Jon – I think it’s an interesting exchange too. But as I note in my G-File, Lithwick makes a strange statement, especially for someone touting her intellectual honesty. She writes: “I was terrified that today might have seen a thick dark cloud blot out all the good that affirmative action programs have achieved over the decades.”
Can someone explain that to me? If the Federal Government became colorblind tomorrow, would the millions of blacks who’ve entered the middle and upper classes suddenly be reduced to poverty? Would all of the blacks with degrees from Ivy League colleges and law schools have to give back their diplomas? Would the Congressional Black Caucus vanish and be replaced with pro-Jim Crow congressmen?
Of course not. In fact, most schools (and corporations) would still do everything they could to pursue diversity, because the ideology has sunk in.
I think this view is very widespread among liberals today. They do not believe any social program can outlive its usefullness, especially on the issue of race. This is why I’m so skeptical and disappointed with O’Connor’s waffle that maybe in 25 years we won’t need affirmative action any more. The left will never, ever abandon their faith in preferences, especially if — like Lithwick — they believe that the repeal of state sanctioned benign discrimination will also result in the repeal of all the progress (real or perceived) such discrimination has achieved.
Indeed, the logic of the diversity argument should reject any suggestion that in 25 years or in 2,500 diversity will ever be less useful. Unlike affirmative action which was framed as a temporary remedy, diversity is forever.