Why conservatives keep saying that “affirmative action hurts blacks”

Why do mainstream white conservatives persist in arguing that the most objectionable thing about affirmative action is that it harms blacks, despite the obvious reality that blacks not only gain a great many tangible benefits from affirmative action, but overwhelmingly support it and want more of it?

There are several factors at work in this conservative delusion, but here I think is the most important.

If conservatives were to admit that most blacks do not believe in the system of non-discriminatory, race-blind fairness that the conservatives favor, but simply want to get more group advantages for themselves by any means necessary including the permanent institution of pro-black racial preferences, then what basis would there be to include blacks in that system of non-discriminatory fairness? If blacks reject the principle of a race-blind, liberal society, then on what ground can they be considered its members? The very possibility throws into doubt the legitimacy of liberalism and of the multiracial order that has been built upon it. So, in order to preserve the appearance of a functioning and legitimate liberal order, conservatives must studiously ignore blacks’ own racialism—in much the same way that the Israelis, in order to maintain the appearance of a viable “peace process,” had to keep ignoring the actual warlike intentions of the Palestinians.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 05, 2002 04:13 PM | Send


In the same vein, the conservative establishment opposes racial preferences, but supports immigration which brings in more beneficiaries of the same.

The more people there are who benefit from something, the harder is to end it.

Posted by: David on July 5, 2002 6:25 PM

Where there are two unequal groups there is never fairness when relating and can never BE fairness when relating unless both groups are made equal. Attempts to do this with an Illogical equality where its not universally accepted by both groups is failing.

Real Equality forces mutual respect and the possibility for peace, as opposed to continued inequality forcing schism and ‘us vs them’ culture.

Does this apply to both US race relations and Israel-Palistinian relations?, i think this is probable.

Posted by: Stephen on July 6, 2002 11:06 AM

What’s very interesting is that blacks tend to support the phrase “affirmative action” while refusing to support racial preferences:


From a poll of national adults on racial issues conducted by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University March 8th to April 22nd, 2001,

Q: In order to give minorities more opportunity, do you believe race or ethnicity should be a factor when deciding who is hired, promoted, or admitted to college, or that hiring, promotions, and college admissions should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race or ethnicity?


Race or ethnicity should be a factor: 12%

Based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race/ethnicity: 86%

It’s interesting how buzzwords not only allow politicans to keep from living up to the ramifications of their beliefs, but permit entire segments of the population to hold contracdictory viewpoints. The beneficiaries of affirmative action want to support that which aids them while simultaneously condemning the methods by which they recieve the aforesaid benefits.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on July 6, 2002 9:12 PM

As Mr. Courrèges suggests, the poll he references is not at all surprising. If a poll asked blacks, “Do you want to receive unearned benefits?”, of course they’re going to say no.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on July 7, 2002 12:46 AM
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