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Economist: 'Scrap Affirmative Action'

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

Last month The Economist undoubtedly surprised some of its American subscribers with a leader (Britspeak for editorial) and a long article in its science secton arguing that global warming is “happening more slowly than scientists thought.”

This month’s shocker (at least to American media, university and corporate elites) is a cover story entitled “Time to scrap affirmative action.”

Inside the magazine a briefing (set of three articles) looks critically at racial and ethnic quotas and preferences in the United States, South Africa and Malaysia. The Economist makes useful reference to Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor’s recent book Mismatch, which I wrote a Washington Examiner column about last November.

This is an issue on which media, university and corporate elites have imposed policies opposed by large majorities of voters. Politicians, in the meantime, have been unwilling to oppose racial quotas and preferences –– which are, by definition, racial discrimination, supposedly outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 –– for fear of being tarred as racists and Nazis.

In the process, as the Weekly Standard’s Christopher Caldwell wrote in his 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, “One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.”

But as The Economist points out, the Supreme Court could overturn racial quotas and preferences in pending cases involving the University of Michigan and the University of Texas. And perhaps The Economist’s forthright stand can inspire some brave political figures to call for an end to this form of racial discrimination.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner