October 31, 2006

"Michigan is ground zero in the national debate on the meaning of equal opportunity."

A ballot initiative in Michigan:
The ballot initiative, Proposition 2, which would amend Michigan’s Constitution to bar public institutions from considering race or sex in public education, employment or contracting, has drawn wide opposition from the state’s civic establishment, including business and labor, the Democratic governor and her Republican challenger. But polls show voters are split, with significant numbers undecided or refusing to say where they stand....
If larger numbers than usual are resisting expressing opinion here, I suspect these are people who support the initiative but fear being considered racist.
For the University of Michigan, the proposition would require broader changes than the Supreme Court did; it ruled in [Jennifer] Gratz’s case and a companion case that while the consideration of race as part of the law school’s admissions policy was constitutional, a formula giving extra points to minority undergraduate applicants was not....

“The entire elite establishment is all lined up on the other side of this issue,” Ms. Gratz said, “but the mainstream, normal, everyday people who go to work every day think their husbands, their wives, their kids, should be treated equally by our government, and should not be judged on race or sex.”

21 comments:

AllenS said...

Nothing is more unconstitutional than affirmative action.

Dave said...

"If larger numbers than usual are resisting expressing opinion here, I suspect these are people who support the initiative but fear being considered racist."

I worked for a small company once, whose general counsel, a black graduate of Georgetown and Harvard Law School, kept a copy of his SAT and LSAT scores, lest anyone think he benefited from affirmative action.

Explain to me how opposition to affirmative action is not racist?

Al Maviva said...

Sure, Dave.

How do you feel about racial profiling? Y'know, the government considering race where it has a good reason to do so?

Seems to me if you oppose racial profiling, you should oppose preferences in admissions in higher education.

Now please distinguish the constitutional law underlying preferences in admission and hiring, from the law underlying racial profiling. Try to do so without using the words 'it's good racial discrimination, as opposed to bad racial discrimination.'

And FWIW, the underlying rationale of the Grutter & Gratz cases - that "diversity" means viewpoint diversity, and that race is inherently tied to viewpoint, strikes me as racist in and of itself - I'd love to hear you explain how it isn't.

Fenrisulven said...

Explain to me how opposition to affirmative action is not racist?

Supporting racial preferences is racist. If you think skin color should be a factor in admittance or hiring procedures, you are a racist.

Your general counsel kept his scores because affirmative action comes with a stigma - everyone assumes you were advanced on race instead of merit.

Dave said...

Well I mistyped my comment. Should have read:

Explain to me how opposition to affirmative action is racist?

Fenrisulven said...

LOL. No biggie. Someone else will come along and pose the question we thought you asked. ;)

wv: pre-emption

Doug said...

My brother went to U of Michigan medical school so he went to school with people who were clearly unqualified to attend a top notch med school. We were all at a Halloween party Saturday, and this came up, and even people who were for AA didn't agree with large chunks of it. One guy thought it was OK for admissions, but not for government contracts.

Another woman said getting rid of it would hurt women. I told her there were already more women in Michigan colleges than men, she just said "It would hurt women".

I do think that opposition to this does underpoll due to the race card, so I think it will pass. The AA supporters are using a lot of scare tactics and are outspending the supporters of the ban by a large amount.

Fenrisulven said...

It also hurts the student, discourages them and make it more likely they will opt out of the "system": 2nd tier students struggling to perfrom in a 1st tier school, which opens space for 3rd tier students to struggle at a 2nd tier school.

Jake said...

I know a brilliant black lawyer who still thinks he would not have been able to get into college or a law firm without affirmative action. None of this is true because he got fantastic grades both in a private high school and Harvard.

Affirmative action gives its recipients a permanent inferiority complex. For that reason along it is a racist policy that does more harm than good

bash91 said...

I live on the Southwestern side of Michigan and have been polled on the issue a couple of times. I've always been perfectly honest in my response that I'll be voting for Proposition 2, but I've heard a lot of people refuse to voice their opinion. I suspect that some of it comes from the decision by the state GOP to oppose Proposition 2 but I think much more of the unwillingness to voice an opinion is due to the actions of BAMN (By Any Means Necessary). It certainly seems as though there isn't a tactic that they aren't willing to stoop to, including allegedly suborning perjury, false advertising, some really negative push polling, and allegedly threatening some businesses that have supported Prop. 2. When you have people like that engaged in the campaign, it's often easier to not voice your opinion and then vote your conscience.

Pogo said...

Affirmative Action was never about equal opportunity but equality of condition. Goverment mandating desired outcomes has always failed, and always resulted in a disease worse than the cure. it also creates a permanent victim class, beholden to their Party betters.

So lie to the pollsters, then vote for the damn thing.

JorgXMcKie said...

I live in the Detroit Metro area, and I suspect that the BAMN activities and the commercial attack ads ("If you vote for Prop 2 you're a racist scumbag") are both not converting minds and causing people to be unwilling to admit they support it.

There has been next to no argument about the merits, or lack thereof, of passing the law outside of some minor mentions in the newspapers.

