we still remember mitch hedberg

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Mar 1st 2003

my position on affirmative action in 1998

i wrote this paper in high school

The phrase, “affirmative action” first became a part of public policy in March of 1961 by executive order.. In it, President Kennedy states, “The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”

In determining the successfulness of affirmative action, an evaluation must consider three major criteria. a) the action must help an adequate number in the target group, b) the action must hurt no more than some sufficiently small number in the target group, and c) the action must hurt no more than some sufficiently small number in other groups.

It is the informed judgement of this author that affirmative action’s preferences due to race benefit very few minorities. Carl Cohen, a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, notes, “The vast majority of the members of the minority groups in question–in whose interests preferences had purportedly [supposedly] been designed–receive no benefits whatsoever” (Bennett 22). One successful product of affirmative action is two million dollar a year RJB Industries of Chicago. The minority owner credits the program for breaking down racial barriers by forcing people to hire him, saying, “[Affirmative action] stopped the white people from hiring their friends to do the jobs, the good ol’ boys system.” Unfortunately, by forcing the employer to hire a minority, affirmative action prevents the employer from being able to hire an equally- or better-qualified person of another race, who may neither be a friend of the employer. And to assume that all whites are friends with each other is an incorrect corollary. To assume that one may not make friends with potential employers is ludicrous. Networking is a basic necessity for any businessman, regardless of race.

There has been a documented increase in the number of black police officers and electricians in the years coinciding with affirmative action. However, there are many other factors to consider. First, note these professions do not need degrees from such institutions as UC Berkeley or Michigan. If these students are to be successes in law enforcement and electrical work, they must have first obtained sufficient grades to be admitted to a school that will appropriately prepare them. Also, the growth of the black college system, which successfully turns out blacks well-prepared for careers, is impressive. In addition, there is evidence, however debatable, that a surge in members of the black middle class had already begun by the mid-1960s. It is debatable because the system of affirmative action was implemented at the beginning of this positive growth. Unfortunately, the plaudits of minority upward mobility are diverted from the hard-working races, instead extolled upon a faulty government policy.

It is along these lines that the hurtful effects of affirmative action on the very race(s) it is assumed to help. The most obvious problem is the stigma that affirmative action has created for minorities. The idea that “minority” plus “affirmative action” equals “lower standards” (Chavez 20). Thomas Sowell writes of the questioning of Clarence Thomas’ record, as he was admitted to Yale Law School by the affirmative action program, even though his own hard work admitted him to Holy Cross College as an undergraduate (64). Author Shelby Steele calls it “the stigma of questionable competence” (qtd in Bennett 19). An incredible example of this is exhibited by President Clinton, himself. In a meeting with the task force on affirmative action, “he challenged Abigail Thernstrom to tell him how she could be opposed to a system that had produced Colin Powell” (Decter 26). It is amazing that the President would equate such respectable person as one who would take advantage of preferences, quotas, and lower standards of admission.

As much as affirmative action has benefited a select few of the minority, it has hurt the other groups equal to an that number. In institutions of higher education, Asian- Americans are denied acceptance in vast numbers because the university has fulfilled the Asian-American admittance quota. This an abomination, because affirmative action not only sets inane goals for minority admittance, but when that goal is reached, it does not allow any more growth. One example of a wrong done to a member of the majority, recounted by William J. Bennett, is the story of seventeen year-old Jennifer Gratz. She was denied admission to the University of Michigan, despite her 3.765 grade-point average, her standing near the top of her class, and her roles in service activities like tutoring. She was denied for one reason: She is white. The university had to meet a quota of another race, making acceptance of Miss Gratz impossible. Bennett compares this to the treatment of black applicants at the University of Alabama in the 1950s. Despite stories like these, the major problem with affirmative action is the way it affects race relations in America today. The stigma is a major problem, a gap that must be mended or bridged before race relations can move forward. The reverse-discrimination policies must be repealed. Our government must be right before the attitudes of the people will fall into line.

The problems that have arisen due to affirmative action are many and they are far-reaching. The problems solved by affirmative action are few, and they touch a small portion of American society. Affirmative action is an ineffective, impractical, tardy method for solving the problems that begin in quality of education and family values in youth. American society cannot go forward until affirmative action is removed from its false place of importance.

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