Jewish World Review March 14, 2013/ 3 Nissan, 5773
From affirmative action to diversity
By Victor Davis Hanson
Sometime in the new millennium, "global warming" evolved into "climate change." Amid growing controversies over the planet's past temperatures,
Similar verbal gymnastics have gradually turned "affirmative action" into "diversity" -- a word ambiguous enough to avoid the innate contradictions of a liberal society affirming illiberal racial preferencing.
In an increasingly multiracial society, it has grown hard to determine the racial ancestry of millions of minorities. Is someone who is ostensibly one-half Native American or African-American classified as a minority eligible for special consideration in hiring or college admission, while someone one-quarter or one-eighth is not? How exactly does affirmative action adjudicate our precise ethnic identities these days? These are not illiberal questions -- given
Aside from the increasing difficulty of determining the ancestry of multiracial, multiethnic and intermarried Americans, what exactly is the justification for affirmative action's ethnic preferences in hiring or admission -- historical grievance, current underrepresentation due to discrimination, or both?
Are the children of President
Does a recent arrival from
How do we fairly allocate compensation for past collective sins against a bygone generation? Slavery,
In 2009, the
In other words, in the manner that the
Affirmative action -- fossilized for a half-century -- also made few allowances for class. Asian-Americans, for example, have higher per-capita incomes than Americans as a whole. Were affluent minority individuals eligible for affirmative action?
Will the children of multimillionaire
If ossified racial preferences don't work in 21st century multiracial America, then the generalized idea of "diversity" -- just picking and choosing people without any rationale other than ensuring lots of different races and ethnic groups -- offers a better defense of extending preferences in lieu of strictly meritocratic criteria.
Yet diversity no more alleviates the problem of bias than does climate change end controversy over global warming. We really do not mean "diversity" in the widest sense of the word.
The idea of diversity, racial and otherwise, is deeply embedded in politics. President
Like Prohibition, affirmative action and then diversity were originally noble efforts that were doomed -- largely by their own illiberal contradictions of using present and future racial discrimination to atone for past racial discrimination.
It is well past time to move on and to see people as just people.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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