The Failures Of Affirmative Action

Once upon a time, there were two people who went to an interview
for only one job position at the same company. The first person
attended a prestigious and highly academic university, had years of work
experience in the field and, in the mind of the employer, had the
potential to make a positive impact on the company’s performance.
The second person was just starting out in the field and seemed to lack
the ambition that was visible in his opponent. “Who was chosen for the
job?” you ask. Well, if the story took place before 1964, the answer
would be obvious. However, with the somewhat recent adoption of the
social policy known as affirmative action, the answer becomes unclear.

After the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in
1964,it became apparent that certain business traditions, such as
seniority status and aptitude tests, prevented total equality in
employment. Then President, Lyndon B. Johnson, decided something needed
to be done to remedy these flaws. On September 24, 1965, he issued
Executive Order #11246 at Howard University that required federal
contractors “to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are
employed . . . without regard to their race, creed, color, or national
origin (Civil Rights).” When Lyndon Banes Johnson signed that order, he
enacted one of the most discriminating pieces of legislature since the
Jim Crow Laws were passed.

Affirmative action was created in an effort to help minorities
leap the discriminative barriers that were ever so present when the bill
was first enacted, in 1965. At this time, the country was in the wake of
nationwide civil-rights demonstrations, and racial tension was at its
peak. Most of the corporate executive and managerial positions were
occupied by white males, who controlled the hiring and firing of
employees. The U.S. government, in 1965, believed that these employers
were discriminating against minorities and believed that there was no
better time than the present to bring about change.

When the Civil Rights Law passed, minorities, especially
African-Americans, believed that they should receive retribution for the
years of discrimination they endured. The government responded by
passing laws to aide them in attaining better employment as reprieve for
the previous two hundred years of suffering their race endured at the
hands of the white man. To many, this made sense. Supporters of
affirmative action asked, ”why not let the government help them get
better jobs?” After all, the white man was responsible for their
suffering. While this may all be true, there is another question to
be asked. Are we truly responsible for the years of persecution that
the African Americans were submitted to?

The answer to the question is yes and no. It is true that the
white man is partly responsible for the suppression of the African-
American race. However, the individual white male is not. It is just
as unfair and suppressive to hold many white males responsible for past
persecution now as it was to discriminate against many African-Americans
in the generations before. Why should an honest, hard-working, open
minded, white male be suppressed, today, for past injustice?
Affirmative action accepts and condones the idea of an eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth. Do two wrongs make a right? I think mother
taught us better than that.

Affirmative action supporters make one large assumption when
defending the policy. They assume that minority groups want help.
This, however, may not always be the case. My experience with
minorities has led me to believe that they fought to attain equality,
not special treatment. To them, the acceptance of special treatment is
an admittance of inferiority. They ask, “Why can’t I become successful
on my own? Why do I need laws to help me get a job?” These African
Americans want to be treated as equals, not as incompetents.

In a statement released in 1981 by the United States Commission
on Civil Rights, Jack P. Hartog, who directed the project, said:
Only if discrimination were nothing more than the misguided acts
of a few prejudiced individuals would affirmative action plans be
“reverse discrimination.” Only if today’s society were operating fairly
toward minorities and women would measures that take race, sex, and
national origin into account be “preferential treatment.” Only if
discrimination were securely placed in a