The American People Have Spoken: It’s Time to End Affirmative Action

CommentaryContrary to popular belief, most Americans are not in favor of affirmative action. In fact, an increasing number of Americans want it removed from the college admission process. Will U.S. Supreme Court officials act? In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Adam Harris warned readers that, once the court overturns Roe v. Wade, it “may soon declare the use of race in college admissions—affirmative action—illegal.” Harris was, and one assumes still is, clearly concerned by the idea of affirmative action being consigned to the dustbin of history. Why, though? The majority of Americans don’t agree with Harris—they want it gone. “Meritocracy is our social ideal, particularly among good liberals. Equality of opportunity, but not of outcome. Not evaluating people by their [outside] features, but by their innate talent and drive.” These are the words of Chris Hayes, an unapologetically left-leaning political analyst. Whatever your thoughts on Mr. Hayes and his rather controversial opinions on past elections, his position on meritocracy is spot on. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, now that the college admissions process finds itself being scrutinized, both “by colleges themselves and the U.S. Supreme Court,” an increasing number of “Americans say high school grades and standardized test scores should matter in the admissions process” more than other factors, including race, ethnicity, and gender. The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington on Feb. 8, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images) As the Pew researchers noted, more than “nine-in-ten Americans (93%) say high school grades should be at least a minor factor in admissions decisions, including 61% who say they should be a major factor.” According to the American people surveyed, grades—you know, the very things some U.S. universities are trying to do away with—should be the most important factor when deciding who gets admitted to a program. In the Pew report, grades were “followed by standardized test scores (39% major factor, 46% minor factor) and community service involvement (19% major, 48% minor).” By comparison, 75% of Americans “say gender, race or ethnicity, or whether a relative attended the school should not factor into admissions decisions.” The American people have spoken, and many want an end to affirmative action. End the Madness The reasons for keeping this anti-meritocratic system in place are, at best, weak. According to the BMJ, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, when a number of “US states banned affirmative action it led to less diversity in admissions to their medical schools and lower enrolment of four under-represented racial and ethnic groups.” As more third-level institutes move further away from the concept of equity and diversity, the BMJ authors worry that a return to “color blindness” will disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged. This is a claim that appeals to emotion, not to reason. When we are talking about medical doctors, people who make life or death decisions for a living, diversity should be the last thing on our minds. We need the best people in these positions. It shouldn’t matter what their skin color happens to be. What matters most is their knowledge, expertise, and ability to make the right decisions at the right time. Diversity, in certain situations, is fantastic. But when it comes to medical school, competency is the metric—the only metric—that should matter. In May alone, 34 briefs were filed, every one of them imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to affirmative action. One of the briefs urged the court to respect the 14th Amendment, which was introduced to protect “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” The brief asked for the equal protection of all Americans, “regardless of one’s race,” as “laws and policies dividing people by race are immediately suspect.” Or, dare I say, immediately racist. Why, asked the authors, are colleges and universities still “free to adopt admissions policies that prefer some races and disadvantage others,” even “when an institution has never engaged in invidious discrimination or has effectively remedied its own past discrimination.” Such policies “are untrue to the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under law.” Indeed. Affirmative action has all the hallmarks of a Shakespearean play. These sets of laws, policies, guidelines, and administrative practices are ironic and tragic in equal measures. What began as a way of combating very real acts of discrimination quickly morphed into the very thing it was trying to defeat. When it comes to the college admission process, all U.S.-born children should be evaluated on their grades, work ethic, and competency—not on the color of their skin. It is a sad day for the country when the previous sentence is considered controversial. Now is the time to end affirmative action. Millions of Americans agree. Views expressed in this article are the opi

The American People Have Spoken: It’s Time to End Affirmative Action

Commentary

Contrary to popular belief, most Americans are not in favor of affirmative action. In fact, an increasing number of Americans want it removed from the college admission process. Will U.S. Supreme Court officials act?

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Adam Harris warned readers that, once the court overturns Roe v. Wade, it “may soon declare the use of race in college admissions—affirmative action—illegal.”

Harris was, and one assumes still is, clearly concerned by the idea of affirmative action being consigned to the dustbin of history. Why, though? The majority of Americans don’t agree with Harris—they want it gone.

“Meritocracy is our social ideal, particularly among good liberals. Equality of opportunity, but not of outcome. Not evaluating people by their [outside] features, but by their innate talent and drive.”

These are the words of Chris Hayes, an unapologetically left-leaning political analyst. Whatever your thoughts on Mr. Hayes and his rather controversial opinions on past elections, his position on meritocracy is spot on.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, now that the college admissions process finds itself being scrutinized, both “by colleges themselves and the U.S. Supreme Court,” an increasing number of “Americans say high school grades and standardized test scores should matter in the admissions process” more than other factors, including race, ethnicity, and gender.

Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington on Feb. 8, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

As the Pew researchers noted, more than “nine-in-ten Americans (93%) say high school grades should be at least a minor factor in admissions decisions, including 61% who say they should be a major factor.”

According to the American people surveyed, grades—you know, the very things some U.S. universities are trying to do away with—should be the most important factor when deciding who gets admitted to a program.

In the Pew report, grades were “followed by standardized test scores (39% major factor, 46% minor factor) and community service involvement (19% major, 48% minor).” By comparison, 75% of Americans “say gender, race or ethnicity, or whether a relative attended the school should not factor into admissions decisions.”

The American people have spoken, and many want an end to affirmative action.

End the Madness

The reasons for keeping this anti-meritocratic system in place are, at best, weak. According to the BMJ, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, when a number of “US states banned affirmative action it led to less diversity in admissions to their medical schools and lower enrolment of four under-represented racial and ethnic groups.”

As more third-level institutes move further away from the concept of equity and diversity, the BMJ authors worry that a return to “color blindness” will disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged. This is a claim that appeals to emotion, not to reason.

When we are talking about medical doctors, people who make life or death decisions for a living, diversity should be the last thing on our minds. We need the best people in these positions. It shouldn’t matter what their skin color happens to be. What matters most is their knowledge, expertise, and ability to make the right decisions at the right time. Diversity, in certain situations, is fantastic. But when it comes to medical school, competency is the metric—the only metric—that should matter.

In May alone, 34 briefs were filed, every one of them imploring the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to affirmative action. One of the briefs urged the court to respect the 14th Amendment, which was introduced to protect “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

The brief asked for the equal protection of all Americans, “regardless of one’s race,” as “laws and policies dividing people by race are immediately suspect.” Or, dare I say, immediately racist.

Why, asked the authors, are colleges and universities still “free to adopt admissions policies that prefer some races and disadvantage others,” even “when an institution has never engaged in invidious discrimination or has effectively remedied its own past discrimination.” Such policies “are untrue to the Constitution’s guarantee of equality under law.” Indeed.

Affirmative action has all the hallmarks of a Shakespearean play. These sets of laws, policies, guidelines, and administrative practices are ironic and tragic in equal measures. What began as a way of combating very real acts of discrimination quickly morphed into the very thing it was trying to defeat.

When it comes to the college admission process, all U.S.-born children should be evaluated on their grades, work ethic, and competency—not on the color of their skin. It is a sad day for the country when the previous sentence is considered controversial. Now is the time to end affirmative action. Millions of Americans agree.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.