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The Warren Rule, Part Two: The Pushback to Ending Racial Preferences

Last week I wrote about the first stage in my proposed plan to end racial preferences in the U.S. university system by using the ready availability of genetic testing services, such as 23andMe and others, to broaden the definitions of multicultural identity to the point where these distinctions become meaningless. I’ve named it “The Warren Rule,” in honor of the Massachusetts senator who identified as Native American despite having a genetic link to the continent’s original inhabitants of as low as .09 percent of her DNA. Let’s now turn to the likely reaction by the left to my plan.

We can assume that at least some school administrators will insist that only “authentic” minority applicants deserve extra help, so their task will be to separate “real” blacks, etc., from the alleged impostors—albeit alleged impostors whose DNA show some African ancestry. Now it will be on these authenticity-minded admission officers to look for distinctive black or Hispanic names, participation in minority-themed organizations, the racial mix of their high schools, and other supposedly telltale signs of authenticity.

Alas, returning to the old system of “I know it when I see it” is not as easy as it might seem, and the system is easily gamed. Applicants generally perceived as “white” could legally change their names, just as Jews once did to overcome anti-Semitism. They could join the school’s Black Students Association, form a rap group, or even enroll in a nearby largely black high school. If applications demand a photograph, these can be slightly photoshopped to give just enough “minority” appearances. Surely there will be a Snapchat filter created to make multiracial even the blandest visage. But if millions of people heretofore identified as white or Asian claim minority heritages, admission offices will soon face an insurmountable sorting problem and just surrender.

Now for the real fun. Diversity industry bureaucrats will naturally recognize my plan as a direct threat to the racial spoils system, including thousands of jobs necessary to facilitate old-fashioned skin-color-based diversity. Equally likely is that they will attack the tactic legally, if and when a parent is tried for fraud. And what will these defenders of the old order argue?

Irony of ironies, champions of the present status quo will marshal tons of scientific evidence that race is biologically real, is reflected in skin color and other genetic-based physical traits, and thus, unlike gender, cannot possibly be just a matter of preferences. Men can decide to be women and legitimately demand to be treated as such but, say the Directors of Admissions, whites cannot be blacks. That is, race is fixed in the genes and involves far more than skin color.

These court battles will pit the postmodern ideology which proclaims that categories such as race are socially constructed against this new version of “scientific racists” now working on behalf of the universities to defend the racial spoils system. The postmoderns will be ideologically obliged to defend parents accused of admission fraud. Given that universities have long sought to discredit this scientific racism, even firing those accused of it, the trials will be an upside-down world. To defend their traditional preference arrangement, universities will recruit world-class geneticists like David Reich to express in open court arguments about race that are seen as heresy by the current political establishment. Who would ever imagine that universities would embrace science-based race realism?

The result is that universities will have accept applicant-supplied self-definitions, buttressed by tiny percentages of ancestry DNA evidence, and thus admit as a minority anybody who claims to be black, Hispanic, or Native American. Their only alternative will be to double down in defense of the current seat-of-the-pants definition of race by the whims of their admissions officers. This will not be an easy dilemma to navigate and I suspect that many schools will take the path of least resistance: just abandon all efforts to classify applicants by objective race or ethnicity, a tactic analogous to “all genders” bathrooms. At long last, U.S. racial preferences will die!

[Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay]

Robert Weissberg

Robert Weissberg is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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