by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online offers a series of questions challenging standard notions of the value of affirmative action and policies based on diversity. He concludes the piece with the following passage:
Will the children of multimillionaire Tiger Woods — or of Jay-Z and Beyoncé — qualify for special consideration on the theory that their racial pedigrees or statistical underrepresentation in some fields will make their lives more challenging than the lives of poor white children in rural Pennsylvania or second-generation Arab-Americans in Dearborn, Mich.?
If ossified racial preferences don’t work in 21st-century multiracial America, then the generalized idea of “diversity” — just picking and choosing people without any rationale other than ensuring lots of different races and ethnic groups — seems a more defensible reason for extending preferences in lieu of using strictly meritocratic criteria.
Yet “diversity” no more alleviates the problem of bias than “climate change” ends controversy over global warming. And we really do not mean “diversity” in the widest sense of the word. No Ivy League law school is worried that its faculty is disproportionately 90 percent liberal, or that it lacks a contingent of fundamentalist Christians commensurate with their numbers in the general population.
The idea of diversity, racial and otherwise, is deeply embedded in our politics, but not consistently applied. President George H. W. Bush was not especially lauded for appointing the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas — apparently because Thomas was considered conservative. Liberal attorney general Eric Holder was seen by the media as a genuinely diverse appointment in a way that a conservative predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, was not.
Like Prohibition, affirmative action and then diversity were originally noble efforts that were doomed — largely by their own illiberal contradiction of using present and future racial discrimination to atone for past racial discrimination.
It is well past time to move on and to see people as just people.