As we have seen over and over again, racial preferences are justified because of the need for “diversity,” a justification that depends on the assumption, or stereotype, of “difference” — a racialist (in the past it was regarded as racist) belief that racial and ethnic groups bring fundamentally “different values and attitudes to the workplace and school.” (Here I’m quoting pro-preferences former University of Michigan law professor Theodore St. Antoine from my last post, but virtually any pro-preference argument could be quoted.)
The “diversity” vs. non-discrimination debate these days is usually framed as an argument that institutions should be allowed to subordinate or abandon the “without regard” non-discrimination priniciple if they want to. In the case of academic institutions, that argument is buttressed with a claim that “academic freedom” exempts universities from the non-discrimiantion principle, even if other institutions must comply with it.
Exemption of some sort is necessary, because giving some benefit based on race is incompatible with the principle barring discrimination based on race. (You’d think that wasn’t so difficult to understand.) So, as a thought experiment if you wish, consider this test: if “diversity” really is as important as its advocates claim, shouldn’t those advocates be willing to support the repeal of non-discrimination laws in order to make preferences incontestably legal?
Continuing with the experiment: Diversiphiles want to be allowed to practice discrimination to promote “diversity.” Would they be willing, in a spirit of comity, to allow organizations and institutions that are indifferent to the alleged benefits of “difference” to admit students or hire employees who share certain values, rather than represent different ones? Or, in their heart of hearts, do they want to compel every organization (forget academic freedom in this scenario) to implement their preferred vision of difference-based “diversity”?
But wouldn’t the latter approach require an army of enforcers to monitor the degree of “difference” present everywhere and issue regulations about what sorts of “difference” are required and how much of it (Why no necessary “critical mass” of native Americans or non-native Puerto Ricans? Would the blackness of a young Clarence Thomas represent enough “difference,” or would there be progressiveness tests as well?).
Oh, wait. That sounds familiar….