Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
MANIFEST CONSEQUENCES OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

In 1985 and 1988, sociologist Nathan Glazer reappraised the status of affirmative action. The author of Affirmative Discrimination ( 1975), the first major sociological analysis of the issue, found that a stalemate currently prevails on affirmative action. These controversial policies have neither expanded nor contracted. Proponents and opponents have settled into a form of protracted "trench warfare." Only the Supreme Court could break the deadlock.

As was discussed in detail in the previous chapter, Glazer found that affirmative action has become institutionalized in business and government. The majority of congressmembers avoid the issue, while a committed few continue to try to protect race-conscious policies.

Glazer acknowledged the triumph of affirmative action quotas over public opinion: "The strength must give one pause: it seems to make nonsense of polls showing that three-quarters of Americans oppose quotas" ( 1988: 108). By way of explanation, Glazer returned to his 1975 argument that affirmative action quotas drew their legitimating power from white guilt over the plight of blacks. He was, however, closer to the truth when he also admitted that critics of quotas have been attacked for opposing any form of affirmative action. ( Glazer did not mention the hate-label "racist.")

Glazer was relieved that the number of groups covered by affirmative action quotas has not expanded, but he recommended gradually removing Asians and Hispanics from the affirmative action preference categories. Glazer contended that "we have seen a substantial reduction of the gap in earnings between blacks and whites, but we have seen other key measures of

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