Radio Commentary

Americans Don't Prefer Preferences

t the end of last year, the New York Times ran a lengthy article on where Americans stand on preferences. The results don’t bode well for the folks who continue to advocate special treatment based solely on pigmentation and chromosome makeup. The hostility most Americans have for preferences, which picked up speed in the late 1980s, has only increased in the nineties.

The bottom line? When asked if preferential treatment should be given to racial minorities, only 26 percent of the poll’s respondents said yes. A mere 19 percent continue to approve of the use of quotas. So does this mean most of us are callous, uncaring louts who want to see women and minorities oppressed? Hardly. The poll also showed that Americans continue to believe in the goal of diversity. Most of us, myself included, support the notion that minority outreach programs should continue. We just oppose preferences, which only serve to drive wedges between the races, as well as between men and women. As for remedying past discrimination, a small majority—but a majority nonetheless—believes that preferences should not be given due to historical oppression.

Ruby Hall, a black woman, had this to say: "You can’t make up for past mistakes by making hiring preferences." She’s with the majority that believes the sins of my father are not at all my sins. One poll question revealed where Americans stand on the notion that less qualified applicants are given jobs just because of their minority status. Seventy-nine percent of us believe that is so at least some of the time. With these poll results, it’s clear that preferences are not long for this world—good riddance to bad policy.  u


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