Advocates of race preferences have often been accused of “plantation politics”— subjecting their intended beneficiaries to a regime of condescension that encourages them to believe that they are: (a) incapable of meeting traditional standards in academia or the workplace; and (b) victimized by pervasive, undiminishing societal discrimination. A related charge against affirmative action is that rather than creating a climate of diverse amity, it fosters a mindset of identity politics wherein the members of different racial groups must view themselves, first and foremost, as constituents of a group (either the guilty “oppressor” or the innocent “oppressed”) rather than as individuals. Consequently, they think in terms of group rights rather than individual rights.
Moreover, there is much evidence that the remedies proposed by advocates of affirmative action are ineffective. For instance, a study of students at the University of Michigan (UM), where the administration had engaged in strenuous efforts to create “diversity,” showed that tension and polarization among various ethnic and racial groups on campus gets worse, not better, the longer students stay at the school. As Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai reported in a study titled “Diversity Distorted“:
- Interracial tension in residence halls increases dramatically from the initial survey to the end of the second year.
- Significant friendships between white and nonwhite students decrease from entrance through the fourth year.
- The longer a student is at UM, the more he or she sees racial conflict on campus.
- Beginning in their sophomore year and increasing steadily until the end of senior year, students become ever more polarized by race as to whether white faculty respect nonwhite students.
- Black students overwhelmingly disagree with the assertion that nonwhite students are given advantages that discriminate against white students; Hispanics and Asians are evenly split on the question; white students believe that nonwhites do in fact receive preferential consideration.
In other words, the very same race-preference policies that are implemented to promote “diversity” are in fact a prescription for racial hostility and division.