All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. The classic line from George Orwells novel, Animal Farm, still rings quite true today. American society has constantly plagued itself by overextending its gratitude for wrongs committed all too long ago, and is therefore still suffering the repercussions. Remedies are all too often far too generous and even tending to breach those same boundaries it is trying to protect. Such is the case in the sensitive issue of Affirmative Action. First mentioned by President Kennedy in 1961, this controversial topic has remained at the forefront of politics since its spawning.
As defined by World Book Encyclopedia, Affirmative Action is, policies aimed at increasing the number of people from certain social groups(primarily minorities) in employment, education, business, government, and other areas. While initially an admirable attempt at incorporating participation from minority society, Affirmative Action has become more of a political tool than a social program, and its intent is far from what it once was. The Federal Government first began taking a stance on civil rights issues in the 1960s with the introduction of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This set the first standards for non-discrimination in public, though private discrimination was, and still is, allowed. Undoubtedly, this was a superb achievement for the United States. Equality became a decree, and the Constitutions words finally rang true, All men are created equal. Affirmative Action first began to emerge in the early 60s under the leading 300 corporations in the nation who then coined the name Plans for Progress. The standards they set for themselves would eventually be incorporated by the OFCCP in 1970, and at that point the responsibility became that of the United States Government.
Under the OFCCP, the enigma of Affirmative Action began. The standard to be enforced was named numerical goals, and was to be a program that would hopefully encourage employers to open up the job market to offer more accessibility towards minority groups. Quotas were in no way enforced, and under no circumstances was it initially intended that under-qualified employees were to be hired to fill positions in order to meet these goals, but history would prove to be quite different.
During the seventies, Affirmative Action was introduced into politics, where it remains a rampant topic of discussion to this day. In 1998, California representative Frank Riggs introduced an amendment to do away with Affirmative Action, counting on the backing of J. C. Watts, the only African American Republican Representative, but Watts quickly took the opposite side, and the bill died in congress. In 1996 California adopted the controversial Proposition 209, which abolished state-wide adherence to affirmative action.
Just a few days ago, the State Court of Appeals may have offered some finality to the Proposition by unanimously denied state agencies the tools necessary to identify and change racially skewed hiring patterns. Washington state also followed in suit with the Initiative-200 which was voted into place by a 58% majority of the public in November 1998. This bill, in much the same way as Proposition 900, banned all Affirmative Action measures in the state for a more non-discriminatory stance.
Politics at both the state and federal level have been at ends over the methods in which to deal with this topic. The democrats are predominately for and the Republicans stand arbitrarily against. As for now, the resolve lies within the individual states as to what will become of this law. At a more personal level, Affirmative Action is becoming a hindrance and is beginning to reverse the tables. Guadalupe Quintanilla, the assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs for the University of Houston, stated, “Affirmative action has been distorted and abused.
We need to take a second look at it. I think affirmative action has opened a lot of doors, but it has been misrepresented. I’m for opportunity, not special treatment. The majority of people in this country are open-minded and willing to work with people without considering their sex or color. So I think we could do away with set asides”. Thomas Sowell, in his 1990 book, Preferential Policies, used an international survey of affirmative action programs to show the consequences.
“The benefits of affirmative action went overwhelmingly to people who were already better off. hile the poorer members of the same groups either did not gain ground or actually fell further behind”. The wealthier neighborhoods have better school systems, which in turn offer greater resources. If we bring equality to our school systems, a rise in minorities in the work force will soon follow. As a student, I find myself in a bind. Being a white male, I will find it harder to achieve admission into the more prestigious universities, as well as receive scholarships. It is quite possible that I lose my position to a less qualified minority student. I find this rather appalling.
I am a in no way a racist person whatsoever, and I only wish that same opinion be granted to me. If my merits are better than those of someone of a different skin tone, what reasoning allows for that person to be allowed in my stead solely because of that one fact? It is by all technical definitions of the word, illogical. According to Carl Cohen, Deliberately visiting the sins of the fathers upon their innocent children and grandchildren, to the special advantage of persons not connected with the original sinning, is conduct neither lawful nor morally right.
To suppose that both the beneficiaries of redress and those who are made to carry its burden are properly identified by race is, to be plain, racism. Cohen is referring to that American tendency to pay back far more than is necessary, to those who are not even applicable. He considers Affirmative Action to be a way of paying back black minorities, as well as others, for years of suffering through slavery and other practices. Of course, there also has to be a positive side to this practice. The portion of Americans that stands with affirmative action are usually in a situation in which they benefit from it.
They have their reasons as to why they support the action, usually based on the fact that it establishes a situation where equal opportunity is distributed among minorities for jobs. Prior to affirmative action city, state, and government jobs were almost completely closed off to minorities and women. In our present day, minorities and women have gained a tremendous increase in the application of jobs in those workplaces. Unlike the days before affirmative action, where job opportunity was mostly given to the middle class white American, now jobs are being given to minorities and women due to this quota system.
Overall, this system has simply become a burden on society. It is only causing the tension it once tried to quell. Rather than helping ease racial tension, its only stirring it up once again. As it is obvious little will be accomplished through the federal government over the next few years, the change relies almost solely upon the shoulders of the states. To follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, and do away with those policies that only bring trouble.