At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


The Obama Presidency and the End of Affirmative Action?

posted by Jack Kerwick

For many of us, Barack Obama’s presidency has been anything but an occasion for rejoicing.  From its beginnings to the present, and particularly during the last couple of months with the eruption of one scandal after the other, it has been like a dark cloud hanging over the nation’s head.

Still, this dark cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Five years ago, Obama and his supporters (on both the left and right) assured the country that his election promised to alleviate interracial tensions.  Most people bought this line.  Some of us, though, knew that it was just that—a line.   Moreover, we knew that not only would race relations not improve, they would actually worsen as the usual suspects in the Racism Industrial Complex (RIC), ever fearful that a black president would undermine their heretofore tried and true narrative of perpetual white oppression and black suffering, accelerated their cries of “racism.”

On the other hand, some of us also knew that RIC agents’ fears were not unfounded.  For however frequently and loudly they screamed “racism,” the presence of a black president—and a black president with the name of Barack Hussein Obama, to boot—could very well, eventually, suck the life out of their template.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken two weeks ago suggests that maybe, just maybe, this is beginning to occur.

The poll found that the public’s support for affirmative action is at an all-time low. 

Forty-five percent of respondents maintain that this race-centered preferential treatment policy is still necessary in order to protect racial minorities.  But, for the first time, an equal number of people think that it is unjust inasmuch as it discriminates against white.

The significance of this can’t be overstated.  Two decades ago, 61 percent of Americans supported affirmative action.

Predictably, race and politics remain reliable indicators of where one comes down on this issue.  Opposition to affirmative action stems from nearly 60 percent of whites, 40 percent of Hispanics, and 20 percent of blacks. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats support it, versus just 22 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of self-identified members of the Tea Party who do so.  Independents support affirmative action by just 39 percent.

As NBC News’ Domenico Mantanaro writes, this historically low support for affirmative action is attributable to several things, including “diversity fatigue” and “20 years of anti-affirmative-action campaigns.”  Yet, he adds, it is also explained as a result of “an African-American being elected president [.]”

Whether Obama’s presidency is just one cause among others or a primary contributor to the erosion of support for affirmative action is neither here nor there.  To the extent that it accounts to any extent for this phenomenon almost makes his time in the Oval office worth it, for there are few policies as inimical to our constitutional order as affirmative action.

The liberty that Americans have always prized and that our Founders did their best to codify in and secure by way of the Constitution did not fall like manna from heaven.  It is the product of many generations, a complex of historically and culturally-specific habits, including and especially the habit of despising large concentrations of power.  This last found its penultimate expression in respect for the rule of law.

The rule of law prevents those in government from succumbing to arbitrary—i.e. unlawful—deployments of the power at their disposal.  In other words, it forbids them from acting partially, whether in their own interests or those of a class.  It requires of the government that it refrain from privileging some citizens above others.

The rule of law precludes affirmative action.

Reporting on the results of the NBC/WSJ poll, Domenico Mantanaro says that respondents who reject affirmative action reject it on the grounds that such “programs unfairly discriminate against whites.”  They are mistaken.  Affirmative action deserves to be rejected, certainly, but not because it is either discriminatory or discriminatory against whites.

Affirmative action needs to be abolished because it is government discrimination against some citizens and in favor of others.

As such, it is an affront to the liberty of all citizens.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Obama’s color wound up actually harming his cause by facilitating the end of affirmative action and a restoration of some measure of liberty?

 

 



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