Liberals see the recent effort by Asian-American groups to shine a light on Harvard’s admission policies as another reactionary push to roll back affirmative action—and question the motives of the Justice Department in taking such initiatives seriously. They characterize the effort as the latest in a long line of resentful plaintiffs dating back to Allan Bakke and other whites who sought to end “reverse discrimination” at the University of California and the University of Texas dating to the 1970s. Liberals dig in against such efforts, whether on grounds that diversity is a vital good in itself—and worth compromising other principles for—or that America’s past history of legal racism means, in effect, that there can be no such thing as reverse discrimination.
Yet, an important truth goes unstated on both sides of the argument: affirmative action does no good for African-Americans themselves. If progressives and advocates for black advancement were honest, they would admit that racial preferences have been a disaster for their alleged beneficiaries.