Affirmative Action Without Stereotyping Is Like …

… a principled defense of colorblind, “without regard” equality coming from anyone in Obama administration or any Democratic politician, i.e., it doesn’t exist.

This incontrovertible observation is prompted by a July 13 article by pollster Charlie Cook in the National Journal, “Beyond Stereotypes,” that begins:

Many of us who write about politics have a sloppy habit of using catchall phrases when we should be more specific. We use terms such as “Hispanics” and “Latinos,” for example, to describe a group of 52 million Americans whose politics differ greatly, partly depending on their ancestral country. Cuban-Americans have traditionally voted Republican, though less so in recent years. Puerto Ricans are among the most ardent groups in the Democratic base. Mexican-Americans have traditionally voted more Democratic, but as their household incomes rose through the years, their willingness to vote Republican increased as well, at least until the immigration-reform issue came to prominence again….

The same can be said about women voters: Generalizing too much is dangerous. Overall, President Obama beat Romney by 11 points among women, who made up 53 percent of the electorate last year….

But when you start slicing and dicing the women’s vote, big differences emerge that sometimes contradict the broad assumptions. For example, Romney’s 11-point deficit among all women masked a 14-point winning percentage among white women, 56 percent to 42 percent.

The entire edifice of affirmative action is built on a “sloppy habit” of dangerous, dermatological generalizing — assuming that skin color is a valid proxy for the sort of “diversity” that the educational establishment claims is essential to the educational mission. Affirmative action could not exist without its reliance on the very sort of racial and ethnic stereotyping derided by Cook.

Take California, for example (please!). The Democratic legislature there, responding to demands from its  increasingly powerful Hispanic caucuses, is moving full steam ahead to seek repeal of the provision of the California constitution, placed there by a strong popular majority that passed Prop. 209, that prohibits discrimination against or preferential treatment of any individual or group based on race or ethnicity. In the name of “diversity,” Democrats want the University of California and other institutions to give preferential treatment in admission and hiring to Hispanics.

But the vast preponderance of those Democratic politicians are Mexican-American, as are great numbers of their constituents. If Prop. 209 is repealed and ethnic preferences become legal again (pending federal challenges) but the University of California takes Charlie Cook’s point seriously, admissions officers would have to reduce the preferences given to Mexican-Americans in order to give more to Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Latin Americans who would clearly provide more “diversity” than simply increasing the number of Mexican-American students even more.

Disaggregating racial and ethnic groups, in fact, would actually produce ethnic discrimination. As I wrote recently here,

The disaggregators may think (or at least hope) that increasing the preferential treatment of “underrepresented” Asian groups would silence the growing opposition to affirmative action that has emerged among Asian Americans, but it might do the opposite. Ron Unz has demonstrated that the proportion of Asians accepted to selective, especially Ivy League, colleges has remained unchanged despite the increasing numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants. Whether or not this “surprising” consistency results from overt or covert quotas or the miracle of massaged “holistic” criteria, it is likely that admitting more members of Asian sub-groups would result in the admission of fewer Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other traditionally high-performing Asian applicants, the very applicants who under the current system suffer the most from the preferences given to blacks and Hispanics. If those preferences were eliminated, one leading scholar has concluded, “Asian students would fill nearly four out of every five places in the admitted class not taken by African-American and Hispanic students.”

I wonder how many Mexican-American California Democrats would continue supporting ethnic preferences if they thought the number of Mexican-American students would have to be reduced to make room — in the name of “diversity,” of course — for more Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Latin and South Americans, and I suspect they would not be pleased at all if, as would likely be the case, some of those preferred non-Mexican Hispanics were imported from outside California. In Virginia, as I pointed out here, it’s clear that UVa gives preferences to out of state minorities, and it’s thus not at all unlikely that a “diversity”-seeking Berkeley or UCLA admissions office might prefer a few South Florida Cubans to yet more South Central Los Angeles Mexican-Americans.

There is already a growing split between Asian-American advocacy organizations, most of which support affirmative action, and large numbers of Asian Americans who see themselves excluded the same way Jews formerly were. Asian-American applicants already are the primary victims of preferences given to blacks and Hispanics. If the “sloppy habit” of ethnic stereotyping were replaced by disaggregating Asian-American applicants to produce more Hmong etc., high performing Asian-American applicants from Chinese or Japanese or Korean backgrounds would be victimized even more.

Liberal solutions to problems caused by liberals often have that sort of effect.


Say What? (2)

  1. awwriting July 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm | | Reply

    There is a fantastic comment on that article:

    “Imagine if people with origins in the UK, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, etc were lumped together as ‘Anglos’ by the US census! Similarly, it is ABSURD to group Spanish speakers (from 21 countries) into a mythical ethnicity labeled ‘Hispanic’. Especially since cubans (in the US) generally consider themselves southern ‘European’ – and hurl the word ‘Indio’ (which they consider a pejorative) at Mexicans.”

    This comment is relevant to last year’s outrage over the Romney campaign referring to the relationship between the US and the UK in terms of common Anglo-Saxon heritage. Throughout US society, commentators were outraged, citing the multi-ethnic mix of US citizens to point out how racist or foolish the Romney campaign is. Yet, these same outraged commentators (see Joan Walsh’s column at Slate) with glee embrace an ethno-linguistic term, derived from another colonizer, to refer to any peoples from Latin/South America, despite Latin America’s multi-ethnic, multi-racial population.

  2. CaptDMO July 16, 2013 at 7:45 am | | Reply

    So now that prefered racism, sexism,and geographic chauvinism has been weighed, measured, and found wanting, as an “economics” vehicle to transfer taxpayers “fair share” to the oft superflouous academic credential vending machine, where does that leave the value of “diversity” in “race”, gender, and other hyphen bookends, in the astonishingly complicated documentation demanded as quota prerequisites for…say… the NOW un/semi-skilled certificate holders by actual manufacturers seeking gub’mint contract “awards” for actual”stuff”, that SOMEBODY in gub’mint has decided is needed to justify the rent/maintenance in an otherwise empty “storage facility” before it’s mis-appropriated, “given” to hyphen qualified
    “non-profit group” resellers, sold at auction for pennnies on the dollar, or simply sent to a dump as unuseable?

    Does the “economics” phrase Planned Obsolescence fit in here anywhere?

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