The end of affirmative action was inevitable. The only surprise was that such intentions gone terribly wrong lasted so long.
First, supporters of racial preferences always pushed back the goal posts for the program’s success. Was institutionalized reverse bias to last 20 years, 60 years, or ad infinitum?
Parity became defined as an absolute equality of result. If “equity” was not obtained, then only institutionalized “racism” explained disparities. And only reverse racism was deemed the cure.
Second, affirmative action was imposed on the back end in adult hiring and college admissions. However, to achieve parity, remediation early at the K-12 school level would have been the only solution. Yet such intervention was made impossible by teachers’ unions, the rise of identity politics and government entitlements. All were opposed to school choice, self-help programs, critiques of cultural impediments, or restrictions on those blanket entitlements.
Third, class, the true barometer of privilege, was rendered meaningless. Surrealism followed. The truly privileged Barack and Michelle Obama and Meghan Markel lectured the country on its unfairness — as if they had it far rougher than the impoverished “deplorables” of East Palestine, Ohio.
Fourth, affirmative action supporters could never square the circle of proving that racial prejudices didn’t violate the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the text of the Constitution.
What they were left with was the lame argument that because long ago the 90% white majority had violated their own foundational documents, then such past bad unconstitutional bias could legitimately be rectified by present-day “good” unconstitutional bias.
Fifth, supporters never adequately explained why the sins of prior generations fell on their descendants who grew up in the post-Civil Rights era.
Nor could they account for why those who had never experienced institutionalized racism, much less Jim Crow apartheid or slavery, were to be compensated collectively for the suffering of long-dead individuals. No wonder 70% of the American people in many polls favored ending affirmative action, including a half of African-Americans.
Sixth, there never was a “rainbow” coalition of shared non-white victimhood — a concept necessary to perpetuate the premise of white privilege, supremacy, and rage, so integral to race-based reverse discrimination. More than a dozen ethnicities earn more per capita than do whites.
Asians have been subject to coerced internment, immigration restrictions and zoning exclusions. Yet on average they do better than whites economically and enjoy lower suicide rates and longer life expectancies.
The arguments for affirmative action never explained why Asians and other minorities who faced discrimination outperformed the majority white population. As a result, affirmative action ended up discriminating against Asians on the premise they were too successful!
Seventh, no one ever explained when affirmative action was to apply. Blacks, for example, were vastly “overrepresented” in merit-based professional football and basketball. Yet no one demanded “proportional representation” to address such “disparate impact,” despite underrepresentation of all other demographics.
Yet if Blacks were “underrepresented” in baseball, then reparatory measures were supposed to address that fact — even if Latino players were “overrepresented” and whites “underrepresented” as well. No one in our race-obsessed culture, of course, objected that white males died at twice their demographics in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Eighth, in our increasingly intermarried mass-immigration society, few could adjudicate who was what, or much less what standard gave one racial preference. In lunatic fashion, pink, blond Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren became Harvard’s first “Native American” law professor due to her “high cheekbones.” Light-skinned Latinos were considered marginalized while some darker Italians or Greeks were not.
Ninth, an odious wokism absorbed affirmative action and changed it into something even more abhorrent — as the original spirit of the Civil Rights movement was trashed. So Americans were asked to stomach a return to distasteful segregated dorms, “separate but equal” graduation ceremonies and racially exclusive workshops.
Tenth, and finally, affirmative action was insidiously destroying meritocracy. That hallmark American value of tribally-blind inclusivity had once explained why the nation outshone the world by discarding the old class prejudices of Europe. But increasingly this value seemed to have been abandoned.
When Stockton Rush, the late captain and inventor of the ill-fated Titan deep-sea explorer, was quoted postmortem bragging that his company had no need of “old white guys” with long military expertise in submarining, Americans realized that woke racial discrimination was not just repulsive, but could get you killed.
A nation whose pilot training, medical-school admissions, and military high command promotions were increasingly adopting racial, gender, or sexual-orientation essentialism was a country headed for the sort of Third World tribalism characteristic of failed states abroad.
In the end, the court finally stepped in to end this unconstitutional aberration, more like the old Soviet commissariat than our ideals of equality under the law.
The American people concurred. And the only regret seemed to be why not sooner?
ABOUT THE WRITER
(Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing email@example.com.)