Affirmative Action

Should Affirmative Action Be Ended at Public Universities? Debate Tonight in NYC

Attn, New York-area Reasonoids: Soho Forum debate is tonight in East Village.

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Soho Forum

All Affirmative Action programs in public colleges and universities that are based on ethnic-racial composition should be abolished.

That's the resolution being debated tonight at New York's Soho Forum. Peter Schuck, an emeritus professor at Yale Law School will be taking the affirmative position and Michael Meyers, the head of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, will be taking the negative position. The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by Reason, is a monthly Oxford-style debate held at the Subculture Theater in Manhattan's East Village. Reason contributor and Mostly Weekly writer Sarah Rose Siskind will warm the crowd up with her standup comedy.

Doors open at 5:45 P.M. and light food will be served as part of admission. A cash bar featuring beer, wine, and soft drinks will also be open. Previous debates have included Matt Welch taking on Barack Obama's presidential legacy and me arguing with Walter Block over whether libertarians should vote for Donald Trump. It's a great scene and always a very fun and stimulating evening.

Cash bar opens at 5:45pm
Event starts at 6:30pm
Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St,
NY, 10012

Seating must be reserved in advance.

Moderated by Gene Epstein,
the economics editor of Barron's.

Tickets are priced between $10 and $18 and must be purchased online. Go here now.

For those unable to attend, Reason will have a podcast version of the event later this week. For past debate podcasts, go here.

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  1. BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH! BLACK LIVES MATTER! HATE SPEECH IS NOT FREE SPEECH!

    There, that’s all the “debate” you need. You can cancel the forum now.

    1. I don’t think a Reason-sponsored event has a high enough profile to attract BLM protestors.

      1. Well, that’s fortunate…wait a minute…

    2. *reports wokeness*

  2. Sarah Rose Siskind will warm the crowd up with her standup comedy.

    In case you needed a reason to not go.

  3. This one sounds like it could get ugly.

  4. Sounds like we’re bakke to square one.

    1. You’re obviously not racist, because your taste is undiscriminating.

  5. I hope someone says the truth about affirmative action as practiced at elite colleges in this country; that it is about class, not race. Poor black and Hispanic kids don’t get into elite schools. Rich ones do. If these colleges admitted entirely on merit, the classes would have a lot more Asians and a few more whites. But that is not what bothers the proponents of affirmative action. They just claim that is the problem to cover up what their real problem is. A merit-based admissions system would let middle and lower class Asians in whites into these schools at the expense of upper-class blacks and Hispanics. The entire thing is about screwing the poor Vietnamese kids whose parents run a dry cleaner or a restaurant so that the black or Hispanic children of the upper class can send their kids to the “right schools”.

    1. Affirmative actions should have never applied to Hispanics to begin with. AA was not created to create diversity, but to make up for past government oppression and systemic injustice due to laws specifically targeting people by race. Asians, Native Americans, and Blacks fall under this category. Hispanics do not. The only reason Hispanics are poorer is because they are mostly recent immigrants who come here with nothing. Every single Hispanic immigrant legal or illegal, willingly entered this country. The government don’t owe them anything. No immigrants should get AA. Only the descendants of American slaves, Native Americans, and Asians who lived here pre-WWII deserve AA.

    2. With progressive elites, it’s all about promoting the offspring of progressive elites. The system is designed to keep our kids from competing with theirs. Which is also why they hate capitalism and free markets. Those things don’t suit their agenda. which is choosing who gets ahead, and how they’re allowed to do it. which does not include letting children of those from the lower castes enter elite universities.

  6. Just going to throw this out there: Reason could use one or two black writers. I realize black libertarians are hard to find, but it would be fascinating to hear their perspective.

    Also I would recommend reading this excellent blog post at the Niskasen Center:
    Black Liberty Matters

      1. Ah, the separate but equal Black liberty.

        1. Try reading the fucking article.

          1. No thanks, I’m not clicking a shortened link from you.

            1. Reason wouldn’t let me post the unshortened link.

          2. I read it and “discussed” it last month. It’s garbage prog identity politics from Jacob T Levy.

            1. I don’t see where you get identity politics or “separate but equal” out of “libertarians should think about politics from a black perspective more”.

