The Corner


The Scandal and Racial Preferences

The Left is trying hard to let no scandal go to waste by asserting that this week’s college-admission indictments prove that we need to continue racial preferences. White people cheat and bribe to get in, you see, so we have to this counterbalance to give nonwhites a boost.

Of course this is silly. It requires, for starters, that we equate being white with being wealthy and corrupt. But the overwhelming majority of whites are neither, needless to say, and one suspects that most of the students who were cheated out of a slot here were themselves white. Conversely, I don’t know that all the cheaters here were white; I have no doubt that there are nonwhites who have cheated the system, too, and certainly there are plenty of nonwhites who are wealthy (and corrupt). In all events, it makes no sense to argue that a scandal involving a few white people makes it appropriate to discriminate against all of them (oh, and against Asian Americans, too, by the way).

It is also the case that two corrupt and anti-merit wrongs — that is, this week’s scandal and the ongoing scandal of racial preferences — don’t make a right.  The media have not shown much interest in the fact that one aspect of the current scandal is that ethnicities were falsified in order to get an admissions edge. And this scandal is similar to one that Justice Alito noted in his dissent in Fisher v. University of Texas; both show that one must be wary of accepting an assertion of good faith in the process by which universities admit students.

So all in all this week’s scandal provides no basis for the continued use of racial preferences. To the contrary, it provides if anything only more grounds for skepticism about deferring to schools in how students are chosen. In the NBC national news story I watched the day the story broke, no fewer than three people interviewed in that short segment said the reason they were outraged was because the cheating meant that better qualified students who had worked hard and played by the rules were denied admission. And of course that is the core of the objection to racial preferences.

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