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Michigan's diversity defense

By Jay Bergman
web posted June 18, 2001

On March 29, 2001, after a federal district judge in Detroit declared unconstitutional the use of racial preferences in admissions to the law school of the University of Michigan, Lee Bollinger, the President of the University, decried the court's decision as "an American tragedy."

It is a far greater tragedy that the President of the University of Michigan advocates racial discrimination in the evaluation of applicants to the law school and to every other division of the university.

One can infer from Bollinger's support for racial preferences that he actually believes that white and Asian-American applicants who are rejected because of their skin color are not entitled to equal protection under the law. In fact, he seems oblivious to the injury these applicants have suffered because of an external characteristic they cannot change.

Racial preferences are inherently discriminatory. For every black applicant who is admitted to universities on the basis of race, there is another applicant like the plaintiff in the case, Barbara Grutter, who is white, who is rejected on the basis of race.

Racial preferences hurt people. Sometimes they hurt people badly.

Lee Bollinger

Bollinger and nearly every other university president around the country defend racial preferences on the grounds that they are necessary to achieve "diversity," which, in the absence of credible evidence, they claim enhances student learning. But these same university presidents don't give preference in either student admissions or faculty hiring to applicants who are conservative or Republican, both of which are woefully underrepresented on college campuses. Surely their presence in numbers approximating their percentage of the general population would diversify the intellectual climate at universities far more than the recruitment of students who are told on their arrival on campus that American society is irredeemably racist and sexist and that those of them who are white are oppressors of those who are black.

The dirty secret in academia is that advocates of "diversity" really don't want intellectual diversity at all. Instead, they seek a student body and faculty that are racially heterogeneous but on political issues believe the same things, including and especially that racial preferences and racial diversity are socially useful and morally just.

By itself, racial diversity does not create diversity of opinion. Contrary to what the mavens of diversity assume, black Americans do not think the same things, nor do they think what they think because of their race. There is no distinctively "black" perspective on Darwinian evolution, the origins of the universe, euthanasia, animal-rights, capital punishment, global warming, and other issues discussed in universities. Nor is there any uniformly or uniquely black position on preferences themselves. In California fully one-fourth of the black electorate there voted to ban them in 1996.

Given the undeniable cost that Bollinger's fraudulent "diversity" exacts on white and Asian-American applicants to his university who are rejected because of their race, one wonders why, in the name of fairness, Bollinger hasn't resigned from his position as President so that the University can replace him with a member of an "underrepresented" minority.

Shouldn't there be "diversity" in the Presidency of the University of Michigan as well as in its faculty and student body?

Perhaps it is churlish to expect academics, and university presidents in particular, to practice what they preach. But it would be refreshing if at least a few had the courage and integrity to endure the hardships they so blithely inflict on others.

Regrettably, these university presidents and their allies in the media and elsewhere may succeed in postponing the day when racial preferences are finally gone.

In the end, however, racial preferences will be abolished. Racial preferences contradict the plain language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They are contrary to fundamental concepts of fairness and justice that have been an integral part of Western Civilization since the Enlightenment. The American people disapprove of them overwhelmingly.

Eventually, America will redeem the noble vision of the original civil rights movement as a place where everyone enjoys the dignity to which all human beings are entitled, where individuals are judged without regard to their race and ethnicity, and where a person's uniqueness is acknowledged as having nothing to do with his membership in any larger collective entity or group.

No amount of posturing about the benefits of "diversity" can prevent this.

Mr. Bergman is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University. Readers may e-mail him at bergmanj@ccsu.edu. © 2001 by FrontPageMagazine.com

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