A Compelling Argument That Interracial Conversations Are Not A “Compelling Interest”

Roger Clegg recently spoke at three Federalist Society chapters in the midwest, where he made a compelling argument (edited version here) that whatever benefits (if any) that flow from the interracial conversations that provide the justification, such as it is, for the racial discrimination in admissions necessary to produce them are not a compelling enough benefit to offset the considerable costs of achieving them. Here was his short list of those costs:

 It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it mismatches African Americans and Latinos with institutions, setting them up for failure (consider, in particular, the evidence marshaled in the recent book Mismatch by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor); it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school and encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership – an untenable legal regime as America becomes an increasingly multiracial, multiethnic society and as individual Americans are themselves more and more likely to be multiracial and multiethnic (starting with our president).

If he had had time, Clegg could have also mentioned what he and I wrote in our Reason No. 8 to be “Against ‘Diversity‘”:

“Diversity” is said to be good because it exposes whites to people with different ideas or backgrounds—i.e., those who actually are “different”—but it is very dubious to use race as a proxy for individual thoughts and experiences. There are few ideas or experiences that only members of a particular racial group can have, and fewer still that all members of that group will share. The most commonly cited such experience—systematic discrimination—becomes less convincing with every tick of the clock (today’s college applicants were born in 1994, after all—thirty years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act) and can hardly justify preferring Hispanics over Asians (and, of course, the white plaintiffs in the Michigan and Texas cases were themselves discriminated against). In sum, racial diversity cannot be equated with diversity of viewpoint, even if universities actually have any interest in diversity of viewpoint as opposed to diversity of melanin.

It is also rather contradictorily argued that greater racial diversity is needed to teach the specific lesson that not all African Americans, for instance, think alike, and indeed the Court said as much in Grutter. But this is a rather obvious and narrow lesson, and it is hard to understand why it can be taught only by using racial and ethnic preferences. Teaching this five-word truth, “Blacks don’t all think alike,” can hardly justify institutionalized racial discrimination. A law school might, instead, simply assign to its students selected opinions from Justice Thurgood Marshall, on the one hand, and Justice Clarence Thomas, on the other.

“Diversity,” in short, excludes some whites and Asians and preferentially admits some blacks and Latinos so that all can learn—by being exposed to their “difference”!—that they’re not really different. That’s not compelling; it’s not even logical….



Say What? (1)

  1. Cobra February 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm | | Reply

    Why are Asians frequently grafted onto the anti-Affirmative Action argument?

    “Bamboo Ceiling”

    Google it.


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