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Bush, Michigan & Morality
[January 18, 2003]

By S. M. Oliva

Last Thursday, CAC filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in two related cases, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, that challenge the University of Michigan's blatantly racist admissions policies. Unlike the Bush administration, which waffled until the very last minute trying to figure out what they believed, CAC knew from the outset what needed to be said in these cases. For us, nothing short of an total rejection race as a factor in college admissions was acceptable. To concede even the possibility that a person's skin color or genetic heritage constituted grounds for admission to a university—a place that celebrates the individual's ability to learn and achieve—would be a gross heresy. No man can have his mind violated by the obscenity of racism, whether it's perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan or leftist college administrators.

The University of Michigan awards 20 points (out of a total 105) toward the admission of any student who happens to be black, Hispanic, or Native American. If you support this policy, than you are a racist, plain and simple. Even the Bush administration understood that much, as their brief directly asks the Supreme Court to hold this policy unconstitutional. The Michigan policy is nothing more than a repackaged quota scheme, designed to jury-rig the number of preferred minorities into a given freshman class. It's the worst kind of tokenism, looking at skin color rather than a person's ideas, achievements, and abilities.

Where CAC and the White House differ, however, is on the philosophical validity of Michigan's claim that "racial diversity" is essential to education. Michigan believes that diversity qua diversity is a virtue. The administration concedes as much, but qualifies it by arguing that diversity is only constitutionally permissible using race-neutral methods. In other words, emphasize race in the outcome, just not the inputs. The practical effect of this belief is to encourage universities to engage in subterfuge, secretly using race in admissions while hiding the truth from the public. This is dangerous and irrational, and does nothing to address the underlying racism problem.

CAC's position, in contrast, is that racism has only one cure—individualism. Only by eliminating all official sanction of race in the admissions process can racism be eliminated, or at least marginalized. Individualism makes racism irrelevant. It reaffirms the notion that education—the mission of the university—can only take place in an individual mind. Learning is not a social or group process. Obviously, most people benefit and thrive when they're able to exchange ideas in an academic setting. But racial diversity has nothing to do with this. If that were the case, nobody in homogenous societies like Japan or China would ever accomplish anything academically.

The president cannot bring himself to embrace individualism. He remains under intense political pressure to play the racism game. Such is the nature of factional politics, where political strategists emphasize division along demographic lines. In the aftermath of the Trent Lott resignation, the factional pressure on the president is especially strong. But that should have inspired the president to assert moral leadership, not cower in fear behind the parsing of Justice Department lawyers.

 

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