Monday, March 30, 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

Easter activities, events abundant

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Christians begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrations

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

2 drivers killed in same area, an hour apart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
Police investigate shooting off North Texas Street

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Vallejo police seek leads in weekend homicide

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Biz Buzz: Wiseman officer names Perez to key post

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

 
Biz Buzz: Re/Max hires new Realtor

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Biz Buzz: PAL receives donation from glass company

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

Police ramp up rail-crossing citations after recent crashes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Analysis finds unequal pay for women on California Capitol

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Songwriter injured in California crash; motorcyclist killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Taylor Swift wins artist of the year at iHeartRadio Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Drownings along Rio Grande spike after enforcement surge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Grandma is a centerfold: Rest home bares all for calendar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Police: 2 bodies found in NYC building explosion rubble

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Islamic State group beheads 8 Shiites in Syria’s Hama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Waving fronds around the world, Christians mark Palm Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Air Canada plane makes hard landing short of Halifax runway

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Small tsunami generated in Pacific after earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: March 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: March 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Horoscopes: March 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Michelle Obama declares ‘Black Girls Rock!’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Spartans Final Four-bound after 76-70 OT win over Louisville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Duke back in Final Four after 66-52 win over Gonzaga

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Montoya holds off Power to give Penske 1-2 sweep at St. Pete

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Randle chases school scoring record, title at NIT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker wins hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oakland OF Josh Reddick won’t be ready for start of season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

California Chrome heads to Britain, to race at Royal Ascot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vettel wins Malaysian GP to end Mercedes streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joe Gibbs on son: most courageous person I’ve been around

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chodounsky defends slalom title at US Alpine Championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

South Carolina earns 1st Final Four berth, beats FSU 80-74

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Turner says Saturday regional finals highest-rated in decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Apology for wrong anthem for El Salvador before game in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cain goes 4 innings in Giants win over LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Graveman pitches into 7th inning as A’s beat Brewers 7-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baldo March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baby Blues March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C. March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Wizard of Id March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Blondie March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Peanuts March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baldo March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Pickles March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Zits March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sally Forth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Word Sleuth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Bridge March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Sudoku March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Cryptoquote March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8