Affirmative reaction.

Position:LETTERS - Letter to the editor

William M. Chaco, in "Affirmative Inaction" (Winter 2011), quotes Lyndon Johnson: "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair." Johnson is speaking not of a group but of a person, who, handicapped by history, culture, or misfortune, cannot be expected to compete at first with others. When affirmative-action proponents specified groups, they assumed that all minorities were disadvantaged and all whites privileged, creating a situation where the children of middle-class and wealthy minorities used the truly disadvantaged to claim an easy pass to admissions. And when affirmative action morphed into quotas, the outcomes were often substituted for opportunity and performance, as institutions were pressured to assure success.


Affirmative action, without quotas, is necessary and desirable, but the criteria must be applied equally to individuals, not to groups, and without...

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