Saturday, June 14, 2008

Has Affirmative Action Run its Course?

I've thought about affirmative action with increasing frequency in light of Barack Obama's victory as the pending Democratic Party standard-bearer.

I teach civil rights every semester, so I have the usual debates over the meaning of equality in my classes, but I noticed, in
a recent New York Times article, that Ward Connerly had good words to say about Obama's triumph:

Mr. Obama’s moment seemed to unite blacks across the political spectrum, even those who had no intention of voting for a Democrat for president.

For example, Ward Connerly, a conservative anti-affirmative-action crusader and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, watched a replay of the announcement of Mr. Obama’s victory on Fox News early Wednesday “and I choked up,” he said. “He did it by his own achievement. Nobody gave it to him.”

Mr. Connerly expressed hope that Mr. Obama’s rise would boost his own efforts to end affirmative action.

“The entire argument for race preferences is that society is institutionally racist and institutionally sexist, and you need affirmative action to level the playing field,” Mr. Connerly said. “The historic success of Senator Obama, as well as Senator Clinton, dismantles that argument.”
Connerly, of course, is the mastermind behind California's push to end racial preferences in the state.

I mention all of this because this morning's Wall Street Journal has a big piece on Obama's success and the politics of affirmative action, "
Fair Enough? Barack Obama's Rise Has Americans Debating Whether Affirmative Action Has Run Its Course."

Here's an excerpt:

WARREN, Mich. -- Stan Sheyn, a white student who attends community college in this working-class Detroit suburb, supports Barack Obama for president. But he has no time for what he calls "double standards and propagation of victim mentality."

"The fact that a black man can run for the position of the President of the United States of America only corroborates that there is enough opportunity and equality for great things like that to happen," he says. "And that there is no need to create special advantages for any demographic group."

Electra Fulbright, a black small-business consultant in prosperous Southfield, Mich., couldn't disagree more.

"Obama's privileges and his accomplishments are minute compared to the black population at large," says Ms. Fulbright, who plans to vote for Sen. Obama. "When we talk about Obama, we are not talking about the average black American. There is injustice in this country, and until we correct it, we need affirmative action."

Few issues have been as incendiary in the workplace and on college campuses as affirmative action -- in large part because so many blacks and whites have been personally affected by affirmative action, in ways both good and bad.

Now, Sen. Obama's rise is prompting some whites to ask -- and some blacks to fear -- the question: Does America still need affirmative action, given that an African-American has made it to the top of American politics?

The question has been asked before, as other blacks have risen to high positions. But Sen. Obama's swift ascent to the verge of the presidency may have created a turning point in the debate.
Read the whole thing.

I've stated my opposition to affirmative action many times. As the quote above demonstrates, the statement by Ms. Fulbright reflects the cult of victimology that civil rights shakedown artists deploy to perpertuate racial grievances and claims for preferential treatment.

This is the anti-intellectual ideology of equality of result, and it violates constitutional standards of equal protection on the basis of
color blindness.

I don't think Obama's going to be favorable to that side of the debate (non-discriminatory equality of opportunity), considering that racial-quota-masters constituency forms a massive part of his postmodern coalition.