Affirmative action is wrong, borderline racist and could soon be making a return to American politics. A bill allowing universities to discriminate for the sake of diversity has come before the governor of California. Affirmative action is based on the belief that people with a certain skin tone need special help to get into college and those of other skin tones do not need such help.
In response, a Republican group on the UC-Berkeley campus made a horrible attempt at framing the issue with a discriminatory bake sale, drawing outrage from liberal groups.
Beyond the slogans and the rhetoric, the reason to oppose affirmative action before it again becomes commonplace is simple. In California, there has been a ban in place on affirmative action for 15 years. The ban prevents universities from discriminating against individuals based upon race or gender.
Bans in California, the state of Washington and other states were a huge step forward for the country. Whether a student is male, female, white, African-American, Asian or Latino, a university cannot make a decision based upon their ethnicity, but instead their character.
Certainly if someone had a compelling personal story of how they grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and worked their rear end off to make it to this point, it could be factored into the admissions process, but just their skin color or gender cannot.
Rather than seeking to overcome the serious issues with poverty in the inner city and the ethnic disparity among poor populations, politicians make assumptions that people of certain color are poorer or have lower education than those from other backgrounds. This is why affirmative action exists.
It gets worse.
The bill could serve as a way to discriminate against certain minorities who might have a large population in state universities. It could even discriminate against women. At UC-Berkeley, 53 percent of the undergraduate students are female. Latest census data shows the percentage of women in the state of California is closer to 49.9 percent and 50.7 percent in the United States.
Under affirmative action, women could theoretically be discriminated against for the benefit of men because, according to statistics, men need a small leg up.
That makes no sense.
UC-Berkeley also has one of the largest Asian student bodies in the entire nation. In the fall of 2010, 45.7 percent of new freshmen attending the school were Asian, the largest demographic of any ethnicity. Only 31.7 percent were Caucasian.
That means of all the thousands of applicants, UC-Berkeley ended up admitting 4,100 new students. A plurality of incoming freshmen were of Asian descent because they were the most qualified, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is affirmative action forcing that percentage to drop because Asians could be the “wrong minority” to admissions officers. Admissions officers may purposefully toss their applications in the waste-bin in favor of even a white applicant because they are the wrong race.
African-Americans and Hispanics are the “right” minorities to bring a good balance of different ethnicities. Universities could simply open up more slots to get more minority applicants overall without cutting back on others, but then they would lose bragging rights about exclusivity.
It pays to be snobby.
Under the bill, universities could also take into account socioeconomic status. That is a poor indicator in many cases, because income is often relative to where someone lives and who they grow up around.
This is dangerous for every American across the country. During the last few decades, the country has worked hard on considering individuals beyond their race. Poverty is a problem in many locations, and a disparity of the poor are minorities.
Fortunately, for the time being, Washington does not have to worry about this problem. The state passed Initiative 200 in 2004 which prohibited affirmative action or, for that matter, any discrimination. Everyone is treated based upon their abilities, not their skin tone.
That is the America we should work for.
Racism still exists, and people of African-American and Latino descent have, on average, a lower socioeconomic status than Caucasians. This is an issue that will take decades to fix, but more discrimination is not the answer.
Just say no to racism and no to affirmative action.