Antiracism at Cornell

Legal Insurrection documents Cornell University’s swing to the left over the issue of race.

Cornell University has joined a growing list of universities embracing “antiracist” activism, a euphemism for race-based advocacy.

Antiracism does not mean non-racist. It is a term of art used, most famously, in the book How to Be An Antiracist, which is being used as a teaching tool at universities throughout the country, including Cornell, and forms the ideological framework upon which the university is moving forward.

The President of Cornell has announced that “antiracism” is a top university priority, meaning, among other things, mandatory “training” for all Cornell staff. And a “Faculty Coalition” has published a list of demands that would, in Bill Jacobson’s words, “implement race-based requirements in almost all aspects of the university hiring, promotion, and curriculum, and the elimination of race-neutral policies.”

The Faculty Coalition denounces colorblind policies:

[E]very “colorblind” event, mechanism, and process at the university — from new faculty orientations to selection of endowed positions — perpetuates racial disparities and reinforces an unjust status quo.

Thus overt race discrimination is demanded as essential.

There is much that one could say about this, but for now, one wonders: when was Cornell last colorblind? Virtually every educational institution, and every major business, has engaged in “affirmative action” since the early 1970s. Affirmative action is race discrimination on behalf of favored groups, most notably blacks, and it often has amounted to quotas, as, for example, in my law school class. Cornell has never, in its modern history, treated applicants equally. It has consistently favored minorities, especially blacks, both in admissions and in faculty hiring. This has been a near-universal practice among American institutions for around 50 years.

Anyone who has lived in the business world of the last 50 years has observed affirmative action at work. One day in the late 1970s, when I was still young enough to be interviewing job applicants at my law firm, I was scheduled to meet with a law student who was interviewing with us. I got his resume ahead of the interview. It wasn’t bad, but it was nowhere near as good as we were used to seeing. I called the associate who was supervising this interviewee’s schedule and asked, “Why am I seeing this guy? There is no way we would hire him.” The answer: “He’s black.” “Oh, I see. Well in that case, we’ll never get him.” My prophecy proved correct: that applicant took a more lucrative job somewhere else.

Evidently this 50-year history of preferential treatment has gone down the memory hole, even though it continues to the present day. Today’s radicals denounce a “colorblind” regime that, unfortunately, never was, at least not for many years. And what do they demand? More affirmative action! Because it worked so well the first time, apparently. Everything old is new again.

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