Affirmative action no longer needed
Oct. 26, 2010
The Arizona Republic
Affirmative action wasn't meant to be a perpetual-motion machine. The policy served an important purpose, making up for missing opportunities in education and the workplace. But over time, the drawbacks have come to outweigh the advantages.
Voters should pull the plug. They should approve Proposition 107, which would amend the Arizona Constitution to ban affirmative-action programs in public employment, public education or public contracting.
Activist Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent and founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, argues persuasively against racial and gender preferences. Instead of creating a level playing field, they skew the game. Qualifications are subordinated to minority or gender status - certainly not the fair play that Americans value.
Affirmative action can raise unjust doubts about genuine achievements. Connerly tells how the African-American pilot of a commercial airliner thought he saw fear in the eyes of passengers, who wondered if he was truly qualified for the job.
Discrimination hasn't disappeared in America. But we have legal tools, including the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to deal with it directly.
When former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor voted to support affirmative action in 2003, she voiced the expectation that racial preferences would no longer be needed some day. O'Connor thought it would take another 25 years.
There's no reason to wait that long.
The time has come to end affirmative action. Arizonans should vote "yes" on Prop. 107.