Affirmative Action Essay, Research Paper
equal opportunity vs. legal discrimination
Race and ethnicity both have been at the eye of America’s ethical hurricane over equality before the law. Equality is at the core of the United States, both culturally and legally. At the current situation, discrimination is inarguably unlawful and unfair. Legislation decided that if it not remedied voluntarily, it would be remedied by court order. And so, affirmative action took its place in workplaces and admissions offices across the United States.
Affirmative action was a well-intentioned government program that has skewed off its intended course of action. In the 1960s and 1970s, it won popular support as a way of setting lingering injustice straight, especially in education and employment, of the black community. It accomplished its goal for a time but was distorted by bureaucratic regulations, court rulings, and a sea of unnamable cultures and races. Affirmative action became a system of anti-white preferences, double standards, and quotas that are now widely in dispute by much of America.
There is much controversy around affirmative action as a panacea for past discrimination and favoritism. According to the Constitution and specific laws created by the legislature, distinctions based on race are illegal, whether such distinctions are oppressive as in the case of traditional discrimination or compassionate as in the case of affirmative action. Nevertheless, affirmative action is in direct violation of both the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Supreme Court and other courts have dramatically narrowed the scope of affirmative action, and polls indicate that even a majority of blacks dislike the fact that it is being used to help less qualified people get jobs, promotions, and admission to college. Voters in Washington State and California have approved propositions severely limiting affirmative action, and a similar measure in Florida has strong backing.
The trouble began in 1970 when opportunity and colorblindness, grand ideals, were supplanted by doctrines of diversity. The Supreme Court in 1971 ruled that employers could be prosecuted if the racial composition of the work force did not reflect the composition of the community. Proportional representation rather than social justice became the watchword. The multicultural ethos, promoted on campuses, replaced the spirit of one nation. Identity politics-what Frederick Lynch calls “the diversity machine”-took over, so preference was extended to individuals who had never personally experienced discrimination, and to groups-Hispanics and Asians-who were not here in substantial numbers when discrimination was most virulent. The diversity machine became an engine to punish white males, unless they had a Spanish surname.
Time to stop? Yes. Tell that to the Clinton administration, which now seeks new “protected classes” and is even broadening the definition of existing categories. Under a recent proposal, protection would be granted to parents of children under 18-a staggering 36 percent of the work force. Parents would be able to sue for discrimination if they thought an employer had failed to hire or promote them because of a suspicion that they limited their working hours to spend more time with their children. Two sequels are obvious: Parents who feel they have not had special treatment will also sue, and since employers will be inclined to treat parents preferentially, childless workers or workers with older children will also seek redress in the courts.
What is wrong with equality at a time when the country is changing so rapidly, both socially and economically, that affirmative action becomes unnecessary for one group after another? There is no real evidence or history of major discrimination against parents. Giving them special protection would be a political payoff to working mothers and the pro-family vote-and to the trial lawyers who funnel so much money into the Democratic Party.
Many people say that greater learning opportunities are possible when working with a wide spread group. It teaches people to work better in a group and accept the differences in people. There are some instances where affirmative action does seem to work. In Little Rock, Arkansas, 9 black students were bussed into a white high school. The graduation of 8 of them may seem like a victory for affirmative action, but it really wasn’t. To even get them there the National Guard had to be sent. Even the Mayor violently opposed the integration. They all had to have their own bodyguard just to walk in the halls. One of them even had acid splashed in their eyes, and would have been blind for life if their guard didn’t wash out their eyes immediately. Integration must come gradually, and not be forced.
Equality of opportunity is the only acceptable solution for the future of the United States. Segregation is wrong, but affirmative action does not work. Society must change to become more equal, but to force it only causes more problems, especially when it is in violation of our basic rights, as outlined in the Constitution of the United States. Equality of result may have an affect on the surface, but peoples racism will remain. Equality of opportunity may be slower, but in the long run, is much more effective.