If DISCRIMINATIONS gave awards for outstandingly bad editorials about civil rights (Hey, publisher, why don’t you look into that?), this week’s prize would have to go to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Opposing legislation to prohibit preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity, or gender, the Commercial Appeal‘s February 18 editorial argued that eliminating such preferences by colleges is “unnecessary” because “[i]t could hinder efforts to open higher education opportunities to those who qualify to enter college or related programs, but may lack the resources to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Here’s a question for the Memphis editors: if the goal is to help qualified students who lack the resources to go to college, why not give aid based on qualification and need?
The Commercial Appeal‘s logic, such as it is, is a pale reflection (probably a reflection in paleface) of the argument made against the anti-discrimination proposal by Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, president-elect of the National Conference of Black State Legislators:
“You can’t just wish away poverty or illiteracy or crime,” said Armstrong. “You have to actively work to bring people out of those conditions… Until we do that, there is no mission accomplished.”
In other words, according to the incoming head of the National Conference of Black State Legislators, race and ethnicity (and even gender?) are valid proxies for poverty, illiteracy, and criminality, and thus deserve preferential treatment.
Perhaps applicants who check the black or Hispanic boxes on their applications should be required to further specify whether they seek preferences because of their poverty, illiteracy, or criminal record.