Civil Wrongs is an important book that will advance and deepen our political discussion regarding how we as individuals and communities in America relate to one another. In examining affirmative action, Steven Yates takes on a key legal and social institution, one whose structure can significantly influence our modes of association and affect how we as a people are able to create social, economic, and political wealth.
Part of the problem in the debate about affirmative action is that the dialogue takes place within a distorted set of assumptions about democracy and the nation state, assumptions underpinned by a very weak notion of citizenship and by confusion about how strong and productive people develop. The American experiment in self-governance began with a different set of ideas--a more vigorous philosophy of citizenship and of confidence in the capacities of men and women to act on their own behalf. How to build and sustain the habits of reflection and choice essential to self-governance is a critical question: If men and women are to govern the institutions that affect their lives, the issue at hand becomes how to protect access to the decision-making process, rather than how to impose reparations.
Despite its noble goal of producing an integrationist society, affirmative action fails because it ultimately reflects the mindset it nominally seeks to destroy. Racial entitlement in no way promotes