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Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez
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Race and the Election

Comment

All fair-minded Americans understand that race should not be a factor in choosing our next president, so why should race continue to play a role in deciding who gets into college or receives a government contract or is hired or promoted in a government job? It makes no sense to argue that we're supposed to be colorblind in the polling booth but color-conscious in so many other areas.

On Election Day, voters in Colorado and Nebraska will have the opportunity to end this racial double standard by approving amendments to their state constitutions that will outlaw racial preferences in state education, contracting, and employment. Polls suggest that these ballot initiatives will pass easily. It's about time.

For 40 years, we've maintained a kind of cognitive dissonance in our public policies when it comes to race. On the one hand, we have condemned — and made illegal — racial discrimination. On the other, we've condoned — even actively encouraged — racial preferences for favored minority groups.

If it is wrong for an employer to refuse to hire someone because of his or her skin color or ancestry, why is it right to require that same employer to achieve and maintain a certain racial and ethnic balance in the workforce?

How can race and ethnicity be impermissible bases on which to deny admission to students but be perfectly acceptable factors in deciding which students to admit?

Welcome to the Alice-in-Wonderland world of affirmative action. Proponents used to argue that such programs were necessary to overcome the effects of historical discrimination. Now, they claim affirmative action isn't about remedying past discrimination, it's about promoting diversity. Whatever.

No matter how you try to rationalize it, picking winners and losers based on skin color is ugly. And it's especially pernicious when government itself is the culprit, which is why the ballot initiatives in Nebraska and Colorado specifically restrict government-sponsored racial preferences.

Race is frequently the deciding factor in determining who gets into the University of Nebraska law school, for example. This month, the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), a public policy research organization that I chair, released a study (http://www.ceousa.org/content/view/628/100/) of admission practices at the state's College of Law.

Analyzing admissions data from 2006 and 2007, the study shows that a black non-resident applicant is 20 times more likely to be admitted to the law school than a Nebraska resident who happens to be white. Overall, the odds favoring the admission of a black applicant with the same grades and test scores as a white applicant were an astonishing 442-to-1.

In defending the practice, the dean of the law school said that it was necessary "to admit a class with a diversity of experiences and viewpoints to ensure vigorous and enlightening classroom discussions," arguing, "we can better discuss alleged race-based police practices if African Americans are in the room." But what lessons do students learn when they discover that the LSAT scores of the top 25 percent of black students at the law school are actually lower than the scores of the bottom 25 percent of their fellow white students?

And Nebraska isn't alone in admitting less qualified black and Latino over white applicants. CEO has studied racial preferences in admissions at dozens of colleges, law schools, and medical schools across the country, including a study that looked at undergraduate admissions at all state schools in Colorado a decade ago. (Unfortunately, Colorado's higher education commission would not provide admissions data to update the study this year.)

The pattern was the same virtually everywhere: In order to achieve "diversity," colleges and universities routinely admit black and Latino students with lower grades and test scores than their white and Asian peers. In a few cases, the differences were small. But at many more schools the disparities were huge. At Arizona State University law school, CEO found that the odds favoring admission for black applicants over whites were 1,115-to-1, the worst for any school we have studied.

