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CONDESCENSION, VICTIM MENTALITY, GROUPTHINK, AND INTERGROUP TENSIONS

Advocates of race preferences have often been accused of “plantation politics”— subjecting their intended beneficiaries to a regime of condescension which encourages them to consider themselves: (a) incapable of meeting traditional standards in academia or the workplace; and (b) victimized by pervasive, undiminishing social discrimination. A related charge against affirmative action is that rather than creating a climate of diverse amity, it fosters a Darwinian situation in which members of different racial groups must view themselves, first and foremost, as constituents of a group (either the guilty "oppressor" or the innocent "oppressed") rather than as individuals. Consequently, they think in terms of group rights rather than individual rights.

Nor do the remedies that advocates of affirmative action propose seem to work. A study of students at the University of Michigan (UM), where the administration has engaged in strenuous efforts to create “diversity,” showed that tension and polarization among various ethnic and racial groups on campus gets worse, not better, the longer students stay at the school. Findings include:

  • Interracial tension in residence halls increases dramatically from the initial survey to the end of the second year.
  • Significant friendships between white and nonwhite students decrease from entrance through the fourth year.
  • The longer a student is at UM, the more he or she sees racial conflict on campus.
  • Beginning in their sophomore year and increasing steadily until the end of senior year, students become ever more polarized by race as to whether white faculty respect nonwhite students.
  • Black students overwhelmingly disagree with the assertion that nonwhite students are given advantages that discriminate against white students; Hispanics and Asians are evenly split on the question; white students believe that nonwhites do in fact receive preferential consideration.

The regime necessary to implement race preferences and “diversity,” in other words, is a prescription for racial hostility and division.


Adapted from "Diversity Distorted," by Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai (May 27, 2003).

 

RESOURCES:

Diversity Distorted
By Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai
May 27, 2003

What's Holding Blacks Back?
By John McWhorter
Winter 2001

 

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