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U.S. Is Not Ready to End Affirmative Action

Without a scintilla of evidence, Norah Vincent concludes that blacks have come so far that affirmative action is no longer needed (“Affirmative Action’s Negatives,” Commentary, Dec. 26). Affirmative action programs are intended to promote racial and gender diversity and to prevent discrimination. I should know. During the Clinton administration I headed the agency that enforces President Johnson’s executive order on affirmative action.

The cases we saw on a weekly basis were a testament to the continuing problem of discrimination in the workplace. In one, we found a worker who had raffled his Ku Klux Klan knife on the company’s shop floor.

African Americans are not the only beneficiaries of affirmative action. It has also benefited women, Latinos, Asians and other individuals who have been historically excluded. Witness the increasing numbers of women in the workplace. The progress that has been made for all of these groups does not suggest that Johnson’s vision of equal opportunity has been accomplished, however. The debates surrounding the Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) affair are indicative of that.

Shirley J. Wilcher

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Executive Director

Americans for a Fair Chance

Washington

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Yes, there is a flip side to affirmative action: that two wrongs don’t make a right. There is a solution to affirmative action, and it’s called “equal opportunity.” When all Americans can enjoy the same educational opportunities, then the process of college admissions will not be so mired in controversy.

In the public sector, and in law enforcement in particular, the “good ol’ boy” network routinely promotes less-qualified male whites over more-qualified minorities, the untold twist of affirmative action. In corporate America, the most-qualified minorities are routinely placed in sidetrack jobs that are “ghettoized,” devoid of upward mobility, while a few male whites are groomed for executive positions. It takes more than slapping a Title VII poster on a business wall to claim the problem is fixed.

Alexandro Villanueva

Whittier

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The real “monstrous lie” for conservatives is the assertion that their opposition to affirmative action is not based on racism. If this were true, you would see these conservatives protesting all forms of affirmative action: corporate cronyism and nepotism, legacy admissions to elite colleges, etc. If affirmative action is based on race, it is unfair and must be struck down in the name of equality. If (the far more prevalent) affirmative action is based on wealth, however, it’s perfectly acceptable.

“Compassionate conservatives” such as Vincent should ask themselves why that is before they pat themselves on the back and deem themselves enlightened.

Barry Wagar

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Playa del Rey


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