May 16, 2014

DAVID BERNSTEIN: Are affirmative action preferences “worse” than other sorts of admissions preferences?

Put another way, the other sorts of preferences that universities use in determining admission or may not be sound policy, but they are not inherently dangerous to society. To my knowledge, there have been no civil wars, riots, or genocides sparked by government seeming to favor athletes, university alumni, musicians, people from remote states, and other groups preferred in university admissions. By contrast, world history and current events are filled with example of racial and ethnic hostility causing violence, war, and destruction. Indeed, affirmative action itself has sparked violence, especially in India, where ethnic tensions coexist with caste tensions. As Thomas Sowell points out, “complacency is never in order when racial or ethnic relationships are concerned, for even generations of peaceful coexistence can turn ugly when the right circumstances and the right demagogue come together.”

And the demagogues are always out there, ready to spread racial poison and destroy the polity, so long as it enhances their power and position.