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Obama on Affirmative Action


Here’s the AP story on Barack Obama’s comments regarding affirmative action yesterday on ABC’s This Week:

On affirmative action, Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, said he thinks that someday when his two young daughters apply to college, they “should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged” and there is nothing wrong with that.

“I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and been brought up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed,” he added. “There are a lot of African-American kids who are still struggling.”

Obama said that “if we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it, that affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society.”

Two comments on this.  First, it is very encouraging that even a Democratic presidential hopeful is obviously uncomfortable with endorsing race-based, as opposed to wealth-based, affirmative action.  Second, it is amusing that even someone who ought to be fairly sophisticated in these matters believes that the rationale for racial preferences in college admissions is essentially remedial, namely to help “struggling” African Americans “to achieve racial equality in this society.”   This is, indeed, the reason such preferences continue to have some visceral appeal.  Trouble is, the Supreme Court has long ago rejected this “societal discrimination” rationale, and so universities have made up the bogus “diversity” justification—that is, they say they are using racial preferences because of the “educational benefits” that come from them.   But, nobody really believes this—and certainly, it appears, not Senator Obama.


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