The way we’re forced to define affirmative action has opened the door to its endangerment.
Americans have never ceased arguing over the merits of inclusion and diversity, but two recent events have reinvigorated those debates. And unexpectedly, they have also revealed—or perhaps re-emphasized—the limits of “diversity” as a justification for programs of racial and gender preference.
The first involves affirmative action in college admissions. Last week, the Trump administration announced its plan to direct the resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward admissions policies deemed discriminatory against white applicants. Broadly understood as an attack on affirmative action, this policy reflects the conservative belief that racial diversity is not a compelling enough interest to justify race-based preferences. Indeed, the announcement refers to “intentional race-based discrimination,” a clear statement of where the administration stands. The Department of Justice responded, saying this was just an investigation into claims that Harvard University discriminates against Asian applicants—hardly a reassurance for those who see this as a wedge strategy to delegitimize affirmative action.