The Noxiousness of Affirmative Action Cases

I’ll use this opportunity with today’s non-decision by the Supreme Court on affirmative action to say just how awful these cases are. And no, I don’t mean the sides’ relative positions. The right-wing takes its whole “colorblind” bullshit to extreme heights in these cases. I think it’s fairly clear that merely being “colorblind” won’t fix the problem. The thing is, I’m fairly certain that neither will race-preferenced college admissions.

Sure, it’s a nice thing that we have this program and I’m not suggesting we take it away. I’m just saying that at the end of the day, it’s much more important what the conditions of your child’s kindergarten are than whether he or she gets into the University of Michigan law school or Michigan State’s law school. In the days when the economy were good, that might mean a few thousand dollars a year in salary, on average, or it might mean nothing.

We are not even dealing with a program that admits kids who wouldn’t otherwise go to college. We’re dealing with people who want to be higher in the U.S. News rankings.

How any liberal concerned with issues of social justice and economic opportunity can honestly get so excited over these cases when there is no equality in preschool, kindergarten, primary school, and high school—and when the job market that we have after that is leaving minorities behind even if they have degrees, when real wages are flat, I just can’t say.

I understand the symbolic weight of all of this and I understand the importance of having a diverse and representative workforce and schools. I would argue similarly that any white kid damaged by having to go to UCLA instead of Berkeley needs to quit whining as well.

No one mixed up in these cases is doomed to poverty or, usually, even to going without a college degree.