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
here.) 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
argued 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
Kosovo 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!
is, unfortunately, that racial quotas are the
inevitable by-products of our anti-discrimination laws.
When Barry Goldwater
explained 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
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.
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
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
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
challenges" 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.)
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
credentials. This benefits women at the expense of
men, because men are less likely to
graduate—especially, ironically enough, black and
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
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 itself.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and
January 12, 2003