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Supreme Court Got it Right on Affirmative Action

Supreme Court Got it Right on Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has ended Affirmative Action in terms of college admissions. That is a decision that is long overdue.

Affirmative Action was introduced by President Nixon as a means of countering the historic and flagrant prejudice against blacks at that time. I was serving in the White House when that program was enacted.

Even as it was being enacted, it was recognized to give unfair ADVANTAGE to black Americans seeking jobs and admission to colleges and universities. It was designed to bring institutional racism into a non-racist balance. More importantly, it was never intended to be permanent.

Even at the time, it was considered to be constitutionally questionable under the equal application of the law provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. Affirmative Action was a policy based on race – ergo racist — even if you supported the program, which I did. Operating to the disadvantage or advantage of a class of citizens based on race is two sides of the same coin. That should be obvious. 

Latinos were included under the Affirmative Action umbrella even though they were not nearly the victims of racism as were blacks – and were mostly associated with the white community.

Affirmative Action has now been the law of the land for more than 50 years – and it has worked for the most part – along with a general public enlightenment on racial issues. If not completely eliminated, racism has been in remission to the extent that we can say that America is no longer a culturally racist nation.

Yes, there are still sentiments of racism among a very small portion of the populace. Despite the attention they garner, they have little influence on the nation as a whole. De jure institutional racism of the old solid Democrat southland was finally killed off with the rise of the modern civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

De facto institutional racism, however, has stubbornly clung to the politics of America’s major cities, where millions of blacks remain confined to segregated impoverished ghettoes – and Affirmative Action has not been as effective for them as was originally hoped and as many currently claim. 

While colleges and universities did show improvement in the percentage of black students, studies show that they were disproportionately drawn from middle to upper class families – blacks who were able to have good education at the primary and secondary school levels. In other words, to meet their Affirmative Action quotas, the institutions of higher learning were picking the best and the brightest among the black and Hispanic populations –and those who could reasonably achieve at the college level.

That raises an important point. While Affirmative Action could increase black enrollment, it could not guarantee success. The failure and drop-out rate among minorities in college has consistently been higher than the white and Asian rates. That is because so many blacks and Latinos were enrolled based on race rather than achievement. The standards were lowered. I have long believed that Affirmative Action should have been means-tested to focus on those least able to afford college – as are many scholarship programs.

In terms of education, the real racial problem is not based on diversity at the university level, but at the failure of the urban public-school systems to provide equal education to segregated blacks and Latinos.

Affirmative Action was no longer providing the intended benefit of leveling the playing field. That has been accomplished. It was time for the nation to return to the promise of the Constitution – and to put back the meaning of “equality under the law.”

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

11 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    I have a long screed, yes a rant, on this, but needs some sprucing up. Here are just some clarifications to Larry’s piece where I agree, the concept of AA needs to be readdressed, is racist, etc.

    “The Supreme Court has ended Affirmative Action in terms of college admissions. That is a decision that is long overdue.” And is a nothing burger in terms of actions; schools were voluntarily doing AA, now they will do something else which may turn out to be the same anyway.

    “Affirmative Action was introduced by President Nixon as a means of countering the historic and flagrant prejudice against blacks at that time.” Yeah, but you were so much younger then, you may be remembering different stuff now…. (as do we all). AA is foremost legally applied to fair employment practices, but we see it other places like the college issue recently decided by the SCOTUS.

    While AA is a centerpiece of civil rights, and there are many laws regarding civil rights starting in 1935, that also tried to address AA, this tome deals specifically with the term Affirmative Action which was not used until the 60’s.

    The first use of the term, Affirmative Action, in the record, is under John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. In 1961, Hobart Taylor, a lawyer penned it in the EO Kennedy did to create the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity for AA in government hiring. Johnson, another Democrat, did a 1966 EO which specified that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Nixon, in 1969, did his AA EO for government saying: “It is the policy of the Government of the United States to … promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a continuing affirmative program in each executive department and agency.”

