Blast from the Past: Spiral Of Silence

Frederick Lynch`s Invisible Victims

First published in Forbes,
May 25, 1992

Vol. 149 Issue 11, p76

NOTE: This was written in 1992, but the Supreme Court`s

Michigan decisions
make it more relevant than ever.
We expect to post several more such pieces over the

worth pointing out that policies which explicitly
discriminate against white males are not only bad for
their intended beneficiaries, (National Review`s

neoconservative spin
) they are also bad for their

intended victims.

In the wake of the

Los Angeles looting
there will be calls for more
“affirmative action“ in hiring. Sociologist Frederick
Lynch reminds us that affirmative action creates losers
as well as winners.

“ I
HAVE ALREADY given two cousins to the war, and I stand
prepared to sacrifice my wife`s brother rather than the
rebellion be not crushed.“

Humorist Artemus Ward`s

during the Civil War applies today, says
Claremont McKenna College sociologist

Frederick R. Lynch
to the American political elite`s
attempt to appease minority and feminist groups by
imposing “affirmative action“ quotas against white,
often younger and blue-collar males.

Government-imposed quotas were

explicitly banned
in the

1964 Civil Rights Act.
Nevertheless they immediately
spread through

the economy
. For most of that time, they received
eerily little media and even less academic attention. Of
some 1,300 papers given at a recent American
Sociological Association conference on Race and Ethnic
Relations, the topic attracted only one.

The result: the situation
summarized in the title of Lynch`s new paperback,
Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of
Affirmative Action
(Praeger, $14.95). The ideal
of merit hiring has been subverted by politicized
hiring, with white men unable to defend themselves
against open discrimination. But quotas bring other
problems, including conflict among the “protected
classes“ they benefit, and growing racial polarization,
particularly as the articulate middle class begins to

Lynch just laughs at the
suggestion, recently made by a columnist in a business
weekly, that affirmative action, while a regulatory
burden, is not massive in scale.

“Race-norming [adjusting
test scores to produce racially proportionate results]
alone affected millions of people,“
he says.
“Many state and local governments did it with their
General Aptitude Test Batteries, taken by job
seekers and supplied to potential employers]. And
private testing agencies did it to protect their clients
against lawsuits—they called it “EEO-proofing.“

(The federal

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
business into quotas.)

But Lynch is not surprised at the
blunder. “There`s incredible denial,“ he says.
He cites California Democratic Representative Don
Edwards, a mouthpiece of the civil rights establishment,
claiming on the New York Times Op Ed page that
quotas did not exist—within weeks of three Supreme Court
decisions about them. And, using similar Orwellian
doublethink, supporters insisted that the

1991 Civil Rights Act
did not impose quotas,
although its

key point
was to override the Supreme Court and make
work force racial imbalance prima facie evidence of
employer discrimination.

Corporate America`s craven terror
of litigation and political punishment makes research
into quotas extremely difficult. “We`re not letting
you anywhere near our program,“
a Kmart executive
told Lynch recently.

It`s understandable—in a way.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. spent 15 years and perhaps as much
as $20 million to defeat an

EEOC discrimination suit
. Sears prevailed largely
because it was able to show it had a voluntary quota
program. Corporations

to such programs as a defense in court, even
if it means putting up with some unqualified or
incompetent workers. They hate white male employees
moaning about quotas—and, above all, suing to expose

reverse discrimination`s
legal inconsistencies.


white male victims
of affirmative action are
diffused through the population and hard to track down.
After finding and interviewing a sample, Lynch has
identified several reasons for their helplessness.

has been an administrative revolution imposed
by judges and bureaucrats,“
he says. It is not
easily opposed, particularly because much of it is
implemented informally and orally. Recently, the secrecy
has in part been a response to the increasingly unstable
legal situation as the influence of the Reagan-Bush
judicial appointments is felt. But Lynch says some
affirmative action personnel openly tell him they intend

get around any law.

A few of Lynch`s male victims were
political liberals who felt obliged to rationalize their
fate. But most acquiesced with varying degrees of anger;
some changed jobs. Usually totally isolated, these men
felt that no one would help them.

They were right. The older
generation of white male managers has compromised, Lynch
argues, because they think quotas will fall only on the
younger, baby-boom generation. And the EEOC discourages
white male discrimination complaints about corporations
with approved, i.e., anti-white male, affirmative action
plans. Litigation, for the tiny group that tried it,
proved expensive, exhausting, chancy and immensely
time-consuming—one case remains unsettled after more
than six years.

A further factor in this male
paralysis: the peculiar male psychology itself. These

seem really to have believed that real men
don`t cry. A considerable number did not even mention
their disappointment to friends, relatives or fellow

Their wives almost always felt no
such inhibitions. “My wife is mad as hell; she`s
angrier than I am,“
said a victim. Some wives
absolutely insisted on being interviewed for Lynch`s
study. One woman made a telling point: Discrimination
against white males injures not only the men themselves
but their wives and families. “This `hidden` or
latent conflict generated by affirmative action between
career women versus homemaker wives has gone virtually
unnoticed in the affirmative action literature,“

Lynch notes judiciously.

“Karl Marx insisted that for
any sort of class consciousness to arise, there must be
communication of a common sense of oppression,“

Lynch writes. “With the mass media and the social
sciences rarely recognizing the phenomenon, much less
portraying it sympathetically, white males have been
easily and silently victimized one by one.“

Lynch`s survey of the media
indicates that quotas have been basically ignored. Thus
he was unable to find one TV show portraying a white
male being damaged by affirmative action.

Partly the media were able to
ignore the issue because neither conservatives nor
liberals raised it. For example, the likelihood that
Robert Bork would find quotas unconstitutional spurred
the civil rights establishment`s fanatical resistance to
his Supreme Court nomination. But White House lobbyists
said nothing.

Partly, however, the media`s motive
is ideological. From J. Anthony Lukas` bestseller about


Common Ground,

Lynch quotes a Boston Globe reporter: “If they
[the Boston Irish] don`t like integration, we`ll

shove it down their throats.“

All of which, Lynch argues, has
induced a classic “spiral of silence,“ whereby
people assume their doubts are not shared and suppress
them, thus mutually intimidating each other. But in fact
opinion polls show quotas are overwhelmingly unpopular,
even with the “protected classes“ themselves. And when

Democratic Party
asked pollster Stanley Greenberg to
investigate blue-collar defection [
in the 1984 presidential election, quotas emerged as the
crucial factor. The party promptly tried to stifle
Greenberg`s report.

Lynch is now researching his next
book on “diversity management“—the use of
quotas, with no pretense that they are remedial or
temporary, for the current beneficiaries of affirmative
action and the ongoing wave of

nonwhite immigrants.
This is the new frontier for
affirmative action professionals. However, Lynch reports
that they receive his research on white males with new

“They`re worried about `The
White Male Problem,` white males resisting their work,“
he says. “They just can`t understand it.“