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Federal appellate judge Richard A. Posner gives a partial defense of affirmative-action programs (i.e., preferential treatment on the basis of race)

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I've often wondered why we didn't (don't) adopt affirmative action on the basis of "zip code" (or some other marker for the quality of schools and neighborhood) one attended (grew up in) before college, rather then use the ill defined and very divisive concept of "race." (As an aside: we have already seen the problem of determining who is an "indian" rearing its ugly head more and more--if the tribe under discussion has become rich on gambling money. Are Nuremberg law style definitions of who is an "X" in our future?)

Independent of the moral issue, from a pragmatic point of view: (1)Affirmative action on the basis of the school one went to or what zip code one grew up in is unlikely to be as divisive as race but (2)More important to me is that it seems quite clear that a student coming out of an inner city school with an SAT score of say 1100 has quite a bit more potential then the student coming out of Andover, with long hours of SAT prep in his or her background, who scores a 1300. And it is potential that a school should be looking for above all.

Finally, I think affirmative action on the basis I outlined would easily pass constitutional muster and would also have wider support.

Bill Korner

There are two rationales for affirmative action. They are analytically quite distinct but in practice sometimes overlapping.

The first rationale is providing opportunities for individuals of underrepresented backgrounds. It focuses on the benefit to those individuals, as well as general ÔøΩmoraleÔøΩ (as Posner says) among members of that group. Curiously this is the only one discussed in Becker and PosnerÔøΩs posts.

The second rationale, is that diversity can improve the quality of organizations or institutions. For example, diversity at universities exposes students in dominant groups and ones in certain ÔøΩdisprivilegedÔøΩ perspectives to each other. Or diversity on corporate boards of directors or among management might conceivably improve profitability or have some other advantage. (The scholar Lynn Dallas thinks so at any rate.) Here the focus is on benefits to some ÔøΩcommunityÔøΩ that do not involve redress.

The first and second rationales overlap in academic settings and certain employment contexts. The latter does not seem to apply much in the contracting context.

In our affirmative action jurisprudence, the two rationales are not very well distinguished analytically. But, to the extent that they are, I believe that the latter has garnered more approval in our jurisprudence. It seems strange to me that both Becker and Posner focus exclusively on the first rationale.

Given that I am not a judge, I guess that mine is an ÔøΩidiosyncraticÔøΩ take on the jurisprudence. But, though I take my point of departure from that jurisprudence, I am not intending to make the kind of argument that can be dismissed by showing IÔøΩve forgot my constitutional law. IÔøΩm just saying that, in my opinion, the second rationale is by far the stronger, especially since it thinks in terms of benefits to each and everyone (thus promoting unity) rather than to individual benefit and group grievance.

Furthermore, I think the authorsÔøΩ arguments about meritocracy entirely fail to address the second point. Their assumption is, on the contrary, that meritocracy is so powerfully important a concept that loyalty to it should prevent us from considering any other effects that diversity in institutions and organizations may have on our country. That seems to be a very, very big assumption and quite questionable.

[This is not to say that right wing legal economists would not differ markedly from left wing ones (if there are any) on the questions of (1) what meritocracy means and (2) if we have one. I think that they do or would, because left wing legal economics would be distinguished by a sensitivity to what effects wealth distribution may have on evaluating merit and meritocracy.]

Bill Korner

Correction: Posner does express skepticism as to whether certain employment practices are meritocratic. My comments on that score only apply fully to Becker.


I strongly support the diversity rationale, as do many others. It saddens me that the constitutional jurisprudence (and the country) is shifting somewhat away from it.

Most meritocracy arguments mask an assumption that the "standardized" criteria used to rank-order the meritocracy are fair and complete. Wealth distribution does correlate to the results of merit evaluations. Its pretty hard to say that being poor is the fault of a kid taking the SAT, so maybe right and left can agree that wealth should NOT correlate, and think about a corrective that could apply.

After all, if we value "hard work and overcoming adversity" in America then some of the most admirable students in the country are those in the top 10% of crime/drug beset urban schools.

Becker talked about research that sugggests "preferenced" students cluster at the bottom of the class:

Other research by Prof. Henderson at my law school has shown how LSAT performance is strongly correlated to performance on timed law school exams, but is weakly or not correlated to performance on other kinds of exams (take home, non-timed, oral). In essense, a measure of merit used for admission has evolved to duplicate the measure of merit most often used for performance after admission.

