Saturday, April 18, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Reverse discrimination claim simply folly

navarrette column sig

By
From page A11 | October 18, 2012 |

SAN DIEGO — The Supreme Court seems eager to end affirmative action in college and university admissions.

Not because of the law on the books, or the facts of a particular case, but because the court will likely let itself be led where it wants to go anyway. Five justices (John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) have – either in previous cases or before taking the bench – opposed the idea of taking race and ethnicity into consideration to give minorities a leg up in the admissions process.

Allegedly, this sort of thing creates a new class of “victims” such as 22-year-old Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and went on to sue the school for allegedly discriminating against her because she’s white.

The justices recently heard arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas. Some of the questions from the bench suggest that Fisher will find sympathy on the high court.

Never mind that the majority of students on the UT campus – not to mention most of the school’s faculty, staff and administration – are also white and somehow managed to overcome this obstacle. And never mind that Fisher’s grades in high school were – as the university contends – simply not good enough to get her into UT through the front door.

With lightning speed, Fisher’s complaint has traveled all the way to the Supreme Court. The university – while awarding three-fourths of the seats in its freshman class to students who graduate in the top 8 percent of their high school classes (it was the top 10 percent when Fisher applied) – grants the remaining quarter by taking into account other factors, including socioeconomic background, personal hardship and, yes, race and ethnicity.

None of this is relevant to what happened to Fisher. Her grades put her in the top 12 percent of her class. Admitting her would have required a new kind of preferential treatment – for the academically less qualified.

If we’re talking about bright-line racial preferences such as quotas and set-asides, as opposed to more benign measures such as outreach efforts, I’d be fine if the court decides to strike down affirmative action.

But here’s the catch. It’s not for the reason that seems to animate most of the critics of these programs – the allegation that taking race and ethnicity into account amounts to systematic and blatant discrimination against white people. It’s because these programs harm the same minority students they are supposed to benefit. How? By lowering standards, killing incentive, stigmatizing beneficiaries and masking severe educational inequalities at the crucial K-12 level that never get addressed. This is the real problem.

The argument that racial preferences actually hurt intended beneficiaries rarely gets heard. And here’s why: Defenders of affirmative action don’t want to concede that it does any harm to anyone, and its critics don’t seem to care as long as it is only minorities who are being hurt.

What gets far more attention is the fairy tale of reverse discrimination. In my view, the claim itself has become little more than a defense mechanism that some people use to rationalize why they don’t get everything they think they’re entitled to.

It’s time for a reality check, folks. White students are not, in some wholesale fashion, being turned away from the university gate because of their race in the same way that African-Americans and Latinos were turned away in the last century. The fact that whites still constitute a majority of those who attend most schools of higher learning all but proves it. After all, discrimination is when those in power deny you an opportunity based on your membership in a group that they consider inferior. Who is saying that whites are inferior?

I’ve had this conversation with lots of people for a quarter-century, and I can tell you that most of my Latino and African-American friends agree with me that Americans can never have a real discussion about what to do with affirmative action until we get beyond the noise of beleaguered white males singing: “We Shall Overcome.”

We’re not insensitive to suffering. We just don’t see the point in imagining it where it doesn’t exist. Let’s focus on the real harm being done by these programs, and the actual victims.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • G-ManOctober 18, 2012 - 3:40 am

    Who needs college anyway?....Massive debt,no jobs,and an education that ranks among the lowest in the developed countries of the world....Miss Fisher should know that a pole dancer can make 80,000.00/yr..no experience necessary....AND...you'll get a lot of Affirmative Action too!!!...Ruben makes a great sandwich but a lousy columnist.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • G-ManOctober 18, 2012 - 3:44 am

    TEST TEST TEST. Who needs college anyway?....Massive debt,no jobs,and an education that ranks among the lowest in the developed countries of the world....Miss Fisher should know that a pole dancer can make 80,000.00/yr..no experience necessary....AND...you'll get a lot of Affirmative Action too!!!...Ruben makes a great sandwich but a lousy columnist.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • G-ManOctober 18, 2012 - 3:50 am

    More than one way to skin a column...If Kirchubel can lose a post..anybody can lose a post...and I'm on a phone...talk about a character builder...IT people are great but there should be a person with common sense who actually has to use the site saying.."Hey why do that?..this will be easier"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
 
Child care program helps teen parents, students

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Wood students entertain guests at Epcot

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A2

 
 
 
Solano County Science Fair continues to grow

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Take stock of where you are now, and act

By Murray Bass | From Page: B8

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Saturday, April 18, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Family awarded rights to rare coins

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Dog flu outbreak sweeps across the Midwest

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

AG announces anti-bias training program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Investigators say identity-theft suspect had 74 aliases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Gas-line blast closes Highway 99, injures at least 11

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Iraqi officials believe Saddam’s top deputy killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Germany mourns citizens lost in plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Following Alps crash, debate over pilotless planes heats up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Time for meaningful financial reform

By Paul A. Volcker | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in history: Saturday, April 18, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 18, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My daughter is upset that I didn’t attend my former in-law’s funeral

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Idea from Adam Sandler film used to soothe dementia patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

.

Sports

Athletics fall to Royals 6-4 in rematch of AL wild-card game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors, Pelicans enter series with different pedigrees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep softball: Seldon powers Rodriguez to victory over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
JC baseball: Falcons win as Pavlovsky, Evans homer

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Prep badminton: Mustangs roll to 15-0 win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Prep baseball: Haney hurls Vanden to 3-2 win over Benicia

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Armijo nears girls soccer title with 2-0 MEL win

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
SCAC girls roll past MEL 55-28 in All-Star hoops game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

SCAC boys slip past MEL in entertaining All-Star game

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Brazil eyes historic medal haul in 2016 Rio Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

2 weeks before Mayweather-Pacquiao, not a ticket to be seen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Big Ten’s Delany lays out plan for freshman ineligibility

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Collmenter shuts down Giants, gets three hits in D-backs win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
In Aaron Hernandez murder case, question lingers: Why?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Merritt’s 61 trumps Masters champion Spieth’s 62

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
2 minor league baseball teams to test game with 5-pitch rule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA could alter schedule, but no change to playoffs, lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Coonan stepping down as Santa Clara’s athletic director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he “let down” fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers fullback Miller at home in Georgia after March arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockhold hopes win over Machida launches him into contention

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Martina Hingis to make singles comeback in Fed Cup match

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Injured Giants fan throws out first ball in San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Flyers fire head coach Craig Berube after 2 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hornets GM Cho: Stephenson ‘didn’t work like we expected’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Before ruling out an upset in NBA East, listen to these guys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Western Conference teams face perilous path to NBA Finals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for April 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Back on the USA Network: Sports return with NHL playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

California home prices hit new 7-year high, sales rebound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

Frederick’s of Hollywood reveals closing of retail stores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Don’t plan to line up for Apple Watch next week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Google shaking up search recommendations on smartphones

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Glaxo recalls flu vaccine due to potency problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Douglas Craig Sparks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carole Anspach

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7