NEPOTISM VS. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Kieran Healy weighs in on the Adam Bellow Atlantic Monthly piece that’s getting a lot of attention of late. He applies Bellow’s rationale in favor of nepotism into
a brilliant conservative justification of Affirmative Action. The stock conservative critique of modest AA programs Ã¢€” that their beneficiaries are unable to compete, are “tarred as undeserving— (to borrow a phrase from Justice Thomas) and suffer terribly as a result — is shown up as so much nonsense. In fact, by Bellow’s argument the mechanisms of the New Nepotism are likely to work even better in AA programs than the Nation’s Great Families. After all, if even the boss’s callow offspring, ruined by years of entitlement, can be transformed into a worthy character, then a hungry young minority kid who’s just got the break they’ve always needed poses no challenge at all.
Most of us on the right oppose both nepotism and affirmative action, at least if they’re done as instruments of government policy. I don’t have any objection to a privately owned company staying in family hands, nor do I object to a minority business owner deciding to hire primarily employees of his own kind. It’s much more problematic when done by government, though.
Aside from the 14th Amendment, a major difference between affirmative action and nepotism, though, is that the former tars all and the latter just the one involved. It’s not so much that the affirmative action admittee is a suspect but that *all* members of his race are suspect, whether they got in on their own merit or not.
And most minority kids aren’t “hungry.” Indeed, I’m guessing the vast majority of the black and Hispanic kids who got into Michigan Law were from the middle or upper middle classes, not hard-bellied kids from the ‘hood pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. We need to get over this idea that all blacks live in the ghetto.