              Putting yourself in other peoples shoes is NOT “identity politics”. It is the opposite.

              1. “I don’t see where you get identity politics… out of ‘libertarians should think about politics from a black perspective more’

                /facepalm

                1. Seriously, Hazel, what the fuck do you think “identity politics” is if not that there are politics specific to groups (IOW, that there is a “black perspective”)

    1. Well it would be fascinating if they were fascinating writers. I don’t think being black necessarily causes one’s writing to be fascinating unless you think it’s amazing for a black person to be able to write

    2. So they should specifically go find/hire someone because they’re black? Any type of racism is bad. When are people going to understand this?

    3. Kind of like black astronauts?

      https://tinyurl.com/pfjnlbn

  7. “Affirmative action”. Some animals are more equal than others – nobody’s crying for the lactose-intolerant, the left-handed, the red-heads or the midgets. Are they not distinct groups requiring monitoring for proportional representation?

    1. As a left-handed human who believes that individual freedom is better than state use of force, I prefer not to be in any state defined category.
      But as Eeyore says “Thanks for noticing”.

    2. ^^THIS^^

      There have been several studies that have concluded being old, short or fat does more damage to your career prospects than your race. It is totally legal under the civil rights laws to discriminate against someone because you think they are unattractive or because they are fat. If a woman doesn’t get a job that she was by merit the best candidate because she is fat, is that any more just then if she had not gotten it because she is black? I don’t see how it is.

      All of these laws are nothing but raw political power plays and tribal politics. Blacks and Hispanics have more political power than Asians and fat people, so they get taken care of while fate people and Asians do not. None of this has anything to do with truth or justice or anything beyond power.

      1. I’ve seen where it was not only the attractiveness of the employee that influenced promotions, but also the attractiveness of the spouse. Private companies are meritocracies only to a point.

        1. Life isn’t a meritocracy. It has never been. It is in the real macro sense if you are lucky but it is at best uneven in the individual case. Once you go down the road of the government intervening and trying to make it one, it just becomes power politics. Politics are about power, not justice. And whenever you make something about politics, you are making it about power.

      2. shit, I hope I never need to get a job because I’m old, fat and ugly. Where’s MY trophy?

        1. You just need to form a political movement with other old and fat people and you too can get the government to force people to hire you.

          1. eh, I”m old and fat, I don’t have the endurance.

            1. We’re doomed

    3. As a left handed, red headed midget with lactose intolerance, I say GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!!!!

  8. Affirmative action is, by definition, sexist, racist and “whatever you look at instead of ability” -ist.
    Next debate?

    1. I don’t want to fall into the “what about legacy admissions” trap – William F. Buckley made a good case for legacy admissions on the grounds that if a college expects to *receive* preferential consideration from alumni when it comes to gift-giving, that college should in fairness *practice* preferential consideration for relatives of alumni.

      1. I’d have no problem with colleges admitting people for whatever reason they want if those colleges just did so with only their own money. Public funding of higher education has been bad for higher education in so many ways.

        1. I have a problem with it. It is just not a problem I think there needs to be a law to solve, except for the public money part that you mention.

        2. I have a problem with it. It is just not a problem I think there needs to be a law to solve, except for the public money part that you mention.

  9. How about calling it what it really is before making arguments for/against abolishing it, instead of some meaningless jargon euphemism.

    1. Discrimination in Universities, are you pro or con?

  10. Shouldn’t it be a minority in the affirmative and white cuck in the negative?

    AA is total utter, insulting bull shit and you’re bull shit for supporting it.

  11. Do you plan to take these debates on the road?

  12. I’m just wondering how many white people around here actually feel like their life has been meaningfully negatively impacted by Affirmative Action?

    Not arguing in favor of or against it. Just wondering why you care.

