Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

May and Houston reported on perceptions of craze-like behavior in their Los Angeles Times article:

Some affirmative action officers have been accused of overzealousness, of hiring "basket cases" solely in order to meet quotas. McCarthy, a white Boston police officer, charges that the force has actually hired criminals and illiterates in its efforts to boost minority numbers. "I think your professionalism and your standards are being dropped down." ( 1985:14)

The emotionally charged pursuit of unexamined goals with legally suspect strategies has been a hallmark of both the Old and the New McCarthyism. Dogmatism, a climate of fear and intimidation, and the threat or actual use of lethal labeling, generated self-censorship and a spiral of silence in both periods. The Old and the New McCarthyism also produced thousands -- if not millions -- of invisible victims.

In the previous chapter, we examined the mass media's role in promoting a spiral of silence and New McCarthyist taboos on discussion of affirmative action and related issues. The next chapter deals with an equally important source of such taboos and censorship: the university and, especially, the field of sociology.


NOTE
1.
Carl Auerbach ( 1988) has also utilized the spiral-of-silence theory to explain data on attitudes toward affirmative action among faculty and students gathered by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education during 1975. The Carnegie data indicate that large majorities of faculty and students opposed preferential forms of affirmative action. Auerbach suggests that the acutal majority is not perceived as such; hence faculty and students hesitate to criticize affirmative action. I shall discuss Auerbach's findings in somewhat greater detail in the next chapter.

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