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Stuart Taylor: Progressives’ Affirmative Action Humiliates Blacks, Fuels Campus Protests

Author, lawyer, and legal commentator Stuart Taylor gently explains one of the most tragic and painful causes of the campus eruptions — the progressives’ self-serving demand for “affirmative action.”

Why are some of the most privileged students in the nation plunging into a racial grievance culture and upending their campuses as though oppressed by Halloween costumes they don’t approve, imagined racial slights, portraits of Woodrow Wilson, a tiny handful of real racial epithets, and the like?

The reasons are of course multifaceted. But one deserves far more attention than it has gotten: Many or most of the African-American student protesters really are victims — but not of old-fashioned racism.

Most are, rather, victims of the very large admissions preferences that set up racial-minority students for academic struggle at the selective universities that have cynically misled them into thinking they are well qualified to compete with classmates who are, in fact, far stronger academically.

… It is critical to understand that these are not bad students. They did well in high school and could excel at somewhat less selective universities where they would arrive roughly as well prepared as their classmates.

But due to racial preferences, they find themselves for the first time in their lives competing against classmates who have a huge head start in terms of previous education, academic ability, or both.

Researchers have shown that racial preference recipients develop negative perceptions of their own academic competence, which in turn harms their performance and even their mental health, through “stereotype threat” and other problems. They may come to see themselves as failures in the eyes of their families, their friends, and themselves.

Such mismatched minority students are understandably baffled and often bitter about why this is happening to them. With most other minority students having similar problems, their personal academic struggles take on a collective, racial cast…

Not many mismatched students complain — even if they figure out — that the root of their problems is that they are not well-qualified to compete with their classmates. The universities, the media, and others do their best to conceal and deny this connection. And it is human nature to seek less humiliating, more sinister explanations.

The grievance-prone college culture offers ready targets for these frustrated students to blame for their plight: wildly exaggerated and sometimes fabricated instances of racism, trivial perceived “microaggressions,” and the very real racial isolation that is largely due to racially preferential admissions — all leading to a supposedly hostile learning environment.

Another common reaction is to withdraw into racial enclaves within the campus. Many universities encourage this by creating black dormitories and even by assigning entering students to them.

Racial, intellectual, economic, social, religious, and political diversity can greatly enrich the educational experience — but not when engineered through large preferences that do more harm than good to their supposed beneficiaries….

The university leaders who cravenly coddle the racial grievance lobby, such as Yale President Peter Salovey and Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber, are only aggravating academic mismatch, racial isolation, and unhappiness among minority students — and degrading their own universities….”

Read it all here at The American Spectator.

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