Carl Horowitz

Some use the more traditional term "affirmative action." Others prefer the more cheerful, unifying-sounding "diversity." Either way, one would be hard-pressed to deny that mandating equal outcomes among racial and sexual groups over time has become the official coin of the realm in this country. What is perhaps most remarkable is the absence of any real political opposition to this regime.

Prime evidence of affirmative action's capacity to expand can be found in a 36-page report issued this April by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled "Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity." The study counted 12 government-wide and 264 agency-specific statutes that require or encourage such preferences; the grand total of 276 is about 60 percent higher than the 172 examples the CRS found during a similar review in the mid-Nineties. The report underscores the tendency of all bureaucracies to become captive of the constituencies on whose behalf they regulate. It also demonstrates once more that most lawmakers are petrified of angering black and Hispanic "civil rights" leaders.

The new study is welcome and overdue. Since its beginnings in 1965 with President Johnson’s Executive Order 11246 – an order continued by every president since – affirmative action is now woven into the fabric of American everyday life and not simply the federal work force. Indeed, virtually nobody prominent in government, business, labor, philanthropy, sports, entertainment or religion now thinks of challenging it. They know well that a misperceived stray remark, not to mention a "discriminatory" policy, can end their career or, failing that, threaten their social standing. Corporate officials now regularly celebrate their respective companies' commitment to racial, ethnic and gender "diversity," often contributing generous checks to nonprofit groups controlled by civil-rights hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to avoid lawsuits or boycotts.

As unwritten rule would have it, the primary beneficiaries of the affirmative action edifice are nonwhites, especially blacks; the secondary beneficiaries are women, especially single women. Advocates of these arrangements believe, and with few inhibitions about saying as much, that whites, having been privileged for too long. Thus, the ostensibly privileged must make way for those who have been "excluded," "underrepresented" or "disadvantaged."

Carl Horowitz

Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.
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