An end to quotas, preferences

Robert Steinbuch
Robert Steinbuch

When California eliminated state-sponsored discrimination nearly 30 years ago by prohibiting preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, education, and contracting, the sky didn't fall. Indeed, Chicken Little's histrionics proved equally false when eight other states did exactly the same.

Nonetheless, current laudable legislative efforts to eliminate this insidious racism in Arkansas have brought out the hen's kin. The interesting switch, however, is that in ululating their frantic screeds, progressives have finally abandoned their pretextual justifications for affirmative action--now openly admitting they cling to this structural racism to perpetuate quotas, set asides, and preferences.

Take Democratic State Sen. Clarke Tucker, who suggested in Senate committee that when Arkansas joins the diverse states that have long eliminated state-sanctioned racism in government hiring, college admissions, and contracting, somehow Arkansas' Black art and culture museum would close. That's false.

California, in fact, has the very first African American museum of art, history, and culture fully supported by a state, and that museum remains completely operational, notwithstanding the Golden State's decades-old ban on affirmative action. (Quelle surprise!)

When the sponsor of the bill to end government quotas, set asides, and preferences in Arkansas--state Sen. Dan Sullivan--recounted that Attorney General Tim Griffin declared resoundingly wrong Tucker's fantastical museum-shuttering claim, Tucker said he disagreed. (That's some astonishing legal analysis.)

Griffin since stated: "I reviewed this legislation, and the idea that this ban on state-sponsored racial preferences will shut down our museums is ridiculous ... In fact, this bill will bring our state in line with constitutional principles that I [and virtually every legal expert on the left and the right] expect the U.S. Supreme Court to reiterate soon."

Griffin was previously the U.S. Attorney in central Arkansas, an Associate Independent Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, twice a Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, and the Chief Investigative Counsel for the House Government Reform Committee. Currently, he is a colonel in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps and the state's highest law-enforcement official. So I think I'll take his words on this matter over Tucker's unsupported disagreement.

Here's where it gets really interesting. Tucker boldly laid bare leftists' true position on affirmative action when he further stated: "Every transaction the [state's Black art and culture] museum does has a preference of race."

What? Every time the museum hires an employee, buys supplies, sells mementos, and employs a contractor, it has a race preference?

According to Tucker: yes.

Indeed, according to Tucker, if you apply for any job at the museum, there's a race preference. If you sell office supplies to the museum, there's a race preference. If you buy trinkets at the gift shop--race preference. Snack bar--race preference. Roof repair--race preference. Guided tours--race preference.

That's an amazing admission of explicit--and illegal--racism.

I appreciate Tucker's candor. For years, leftists hid behind vague language and false claims to assert that affirmative action hasn't become exactly what it is: rank racism.

Need-based assistance will be unaffected by ending leftist race discrimination, as these programs aptly evaluate each person's individual circumstances. The dichotomy is apparent: We want our hard-earned tax dollars to be spent based on actual necessity and qualifications, not shamelessly redistributed to award or punish citizens based on pigment and plumbing, irrespective of condition and merit.

But the good news is that Tucker's forthright admission finally lifts the veil of progressive propaganda, presenting a clear question for all Arkansans: Do we want to put an end to the state-sponsored racism endorsed by Tucker?

The answer is a resounding yes. A recent study showed that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe higher education shouldn't consider race or ethnicity in admissions. This opposition to affirmative action stems from the sound realization that this institutional discrimination is a travesty of law, equity, and justice and the outcomes of these racialized policies are terrible for the very people they're designed to help.

I collect and study evidence of the effects of race preferences in law schools. In one large data set from Arkansas, the first-time bar-exam failure rate for the largest minority group admitted was double that of whites. This tragic outcome was a direct result of leftist pigment-prioritizing prejudice allegedly designed to be helpful.

When minorities are given massive preferences, however, they do worse on average. Think of it this way: Learning to swim in the middle of the English Channel is harder than in Lake Maumelle. If you're not up to the challenge of the former, dropping you in a raging current is a really bad idea.

Now that we have a visionary, bold, and truly conservative governor leading this great state--along with the most Republican Legislature in history--let's become the vanguard for the nation's restoration of sanity. Let's end state-sanctioned discrimination, once and for all.

The bill to do that, SB71, passed the Arkansas Senate and now is in the House. Call your representatives. Demand an end to the institutional racism euphemistically known as affirmative action. Tell them this carnage must stop.

This is your right to know.

Robert Steinbuch, professor of law at the Bowen Law School, is a Fulbright Scholar and author of the treatise "The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act." His views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.

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