Postal Service?

How do we fairly allocate compensation for collective sins against a bygone generation? Slavery, Jim Crow, internment of Japanese-Americans, racially exclusionary immigration laws, the denial of US admission to Jews fleeing the Holocaust: All were reprehensible, but it is difficult to know the degree to which these injustices still distort the career paths of individual Americans, or who still alive is to blame.

In 2009, the University of California system changed its admissions policy allegedly to curtail the number of Asian-Americans on its campuses. Such anti-affirmative action arose not because UC was a racist institution, but because, as an applicant group, Asian-Americans were outperforming most other ethnic groups, in numbers disproportionate to the general population.

In other words, just as the Ivy League turned away qualified Jews in the 1920s and '30s, so some UC administrators apparently thought that engineering a campus "to look like America" was more important than simply admitting those with the strongest academic achievement.

Affirmative action -- fossilized for a half-century -- also made few allowances for class. Asian-Americans, for example, have higher per capita incomes than Americans as a whole. Were affluent minority individuals eligible for affirmative action?

Will the children of multimillionaire Tiger Woods -- or of Jay-Z and Beyoncé -- qualify for special consideration on the theory that their racial pedigrees or statistical underrepresentation in some fields will make their lives more challenging than the lives of poor white children in rural Pennsylvania or second-generation Arab-Americans in Dearborn, Mich.?

If ossified racial preferences don't work in 21st-century multiracial America, then the generalized idea of "diversity" -- just picking and choosing people without any rationale other than ensuring lots of different races and ethnic groups -- seems a more defensible reason for extending preferences in lieu of using strictly meritocratic criteria.

Yet "diversity" no more alleviates the problem of bias than "climate change" ends controversy over global warming. And we really do not mean "diversity" in the widest sense of the word. No Ivy League law school is worried that its faculty is disproportionately 90 percent liberal, or that it lacks a contingent of fundamentalist Christians commensurate with their numbers in the general population.

The idea of diversity, racial and otherwise, is deeply embedded in our politics, but not consistently applied. President George H. W. Bush was not especially lauded for appointing the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas -- apparently because Thomas was considered conservative. Liberal attorney general Eric Holder was seen by the media as a genuinely diverse appointment in a way that a conservative predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, was not.

Like Prohibition, affirmative action and then diversity were originally noble efforts that were doomed -- largely by their own illiberal contradiction of using present and future racial discrimination to atone for past racial discrimination.

It is well past time to move on and to see people as just people.

This article was originally published at NationalReview.com. Refer to original article for related links and important documentation.








The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...

The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on tax deductible donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a sustaining donation today.







Opinions expressed by contributing writers are expressly their own and may or may not represent the opinions of NewMediaJournal.us, its editorial staff, board or organization.  Reprint inquiries should be directed to the author of the article. Contact the editor for a link request to NewMediaJournal.us.  NewMediaJournal.us is not affiliated with any mainstream media organizations.  NewMediaJournal.us is not supported by any political organization.  Responsibility for the accuracy of cited content is expressly that of the contributing author. All original content offered by NewMediaJournal.us is copyrighted. NewMediaJournal.us supports BasicsProject.org and its goal: the liberation of the American voter from partisan politics and special interests in government through the primary-source, fact-based education of the American people.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance a more in-depth understanding of critical issues facing the world. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 USC Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The Media Journal.us © 1998-2014    Content Copyright © Individual authors
Powered by ExpressionEngine 1.70 and M3Server