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Gregory Allen Howard

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Old White Males: Pigs at the Affirmative Action Trough

Posted: 10/11/2012 6:07 pm

You've seen them before and the airwaves are about to be filled with them again: old, jowly, angry white males, their wizened liver-spotted doughy visages covered in thick kabuki-like makeup. Like a broken Victrola record, they scream: It's so unfair this preference. It's discrimination! Why can't these blacks make it on their own, like I did? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They ache for the good old days when the playing field was level, when there was a true meritocracy. Right.

There is a reason they long for the good old days: Because those were the days when being a white male, primarily an Anglo-Saxon white male, was a guarantee of preferential treatment in employment and academia. And generation upon generation of greedy slop-swilling, arrogant, pigs gorged themselves on as much preference as they could to give themselves a boost early in their careers.

What do Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, pundits William Bennett, Fred Barnes, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and a host of other men of their generation have in common? They were all beneficiaries of racial and/or gender preference in their educational and/or professional backgrounds. They all got their start with a big white male thumb on the scale, stepping over the bodies of qualified women and minorities without so much as a thank you.

A quick look reveals all: Scalia and Buchanan, both Georgetown grads, attended Georgetown when it did not accept women, and in the case of Scalia, did not accept a single black student until 1950. One really has to wonder how many thousands of women and blacks were discriminated against so that these two vociferous critics of affirmative action could enjoy a spot at this elite university.

Maybe Pat Buchanan would've only qualified for a state school; maybe he wouldn't have ended up at the Nixon White House had he gone to Towson State College instead of Georgetown. We will never know. Would Scalia have gotten into Georgetown if he would've had to compete against qualified, brilliant women and blacks? And would Scalia have gotten into Harvard Law had he graduated from a lesser college? We will never know.

William Bennett (Williams College) and Fred Barnes (University of Virginia), both benefited from the gender discrimination of the mid sixties at their respective colleges, and frankly the racial quotas of the day. Neither of these schools became fully co-educational nor fully racially integrated until the seventies.

Imagine if these two vicious critics of preference had had to compete against fully qualified minorities and women. Perhaps we would not have to suffer watching these two princes of preference bloviate about affirmative action when their very careers were fueled by it when it had no name. One should question these men: Was it wrong to benefit from this discrimination? Are not their elite degrees are under a cloud? (This is a criticism used by these right-wing pundits when speaking about minority grads of elite colleges.)

Indeed, when Justice Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court, Bennett and Barnes became apoplectic at the thought that this beneficiary of affirmative action could be considered for the court. Note, they did not have one single fact to indicate that this woman's academic record or admission had anything to do with affirmative action. Not a single supportable fact; nothing.

Indeed, one only has to look at Sotomayor's academic record compared to Justice Samuel Alito's. They both attended Princeton and Yale Law. And at both schools, Sotomayor had a far superior academic record -- far superior. In fact, Sotomayor won the top academic/leadership prize that Princeton has to offer: The Pyne Prize.

But this meant nothing to the preference babies Barnes and Bennett. They continued denigrating her accomplishments when they should've taken a closer look at Alito, Princeton '72, the first class that accepted women, a token few. Alito also benefited from an almost entirely male admissions pool. Yes, Justice Alito is but another prince of preference uncovered.

Newt Gingrich (Emory '65) had no black competition when he applied to school. Emory admitted its first black student in 1962. That's right, Newt didn't have to compete against the broadest talent pool. He, like Mitt Romney (BYU), was aided by the discrimination in admissions of their respective schools, or as is called today: racial preference. Only then it wasn't called anything. But it was, in reality, affirmative action for white boys.

So, as this hot, racist criticism of affirmative action begins to pour out of the mouths of these old white males, please remember, but for preference, no one would have ever heard of them, or from them. They, and the entire generation of old white males, owe all that they are to the rich rewards of discrimination. They are no more than cynical hypocrites, greedy, self-entitled, unqualified pigs at the preference trough. When they speak, people should cover their ears and yell at the screen, "Oink, oink, oink."

 
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