American Elephants


Understanding affirmative action… by The Elephant's Child

The idea of “affirmative action” is widely misunderstood.  Philosophy Professor John R. Searle of the University of California at Berkeley explained it very well in an article in Reason Magazine in February of 2000.

[A]ffirmative action had a disastrous effect.  We created two universities during affirmative action.  We had a super-elite university of people who were admitted on the most competitive criteria in the history of the university, but then we had this other university of people who could not have been admitted on those criteria, and who had to have special courses and special departments set up for them.

Now affirmative action meant two completely different things.  When it first started out the definition was that we were going to take affirmative actions to see that people who would never have tried to get into the university before would be encouraged and trained so that they could get admission.  I was all for that — that we were going to get people into the competition.  What happened though, and this was the catastrophic effect, is that race and ethnicity became criteria, not for encouraging people to enter the competition, but for judging the competition.




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