Brown Favors Set-Asides

Monday, October 08, 2012

Columnist Jeff Jacoby discusses the real racial issue in the contest between Senator Scott Brown and his challenger,  Elizabeth Warren. With a cross-country move impending, I haven't been following this race, but I do recall a brouhaha some months back involving Warren, who caught flak for claiming to be a "person of color" in order to benefit from having minority status during her legal education.

The column by Jacoby was quite eye-opening to me for a couple of reasons: (1) I was amazed to learn how fixated the Brown campaign is on Warren's claims of Amerindian heritage; and (2) I was disappointed to learn that this fixation has nothing to do with challenging the propriety of race-based quotas and preferential treatment.

Jacoby sums things up as follows:

The real significance of Warren's supposed Native American [sic] heritage isn't that she lacks proof that one of her 32 great-great-great grandparents was a Cherokee. It isn't that she believes the stories she was told as a girl. It isn't that by identifying herself as a racial minority she may, in Brown's words, have seized "an advantage that others were entitled to."

It is that in 21st-century America, no such advantage should exist. Racial preferences should by now be artifacts of history, not tools for hiring law professors. Two generations ago Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP declared that "classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society." Do the Massachusetts Senate candidates agree or disagree? Now there's a question worthy of debate. [bold added]
This is almost on the money, except I wish Jacoby had been clearer that no such advantage should ever exist. First, it is immoral to judge other people based on a circumstance of birth beyond their control. Second, for the government to force people to do so regardless of their wishes is improper, being a violation of the very individual rights that the government is meant to protect. It is too bad for Massachusetts that its two senatorial candidates agree on this issue, and that both are on wrong side.

-- CAV

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