That explains why students preferenced into a school might show the same performance gap in a school. But legal practice does not resemble a timed law school essay exam. There is no reason to suspect the performance gap to extend into legal practice absent discrimination there.


The diversity rationale has always been weak and it's obvious by the very actions of the people who support it that, in fact, they hardly believe in it, but grasp at it as a chance to do the kind of racial discrimination they belief is necessary to benefit society.

In fact, one of the strongest arguments against AA, though rarely made, is that it has made liberals lose their souls; they have to lie, both regularly and publicly, to pretend affirmative action isn't what it actually is, and they aren't doing what they are actually doing. They have to cling to weak and secondary research when primary research tells them what they need to know. They have to pretend that clear results are not as clear as they seem to be.


As I believe Judge Posner knows, race is not considered a BFOQ when it comes to casting for actors. (In fact, I'm not sure if sex is any more.) While lawsuits may be rare, color-blind casting is becoming more in vogue. Consider the Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing, where blacks and white were brothers.

All drama requres a willing suspension of disbelief. Won't this disbelief become easier as we relax rules about who can play what part. (And why does a black man look more like a Moor than a white man?)


The diversity argument should be broken down further. One rationale is that it promotes social cohesion/less intolerance, which is plausible. The other major rationale, which I don't find to be compelling at least among college students, is that it adds intellectually important perspectives that would otherwise be lacking. At the faculty level, affirmative action seems only to replace white males with women and minorities with perspectives very much like their white male counterparts. Indeed, in my field of political science, affirmative action seems to decrease the diversity of political perspectives since women and minority professors are more likely to be liberal. And the typical political science department is unlikely to be very eager to hire a conservative who is a member of a minority.

John Kelsey

In Posner's post, there's a possible justification of AA based on making a businesses' minority customers feel more comfortable with the organization. Later, there's another possible justification of AA based on claimed improvements in functioning of an organization with more diversity.

I guess I'm puzzled about both of these justifications, because it would be about as easy to make parallel justifications for discrimination against some minority group. Presumably, it wouldn't be acceptable to anyone to have the power company say "we can't hire blacks as meter readers, because that would upset too many of our white customers." Why would it be okay the other direction, with the power company saying "we have to preferentially hire black meter readers to keep our black customers happy?" Along the same lines, a corporation arguing that it ought not to have to have any non-white, non-Christian executives, because too much diversity in decisionmaking is bad, would surely not be acceptable to any court.


"they have to lie, both regularly and publicly, to pretend affirmative action isn't what it actually is, and they aren't doing what they are actually doing."

I don't think liberals are as torn up about what they are doing as you imply. I don't know anyone black or white on either side of the debate that thinks AA is an ideal approach. I know many who think it is a necessary response to (still) entrenched societal discrimination that left alone would perpetuate a performance gap that has nothing to do with "merit".

I personally value diversity and equality of opportunity in practice more than I value sticking with otherwise good formal rules that can never be excepted. I've read Orwell and am comfortable with double-think. It doesn't keep me up nights worrying that I am endorsing a disapproved method (preferences of any kind) in order to compensate for other past and present negative preferences.

There was some good news recently that the performance gap on NAEP standardized tests has narrowed since 1971 (although it still exists). See: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/2005/2005464.asp

Perhaps there will come a time when AA is no longer necessary as part of the program to equalize opportunity and guarantee diversity. I hope so.

I believe it likely that there have been times in my life where someone with lower test scores has been "preferenced" over me. I am sure that they were well qualified in a holistic sense and did well in the position. I welcome the opportunity to take on some extra challenge in the name of promoting equality and diversity, especially given how privileged my own upbringing was in comparison. My "backup" schools/jobs have given me as much opportunity as I might have lost. Harvard can be an unpleasant experience anyway.


Corey --

a minor point: I doubt you are qualified to say what legal practice does and does not resemble. You may be surprised to learn that tight deadlines are not a unique product of law school examinations.

On the whole, Posner's post reminds me why I think of him as a thoughtful -- though often arrogant -- jurist, and not a conservative hack. I am surprised the conservative hacks have not come to attack this post yet. Palooka?


Fred --

you make a decent post about trends in casting shakespeare. I enjoyed Branagh's Much Ado, and thought the casting appropriate.

But a white Othello does not work. Inimical to the play is the fact that Othello is a moor. In the days when Shakespeare companies did not cast African Americans, Othellos wore blackface -- that would not work today, for obvious reasons. To cast the play otherwise would be like writing Jim out of Huck Finn. It would basically destroy the play.

