The Glenn Show: John McWhorter – The End of Race-Based Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court’s momentous decision in Students for Fair Admissions has come down, and John McWhorter and I finally got a chance to talk about it. We’ve all known this result, or one like it, was on its way, but now that it’s a reality, a post-mortem is in order. Of course, this isn’t really the end. The question of race’s role in education, hiring, and any number of other domains is still a live one.
John begins by clarifying his terms. When we say that universities shouldn’t “take race into account” when considering admissions, we don’t mean that they should pretend to be colorblind. As Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear in his majority opinion, that is both unnecessary and probably impossible. It simply means that, on objective measures like test scores, an applicant’s race should not be allowed to compensate for underperformance.
We discuss the case’s presentation of clear evidence of discrimination against Asian Americans, despite the fact that many of them face just as much or more hardship than black applicants. And why is getting into an elite school like Harvard treated like the end-all-be-all of higher education? As John points out, students who go to less selective schools do just fine. Are those of us who benefited from affirmative action in the past “pulling the ladder up behind us”? Not hardly. Now that the role of race in college admissions is shifting, we can look forward to administrators trying to maintain diversity through means other than test scores. Will this result in applications turning into “Hardship Olympics,” where students try to demonstrate their worthiness by emphasizing their suffering? I hope not, but it’s not unimaginable.
We’ll be talking a lot more about the Supreme Court’s decision and its consequences in the coming weeks. Everyone stay tuned!
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