Discrimination in the Name of Diversity

Because U.S. Government has abandoned the notion of a "color- blind" society, many Americans may feel compelled to abandon their allegiance to the U.S and cast about for a new political and, perhaps, physical homeland.

By abandoning the "color-blind" society, the liberals have raised the stakes in future political battles from civilized levels, in which the defeated still feel like they are a part of the broader society, to "third world" levels in which the defeated fear for their property, jobs, and their personal safety.

Liberals sure know how to provoke conflict!


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Nov. 11, 1991 Wall Street Journal p. A12

Tales From an Oppressed Class

By Frederick R. Lynch

How many white men have been affected by affirmative action -- and how have they reacted? Few experts in the press or academe wanted to probe this most politically incorrect topic until Louisiana's David Duke seized the issue and became a political force.

General population polls conducted by Gordon Black Associates in 1984 and by the National Opinion Research Center in 1990 suggest that 1-in-10 white men has been injured by affirmative action. This figure alone adds up to millions. Circumstantial evidence suggests even much larger numbers.

Preferential policies were instituted during an intensely competitive era when huge cohorts of baby boomers crowded job markets increasingly constrained by international competition, lean-and-mean downsizing movements, and tax revolts. Thus, affirmative action often occurred in zero-sum contexts; someone was quota-ed in at another's expense.

My research indicates that reverse discrimination's bite has varied by age, geography, occupation, and private or public sector. Most vulnerable have been public-sector white men under the age of 45 with people-oriented skills. Their phone calls flood radio talk-show programs on this topic.

Many more white men may not have been fully aware that they were being injured by behind-the-scenes tactics such as "race-norming" of employment tests by public testing agencies, and many private ones. (The EEOC only recently stopped pressuring corporations to use such procedures.) Nor have they been told of the drive to tie managers' bonuses to affirmative action hiring and promotion records.

I became curious about the impact of affirmative action while working in the increasingly quota-crazy higher education systems of California -- where policies moved far beyond the Supreme Court's 1978 Bakke dictum that race could be considered as one of several factors in selection processes.

During the 1980s, a state mandate for the community college system (AB1725) ordered a 30% minority-faculty hiring "goal" until the year 2005 -- when faculty must mirror the ethnic diversity of the entire state; the University of California began advertising "targets of diversity" faculty positions and substantially boosted minority-female representation in administrative staff positions to 72%; and the California State University system implemented set-aside faculty positions, set-aside grant and fellowship programs for graduate students -- while the politically correct faculty union lobbied (successfully) for higher pay for "underrepresented" junior faculty. And "parity goals" for the entire state work force were monitored in annual reports by the State Personnel Board.

As my quiet interest in affirmative action leaked out -- a professionally dangerous development -- students, colleagues, friends and relative strangers began to report encounters with reverse discrimination. In 1984-85, two graduate assistants and I supplemented this rising tide of informal data -- and scattered press reports -- with 32 in-depth interviews with California-based, mostly middle-class white men who reported that preferential policies prevented them from obtaining jobs or disrupted or ended extant careers.

Some findings:

-- A community college instructor repeatedly lost tenure-track appointments to less qualified minorities after he moved to California from Michigan. "At first, you think it's you," he said. "You blame yourself." (He finally obtained an appointment at another college.)

-- A mid-management bank administrator -- and an ardent liberal -- began to have second thoughts as he watched women he'd hired the year before move by him on the affirmative-action fast-track. (Rapid increases in female mid-management employees in his bank and at others lent credence to his account.)

-- Public-sector workers reported that affirmative action barriers eventually became obvious and quietly acknowledged by most employees. After 13 years of being bypassed by minorities or women, one upper-middle-management California state official reported being offered a promotion -- with some public fanfare -- only to have the appointment rescinded because, as an agency head told him, "Let's face it, you're not the right color."

Most of these men avoided open complaints or protests out of fear they wouldn't be believed or would be labeled racist. (No one said he feared being thought sexist.)

Six resigned from the organizations that discriminated against them. Three circumvented reverse discrimination problems through various organizational means. Three filed suits, none of which was successful. No government agency offered redress. (EEOC guidelines effectively insulate employers from reverse discrimination complaints if the employer has taken "reasonable" voluntary affirmative action to remedy "deficiencies" in minority representation.)

The majority of our subjects simply acquiesced in their treatment with varying degrees of bewilderment, resignation or anger. Most subjects voiced temporary, if not long-term, frustration and cynicism about social institutions. "A lot of us were sold a bill of goods," complained a California state middle-management worker. "We were told if you went to college you could write your own ticket. But . . . affirmative action has lowered standards to the point where education counts against you."

No subject expressed hostility toward minorities per se, but many felt alienated from a society that refused to acknowledge whites' victimization. A teacher, transferred to a distant school in a racial balancing plan, commented: "My friends couldn't handle this. They experienced cognitive dissonance. They didn't want to be seen as racists." Another teacher noted: "I found out what it was like to be a victim. Nobody likes a victim."

Research sponsored and then suppressed by the Democratic Party in 1985 and 1987 suggests a possible class split in white reactions to affirmative action. Political analyst Stanley Greenberg's "Report on Democratic Defections" by blue-collar white "Reagan Democrats" in Michigan found fury over quotas for blacks and immigrants. (This anger, Mr. Greenberg concluded, undercut Democratic campaign themes of "fairness" and "justice.") These data, in combination with the record of lawsuits filed by blue-collar groups (overtly or covertly aided by unions), indicate a more militant, angry working-class response. This is perhaps because of more intense zero-sum problems wrought by a shrinking blue-collar jobs market.

Until Pete Wilson, Jesse Helms and David Duke began to attack quotas in statewide election campaigns last year, a curious bipartisan paralysis thwarted any open political response to rank-and-file whites.

Radicals and liberals have neutralized whites' complaints with swift, categorical denials, such as "white males can't be victims." Indeed, much liberal and multicultural theory today embodies a colorized version of Marx's class struggle. White men (regardless of individual backgrounds) are regarded as a privileged modern-day "bourgeoisie," while women and people of color (again, regardless of individual or subgroup circumstances) are the oppressed "proletariat." Any mention of a white working class -- once prominently represented in labor histories -- is simply met with more rationalizations or with awkward silence.

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The stereotype of "racist" working-class white men has made most journalists, academics and politicians fearful of acquiring a "racist" label themselves if they even raise the white-male problem. Thus, most of the recent debate over affirmative action has focused on the safer topics of costs to employers and the stigmatization of officially favored groups.

Unwanted, inadvertent findings about whites and affirmative action have been buried. Just as the Greenberg studies were suppressed in the mid-1980s, a 1990 study by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, designed to provide impetus for the 1991 civil rights bill, was bottled up. News leaks indicated the study uncovered substantial white anger toward affirmative action preferences.

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Mr. Lynch is visiting associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, and author of "Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action" (Praeger Paperbacks, 1991).

[The above quotes are part of a longer article that can be retrieved on Dow Jones News Retrieval]

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