June 26, 2003

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if it were possible to talk about affirmative action without having to be worried about sounding like a racist? Can a person say they are against the policy without being branded a bigot? Well a recent Supreme Court ruling almost made this possible but a 5-4 vote by the nation's highest court confirmed the University of Michigan law school's admission policies that allow race to be a factor in determining which students will be accepted into the school's graduate program.

Call me crazy but I thought that was wrong. I thought the fight to desegregate schools had proven that it was wrong to consider a student's ethnic background or country of origin when offering them a public education. Of course the new court ruling isn't bringing back segregation but it has opened the door for another form of discrimination. If you are a Caucasian student you might not be admitted to the Michigan law school or many other schools across the nation now that the policy has been upheld. Even though you have better grades and other qualifications you might not make the cut simply because of your skin color.

In the Supreme Court's defense, it did strike down a part of the University of Michigan's policy that created a points system for applicants and gave additional points simply for being a minority. However the court left the door open for schools to discriminate in their admission policies by considering race.

I don't live in Utopia and I realize that a perfect world we do not have. I understand the idea of equality is idealistic and may never be 100-percent realized. Supporters will argue that affirmative action is striving to create equality, as it is offsetting the racial inequities that are going on to hamper minorities under the table, unregulated by court rulings. I'd be the first to agree that there undoubtedly are still far more minority students, workers or whatever that are not getting that scholarship, job, etc. because of racism. I simply feel like affirmative action does more to hurt the cause than it does to help. The policy helps a few more minorities to get jobs or get into school but when it comes at the expense of reverse-discrimination, then all you are doing is breeding future racial tension and bigotry. Obviously the white students that do not get admitted into the school because they are not a minority, well they are going to be mad. If they don't develop a little racial bias based on the backlash of not getting into school, then what about the stereo-types or the mindsets that the policy itself creates? Doesn't affirmative action basically say that minorities are not supposed to have as good of grades as non-minorities? Doesn't it lower the bar and install the idea that minorities are in someway inferior or incapable of performing at the same level as non-minorities? Maybe affirmative action is the break that these students need to be placed on an equal playing field, but I just don't see where you can use equality and affirmative action in the same argument.

Boy did I pick a tough topic to get back into the swing of this editorial writing gig. I've been battling scheduling issues combined with a lack of time and a little bit of a writer's block. Maybe I would have been better off picking a less controversial topic from the latest headlines. I'm sure I wouldn't have offended anyone by blasting the idiot that threw the baby out of the seventh story window. I could have beat the war drums a little more or even bored you with a whiny tale about my one-year old filling up my truck CD player with the loose change that was left in a cup holder. Believe me as I read back through this I considered scarping my thoughts and starting over on one of the less controversial issues. But in the end, I hope folks realize, these are just my opinions and you are all welcome to disagree. If there is someone out there who thinks I am secretly a member of the KKK and would like to write a rebuttal we would be glad to consider it.

Okay so this may not be the most politically correct column I've ever written. I'm sure minority readers will say that I have spoken like a true white man. I'm not a minority and thus I have no idea what it's like to be discriminated against. Well if I applied for the University of Michigan Law School maybe I would.

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