The Failures of Affirmative Action

Audience: US Congress

Once upon a time, there were two people who went to an interview for only one job position at the same company. The first person attended a prestigious and highly academic university, had years of work experience in the field and, in the mind of the employer, had the potential to make a positive impact on the companies performance. The second person was just starting out in the field and seemed to lack the ambition that was visible in his opponent. Who was chosen for the job?, you ask. Well, if the story took place before the mid-sixties, the answer would be obvious. However, with the adoption of the social policy known as affirmative action, the answer becomes unclear. After the United States passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it became apparent that certain business traditions, such as seniority status and aptitude tests, prevented total equality in employment. Therefore, president Lyndon Johnson decided to do something to remedy these flaws. In 1965 he issued an ex!

ecutive order that required federal contractors to take "affirmative action" to ensure that applicants are employed…without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. When LBJ signed that order, he enacted one of the most discriminating pieces of legislature in the history of the United States.

Affirmative action was created in an effort to help minorities leap the discriminative barriers that were prevalent when the bill was first enacted, in 1965. At this time the country was in the wake of nation wide civil-rights demonstrations, and racial tensions was at its peak. White males, who controlled the hiring and firing of employees, occupied most of the corporate and managerial positions. The US government believed that these employers were discriminating against minorities and believed that there was no better time than the present to bring about change.

When the civil rights law passed, minorities, especially African-Americans believed they should receive retribution for the years of discrimination they had endured. The government responded by passing laws to aid them in attaining better employment as reprieve for the previous two-hundred years of suffering their race endured at the hands of the white man. To many, this made sense. Supporters of affirmative action asked, "Why not let the government help them get better jobs, after all the white man was responsible for their suffering". While all this may be true,

there is another question to be asked. Are we truly responsible for the years of persecution that African-Americans were submitted to? The answer is yes and no. It is true that the white man is partly responsible for the suppression of the African-American race. However, the individual white male is not. It is just as unfair and suppressive to hold many white males responsible for past persecution now as it was to discriminate against many African-Americans in the generations before. Why should an honest, hard working, open minded, white male be suppressed, today, for past injustice? Affirmative action accepts the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Do two wrongs make a right?

Affirmative action supporters make one large assumption when defending the policy. They assume that minority groups want help. This, however, may not always be the case. It is my belief that they fought to attain equality, not special treatment. To them, the acceptance of special treatment is an admittance of inferiority. They ask," Why can't I become successful on my own? Why do I need laws to help me get a job?" African-Americans want to be treated as equals, not incompetents.

Thousands of white males, who do not discriminate, are being punished because of those who do. The Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha, Nebraska was forced by the government to release sixty-five white male workers to make room for minority employees in 1977. Five major Omaha corporations reported that the number of white managers fell 25% in 1969 due to restrictions put on them when affirmative action was adopted. You ask," What did these white males do to bring about their termination?" The only crime that they were guilty of was being white. It hardly seems fair to punish so many innocent men for the crimes of a relative few. But the injustice doesn't end