Ramesh notes the imprecision of the phrase “affirmative action,” a phrase often used by reporters when describing racial preferences. The imprecision is quite useful for supporters of preferences. Voters are far more favorably disposed to policies described as “affirmative action” than they are to policies described as “racial preferences.” When a policy is described as “affirmative action,” polls show an almost even split in support and opposition. In contrast, a Newsweek poll last summer showed that Americans oppose “racial preferences” by a margin of 82%–14%. The opposition to “racial preferences” also includes a plurality of blacks.
Support for “affirmative action” evaporates when it’s revealed to mean that a black applicant to an elite school is 200 times more likely to be admitted than a white comparative. Thus, supporters of preferences employ the term “affirmative action”– a benign policy designed to “level the playing field.” Who could be opposed to that?