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  • POINT – COUNTERPOINT

    Filed at 1:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    The two Times (NY and Wash) have Op/Ed pieces today on the Michigan affirmative action cases. Predictably, the NYT is pro-AA and the WaTimes is anti. What is perhaps somewhat surprising, though, is that the NYT piece argues that diversity is not a compelling government interest and that African-Americans harm themselves in bowing to the diversity “god.”

    First, while diversity is a goal that deserves to be pursued in its own right, it was a major strategic error for African-American leaders to have advocated it as the main justification for affirmative action. In doing so, they greatly expanded the number of groups entitled to preferences — including millions of immigrants whose claims on the nation pale in comparison to those who have been historically discriminated against. Such a development understandably alarmed many whites who were otherwise prepared to turn a pragmatic blind eye to their principled concerns about affirmative action.

    Using diversity as a rationale for affirmative action also distorts the aims of affirmative action. The original, morally incontestable goal of the policy was the integration of African-Americans in all important areas of the public and private sectors from which they had been historically excluded. But if diversity is the goal, the purpose of affirmative action shifts from improving the condition of blacks to transforming America into a multicultural society. Thus the pursuit of inclusion is replaced by the celebration of separate identities.

    In a more profound sense, the diversity rationale undermines a hopeful view of America. If the purpose of affirmative action is to redress past wrongs, then it requires both the minority and the majority to do the cultural work necessary to create what Martin Luther King Jr. called the “beloved community” of an integrated nation. Instead, many of its supporters see affirmative action as an entitlement, requiring little or no effort on the part of minorities.

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