    Soon thereafter, upper education, like colleges VOLUNTARILY adopted AA policies and programs to add minorities to their programs hoping to equal the demographics and even readdress minority grievances of the past. In 1969 alone, a large number of schools doubled their black admissions – and yet black enrollment did not match our country, that’s how bad it was.

    Always seen as creating an uneven playing field, always questionable Constitutionally, never with a permanent intent (thus the EOs), intent was to achieve a non-racist balance. It was always racist, IMO but racism in search of ending racism.

    AA was never law. AA in education was neither Federal Law or even an EO. There are nine States the did have a law banning AA.

    AA was voluntary to education. There is no law of the land. There is no EO like Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon signed.

    Just saying.

  2. frank stetson

    Affirmative Action: From one perspective, it’s a nothing burger. It’s not law, it’s voluntary, nine states may actually have laws banning it, and it would appear that if schools voluntarily want to achieve this goal, the SCOTUS decision does not reject racial balance as long as race is not a selection criterion. That does not seem impossible to do without specifically using race. One way is the “disadvantage index” used by a number of schools to increase diversity. Just another way to level the playing field.

    From another perspective, it’s everything to have minorities represented in our colleges as they are represented in our society. Minimal quotas if you will. The fear is that lower-performing minorities will replace higher-achieving majorities. Given all students make the grade, this should not be an issue, but it is certainly a fear. And while the “system” of diversity may be systematically better, it is guaranteed to make individuals feel short-changed if they feel they are on the short-end-of-the-diversity stick —- as in part of the majority, good enough resume, and denied admission.

    From another perspective, reality, where AA is banned, these states have a markedly lower matriculation from minority students, at least black and Hispanics, Asians might have increased —- go figure. Apparently when you ban AA, the scales are tipped to the majority. At least in these states that banned AA. While worse for minorities, does this really result in less benefit to society? We do not know. I believe diversity is better, I believe I can prove that, but I do not know if these states are less benefit that states with diverse higher education.

    From my perspective: for best results in creation, invention, and development, diversity is King. IMO, today, AA is not about racism, but it’s about diversity. Diversity in ideas comes from diversity in people. Genetics, backgrounds, cultures, ethnicity, history, even geography can help create different way of looking at things. It is the hardest system to manage, but the results can be superior and spectacular. Experts have proven that, but my own anecdotal experience in product management confirms it for me, anecdotally. Diversity is a mess, all sorts of ideas, concepts, even cultural approaches compete while you try to manage this pandemonium. But, often, one strange idea kicks off another, or a portion is co-opted, and the end synergistic result is superior. Perfect for learning too. College is a place where our young minds are blooming with new ideas and invention. The other side of diversity is similar to goose-stepping soldiers all in a singular locked mentality awaiting orders to complete. Probably the most efficient and effective to complete a task, but not exactly great for blue sky creativity. That was perfect for the industrial age; diversity is the key for the information age. We have no factories, we cannot afford them, don’t pay well enough. We need to invent a future of creativity, invention, and development of new things to be built by others in those industrial age factories. Diversity will be King in that. It’s the best incubator of new ideas. Higher education is our best incubator of new ideas.

    Republicans and Democrats both fall all over the place in what to do on this, and —- I started my career one goosestep to the right of Atilla, my team leader nickname on my earliest teams. IOW — I came to support the diversity spectrum over time but today I contend that the most powerful results come from the more diverse teams. Diversity is something to push for, to strive for, not a baby to be tossed with the bathwater of a woke war to save our status quo culture. Having schools match the diversity of our culture may be hard to manage, racism and all that, preferential treatment and all that, discrimination and all that. But America is diverse, it is our strength, and I, for one, would love to see that leveraged as much as possible in upper education as an competitive advantage in world competition. Heck, our schools would benefit from having “global AA” as well to add even more diversity.

    But it is really tough to manage, to make fair, to monitor over time. One thing I heard was that some of these schools, as they went down the AA path, created situations where they achieved quota on race, but the minorities were most often represented by one in each class and therefore the lone minority student often felt awkward to participate, especially if demographics was the topic, so the school had to manage the classrooms to help avoid stranding minorities as islands. This lack or support of color-blindness will not change with the SCOUTS AA ban.