    1. I did not pursue a career in academia because I was told by several people in the field don’t even try if you are a white male because your job prospects are very limited. You can do it, but you have to be the absolute top. And indeed, my white male roommate didn’t take the job and despite being a PHD and a brilliant teacher and first-rate scholar has never gotten the tenure-track position he deserves. I can walk into all but the very top liberal arts schools and find people whose resumes do not match my roommates sitting in tenured positions because they are minorities.

      For my generation and this one, being a white male makes pursuing a career in the liberal arts impossible. It would still be hard even without affirmative action. But affirmative action makes it out of the question. And that is not right. Only blind commitment to tribalism or just outright animosity could cause someone to say that it is.

      1. Is this solely due to affirmative action or to liberal bias in the liberal arts? I definitely think there is an overwhelming political bias which makes it nearly impossible for a conservative to get tenure. I suspect the effect of affirmative action is tiny compared to the effect of the political hostility though. Being a progressive of any skin color probably means an easier path to tenure. Maybe they aren’t getting those position just because of race, but because of their politics.

        1. With white males, it is is all racial and sexual. The political bias is certainly there. You are not getting a job in academia if you are conservative or really these days anything short of batshit crazy liberal. But that is true no matter your race or sex. A conservative black woman isn’t getting hired anymore than a conservative white male. The difference is that if the black woman has the right politics, she is almost certainly getting a job and tenure and the white male isn’t getting either, no matter what his politics.

        2. The legalities around AA are far from perfectly clear, and Universities have shown a tendency to aggressively enact their own version of AA even when it’s been declared illegal.

          Quite some years ago, the University of CA’s affirmative action practices were found to be unconstitutional race-based discrimination. They vowed that they would persist with the program anyway, not even being at all secret about looking for way to continue the same practices under a better cloak of legality.

          When I was in grad school, absolutely every grant advertisement was noted “women and minority applicants encouraged to apply,” which everyone knew essentially meant “straight white men need not apply.” The white guys from rich families could wait it out; the rest of us not so much. The whole time I was in grad school, there were a number of new hires, not one of whom was a white male.

          Virtually everyone there, minorities included, were from far more privileged backgrounds than me.

          In applying as a undergrad, even, I was rejected by multiple institutions for over a year expressly because my race-quota was full.

          Negative impact due to an attitude? Yes, most certainly and undeniably. Because of a specific law? That’s a greyer area.

    2. Quick question, is your question about a lack of impact, or a lack of understanding of impact?

    3. To give another example. I was definitely harmed in college admissions and aid for being a white male. I can think of two black friends in high school whose academic and extra circular activities records were more or less identical to mine and both scored a full hundred points less than I did on the SAT. One went on a full ride to Washington University in St. Louis and the other went to the Coast Guard Acadamy and after washing out ended up graduating from Rice. I didn’t apply to Rice or the Coast Guard Academy but I got wait listed at Wash U and ended up going to a state university.

      It would also note that both of them came from wealthier families and had more connections than I did. I turned out fine. So, I am hardly a horror story. But, where would I be if I had been given a full ride to Wash U? We will never know.

      1. I could tell a very similar story. Except it was Harvard.

        But yeah, what’s the point. “We will never know”, indeed.

        The fact is that whites and Asians getting passed over for promotions and scholarships happens. Norman Lear made fun of Archie Bunker complaining about it forty-five years ago and helped make remove it from polite discourse. Doesn’t change the facts though.

        1. One of the smartest people I have ever known was a Korean kid I went to high school with. He graduated with a perfect GPA, took every AP math class imaginable, and got 1520 on his SATs. Every Ivy League school turned him down and he ended up going to a state engineering school, on a full ride at least. The contrast between him and my other friend getting his full ride to Washington University was quite remarkable. The Korean kid was a first-generation immigrant whose parents barely spoke English. The black kid’s father was very successful oil and gas attorney. And it was the black kid who needed the “leg up to deal with oppression because being a geeky Korean kid whose parents barely speak English is the picture of “privilege”.

          No, it doesn’t. And claiming that such things don’t happen or that saying that they do is unacceptable does not help things. Lying never helps a situation. In this case, all lying does is help set the table for a return of the real radical right. It is utter madness.

