American Proscenium

Affirmative Agitprop

The University of Michigan is now the scene of the most important battle over affirmative action since the Bakke case at Stanford, settled so inconclusively some 25 years ago by the Supreme Court.  There is absolutely no question that Ann Arbor’s undergraduate and admissions policies are based on a principle of racial preference that, in parallel cases (discrimination in favor of whites), has been repeatedly declared unconstitutional by federal courts.  In addition to traditional selection criteria based on academic ability and achievement, Michigan also gives serious consideration to both ethnicity and low socioeconomic status (which is very often a codeword for race).  This means, in the case of the law school, that black applicants are over 250 times more likely than white candidates to be selected.

Defenders of affirmative action in general and the University of Michigan in particular make the same three points: First, a diverse student body is desirable; second, without affirmative action, universities would become far more “white” than they are today; and third, virtually all successful minority members owe their careers to affirmative action.  If the last two points were true, then diversity would hardly be so desirable as the University of Michigan’s officials are claiming.  If blacks, nearly 140 years and five generations after the end of the Civil War, cannot make it on their...

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