Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Getting Serious About Affirmative Action

Contrary to my initial reaction to Professor Sander's controversial affirmative action study, it would seem that a hardy debate is going to take place after all. The NYT chronicles a bit of it in Sunday's paper. To be honest, I thought that, like in the past, any criticism of affirmative action would be met with contempt, ridicule and scorn, while failing to address some very real concerns about the efficacy of the program.

All to often past debates have been marked by vitriol and ad hominem attacks. Regular readers will have noted that I am fairly skeptical when it comes to affirmative action and have called for something more class based. But I do so not because I am opposed to the advancement of minorities. As I have written before, I view affirmative action as a way for well off liberals to appease their guilty consciences. Beyond that, there seems to be a fair amount of empirical evidence questioning its effectiveness. Unfortunately we too often pay homage to the idea of affirmative action itself, making a discussion of how better to achieve our stated goals off-limits. We should all welcome what may be a newfound willingness to engage in a serious debate about how best to ensure equality of opportunity to all Americans.


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