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Tangled Webb


The Latino Coalition has condemned Jim Webb–who is hoping to be the Democratic nominee against Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) this November–for the limits he would place on affirmative action.  I’m not going to defend Webb’s current position, which seems to be a triangulation away from his earlier, across-the-board opposition to racial preferences to a position that now favors automatic eligibility for African Americans but means-testing for everyone else (including Hispanics-hence the Latino Coalition’s condemnation). Rather, my point is that, as America becomes increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, any system of preferences that favors one ethnic group over others (both minority and nonminority) gets uglier, more divisive, and more untenable. This Latino group is unhappy that Webb’s position would favor “blacks only”; but why just blacks and Latinos? How about American Indians? Asians? Arab Americans? Etc.


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