          1. I think this is actually a fairly respectable argument.
            Personally, I have never felt particularly privileged OR harmed by being a white female. (Maybe that just cancels itself out).

            I have definitely been harmed (in legally institutionalized ways), by being an immigrant. But not particularly by being white or female. (Racism and affirmative action are nothing compared to having actual laws forbidding you from having certain jobs.)

            But I’m sympathetic towards those who have experienced real harms due to affirmative action policies. It’s not as bad as having a law forbidding you from holding certain kinds of jobs, but it’s still unfair.

            1. I am still successful and see no point in wondering what might have been. In some ways not being able to complain about it, probably helped me in that it helped ensure I didn’t use it as an excuse. That being said, there are some really nasty injustices going on in college admissions in particular. They need to be stopped or at the very least honestly discussed.

              1. These are all just more reasons that progressivism has to be expunged from this country if America is going to survive as a constitutional republic.

    4. “I’m just wondering how many white people around here actually feel like their life has been meaningfully negatively impacted by Affirmative Action?”

      I’m white and I don’t really have much idea. It’s not like they’d tell me.

      I focus on the stuff I can change, not what I can’t.

      1. But I’ve commented here on all sorts of injustices which haven’t affected me.

        The assumption by AA supporters is that they’re pure and idealistic and that opponents (who are all white of course) are selfish and stupid. Selfish because they put their whitness ahead of racial justice, stupid because they can’t *prove* they were harmed. Archie Bunker types, you know, sitting at the clubhouse whining about “muh privilege.”

        1. If you believe the supporters, affirmative action benefits (favored) minorities by getting them things they wouldn’t otherwise get, but this is done in such a way as not to cause any harm to any identifiable white or Asian person. So we’re supposed to believe it’s the perfect policy – all good and no harm.

          1. The idea is *supposed* to be that it corrects for implicit bias. Although, it’s probably fair to say that it benefits wealthier blacks who probably aren’t really subject to that much discrimination anyways.

            1. There is good reason to believe that implicit bias is a scam.

              TW: Heather Mac Donald and very long, but interesting

            2. Who claimed that affirmative action was supposed to correct for implicit bias?

        2. The people making those allegations are nearly always white themselves. The vast majority of what passes for discussion about race in this country consists of one class of white people genuflecting about their guilt for the purpose of asserting their moral superiority over white people who refuse to do so.

          1. I’ve seen the media do it – soft-focus interviews of people who they identify as beneficiaries of affirmative action, while white people (it’s rarely Asians featured) are examined and asked how they can prove they actually suffered any harm – maybe they weren’t qualified!

            1. The beneficiary of affirmative action in the famous Bake v. California Supreme Court case ended up being a plastic surgeon and eventually losing their medical license for incompetence. The media never touched that story. They were, however, happy to slander every plaintiff who ever sued over college admissions as some lazy freeloader wanting a handout. Journalists are vile people.

              1. The main problem is that in many cases it comes down to someone getting a position (or college admission) and all the other applicants not getting it. The beneficiary can be interviewed as an example of how affirmative action helps people (not the plastic surgeon, other beneficiaries), while the numerous people who got turned down can each be asked, “how do you know it was your race which was the problem, anyway, there were so many applicants how can you be *sure* you would have gotten it?”

      2. Right: if you’re the marginal candidate, you’re not going to have any idea that you were that close to getting in and got pushed out so an AA candidate could be admitted/hired.

        Which is why Ricci was such an unusual set of circumstances

    5. I know several people who have been affected by it. My mom, an uncle, and my spouse…just off the top of my head

  13. OMG! What a lineup we have!

    On one side it’s that escaped mental patient that terrorized Jamie Lee Curtis, and on the other it’s the actor who played Suicide!

  14. While it’s great to discuss racial/sex preferences (or affirmative action, if you want to use the euphemism) from the philosophical point of view, I’d like to see supporters of preferences challenged on pragmatic grounds.

    Specifically, how do you provide against fraud or mistake in identifying whether someone is a protected minority? And how do you define protected minority anyway?

