Don’t miss John Fund’s piece on the reaction by Michigan’s liberal establishment to the passage of an amendment to the state’s constitution banning racial discrimination by public universities and other state organs. As Fund notes, officials like Michigan University president Mary Sue Coleman and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are employing the “massive resistance” rhetoric used by the last generation of race discrimination proponents such as George Wallace. And they are not confining themselves to rhetoric. Fund shows that supporters of racial preferences have engaged in intimidating conduct including near-rioting.
Unlike Wallace and his ilk, today’s discrimination mongers are reacting not against rulings by unelected judges but against the will of the state’s voters — the folks who pay the salary of Coleman, for example. The anti-discrimination amendment passed with 58 percent of the vote. A majority of both sexes voted for it, as did 40 percent of self-described liberals and Democrats. In the minds of folks like Coleman, the fact that the anti-discrimination edict is coming from the public probably makes it even more suspect and difficult to swallow.
Fund argues, per Stuart Taylor of the National Journal, that racial preferences were originally intended to help disadvantaged minorities but now tend to benefit mostly the children of relatively well-off blacks and Hispanics. That’s the genius of the post-modern rationale for preferences — the need to promote “diversity.” The daughter of a powerful African-American politician or civil rights advocate is just as racially diverse as the daughter of an inner city African-American single parent, so the coveted slot at the University of Michigan can be awarded to the well-off applicant.
The other brilliant thing about the diversity rationale is its immortality. The law has always presumed that remedial preferences come with an end-date, however indefinite. But if people can be said to contribute something to the university by virtue of their skin color, they can be said to do so 100 years from now and beyond. The diversity-based rationale for preferences will end only if minority applicants can raise their credentials to match those of whites, for then no preference will be required to obtain diversity. But that’s not likely to happen if, by virtue of preferences, minority students don’t have to compete with whites for admission. Thus, as George Wallace might say, diversity-based discrimination is forever.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention one more beautiful feature of the diversity rationale — its political correctness. Under the diversity rationale, the preferences aren’t at attempt to lend a helping hand to minority group members. Instead, the minority students are helping the university and its white students because, by definition, their presence diversifies the campus and enriches the educational experience of the whites.
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