Sotomayor reminds us that affirmative action is terribly unfair

Justice Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor came to San Francisco and inadvertently made the case that affirmative action terribly unfair — and, moreover, that people are right if they believe, not that it gives qualified minorities a chance, but that it handicaps non-minorities at the expense of any minorities, qualified or not.

Let me unpack that first sentence.  All of us would like to see bright, hard-working kids succeed.  We have an innate sense that it is “fair” that those who work hardest get opportunities.  We approve of scholarships that reach out to poor children, enabling them to get the benefit of their own hard work and intelligence.

What we don’t like is a system that says to completely ordinary kids who make no specific effort:  “You!  Yeah, you.  Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because of your race.”  In the old days, that sentence, more fully written, read “Although you are undistinguished in all relevant ways, you’re going to get a leg up simply because you’re white.”  Looking back now, we realize how heinous it was to spread opportunities unevenly simply because of race.

Yet that’s precisely what affirmative action does — spread opportunities unevenly because of race.  The government, rather than being magisterially even-handed, has taken sides.  Instead of funding scholarships for accomplished young people, it funds scholarships for racially appropriate people (emphasis mine):

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in town Monday to promote her newly released memoir, said she couldn’t talk about affirmative action because of a pending court case. In the next breath, she talked about what it had meant to her – admission to Princeton and Yale Law School and the launching of a legal career.

“I was given the chance to get to the start of the race and it changed my life,” the 58-year-old justice told a sold-out Commonwealth Club audience at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

When she entered Princeton on a scholarship in 1972 despite unspectacular test scores, she recalled, the school was in only its third year of admitting women and had barely a handful of minority students.

Isn’t that nice for Sotomayor?  She got into Princeton despite the fact that she didn’t qualify.  And doesn’t it just suck for the hard-working white or Asian kid who, in that same year, had spectacular test scores (not to mention good grades), but was nevertheless barred from Princeton because Sotomayor took her place?  If Sotomayor had been a brilliant student, it’s probable that none of us would have cared that she, a kid from a dodgy New York neighborhood, was granted admission over a kid from somewhere suburbia.  What grates is that Sotomayor hadn’t earned her place academically.

I recognize that Sotomayor’s opportunity came about in 1972, when affirmative action was meant to be a quick fix — a head start — to make up for the decades of discrimination that immediately preceded those first few years of affirmative action.  What rankles is that, two generations later, we’re still giving a hand up to mediocre people in the name of race.  In other words, we’ve institutionalized racism just as certainly as those Jim Crow people did.  We now frame it affirmatively, in that we boast that we’re pulling some people up, as opposed to pushing other people down, but it’s the same thing:  too often race, not merit, determines who gets to grab the educational and employment gold ring.

Sotomayor seems like a nice, hard-working woman, although I couldn’t disagree more with her approach to the law.  She also seems like someone who benefited from an inequitable program at a time that at least gave some credibility to the program, but who now seeks to use the extraordinary power granted to her to make Leftist Jim Crow laws a permanent part of America’s racist landscape.

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*I’d originally written “economically disadvantaged children,” and then thought, “Why am I cluttering my writing with this lardy PC jargon?”  So I changed it to “poor children,” which makes the point just fine.

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Comments

  1. Charles Martel says

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    My first “Say, what?” instance with Sotomayor was when she mentioned somebody she called a “wise Latina.” I remember looking around frantically, wondering to whom she was referring. It certainly couldn’t have been herself.

  2. JKB says

    Just this morning, via Maggie’s Farm, i read this post by   neo-neocon  » Helping Obama.  Neo-neocon pinged off the comment below from a reader that i think is on point here.  The problem is soft racism on the Left, i.e., the minorities must be given special compensation because they are inferior.  Just writing that makes me angry…to assume anyone is inferior….makes me want to punch a Prog.  But it does explain why the Progs go apoplectic when it is suggested we build a ladder for the poor to wean off welfare, or give them school choice, or essentially any policy that permits an individual to succeed by their own merit.  
     
