From the Letters to the Editor in the May 2003 Perspectives

Affirmative Action or Racial Discrimination?

Jay Bergman, May 2003

To the Editor:

James McPherson's defense of "affirmative action" ("Deconstructing Affirmative Action," Perspectives, April 2003) reveals a callousness towards its victims all too common in academia today.

In defending affirmative action, McPherson, whether he admits it or not, is defending racial discrimination. The plaintiffs in the University of Michigan cases before the Supreme Court, who were denied admission to the university because they are white, are just as entitled to equal treatment under the law as the blacks and women who were denied it in earlier times. I am astonished, and appalled, that McPherson can be so cavalier about the victims of racial preferences. I suspect that he might show more concern for them if he himself applied for an academic position, was the most qualified applicant, and was denied the position because of his race or gender.

McPherson's position seems to be that, since white men like himself benefited from discrimination in the past, white men who are in no way responsible for this discrimination can legitimately be discriminated against, and should be discriminated against, today. This smacks of the odious notion of collective guilt, which in countries where individual rights are unknown has led to mass repression and outright violence.

Fortunately, the American people, who in polls reject by overwhelming margins the racial discrimination McPherson defends, understand the noble principles of nondiscrimination and equal protection under the law far better than many university professors do .

—Jay Bergman
Central Connecticut State University