A black man looks more like a Moor because the Moors were of African ancestry. At least that's what I've always thought -- if not, someone correct me.

Perhaps not on topic, but important to me. Carry on.


Regarding the common argument expressed by Becker and Posner that:

"affirmative action harms the ablest beneficiaries of it by casting doubt on their ability"

Technically, AA doesn't do this, people do this. Casting doubt on ability, or lowering one's self esteem based on need for AA is just a tacit acceptance of the supremacy of the particular merit criteria (standardized tests, name-brand university attendance) that would otherwise be used. However, there is not a standardized test or school ranking system out there that does not come with books full of substantive and formal criticism.

Many people truly believe that the meritocracy tests too narrowly and undervalues many unique talents and hard work that don't relate directly to the test. If you think that, then there is no stigma attached to having less of what the test measures. You probably have more of things the test doesn't measure. For certain the test is an imperfect measure of the skills needed to succeed in the field. Much of the correlation that does exist could be attributed to people blindly following the test results as a proxy for actual qualification. (Which is hard to determine in advance) The pressure for standardization is strongly self-reinforcing.

There isn't any reason standardized tests could not be normalized by school or geographic area, or forgone completely in favor of a GPA # which reports performance relative to others WITHIN the particular environment. Tests get re-normalized all the time.


"a minor point: I doubt you are qualified to say what legal practice does and does not resemble. You may be surprised to learn that tight deadlines are not a unique product of law school examinations."

Every profession often features tight deadlines, including my former careers in Engineering and Technical Sales. My experience of lawyers so far is that they talk about the pressures of their job more than most. Perhaps that is a way of justifying the hourly rates.) But that is neither here nor there.

If LSAT correlates to 3 hour in-class exams but does not correlate to 8 hour take-home exams then there is a problem with the LSAT.

Speaking of which, I am now under a tight deadline and must go and meet it.


Judge Posner writes:

"Women, Jews, Asians, and other traditional victims of discrimination or newcomers or outsiders have all advanced to positions of essential parity with male WASPs."

I will agree as soon as an Asian-American woman of part-Jewish descent wins the Presidency (or as soon as her gender and ethnicity would not be "news" if she ran). We have come a long way in the last 50 years, but not ALL the way.

I agree with Bill's post that AA, at its premise, questions the traditional meaning of the word "merit." I suppose one's score on the SAT or one's GPA could be viewed as an "objective" measure of a student's achievement or training, to that point. But it might not be an objective measure of any person's potential. A poor kid from the inner city with a 1500 SAT is almost certainly more talented than a student with a similar score who hails from a weatlthy suburb and whose family hired the best private tutors.

However, the rich suburban kid -- even one with lower scores -- might be more polished and might well do better at interviews than an inner city counterpart. Notably, interviews are far from a "merit" based method of hiring. College admissions might be mostly a numbers game, but the "real" world is far different and offers far more opportunities for those at the top to reinforce their prejudices through the hiring process.

Also, there might be situations when "merit" matters less than other factors. Take acting, for example. The best looking actors routinely get parts even if their acting skills are inferior.

My point is that the affirmative action debate is far more complex than just comparing test scores. Unfortunately, it gets oversimplified for political purposes. The simpler it seems, the more unjust it seems, and the more willing courts will be to intervene. In contrast, when it appears to be a complex balancing of various individualized factors, it looks more like something that the courts should stay out of. Perhaps that was the lesson of Bakke.


Try as we might, the fact still remains that education, as well as other endeavors, is competitive and in any competitive environment those who are succesful or the "winners" have more talent, skill, speed, discipline, etc., etc.. Hence the need for "handicapping" (using the sports parlance) otherwise all would fall to the best and brightest. The meritocracy if you will. As the Cyclops in the Odyssey told Ulysses, we have no law here, we do what we want. My bigger brothers have all the larger caves, flocks and lands.... Is that the ideal which we desire in a democratic-republic?

The problem begins to arise when the handicapping or affirmative action or what ever it happens to be called at the time, degenerates into a form of reverse descrimination and kills off the benefits that one should receive for merit. It's all a question of balance.

Bill Korner

David: I don't actually think that supporting AA requires questioning any received concept of merit. Many proponents of AA are strong believers in meritocracy, but want some "trade-off" between that and, say, diversity.

