Affirmative actionís rationale has changed greatly over the years, but its appeal stems
from the history of oppression experienced by many blacks, Hispanics, and other
minorities. Their plight is the reason for affirmative action.
Some of the groups covered by affirmative action have little history
of oppression in the US such as some of the more recent Latin American immigrants.
Others (Jews, Arabs, homosexuals) are not covered by affirmative action, yet they
have been (and still are) the subjects of covert discrimination, legal persecution,
and offensive stereotypes.
- It could be argued that affirmative action violates freedom of association (and in recent
years) freedom of speech and the press by punishing speech or writing deemed
offensive. Moreover it reverses the principle of innocent until proven guilty
requiring that defendants in affirmative action cases prove that they have not
discriminated in hiring and promoting.
- It could be argued that affirmative action directs the nationís attention and energies away
from serious issues like the crime and poor schooling experienced by minority
communities to trivial ones like innocent words that might cause offense. But
campus speech codes and sensitivity training sessions (both of which are subject
to litigation) do little to help the thousands of black and Hispanic Americans who
will never get to college or be hired by a prestigious company.
- But the worst offense is that affirmative action compromises the American Dream of
having each individual judged by the content of his character rather than by the
color of his skin. Many minorities now say that affirmative action
stigmatizes them as inferiors who need special help to succeed.
- Affirmative actionís supporters argue that without this policy we will return to the days
of segregated lunch counters and drinking fountains. But results from the University of
California system (where affirmative action was abolished after 1996) suggest that while
there has been a drop-off in black and Hispanic students (especially in the upper echelon
colleges), this reduction has not ended minority student representation on campuses.
Many of these students are simply attending lower echelon colleges, while the number of
Asian students in college has increased. Moreover, under affirmative action many
students were pushed into college programs that they were unprepared for and were often
forced to drop out. Now they can attend colleges they are prepared for and finish their
- Does the failure of affirmative action mean that nothing can or should be done to help
those who have been historically disadvantaged? No, but we should look at areas where
help coincides with freedom (and these are many). Drug and gun control laws,
occupational licensing, the inadequacies of public education are just some of the state
forms of control holding back American minorities. Removing these obstacles from their
path should be the job of those who believe in civil rights.
Equal opportunity denied: Case studies of nine victims of affirmative action Puts a human face on the
negative effects of affirmative acton. FYI: I know one of the girls in this story.
Ending Affirmative Action The Wall Street Journal said this book was Tightly written and tightly reasoned.
[Eastland] brings into sharp focus the legal issues, the political issues, and the moral issues. . . . He not only takes on the thankless task of analyzing the principal fallacies behind affirmative
action, but also explains why the attempt to remedy it must be carefully crafted.
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