Phi Beta Cons

Bond in a Bind

Last night the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs hosted a debate at the Library of Congress on affirmative action between John McWhorter and Dalton Conley (arguing it ought to be replaced with socioeconomic preferences) and Lee Bollinger and Julian Bond (defending the status quo of racial preferences). According to this news story from Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

“Affirmative action resulted from an American consensus,” Bond said, as “a remedy for past racial injustices. Changes in our society, not least in the election of our first African-American president, do not signal a change in our racial temperature so significant that race-conscious affirmative action can now be discarded.”

Now, this argument is extremely common. In fact, whenever I debate this topic (which is frequent), I almost always hear it, no matter how sophisticated the opponent I’m opposing, and those Americans who favor racial preferences I’m sure are persuaded primarily by it, too. No one, in other words, really believes the “diversity helps us learn better” nonsense. 

But there is a problem with the “remedy for past injustices”/societal-discrimination argument (actually, a number of problems, but I just want to focus on the most obvious): The Supreme Court long ago rejected it! So there you go: Those defending affirmative action either use arguments they don’t really believe, or arguments that are legally nonstarters. (President Obama, by the way, in his occasional and half-hearted defenses of racial preferences, also uses the societal-discrimination argument. That’s right: Our brilliant president, former editor of the Harvard Law Review and lecturer at the University of Chicago, does not know what the law is regarding affirmative action. Good thing he found other work.) 

Most Popular

Culture

New England Journal of Medicine Pushes Reparations

Reparations would grant African Americans government benefits not paid to other Americans to rectify the awful sin of slavery and the "peculiar institution's" residual harm. It is a favored policy of hard progressives, so of course, the New England Journal of Medicine -- which regularly promotes left-wing causes ... Read More
Culture

New England Journal of Medicine Pushes Reparations

Reparations would grant African Americans government benefits not paid to other Americans to rectify the awful sin of slavery and the "peculiar institution's" residual harm. It is a favored policy of hard progressives, so of course, the New England Journal of Medicine -- which regularly promotes left-wing causes ... Read More
Books

Three Cheers for the Quiet Ones

People often dismiss shy, quiet characters in literature. Readers prefer to identify with Jo March, Elizabeth Bennett, or Anne Shirley -- those delightful, bold, and charming characters who made a deep impression on us when we first encountered them. While there’s nothing wrong with emulating or admiring these ... Read More
Books

Three Cheers for the Quiet Ones

People often dismiss shy, quiet characters in literature. Readers prefer to identify with Jo March, Elizabeth Bennett, or Anne Shirley -- those delightful, bold, and charming characters who made a deep impression on us when we first encountered them. While there’s nothing wrong with emulating or admiring these ... Read More
Media

Wajahat Ali, Ctd.

I gather he didn’t like my comment on his New York Times op-ed on the folly of reaching out to Trump supporters. He snipes, “I await The National Review’s piece on reaching out to Biden voters and reading about their ‘elegy’ and understanding their ‘economic anxiety.’” After the 2016 election, ... Read More
Media

Wajahat Ali, Ctd.

I gather he didn’t like my comment on his New York Times op-ed on the folly of reaching out to Trump supporters. He snipes, “I await The National Review’s piece on reaching out to Biden voters and reading about their ‘elegy’ and understanding their ‘economic anxiety.’” After the 2016 election, ... Read More