Thursday, September 28, 2006

Get Rid of Affirmative Action for the Rich

You bet I will distribute this article, from the Economist, to my WS students. I anticipate that I will be barraged by the usual Anti-Affirmative Action rhetoric once we turn to issues of equality and education. If my students have followed me this far in the semester, that is, they have been transformed by the reality of social inequality along the axes of gender, race, sexuality and class, then their usual response to this mess is to say that education is the answer. We need to better educate people.

This may be true, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know that money buys a better education and, consequently, a better education buys one better social opportunities. And, if your Dad is Bill Frist, who opposes Affirmative Action, then you will get into Princeton. Or, if your Dad is Al Gore, you'll get into Yale.

For me the defensive and rancorous reactions that rich, white people have to Affirmative Action have always been a sign that what they have been doing all along--getting preferential treatment--was somehow being exposed. Their defensiveness is guilt. While I don't think that Affirmative Action is about preferential treatment, but about social justice, I do think their anger is a reflection of what they hate about themselves.