Russell and Duenes

Diversity That Isn’t

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We’ve been discussing affirmative action in Constitutional Law this week, and while I don’t have a ton to say about it, two things come to mind:

1) Diversity. The Court seems to accept the rationale that a university can consider race as a factor in admissions because a university is entitled to achieve a “diverse” student body in attaining its educational mission. I don’t know that I have a problem with this per se, but what I don’t understand is the ideology that assumes that if you throw a bunch of people together with different colored skin, suddenly you’re going to get a diverse student body. Is this true? What if you get a whole mix of races together, but their all primarily Marxists? Or Libertarians (Hah)? What if most of them are the same religion, or no religion? Why not sort people out on the basis of whether they self-identify as liberal or conservative? Of course, we would likely not do that because, you know, we’d say that’s somehow a violation of one’s privacy. But I think that unless universities and places of employment are going to start querying their applicants about religious beliefs and practices, political views, along with race, hobbies, family background and the like, then we’re going to get what we get among “diverse” university faculties: mostly leftists from different racial backgrounds. I don’t call that diversity, and in a school setting, intellectual diversity is about the only diversity that could possibly matter.

2) Reparations. We’re told that we need to have affirmative action in order to make up for the racism that has historically held certain minorities out of schools and jobs. No serious person doubts that minorities have suffered historical injury, and continue to suffer racial harm in some quarters still. But the problem I find is one of standards. None of the justices in the cases we’re read has provided anything like a workable standard for measuring whether past racial harms have been remedied. Instead we hear the same old bromides about how “this Nation is [nowhere] close to eradicating racial discrimination.” How will we know when it’s getting close? Do we measure by statistical percentages? How many minorities need to be on a university campus or in the HR department in order for us to know that we’ve achieved racial equality? Almost all of the justices say that affirmative action is a temporary fix, but how temporary? I cannot believe that, given that many tend to measure these things based on gut instincts about how much racism is still out there, we’re ever going to say that we’ve provided the reparations needed. It’s an insatiable beast, and it allows for a level of social engineering that too many people like to be involved with. I think Justice Thomas is wise when he says that there is a “moral [and] constitutional equivalence between laws designed to subjugate a race and those that distribute benefits on the basis of race in order to foster some current notion of equality,” and this kind of paternalism “stamp[s] minorities with a badge of inferiority and may cause them to develop dependencies or to adopt an attitude that they are ‘entitled’ to preferences.”

Which relates to a final thought. Our professor, disagreeing with Justice Thomas, said that there is a profound difference between a minority who is locked out of a school or job because of his race, and a white man like him, who is locked out of a job because of his race and gender. In the first case, he says, there’s racial animus, whereas in his case, he is simply “collateral damage” in the allegedly virtuous attempt to achieve a more equal and fair society. But this reminds me of George Orwell’s statement in Animal Farm that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” What kind of “collateral damage” is acceptable in achieving a just society? Will it always be benign, if it even is right now? Who will define what the fair and equal society is? What if a fair and equal society has a mantra like: “Every child a wanted child?” Or how about if we think it’s unfair for Down’s Syndrome babies to be born and have to suffer in this life? And so what if it costs 40 million human lives as collateral damage, to use but one example, in achieving our “fair and equal” society.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

October 10, 2012 at 8:30 am

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