Of course, the folks who seem most upset by affirmative action don't seem terribly concerned about preferential treatment for children of alumni.
You hear this all the time. But I think it's a bogus comparison. The reason why we have laws against race discrimination, rather than laws demanding strict meritocracy in all things, is -- or at least so I thought -- that race discrimination is much, much worse than merely favoring alumni.
The logical implication of statements comparing racial discrimination with legacy preferences for alumni is that racial discrimination isn't uniquely bad. But is that true? But for an accident of history, might Martin Luther King have been leading marches against legacy preferences, or athletic recruiting? I don't think so.
UPDATE: In a related matter, SpinSanity says that Democrats' charges that Bush "opposes civil rights" are unfair.