    In my anecdotal case in the work place, I would look out at a team that represented a rainbow of people, but also —- a rainbow of discipline diversity. How do you team between experts in sales and those from development; logistics and marketing? Think Oppenheimer and the Pillow Guy; easy to get them to talk, but how do you get them to listen? Like the logistics guy has an idea for the development guy. Getting folks to listen is hard work. Doable buy much harder to manage.

    Point is, my experience SHOWED ME that the results are generally worth it. Sometimes I just needed to get er done and really, why talk about it —- just do it. But for jobs that required invention, discovery of new things, new ways, like learning — diversity was and is King.

    My point is I do not desire AA per se. I desire diversity and AA is a great start to get us there.
    And yes Larry, this is a rant, this is a screed. Frank’s fantasy.

    Now that said, here’s what’s totally fucked with the SCOTUS and their dumb shit decision.

    They say we should be color blind, that colleges must be color blind. OK, raise your hand if you think America is color blind? Larry says racism exists in the city. Is that not good enough to have AA still? We may strive for ending racism, we may be doing better, but we are not there. Larry is wrong, systemic racism is everywhere — urban and rural, democratic and republican, rich and poor.
    How do I know SCOTUS got that wrong:

    This stupid SCOTUS told us when they opined that the military schools do not apply because of National Security where, apparently, a few good black men are seen as an invaluable asset in our military and AA must be preserved.

    Larry the prophet has told us about the segregation, terrible living conditions, inferior public schools in the cities. Does that sound like a color-blind nation where AA is not needed? Aren’t cities a significant portion of our entire population?
    How do I know the SCOTUS is wrong in their decision:

    I heard one professor say to think about it, imagine that there are two signs
    1. Blacks not allowed
    2. Blacks welcome

    We know the first one is not right, now the SCOTUS is telling us the second one is not right either.

    Too simple to be true, but the point is once AA is removed, based on the nine states with AA bans, diversity enrollment will suffer, will go down, schools will become less diverse. In a world where diversity provides superior results for creation, invention, and development, especially in creative activities, IMO, AA being voluntary harms few and helps many. While frankly I think the schools can work around it — after all the SCOTUS left a number of loopholes, my conclusion is that they should not have to. We should embrace diversity and AA is part of things you can do to help achieve that.

    Mouse (mic) drop

  3. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson …. Were you suggesting that AA brings kids in a the same academic levels as non-AA kids? That is exactly what it does not do. That is why AA enrollees do poorer in college and drop out at higher rates. The disadvantage is at the lower school levels in which blacks particularly are disadvantage. Those big city segregated communities are education deserts. We would not even be thinking of AA if we were educating blacks equally and fairly at the lower level. Lowering standards for diversity had meaning when we believed that it would improve access to good education at all levels. But it has done nothing for those trapped in those inferior inner city schools over the past 50 years. The key problem is a political establishment and union leadership that benefits from maintaining the current system. You cannot maintain a failing system for more than 100 years on sheer stupidity. You need intent. Malicious intent.

    • frank stetson

      Larry,
      No, I don’t think I suggested that, not sure why you think so. What did you see that led you to that?

      But if it’s so so important to have only the best, at the cost of equality, diversity, etc. and race is your only criteria, then why not skip the whites and the blacks, and just let the Asians in —– they score higher, have better matriculation rates, less drop-outs, etc.

      I was attempting to speak to the value of diversity for invention and creation in the crucible of thought, young minds, that we call higher education.

      And I will limit my response to higher education; we’ve covered your inner city b dem’s modern slavery cuz repub’s already freed everyone, fixed everything, and are the best screed. In America, systemic racism is everywhere and everyone is involved. IMO, but I think I have proved that.