The coverage, when it exists, has been on the anger of Prop 2 opponents, the (sometimes subtle) charges of racism, and the "fact" that petition pushers "lied" to people to get them to sign (oddly enough, that doesn't seem to be illegal in Michigan, especially since the petition clearly puts for the wording of the Prop).

There are more than a few economic lower class citizens who feel that passing over, say, a white male with good grades and a poor family in favor of a black female from a wealthy family (they do exist, even in Michigan) with bad grades is not really what the Constitution means by equal.

I suspect that if something like 'poverty' and other direct, non-race-based markers were substituted for race and sex in affirmative action you'd get a pretty substantial majority in favor.

Look, even though they're probably not many instances, the gross disparities in some situations are easily visible, and they would appear to be in gross violation of the spirit of affirmative action.

Maybe we should have a "mend it, don't end it" Prop.

I expect it to pass by more than 55-45, but we'll see.

Something similar happened with the anti-gay marriage Prop in 2004.

I figure that sooner or later, both sides have to be able to develop good arguments. Thus far, the ones with the only arguments (not necessarily the best) are winning. I would suggest that their opponents might consider trying rational argument.

Coco said...

"If larger numbers than usual are resisting expressing opinion here, I suspect these are people who support the initiative but fear being considered racist. "

Or sexist. Its all about the framing. Almost five times the number of comments in the Least Popular S.C. Justice thread where you suggested that you believed voters who selected Ruth were sexist (rather than the other way around as here). No one likes to be accused of an -ism.

Mortimer Brezny said...

If you think skin color should be a factor in admittance or hiring procedures, you are a racist.

What if you're hiring an actor to portray Martin Luther King, Jr. in a made-for-TV film?

Revenant said...

What if you're hiring an actor to portray Martin Luther King, Jr. in a made-for-TV film?

There's no reason to explicitly say "no whities" on the job ad. Presumably you're hiring based on who will most convincingly portray MLK. That will, for obvious reasons, tend to be a black guy.

Bruce Hayden said...

It will be interesting, esp. given the two U. Mich. quota (sorry, Affirmative Action) cases. I find it interesting that Equal Protection means Equal Opportunity for all, except when race is involved - which would presumably have its drafters turning over in their graves.

I have never been a fan of AA, but really turned against it when I talked to a surgeon a couple of years ago who had been running a surgical residency program. He flunked one guy because he was, in this guy's words, "a butcher". Bad hands, the works. His bosses came back and told him that he couldn't flunk him because he was Black. They finally passed him over this guy's opposition. And, of course, is now out there plying his trade on unsuspsecting victims.

So, this friend has sworn that he won't have an African-American cut on him, if his life depended on it (without seeing him in action - which most of us couldn't do, and wouldn't know whether the surgeon was good or bad if we could). And he generally distains Black doctors.

The point is that there are plenty of very good Black doctors (including surgeons) out there. But there are also some who were passed along because of the color of their skin. And, so, the good ones, who deserve to be where they are, are tarred by those who got their by their race.

This is, of course, why Justice Thomas is so adament on this subject.

Bleepless said...

We got one here in Washington state like that. Then it was ignored by every Democratic officeholder (including the judiciary) and sneered at by the Democratic cheerleaders, the MSM.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Presumably you're hiring based on who will most convincingly portray MLK. That will, for obvious reasons, tend to be a black guy.

Well, then skin color plays "a factor". By color-blindness standards, that is racist. That's a ridiculous definition of racism, if you ask me.

Balfegor said...

Well, then skin color plays "a factor". By color-blindness standards, that is racist. That's a ridiculous definition of racism, if you ask me.

There's a difference between colour-blindness in a situation where colour is a relevant qualification and where it's completely irrelevant. The hue of your skin has nothing whatsoever to do with your ability to do most jobs, perform a contract, study a subject. And so to consider it in that context is simply racist.

On the other hand, when you need an actor to portray a black man, you hire a black actor. That's not perfectly colour-blind, perhaps, but it's a tightly constrained area where race (or at least, apparent race) really is a relevant qualification. Similarly, in the more situation more commonly contrasted against the race-preferences issue, when you're looking for a suspect whom witnesses have described as "Black," you tend to look for African Americans. And of course, there are other situations where race can be relevant. If you're looking for someone to infiltrate a white supremacist group, you're not going to hire any Blacks, obviously. And still more generally, if you're looking for someone to be a liaison to a population known to be touchy and racist, you probably want to hire somone who is that same race.

The difference, if you drill down a bit, is that in some cases your apparent race is important, in relations with other people, possibly because they're racists themselves, or because (in a milder sense) the race category is just part of how they see the world -- when they see white man, they see a white man, not just a man, and so forth. And we can feel uncomfortable about catering to racism, or legitimating those categorizations. But there's a legitimate performance-related reason for them.

Balfegor said...

Whoops - I meant, "performance-related reason for us to take racial appearance into account when dealing them."

Balfegor said...

No, not quite that. "dealing with them." There. I should learn to proofread.