Column: Affirmative Action, promoting inequality since 1961

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By David Hurtado

Of all the policies designed to keep Americans at each other’s throats, Affirmative Action is among the worst. There was once a time in our history when it was needed, but that time has since passed.

Affirmative Action was born from Executive Order 10925, which was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Its aim was to give all Americans an equal chance in employment and education opportunities, regardless of race, religion or national origin. Like most government policies, it’s done more harm than good.

Remember the old saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right?” Affirmative Action discriminates against different races of people in favor of others by giving them special advantages. The concept revolves around making up for past discrimination by giving people employment based solely upon minority status instead of personal merits and experience.

Some feel this reverse discrimination is justified because it “makes up for centuries of oppression.” Not only is that line of reasoning baseless, it is self-contradictory. In our desire to right the wrongs of the past, we have discriminated against those who were not alive to commit the offenses, believing good reasons and intentions make it acceptable.

That is not equality; that is an affront to everything promoters of equality have fought against for decades. Instead of working toward a future where race no longer matters, we choose to continue legislation that carries on past hatred.

Martin Luther King, Jr. fought long and hard all of his life to teach Americans to treat each other with love and compassion, no matter our differences. Even though King endured prejudice at every turn, he never gave into hate.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” King said.

Besides the blatant discrimination this failed concept encourages, affirmative action has an adverse effect on businesses. It undermines the principle of a free market economy by involving the federal government in the hiring process. Although it’s illegal in the United States to have quotas, Affirmative Action still pressures employers into choosing employees based on status even if some of the applicants aren’t the most qualified.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with having an ethnically diverse workforce, but the most qualified candidate should always receive the position. Too many unqualified workers negatively affect a company’s profits, and sufficient cumulative negative drag can impede economic growth. No one should ever be rewarded for something they have not earned, regardless of race, gender or any other factor.

Some feel that rewarding individuals through Affirmative Action because of these factors is both insulting and demeaning. Doing so insinuates they aren’t good enough to get ahead on their own and require assistance from Big Brother to succeed in life.

Thomas Sowell, economist, claims in his book, “Affirmative Action around the World,” that such policies are detrimental instead of helpful.

“Affirmative Action in the United States has made blacks look like peoples who owe their rise to affirmative action and other government programs,” he wrote. “It has been carefully cultivated by black politicians and civil rights leaders so as to solidify a constituency conditioned to be dependent on them, as well as on government.”

An eye for an eye is not going to make any anger or resentment go away. The only way to mend this deeply fractured country is through forgiveness, just as Nelson Mandela did to his captors of 28 years:

“Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.”

Contact David Hurtado, features editor, at dhurtado@jccc.edu.

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