Gainesville Sun Publish Date: Sunday, February 13, 2000
I have to wonder why so many Americans cannot see that the timeworn ordinances of the affirmative action movement have outlived their utility. I have a pretty good idea as to the answer, but I'll save that for the end.
First, let us examine some facts. Study after study has shown that because of affirmative action, minority students are consistently placed in education programs that are beyond their ability to excel in. Students whose scores indicate they should be at the University of Florida end up at Cornell. Students who should be at Cornell are bumped up to MIT. Then, a year or two later, disappointed, disillusioned minority students who would have done fine if they were left alone and simply given financial aid, end up withdrawing from formal education, or reducing their once-lofty dreams to a lower peg in the human marketplace. Does anyone benefit from all this "bumping up" activity? Yes, politically motivated individuals and groups do. Most students do not.
Moreover, minority students already account for 32 percent of all students enrolled at public universities in Florida. Considering that the minority population in Florida is only 16 percent of the total population, minority enrollment is twice what it should be.
I'm sure we all agree that programs which help the underprivileged are fine except when they are administered at the expense of other people who are also underprivileged but do not fit into any select categories. Many white males fall into this chasm. Contrary to popular liberal rhetoric, there is no "old-boy-society" for poor - or poor-performing -- white males, of which there are many in Florida.
Should we not expect these under-achieving white youths, many of whom have no inborn advantage over their minority classmates, and may even have worse family lives, to resent the fact that others are being put ahead in life based on race or gender?
Well, every cause has its time, and the time has come to stop offering a leg up to a person because of their skin color. With crystal clear insight, Ward Connerly has realized that one cannot simultaneously decry and exploit racism.
As for all this chatter about "leveling the playing field for women," I believe that once you read the following statistics, you'll realize that women don't need any help getting anywhere. Thirty years ago, maybe. But they seem to have things pretty well in-hand these days.
For the last year available, 1996, enrollment in the state university system of Florida was as follows:
Total enrollment: 168,000
Female enrollment: 93,000
But regardless of these incontrovertible statistics that indicate blacks and women are doing fine when compared with their unique populations, the minority political representatives in Florida -- such as U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and Florida Black Caucus Chairman Daryl Jones -- are still crying over Gov. Bush's "Talented 20 Plan."
But what they fail to realize is that equality is not a word reserved for blacks or women. It is a word that by its own axiomatic meaning, must include everyone. Yet here, on the playground of blind liberals who only see life in shades of color and gender, the word equality is out of equilibrium because it excludes white males who are academically, familially, and financially challenged.
Yes, this group of white males is a minority group that needs help. And it can be helped if we eliminate race and gender based preferences and return to a needs-based system. That way, everyone who needs a leg up can feel they have an equal shot at getting one.
With the steady decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs, the increasing pay gaps between white and blue-collar workers and the ever-increasing need for technologically astute employees, many traditional occupations for white males have become obsolete. In addition, many new opportunities are out of reach for those who cannot cut the academic mustard. Many white males need as much help as minorities, women or any other "group" that we can devise. I was thinking the new millennium is a good time to start dismantling these "groups" that only serve to further separate Americans. But sadly, I see a trend in the opposite direction. And all the groups have learned the world's oldest political trick; using morality to legislate.
Minority leaders and policy makers need to burn a brighter light if they are going to call themselves leaders.
They claim that they want to eliminate racism, yet through programs such as affirmative action, they practice it -- and reinforce its benefits.