Not me. I happen to strongly dislike the concept of meritocracy, as I discussed on the linked URL in a post called "MeritoCRACY?". Of course, it's good to not have people getting positions through bribes or nepotism. But meritocracy implies more than that, namely that the we choose ones with the most "merit". That strikes me as vague and overwrought claim, whether we're talking about business employment or university admissions.


Here's a personal annecdote that I think well reveals the limits of the concept of meritocracy:

Right now I'm waiting to hear from a small law firm far from my and my family's home. Among the reasons that may go into my being rejected are as follows:

(1) Because I admit to having a small child far away, I appear less likely to stay at the firm in the long term than that particular firm desires for its new hire.

(2) I'm a year plus out of law school and have never applied for a law firm job. So I seem ambivalent about law practice.

(3) I would get great litigation experience and mentoring from the get go in this firm which, says one partner, I might run off to another firm with down the line. The job pays way less than I could earn in a major urban center. So, if I wanted to, I could apparently make bank on their training. This would frustrate the firm's intention of finding a long-term partner track associate.

(4) I've never lived in this area before, so they don't know how well I can know if I would like it and want to stay.

Unlike racism, these and other reasons for not hiring me seem pretty good from the firm's point of view. But could you seriously say that they have anything to do with my merit? I don't think so.

John Kelsey

Bill Korner and Corey have a problem (I think) with using the term "meritocracy" when we actually do a very imperfect job ranking the merit of potential students or employees. But I think they're missing something. In the real world, we *never* have perfect measures of anyone's abilities or merit--that's true for juries in court cases, insurance companies offering life insurance rates, employers offering jobs--almost any decision we can make. The question is, given these imperfect measures, should we use them the same way for blacks as for whites?

There seem to be two cases of interest here: First, we may think the tests mean something different for blacks than for whites on average. That means we're not trying to get away from measures of merit, but we're trying to improve them with extra knowledge. I can't see an inherent reason this is bad, but it sure seems like it requires some evidence to make it make sense. That is, if blacks do better than their LSAT scores would suggest, that would imply an adjustment in scores to make the test better at measuring likely success in law school. (Is there any data on this?)

Second, we might override our merit measurements to accomplish other social goals (which is what most people seem to mean when they talk about AA). That seems like it's inevitably going to lead to the situation described above, where students admitted under AA cluster toward the bottom of their classes on average.


Bill Korner

J.K.: It's not that we have an imperfect concept of merit, but that no single concept could account for all the reasons that a person gets (should get) a position or not. We need (and have) a diversity OF criteria, if you will, as well as diversity AS A criterion. Some of these have to do with merit, some not (witness the recent anonymous post).

Talk of merit inevitably becomes conservative rhetoric because it paints with too broad a brush. Of course, there are more conservative approaches: advocating racism, nepotism, or flat out bribery. But those are happily falling by the way side, at least as intellectual positions.


"The simpler it seems, the more unjust it seems, and the more willing courts will be to intervene. In contrast, when it appears to be a complex balancing of various individualized factors, it looks more like something that the courts should stay out of. Perhaps that was the lesson of Bakke."

I guess you haven't actually read the Michigan cases. The plaintiff stood a statistical chance of 8% based on her LSAT/GPA combination. Had she been black or Hispanic, what do you suppose her chances were? 100%. Yes, that is indeed a "complex balancing of individual factors." NOt really. This fetish with renaming; discrimination becomes "affirmative action" and quotas become "critical mass." How does all this renaming change what is occurring, race is used as criteria, significant criteria, in the admissions and hiring practices performed by governmental actors. This new notion that aslong as there isn't a point formula then it passes constitional muster is absurd. This rationale suggests that a MORE discriminatory system can be constitutional if it doles out its injustice individually.


"I guess I'm puzzled about both of these justifications, because it would be about as easy to make parallel justifications for discrimination against some minority group. Presumably, it wouldn't be acceptable to anyone to have the power company say "we can't hire blacks as meter readers, because that would upset too many of our white customers." Why would it be okay the other direction, with the power company saying "we have to preferentially hire black meter readers to keep our black customers happy?" Along the same lines, a corporation arguing that it ought not to have to have any non-white, non-Christian executives, because too much diversity in decisionmaking is bad, would surely not be acceptable to any court."

Posner has apparently accepted the double standard. Oddly, I recall him skewering affirmative action in Overcoming Law. Maybe I remember incorrectly.

I do have some sympathy for prisons and law enforcement, which can often be a question of life and death, and I can imagine a case were a genuine "compelling" interest presents itself in those contexts.

