Perhaps one of the strangest positions taken by the liberal establishment in America is the support for various affirmative action programs.
Their mantra has traditionally been along the lines of ending discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation; but when it comes to the promotion of individuals on this very basis, they see no contradiction. What difference does it make if someone is either promoted to, or denied a position on the basis of their race? In either case, the deciding factor is the color of their skin.
What advocates of affirmative action all too often fail to understand is that, by granting favoritism to one group of people, they are in turn, hurting another. For every beneficiary of affirmative action there are unseen victims passed over, not for lack of ability, but for lack of melanin.
In 2009, the city of New Haven, Conn. invalidated the test results of nineteen firefighters due to the fact that none of those who passed happened to be black. The firefighters decided to challenge the decision, which was taken up by the Supreme Court in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano. In a 5-4 decision, the side of good sense won the day with the majority opinion ruling that the city of New Haven violated title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
This levelheaded decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts who in a similar case a few years earlier argued, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” If only more people had such clarity of thought on what should be a simple issue.
But what are we to make of the other four members of the Supreme Court? Does not racial discrimination go against the American bedrock of equal protection under the law? It is this odd contradiction that forces one to come to the conclusion that ending arbitrary forms of discrimination was never the goal to begin with.
An egalitarian society, by any means possible, is their end in sight. Where conservatives generally adhere to the ideal of equality of opportunity, liberals justify all actions to achieve equal results, whether by the implementation of institutional racism or confiscation of private property. The ends always justify the means.
Interestingly enough, what is rarely ever asked of them is to actually justify the need for more affirmative action programs. They always assume that unequal results are due to institutional discrimination.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that the mere fact that certain groups achieve more in society is not itself enough evidence to come to the conclusion that there is some sort of inherent barrier.
For example, the percentage of black players in the National Basketball Association during the 2008-09 season was 82 percent, up from 80 percent the previous year. Would any rational person argue that there exists some sort of nationwide discrimination against non-black athletes, making them ill prepared for professional sports? Should we perhaps petition Congress to force the NBA to fulfill racial quotas in order to reflect American racial makeup as a whole?
Both questions are utterly ridiculous as far as professional sports go, yet the assumed discrimination argument is considered legitimate when used elsewhere.
In the academic realm, the average SAT math score among Asians and Pacific Islanders is an average of 32 points higher than their white peers. The liberal’s logic (or lack thereof) would have to conclude that whites are being discriminated against. Since this obviously can’t be the case, there must be additional factors unaccounted for. We can or cannot know for certain what these other factors are, but the burden of proof is on those who claim to know.
Whether in the area of college admissions or job promotions, discrimination on the basis of race is always wrong, in all cases. It was wrong before the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s and it is wrong today in the form of affirmative action.
All we can hope for in society is to remove every barrier possible and to let the chips fall where they may.
It’s about creating the optimal environment for the equality of opportunity, not the equality of results.