Affirmative Action:  A Societal Poison

 by Matthew C. Bourn

In the last issue of The Phalanx, an article was included on the discussion of affirmative action.  As the article stated, affirmative action does have a notable impact on our lives.  The personal impact felt by affirmative action varies from person to person, but it is my feeling that this is an institution that has long outlived its usefulness. 

The phrase "affirmative action" was first used to describe racial discrimination in Executive Order No. 10,925 issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. This executive order indicated that federal contractors should use affirmative action to ensure that job applicants and employees are treated without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.  So if it was originally meant to promote equal access, how did America end up with a perverted policy that allows certain groups of people to receive preferential treatment in college admissions and job hiring’s?

            As stated in The Phalanx article, currently Salisbury University is in favor of affirmative action and the administration is “focusing upon diversity and [minority] access as the number one priority.”  I truly believe that a diverse campus is a great idea, but diversity based upon merit is better than diversity based upon race.  I want students to be in my classes because they meet a certain academic standards, not because of the color of their skin.  The same goes for the corporate world after college.  I want to work with people who have earned their positions with hard work, not color.

            Does it make sense to give preferential treatment to one group over another, all in the name of equality?  To have to tell a college applicant that his application has been denied because the college needs more black students.  Such is the case when an employer has to tell an employee that his hard work is appreciated but can’t be rewarded with a promotion because the firm needs to fill a quota with a less qualified black worker.  All across America this is happening everyday.  Some may call these actions reverse discrimination, but such a thing does not exist.  These actions are discrimination plain and simple. 

            Some feel that affirmative action is being used to “right the wrongs” of previous discrimination, most notably in the case of slavery.  But how does discriminating against those who deserve admittance to college or a promotion at the firm based upon merit make up for past injustices?  There are those in the media and some leaders who would have you believe that affirmative action is a good means for white America to give restitution to minorities.  Basically this is a shake down imposed upon whites for crimes that they did not commit. 

Before I get too far I want to say that slavery was a horrible institution.  Unfortunately for affirmative action advocates in today’s America no person has ever been a slave or a slave holder.  But there are those people who feel that I, being a white male, should have to pay for the injustices of a slave system that ended in the nineteenth century.  Did you know that there were 3,000 black slave-owners in the ante-bellum United States?  Should their decedents have to give up college acceptances and firm promotions the way I do, even though my ancestors had no slaves?  Should slave ancestors have to pay the ancestors of the dead Union soldiers who fought and died in part to end slavery?  Of course not.

There is no basis to answer one form of discrimination with another.  If a person works hard, they should get the job based upon their merit, not because of their color.  Leaders (if you consider him one) like Jessie Jackson want you to believe that affirmative action is a wonderful policy of diversification.  When in fact it promotes second rate students and workers based on simply on their skin color.  Would you like a doctor to say to you before surgery that he was not nearly at the top of his class in medical school, but the hospital needed a minority to fill a quota?

I don’t discriminate against people for their color, so why should I have to give up a job I deserve upon merit to someone who doesn’t deserve it at all?  I am double majoring here at Salisbury so that one day I can beat out the job competition based on merit, not to fill a quota.  I want to leave you with a quote that many people know very well, ‘one day my children will live in a nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their charter’.  Were still dreaming of that day and affirmative action ensures it wont be any time soon. 


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