Jack Sprat

POSNER: An obvious case is casting a black man as Othello and a white woman as Desdemona in a performance of Othello.

This is entirely and utterly wrong. First of all, it prevents actors from finding work. If a white woman can act the hell out of the role of Othello, by all means let her do it. If a black man can do a mean Desdemona, let him. Not only would the play be interesting, but it would be truer to Shakespeare's original intent than what Posner concocted. After all, his plays featured much sex-changing and transvetitism, and all of the actors in the original production of his plays were male.

POSNER: A firm that sells primarily to blacks might want to give a preference to black applicants for sales positions or insist that its advertising agencies include black models in their advertisements for the firm's products.

This is crap, too. There is a bad assumption here, and it's that an individual gets-along better with members within her own race than without. That simply accepts the social dimension of race as if it is natural and normative. It is neither. Presuming such is as silly as saying that white rappers should be censored because their rapping is inauthentic while ignoring that all rappers sell to a primarily white audience, so there is nothing essentially black about being a rap artist. Let white salespersons cozy up to black customers and let blacks salespersons do so too, and let the best salesperson win. Let's not ignore that many other factors may result in a sale. A white man from the South may get along better with a black man from the South than a black man from the North would, for obvious reasons: they share a regional culture.

POSNER: "These are situations in which affirmative action is prima facie efficient because it is being adopted voluntarily by a private, competitive institution, presumably as a profit-maximizing, cost-minimizing response to competitive pressures."

But is it voluntary? One could easily make that argument with regard to anything social, such as, e.g., interracial marriage or interracial dating. Except many black people "settle" for horrible mates within their race because the social pressure not to date outside of it is so severe and because the taboo of being in public with a date of another race is so palpable. It is also true that many whites do not date outside of their race for the same reason (though there is less of a loss of value in settling, because the white population is larger, so it's easier to find a mate). I doubt Posner would make the argument that gays who chose to remain in the closet while homosexual acts were illegal were doing so voluntarily; by contrast, he would say the implicit cost of engaging in homosexual acts is driving the expression of it underground (i.e., deterrence can create black markets). I'm not sure why he simply accepts that socio-racial norms are normative or that social taboos related to race are efficient. They might be efficient at driving down the incidence of miscegenation, but would anyone but a hardcore racist make the argument that such is a good thing?

POSNER: "Situations in which the only beneficiaries of affirmative action are black. Most of my examples of affirmative action have involved blacks rather than women, Hispanics, etc. My reason for that choice is that realism requires recognition that blacks are, for whatever reason or combination of reasons, in far the worst position, so far as health, prosperity, educational achievement, intermarriage, and other measures of success and integration, of any other major group in American society."

I agree that this is the only real affirmative action -- in that blacks are the only group that could plausibly said to be deserving of affirmative action. But I do not agree with Becker's critique of it:

BECKER: "Studies have shown that this simple implication of affirmative action applies to students at good law schools, where the average African American student ranks toward the lower end of their law school cohort."

The question I have is why we are grouping all African-Americans together. If what we are concerned with is merit, then there is no reason to group an African-American who had a 1500 SAT score (on the old test) and was in the top half or third of his or her law school class with an African-American who scored in the low 900s on the SATs and was in the bottom half or third of his or her law school class. But if we do not group them together, then we cannot come up with an average, thus there is no "average African-American student," which we should all know is a statistical fiction. If we truly believed in merit we would not even be able to attack affirmative action, because we wouldn't be unfairly grouping unrelated individuals together to produce the relevant statistics. I think the grouping itself is what is offensive and stigmatizing, not the achievement of other persons. It's a ridiculous assumption to make that any African-American cares one whit about or shapes his self-concept in response to how well other persons who are not members of his immediate family fare in academia. His attitude might be: fuck them, and fuck you; I scored higher than you on all the relevant tests, now kiss my black ass you arrogant honky.

BECKER: "However, now, minority doctors and other professionals are greeted suspiciously by many patients and customers who fear they got where they are only because they were subject to lower standards."

What a wonderful argument! White people were prejudiced, and the means to eliminate the prejudice resulted in more prejudiced white people, so we should get rid of the means to elminate the prejudice because that will eliminate the prejudice. Uh, right. You must have a better argument than this, Becker. Many white people are simply prejudiced and it has nothing to do with affirmative action programs. Affirmative action programs are not the reason why many white people find African-Americans to be less intelligent or less attractive specimens of the human species.

