“California voters will not be asked this year to decide whether to roll back California’s ban on racial preferences in college admissions, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez” announced today, according to the Sacramento Bee. The story notes, “The move came a week after three Asian-American state senators — who had previously supported putting the question to voters — asked Pérez to put a stop the measure.”
That’s great news, and here’s hoping the withdrawal is permanent. The fact that what doomed the measure was opposition from Asian Americans is important, too, with a caveat. An important problem with racial and ethnic preferences is that they are more and more unwieldy in a country that is more and more multiracial and multiethnic. And it’s good that Asian Americans were aggressive here in opposing the measure.
But such preferences would be objectionable no matter who the victims of the discrimination would be: whether “only” whites are discriminated against, or whether in some contexts (e.g., contracting) some Asian Americans (e.g., the Japanese but not the Turks) might be given a preference, or whatever. And then there’s the fact that, given the “mismatch” problem, even those groups given a preference (typically blacks and Latinos) are hurt.
No, it’s just “a sordid business, this divvying us up by race,” as Chief Justice Roberts wrote some years ago. And it shouldn’t really matter whose ox is being gored.