    They say that white women are among the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action but let’s assume for a moment that a white woman – through fraud or mistake – classifies herself as, say native american because allegedly an ancestor was Cherokee. Then on investigation, they can’t find such an ancestor. Oops! Do we do such double-checking of every applicant who says (s)he is a favored minority? Do we demand genealogical charts or comb tests like the enforcers of limpieza de sangre in Spain or the racial classification bureaucracy in old South Africa?

    If you are classified by society as a white male, why can’t you defy society, reclassify yourself as female, or native American, or both, and put that on your application? Is that fraud, or is it being true to one’s identity?

    And do we use the one-drop rule so that 1/32 favored-race blood counts? Or do you have to have at least 1/4 preferred blood? Or over 1/2?

    1. Specifically, how do you provide against fraud or mistake in identifying whether someone is a protected minority? And how do you define protected minority anyway?

      YOu can’t. See Elizabeth Warren for an example of this. The woman graduated from Rutgers. And she is a tenured law professor at Harvard. Anyone who thinks she got that job for any reason other than because she lied about being an Indian is delusional. At this point, the only thing stopping someone from claiming to be a protected race and using these programs is their sense of shame. That is it.

      The other interesting issue is the effect of these mail order do it yourself DNA tests. Our actual DNA is much more mixed than we think it is. Lots and in fact I bet most, people who think of themselves as “white” have at least some black or Hispanic DNA. If I took one of these tests and it turned out my DNA was 10% Hispanic, why could I not then be able to claim I am “Hispanic” on my job applications? What is being that mean if not having Hispanic DNA?

      The whole thing is insane and is going to collapse into absurdity, if it already hasn’t done so.

    2. The fact that we have to ask such questions emphasizes what a fraud the whole thing is.

      1. The same people who claim that gender is a social construct, that you can somehow wish away your biology, turn right around and claim that race is totally inherent to our identity and thus cannot be changed. Think about how irrational it is for someone to hold both positions? And yet, all of them do. You can become a woman by just saying that you are, your DNA and biology be damned, but “race” is totally immutable. If these people were not so terrifying, they would be funny.

      1. You can’t practice race-based politics unless you can tell who is who. And you can’t tell who is who if the races are intermarrying. Interracial marriage totally destroys identity politics. The old white supremacists knew that and made interracial marriage the biggest social sin you could engage in. These people are so stupid, they can’t even get race politics right.

      2. Similar stuff goes on in Malaysia, where polical positions are reserved for the Muslim majority over the Chinese minority. It has nothing to do with reversing historical “wrongs” & everything to do with the Chinese running most of the successful businesses.

    3. let’s assume for a moment that a white woman – through fraud or mistake – classifies herself as, say native american because allegedly an ancestor was Cherokee.

      I taught college for eight years, and I don’t recall ever having an actually Native American student.

      I did know a white woman who was the daughter of two attorneys who lied and claimed that she was part Native American because she discovered that they can’t ask you for proof (as, understandably, it could be difficult for actual part-Native American people lacking in resources to provide such proof).

      She tried to encourage a friend of mine (who is actually part Native American) to take advantage of this program, but my friend couldn’t bring herself to do it because she grew up as a white person in the suburbs and correctly surmised that this program wasn’t really for people like her.

      Given this experience of mine, and what I know of Elizabeth Warren, I wonder if anyone other than dishonest upper-middle-class white women ever take advantage of scholarship programs for Native Americans.

      1. They should probably limit that program to just native americans who actually have tribal membership.
        Let the tribes decide who is a native american.

        1. That would make the most sense, really – have tribal councils select recipients rather than have them be self-identified.

    4. how do you provide against fraud or mistake in identifying whether someone is a protected minority?

      My daughter’s best friend has a first/last name combination that’s not uncommon, but is extremely culturally black (the first name is on Freakonomics’ list of specifically black names, and the last name is mostly black people in this country. Everyone on Facebook with the name is black). She’s white/Korean.

      I’m 90% sure her mother named her that so she can not check the race box on college applications and they’ll think she’s black. Tiger mother 4 dimensional chess

  15. Yes, next question.

    (Reason – its racist).

  16. Yes, next question.

    (Reason – its racist).

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