BECKER: "Employers, universities, and other organizations should make special efforts to find qualified members of minority groups, persons who might have been overlooked because of their poor family backgrounds or the bad schools they attended. By using this approach, one can spot some diamonds in the rough that would get overlooked."

Of course this is correct. No reasonable-minded person would dispute this. But the process of seeking out diamonds in the rough requires the kind of discretion that is inherently subjective and liable to be criticized by white special interests as "softer-forms of quotas" or "reverse discrimination". There are many conservatives -- Ed Whelan and Roger Clegg, for instance -- who would abolish even mere recruiting dinners for minorities. (They would ban free food and the handing out of brochures on the basis of race!) I would also note that elite private universities believe they are doing just this -- looking for diamonds in the rough -- by discounting some plus-factors in favor of others. The question, then, is not whether discretion is to be used, but how much. In that sense, Becker, your post says less than it pretends to.

Clarence Thomas, for one, would get rid of all discretion in private elite university admissions: not just race and legacies, but also resumes and family background. The only thing that should count are your standardized test scores and unweighted grade-point-average, because those are the only factors that are objective and thus not subject to criticism as abitrary and capricious abuse of discretion.

POSNER: "Without affirmative action, elite educational institutions and other elite institutions (probably including the officer corps of the military) would have virtually no blacks..."

Yeah, well, they'd have me; so fuck you. I exist.

Jane Thirnbough

PERSEUS: "Indeed, in my field of political science, affirmative action seems to decrease the diversity of political perspectives since women and minority professors are more likely to be liberal."

While I can't speak for your school or department, I become quite annoyed at the "intellectual diversity = more conservatives on campus" argument. Intellectual diversity may result in more conservatives on campus, but it would also result in more fascists, libertarians, Marxists, liberals, communtarians, etc. on campus too; and the political philosophy would jar dissonantly with its advocate. An intellectually diverse faculty has disabled persons who oppose the ADA and able-bodied professors who support it; gays who opposed gay marriage and straights who support it; blacks who oppose affirmative action and whites who support it: that's the kind of environment that promotes the free discussion of ideas. Simply adding more Reaganites to the professoriate or admitting more members of the Young Republican Club to college won't do the trick. Be a literal textualist about it: intellectual diversity actually means intellectual diversity.

Corey happens to be right on this one. Intellectual diversity doesn't mean making excuses to kick out the radical niggers, kikes and cunts we don't like.


How this has taken a turn toward intellectual diversity is a mystery to me, but it is very hard to ignore the censorship of "Reaganites or ... members of the Young Republicans" as well as Christians on most campuses. For evidence of this, all you need to look at is the North Carolina public university system. These universities have routinely attempted to censor Christian groups and the College Republicans and have lost every battle that has gone to court. Conservatives want to know why the Black Student Union or MeCCha can allow members to join based on race yet they can't admit based on political beliefs or religion.

You are mistaken when you assume that conservatives want more Reaganites and Young Republicans on campus; all they want is the same access to public funds and same constraints as all other school groups, most of which fall under the diversity movement. They also want to be allowed to compete in a system that doesn't discriminate against their political beliefs. If this sounds like heresy to you, check out a book by Dr. Mike S. Adams, "Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel", who provides his insights into the UNC system and their hiring practices. You will find that conservatives aren't just barking at thin air when it comes to intellectual diversity; they are being actively censored in an environment mostly controlled by liberals. Don't take my word for it; Adams' book presents much evidence to support his point, evidence that would have had him sued for libel if it were untrue.

John Kelsey

Jack Spratt said: "What a wonderful argument! White people were prejudiced, and the means to eliminate the prejudice resulted in more prejudiced white people, so we should get rid of the means to elminate the prejudice because that will eliminate the prejudice. Uh, right."

So, transport yourself to another country, in which the US ethnic differences have no importance, but there are locally important ethnic differences that have led to discrimination in favor of ethnic group A over ethnic group B. You know that group A is admitted to medical school and allowed to graduate with much lower grades and test scores than group B. Would you prefer a doctor from group A or group B, assuming no other knowledge?

Any kind of discrimination provides information to people making decisions. If some school will allow any white kid in who's minimally prepared, and will also allow exceptionally bright black kids in, then you ought to prefer hiring black graduates of that school over whites, because the discrimination process has given you some extra information. The same thing is true when the discrimination goes in favor of blacks, right?

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