The Unmentionable Root Of The Quota Problem

Will they or
won`t they? In the wake of the

Lott disaster
, conflicting leaks suggest

Karl Rove
is baffled about how to position the Bush
Administration on the

University of Michigan racial preferences case
. (For
the latest trial balloon, click

.) So let`s take a moment to explain some
realities about affirmative action that most
conservatives don`t understand.

Here on the
Realist Right, we`ve frequently

that the long-run unity of the U.S. is
threatened by the

Doomsday Machine
interaction of racial preferences
with the mass immigration of those eligible for them—the
“protected classes,” basically non-whites. This
combination of immigration and government discrimination
on behalf of favored groups is exactly what made

a disaster.

On the rare
occasions when the

Establishment Right
thinks about this, it puts its
faith in a magic bullet: The Supreme Court might outlaw
affirmative action. Then we can let immigration rip!

The reality
is, unfortunately, that racial quotas are the
inevitable by-products of our anti-discrimination laws
When Barry Goldwater

how the

1964 Civil Rights Act
would lead to quotas, Hubert
Humphrey famously promised

to eat a printed copy of the law
if it ever
happened. But merely a half-decade later, quotas were

Quotas are
now treated by conservative ideologists as the
arch-betrayal of the “colorblind” 1964 Act—forgetting
Goldwater`s prophetic logic. But the truth is that,
regardless of the letter of the law,
aggressively-enforced anti-discrimination laws
automatically lead to quotas. These laws place the
burden of proof on the employer to justify any deviation
from equal outcomes in hiring and promotions. Lawsuits
can be won. But the cost can be so crushing that most
firms will do just about anything to stay out of court.
So they use quotas.

In the
1990s, this process was well described by University of
Chicago law professor Richard Epstein in his

Forbidden Grounds
, by Dinesh D`Souza in his

The End of Racism
and by me in my (pre-purge) National Review cover
story "How
Jackie Robinson Desegregated America
." But that
brief upsurge of realism has been forgotten.

conservatives today don`t understand this because of the
disproportionate attention paid to the atypical
admissions process at elite state universities, like the
University of Michigan. In the past, publicly funded
colleges tried to save taxpayer money by selecting
applicants with a wholly objective (not to say
mechanical) system that ranked applicants according to
formulas combining grade point averages and

SAT scores
. It was quick, cheap, and quite effective
at finding those students who would most benefit from
the college.

In the early
1970s, state universities established racial quotas.
Thereafter, they picked the best applicants within
each group
. Quotas lowered the quality of the
student body overall. But at least they used an
effective method to choose within each group.

Then came the

Supreme Court`s 1978 Bakke decision,

outlawing "quotas" but legalizing "goals." So the
universities added points for membership in preferred
hereditary groups. This was a wholly cosmetic change.

Because these admissions systems are so mechanical, it seems
simple to excise the racial preferences. In fact, that`s

Proposition 209
nominally did in California in 1996.

But politicians and bureaucrats are driven not by legal
scruples but by fear of

minority voters
. So, in California, they responded
by making the admissions system more subjective—in order
to continue discriminating against unpreferred groups.

University of California system, for example, now
demands essays detailing "life
" the applicants have been victimized by.
UCLA gives extra credit to applicants who are from
crime-ridden neighborhoods or have been shot.
(Prediction: getting shot in a

hunting accident
counts for less than being the
victim of a drive-by shooting.)

Outside of
state universities, most personnel decisions have always
included subjective elements—such as job interviews. But
how can you prove your interviewers are not biased?
Remember, the anti-discrimination laws place the burden
of proof on the employer.

Firms have responded by these types of tactics:

  • Requiring excessive educational

    . This benefits women at the expense of
    men, because men are less likely to
    graduate—especially, ironically enough, black and
    Hispanic men.

  • Filling
    human resources departments with blacks and Hispanics
    to do the interviews and choose the applicants.

  • Outsourcing work to firms small enough to fly under
    the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission`s radar.

  • But, most of all, by imposing racial quotas upon

Whatever the
Supreme Court decides, the result will be more
litigation. It is time for the Establishment Right to
admit the source of these pervasive private quotas:
enthusiastic enforcement of anti-discrimination
laws—including, ultimately, the sainted

1964 Civil Rights Act

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily

January 12, 2003