      • larry Horist

        Frank Stetson … I the perfect — or even correct — world, I would let the universities over represent Asians if they have the best academic performance. And they generally do. One of the primary roles of education is to produce the best brains — the best mathematicians, the best scientists, the best innovators, the best businessmen, the best political leaders, etc. Quota systems retard that. You completely miss the proglem when you think AA is needed because the the inferior education for blacks in the ghettoes. You need to fix the feeder schools not reduce the entrance standards at the upper levels. I prefer having a heart surgeon who got his medical degrees based on academic excellence rather than his skin color or some other quota requirement.

    • Frank stetson

      If you read my paragraph, From my perspective, you can see what I treasure is diversity for all the reasons you claim you want. AA is just a manner to do that. I agree, you have to pass muster too. There is no quota per se if you do that if they choose.

      FYI; you claim no racism left so no need for AA, but then tout how most of America, the cities, are racist. Interesting.

      • larry Horist

        Frank Stetson … You are misrepresenting my view. I do NOT believe most or even any American cities are racist in terms of the people. What I point to is the remnants of INSTITUTIONAL de facto racism in the operation of the political machines almost exclusively run by Democrat one-party rule. I am sure most Americans — including city dwellers — would be very happy to see the ghetto-ized black community better educated … safer … employed. The people are not the racists. Its the political establishment that relies on historic racism to maintain power and profit. I have often written that America is not a racist nation in terms of the people … racism is at the core of urban political machines — and has been for generations.

        • frank stetson

          I did not think I misrepresented unless you spin or you need to clarify.

          You said: “You are misrepresenting my view. I do NOT believe most or even any American cities are racist in terms of the people. What I point to is the remnants of INSTITUTIONAL de facto racism in the operation of the political machines almost exclusively run by Democrat one-party rule.” Now you add: “I do NOT believe most or even any American cities are racist in terms of the people.” I think you are polishing a turd. Now it’s a shiny turd :>)

          Sure, the people are not racist against themselves and most people are not racist per se, but all of us participate in systemic racism, everywhere, not just the cities. No duh.

          You have repeatedly said racism is rampant in America in every Democratic-controlled city, which you feel are the lion’s share of the cities. Perhaps the people are not racist, but you clearly state they live under a racist Democratic rule —- you’re kinda mincing words here. FYI: around 80% of the US lives in urban high density areas. That says most of America, while they may not be racist people, they routinely live with racism every day.

          My point here is hard to have it both ways: America is racist or America is not racist. People face or don’t face racism everyday. And if 80% of the population is urban, if 13% is black, what number of blacks live urban, and what number under Democratic control. And IF this YUGE number lives under racism, who the hell cares who caused it, does not make AA a necessary evil —– according to your own metrics and guidelines of why to have and why take it away? Albeit it not fair, albeit not the root cause, shouldn’t we do something for those currently harmed or just wait until the public schools are fixed. Based on your public school standpoint, you should say AA is still needed, according to your own guideposts.

          Just saying you seem to say not enough racism for AA while at the same time saying our cities are very racist under Democratic rule. But in either case, you feel it’s the Democrat’s fault…. :>)

          • larry Horist

            Frank Stetson… of course I need to clarify because you got it wrong. You may recall my article “America ain’t racist.” You are correct that many folks live in cities that are institutionally racist. That does not make them racists. Duh! If I lived in Vatican City would that automatically make me a Catholic? If I lived in China, would that make me automatically a Communist? Your comprehension of my writing is floundering and your reasoning flawed. You keep coming back with the same misunderstanding. I am not sure how I can explain it any better, You seem to proffer some etherical racism that infects the populace without a lot of manifestations. Conversely, one can see the tragic evidence of institutional racism in the .. yes… Democrat-controlled cities. I think we will have to agree to disagree,

  4. Darren

    Thank you Larry for not only the good article, but for arguing your point in this Holiday 4th.
    It seems everyone is busy with the days events except for Frank, and that is his right.

    But you not only wrote the article but took time out to defend your position which myself as many others probably would agree
    is not necessary.
    Thank you again Larry.

  5. Dan tyree

    Hey Frank. Suck it up buttercup