Thomas Sowell

With women, the problem was different: Women became mothers and that was by no means the same as men becoming fathers, no matter what politically correct parallels we create today with words, such as "an expectant couple."

Those academic women who never married -- which, back in those days, had some relationship to becoming a mother -- had higher incomes than academic men who never married. Apparently Professor McPherson's "infamous 'old boy network' " was not as powerful or as sinister as he depicts.

The fact that recommendations from established scholars in a field carry weight when hiring an unknown graduate student to become a faculty member has been made to seem like some exclusionary plot, if you believe defenders of affirmative action. Indeed, any reliance on any criterion of quality -- test scores, publications, whatever -- can be depicted as an exclusionary bias by those who want quotas.

White guilt may be fashionable in some quarters but the only people it helps are those whites who want to become saints on the cheap and those blacks who have learned to hustle guilty whites. What most blacks need is -- first of all -- the kind and quality of education that they do not get in most ghetto schools. Least of all do they get this education from those teachers who spend precious class time dredging up the past instead of preparing students for the future.

Professor McPherson's defense of affirmative action to members of the American Historical Association invited comments via e-mail (jmcphers@princeton.edu). He did not say whether that included comments from people in the real world beyond the ivied walls.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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