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Affirmative Action (pro)

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Table of Contents

1) Introduction

2) Public Support

3) White's lose out?

4) Advancement

5) Discrimination

6) Self-Esteem

7) Social Engineering

8) Equal Opportunities

9) Progress

10) Color Blind

11) Preferential Selection

12) Conclusion

13) Bibliography


Affirmative action is one of the most widely debated social policies ever brought about by the American government. The biggest problems facing affirmative action and its constituents are the attitudes of its opposition. These attitudes come from a long history of racism that has been passed on from generation to generation. They also stem from lack of education and lack of understanding of the way affirmative action effects the people involved emotionally, financially, and in status. Affirmative action is a policy implemented in order to artificially install equality between white males and minorities over time. Affirmative action cannot be expected to cure the problems of inequality in a matter of years, it will take decades to fix these deep-rooted problems of society. It is a necessary, yet imperfect remedy for an intractable social disease. The case against affirmative action is a weak one, resting heavily on myth and misunderstanding. This report will outline many of the most popular myths in the case against affirmative action. The information in this report was derived from public opinion polls done by the government and private sources. The first myth is that the public does not support affirmative action anymore. Some believe that a large percentage of white workers will lose out if affirmative action stays in place. Another misunderstanding is that Jews and Asians shared the same hardships, and if they can advance rapidly, why can't African Americans? Another misleading statement is that you can't cure discrimination with discrimination. Some think that affirmative action tends to destroy the self-esteem of women and African Americans. Some people think that affirmative action is just another attempt by liberal democrats at social engineering. Another is that affirmative action was necessary more than thirty years ago, but that minorities now have the same opportunities for advancement educationally and in the workplace. The next myth is the notion that affirmative action has not succeeded in increasing female and minority representation. Some also believe that the only way to create a color-blind society is to implement color-blind policies. Lastly, some believe that support for affirmative action means support for unqualified candidates over qualified candidates. The stigma that is attached to affirmative action and the racist attitudes that are deep within its opponents can only be cured through education and understanding. People need to take a step back and think of what life would be like for a minority person who was not given the opportunities accompanying a good education.

Public Support

There is a misconception by many that the public no longer supports affirmative action. This myth is largely based upon public-opinion polls which have all-or-none choices between affirmative action as it currently exists and no affirmative action whatsoever. When alternate choices are added, surveys show that most people want to maintain some form of affirmative action. For example, one Time/CNN poll found that 80% of the public felt that "affirmative action programs for minorities and women should be continued at some level." (Roper Center, 1995a) What the public opposes are quotas, set asides, and "reverse discrimination." For instance, when the same poll asked people whether they favored programs "requiring businesses to hire a specific number or quota of minorities and women, "63% opposed such a plan. An NBC News/Washington Journal poll asked, "In your view, should federal affirmative action programs that give preference to women and minorities be continued as they are? Or should they be continued but reformed to prevent reverse discrimination. Or should they be ended?" 13% said that they want to keep them as they are. 57% said they wish for the programs to be kept but reformed. 26 % said that they should be ended. 4% said they were not sure. (Roper Center 1995b) Another public opinion poll conducted by Gallup asked, "What is your view of affirmative action today? Is it fundamentally flawed and needs to be eliminated, is it good in principle but needs to be reformed, or is it basically fine the way it is?" 22% said that it should be eliminated. 61% said that it should be reformed. 9% said that it is fine the way it is. Also, 9% said that they don't know. (Roper Center 1995b) Another Gallup public opinion poll asked, "What do you think the federal government should do with its affirmative action programs? Should it eliminate all of them? Should it eliminate many of them? Should it keep many of them, or should it keep all of them?" 11% said that it should eliminate all of them. 67% said they should keep many of them. 10% said it should keep them all and 11% didn't know what it should do. (Roper Center 1995b) Another poll by Time/CNN asked, "If you had to choose, would you rather see the federal government's affirmative action programs mended, that is, changed in certain ways, or ended altogether? 65% said they would like to see them mended. 24% said that they would like to see them ended. 1% said they would like them kept as is, and 10% said they were not sure. (Roper Center 1995a) A public opinion poll from the Associated Press asked "What about affirmative action programs that set quotas...Do you favor affirmative action programs with quotas, or do you favor affirmative action programs only without quotas, or do you oppose all affirmative action programs?" 16% said that they favored affirmative action programs with quotas. 47% said that they favored affirmative action programs without quotas. 28% opposed all affirmative action plans, and 9% didn't know. (Roper Center 1995b) As these results suggest, most members of the public oppose extreme forms of affirmative action that violate the concepts



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