Sep 20 2008

If you doubt the validity of affirmative action, you must be a racist

As usual, anyone who tries to scientifically study the actual effect of affirmative action is accused of racist motives.

In his 19 years as a law professor at UCLA, Richard Sander has pondered a nagging question: Does affirmative action help or hinder black people who want to become lawyers?

Two years ago, he published research suggesting that racial preferences at law firms might be responsible for black lawyers’ high rate of attrition and difficulty making partner. He hypothesized that, in the interest of promoting diversity, law firms sometimes hire black lawyers that are under-qualified, and that when there is a “credentials gap” between black and white lawyers at a firm, black lawyers often fail.

The research stirred debate throughout the legal community, and Sander said he was surprised at the vehemence with which people attacked his motives. A former Vista volunteer, fair-housing activist and campaigner for Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, Sander insisted he was simply trying to examine an important question.

Now the law professor has waded into another controversy. Sander says his goal this time is to examine whether law schools set up many affirmative action beneficiaries for failure by admitting them into rigorous academic environments in which they are ill-prepared to compete. He proposes to study almost 30 years of data on California Bar Association exam-takers. In the end, he hopes to explain why, as reported in a Law School Admission Council study in the 1990s, blacks are four times as likely as whites to fail the bar exam on the first try.

To no one’s particular surprise, the bar association is refusing to release the records to Sander, for very thin reasons.
The great touchiness and defensiveness of diversity mavens and affirmative action activists notwithstanding, one would think that the bar association would be concerned about appearing to be afraid of the results of Sander’s proposed study.

Apparently not. With a press friendly to affirmative action, an academia dedicated to the religion of diversity, and a bar association that virtually always tilts Left on any issue, who will blow the whistle loud enough to get anyone’s attention?

The article linked above is a case in point.

Despite the fact that Richard Sander could certainly have provided many supporters for the press to interview, who would have agreed with him that the study should be done, the article quotes exactly nine words from Sander,  and a bit from one first amendment activist and one economics professor from “University of the South in Tennessee”. Let’s see: why would the writer of the article want to give that particular supporter some attention? Could it be that the reader is to infer that southerners (with that history of white racism) are the ones who want to knock down affirmative action, without actually coming out and saying that anti-affirmative action people are all racists?

If they actually interviewed Sander, I’m sure he said much more than those nine words, and I’m sure he could give them names of reputable people from California who agree with him.

On the other hand, those against Sander ( and against him even having an opportunity to do his study) are quoted more extensively, there are more of them, and they just get more words in the story, both in quote and in paraphrase.

This is one of those reporting jobs that’s there just so they can say they did it, but it’s not a serious attempt to help the reader understand the issue.

UPDATE:  To give credit where it’s due, LATimes has published an editorial in favor of Sander getting to do his research.  As much as I criticize the leftist tilt of the media, and especially the Times organization, I’m happy to acknowledge when they make sense.

UPDATE:  And it seems to be pretty obvious even to the ABA Journal that this is all about the politics.

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One Response to “If you doubt the validity of affirmative action, you must be a racist”

  1. harmonicminer » California Supreme Court: restrained when it suits its political positions says:

    [...] earlier post discussed the issue of Richard Sander’s attempt to get bar association records to evaluate the efficacy of affirmativ…. It would seem that the California State Supreme Court, in an uncharacteristic display of judicial [...]

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