    I’ve always thought that subconsciously, Liberals are racists. Not that they hate people of other races – quite the contrary – they truly love them. But they do think that people of other races are inferior and therefore unable to make it on their own. So they do whatever they can to help them (with other people’s money, of course). The War on Poverty is a perfect example. So is affirmative action. And 0bama is another.
    So the T-P media falls all over themselves trying to help him. They cover for him, attack his enemies, whatever it takes. They project their racism onto their opponents. And the more inferior they think the person is, the more they try to compensate. Hence the completely in-the-tank attitude over 0bama. 
     

  3. Charles Martel says

    The gobbledygook preceding my comment above is my homage to Prince. My bride has been after me for years to come up with a more memorable name than Charles Hammer, and I figured that having an unpronounceable name is just the ticket.

  4. says

    It was always justice that should have been sought, not fairness. Through justice, the balance of one’s fate and civilization becomes fair and equal. But when you implement fairness first and alone, you do not get justice.

  5. says

    Martel, I assumed the ango code was the result of time disruption in the machine code data base transfer. Such as the Times New Roman time oscillation.
     
    “She got into Princeton despite the fact that she didn’t qualify.  And doesn’t it just suck for the hard-working white or Asian kid who, in that same year, had spectacular test scores (not to mention good grades), but was nevertheless barred from Princeton because Sotomayor took her place?  ”
     
    At this time and place, perhaps being barred from the brainwashing institute that is Princeton Ivy League, is not such a bad thing overall.

  6. jj says

    Sotomayor, “in town Monday to promote her newly released memoir, said she couldn’t talk about affirmative action because of a pending court case. In the next breath, she talked about what it had meant to her…”  Jesus Christ on a bicycle – is this woman really that goddam stupid?  In the first place, with her personal history, what the hell’s she doing sitting at all?  Why hasn’t she recused as being unable to render a fair judgment?  (And how come nobody in the audience asked that question?  I mean, even for Planet Wambeeno down there on the bay – come on!)
     
    At this point the whole country’s beginning to rankle.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  7. Spartacus says

    If it comes to that, Martel, I think most of us could adapt to calling you “The Artist Formerly Known As Charles Martel.”  But none of that hand-sign business, OK?  No clue how to type that.  Besides, commenters in bad neighborhoods might inadvertently instigate a drive-by.

  8. Mike Devx says

    Book, you wrote:
    I recognize that Sotomayor’s opportunity came about in 1972, when affirmative action was meant to be a quick fix — a head start — to make up for the decades of discrimination that immediately preceded those first few years of affirmative action.  What rankles is that, two generations later, we’re still giving a hand up to mediocre people in the name of race.
     
    I’ve wondered at times why laws aren’t required to have a “sunset provision”, meaning every law would expire at a certain time after passage.  The law would have to be re-passed by whatever legislature passed it in the first place, else it goes on the dustbin of history.  Perhaps the default should be twenty years to the date after passage.  But you could specify a non-default expiration that would be allowed to be LESS (not more than the default.)
     
    Same thing perhaps for regulations.  It might keep the tsunami of laws and regulations under control.  And the bad ones or the controversial ones would be guaranteed to be re-fought.  Or the laws whose time may have come and gone – such as affirmative action to redress a wrong – get refought and resisted because we have done enough.

     

  9. says

    “I’ve wondered at times why laws aren’t required to have a “sunset provision”, meaning every law would expire at a certain time after passage.”
     
    Bush’s tax cuts were like that. Only people who believe in the US Constitution as it now stands would agree to a sunset provision. And so they did. But those who are working towards a higher agenda, knows the value of eternity.

  10. Michael Adams says

    M. Martel, I realize that the wife is always right, but, she’s not MY wife.  So, I can say it, she’s wrong! Sure, you could be Rastus Jackson, and I know you could do some back ground research to build such an identity. However, you have already done the work for Hammer. I know, from little bits that float by us, that the depth of your knowledge about the original is quite impressive.  It is not just a random name, as Rastus would be, but a chosen hero from history, whose victory and life are examples quite pertinent to our time. So, don’t argue with her.  Smile and tell her how pretty she looks and change the subject. And don’t anybody tell me that’s patronizing.  It is diplomatic self defense, in which most men are woefully deficient.

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