Victor Davis Hanson: The New Affirmative Action

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: National Review, Victor Davis Hanson, affirmative action

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books.

Sometime in the first years of the new millennium, “global warming” evolved into “climate change.” Amid growing controversies over the planet’s past temperatures, Al Gore and other activists understood that human-induced “climate change” could explain almost any weather extremity — droughts or floods, temperatures too hot or too cold, hurricanes and tornadoes — better than “global warming” could.

Similar verbal gymnastics have gradually turned “affirmative action” into “diversity” — a word ambiguous enough to avoid the innate contradictions of a liberal society affirming the illiberal granting of racial preferences.

In an increasingly multiracial society, it has grown hard to determine the racial ancestry of millions of Americans. Is someone who is ostensibly one-half Native American or African-American classified as a minority eligible for special consideration in hiring or college admissions, while someone one-quarter or one-eighth is not? How exactly does affirmative action adjudicate our precise ethnic identities these days? These are not illiberal questions — given, for example, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren’s past claims of being Native American to gain advantage in her academic career....

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