Approval of the Colorado and Nebraska civil rights initiatives on Tuesday would bring to five the number of states that have banned racial preferences in state programs. Discriminating against or granting preference to anyone because of skin color has no place in America — and the polling booth is the perfect place to demonstrate it.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am;... I am all for that... Let's end preferential treatment based upon race... It would be more effective to criminalize prejudice, biggotry, and discrimination...If you own a business there is no reason you must give any race equal consideration with another.. That should change... If you will do nothing to make up for the effects of discrimination, then discrimination should be outlawed... No one can face another person's prejudice for him... As good as it is to try, as a society, to offer opportunity for advancement by preference, it does not really get at the ugly, painful reality of prejudice... People are hurt by discrimination... The worst thing you can teach any child is that he cannot overcome the barrier of hate and biggotry, that he will never escape his skin color, or past condition of servitude... Now, I am not the pot calling the kettle... I have no friends who are black... I don't like their culture, and I do not like their slave mentalities; but when I saw a black man drowning I went into the river with another (black) man to help save his human life... And some years back, I offered my job when there was no work, if necessary, to help keep a young, and I thought, promising black man on the job... If we do not do what we can, our desires are forever beyond our reach... We have brought black people to this land where we worked many right to death... Sold down the river means sold out... Old Suzanna with its oppositions is saying; I am going to a gulf state where heat, humidity, and malaria will kill me inside of ten years, and my replacement cost will set the price of cotton, and my life will be depreciated like a capital investment..-Please CRY for Me!!!. WE OWE to black people a great debt, and only criminals, or simpletons deny that debt, which no one can pay; but which all can make gain on only by given something like equality, or a hand up to those with ability. .. What will history say of a nation that will not give what is due and is long denied??? Will it say that for the small price of justice we bought injustice??? Will it say that when we could afford unity we bought division, and on time??? Ma'am; you seem on the tube, and in your picture to be a neat and clean person in a land that values those qualities as virtues... Think of how nice it would be to seem unclean and untouchable on the outside, but to possess true moral virtue... Ma'am, seek out moral virtue what ever your appearance.. Do not hide a small spirit, and an unkind soul under a bee hive.... Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:22 AM
Mr. Sweeny: You say ". . . It would be more effective to criminalize prejudice, biggotry (sic), and discrimination . . . discrimination should be outlawed . . ." Excuse me, but discrimination based on race, ethnicity and religion HAS been outlawed for a long time, going back to all the civil-rights-related legislation and court decisions of the 1950s and '60s. It's impossible to criminalize prejudice and bigotry, of course, since no government can control people's thoughts (though totalitarian regimes throughout history have tried to do just that), but it is no longer legally permissible to refuse to sell a home, rent an apartment, serve a customer at a store, restaurant or hotel, or hire someone for a job based solely on race. As for your statement that "we owe to black people a great debt," just who is this "we"? Do you believe the children are responsible for their fathers' sins? I've never oppressed anyone, treated anyone differently, or refused to deal with anyone because of their race. Furthermore, I've never owned even one slave! There's no such thing as collective guilt. Responsibility isn't transmitted via the DNA; it begins and ends with the individual. Slavery ended more than 140 years ago. The only enduring effect of slavery today is that some folks are still bitching about it.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Scot Penslar
Sun Nov 2, 2008 1:48 PM
With Sen. Obama there will be MORE Affirmative Action, not less. This makes for less qualified doctors and all professionals. Scares me.
Comment: #3
Posted by: nancy
Sun Nov 2, 2008 7:53 PM
Linda:

Seems you are forgetting that discrimination DOES still exist...or maybe you don't fully understand how difficult it is to even PROVE it. While I believe AA is necessary now, I don't think it always will be. I think that in a society such as ours, that we should have at least SOME sort of moral obligation to those of us who have less. That means assisting those who would not gain assistance elsewhere. It means noticing that not everyone in this country is born with the same opportunities presented to them.

For every instance that you can point to where a white person got passed up for a job because they weren't a minority, there are probably a TON more cases of minorities getting passed over. How ironic then that you try to make your post about being "fair", when you only care if that fairness extends to whites.

Until you can prove that AA has had an adverse affect on white (specifically white male) employment, you don't really have much of a case.
Comment: #4
Posted by: MB
Mon Nov 3, 2008 9:30 AM
I worked at a large hotel in Beverly Hills, Ca. While there, I oversaw the foodservice/kitchen help. A Jewish chef runs into my office fustrated that those "G.D. N***G's won't let me play my country music on my prep station." I am a multiracial person. I have Black bloodlines on my father's side. Until that moment, I did not know that people talked like this. I was 27 at the time. My colleagues all thought I was pure caucasian. At that moment, I understood what Affirmative Action was for. There are people who would not hire people simply because of their skin color. Regardless of their talent, experience and degrees. I think it is alright that any University consider race. Could you imagine an attorney representing a downtrodden person of color in a discrimination case when they have no connection to that community or their client's plight? Simply because there is a law, does not mean it is applied, unless there are people in the judicial system who realize the truth that someone's rights are violated. Standardized tests have long favored middle to upper-middle class whites. These are the primary author's of these tests. If a Black Author was included on the LSAT, and material was more factual and less socially focused upon, maybe Black's would factor higher scores. But then, so would White's and selectivity would be more difficult. Let's not forget that to have money available to you to invest in cram courses may also be key in higher test scores. Affirmative Action cannot hurt the caucasian population, because they have many more opportunites available as a whole. Everyone thinks the ghetto culture is appalling, but yet when someone risks stepping outside of that, people are thinking "we don't want you here." How appalling in 2008. A hand up is not a hand out.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jean Costas
Tue Nov 4, 2008 11:13 AM
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