The Magazine

The Price Was High

Affirmative action and the betrayal of a colorblind society.

Jan 21, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 18 • By GEORGE LEEF
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Nieli shows how feeble and deceptive this argument is. It’s nothing but wishful thinking to believe that engineering diverse student bodies leads to cross-cultural understanding. Almost all of the minority students admitted will be culturally indistinguishable from their white classmates: They’re all American teenagers who have grown up with largely the same influences. Moreover, the actual experience of “diversity” is far from ideal: Thanks to the obsession with race, we find lots of self-segregation and resentment.

When the Supreme Court last considered this question, the majority was pleased to defer to the supposed expertise of the University of Michigan rather than undertake a careful examination—in legal parlance, strict scrutiny—of the pros and cons of choosing students based on race. If the Court gives affirmative action real scrutiny in the recently argued Fisher v. Texas, even the liberal justices will have a hard time ruling that the robotic pursuit of racial diversity is a “compelling state interest.” Affirmative action is yet another of those social programs that make leftist politicians and academics feel good about themselves, while harming the imagined beneficiaries and tearing our social fabric.

 

George Leef is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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