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What To Do About Affirmative Action

- Abstract

The thinking behind the policy of racial preference which has been followed in America over the past quarter-century under the name of “affirmative action”1 is best summed up by former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun’s famous dictum that, “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take race into account.”

The Orwellian quality of Blackmun’s admonition is obvious. Seldom has a democratic government’s policy so completely contradicted the core values of its citizenry as racial preference does in violating the universally held American ideals of fairness and individual rights, including the right to be free from discrimination. Not surprisingly, then, where Americans regarded the original civil-rights legislation as representing a long-overdue fulfillment of the country’s democratic promise, they overwhelmingly see racial preference as an undemocratic and alien concept, a policy implemented by stealth and subterfuge and defended by duplicity and legalistic tricks.

About the Author

Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.