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Reparations Lite

Basil Enwegbara and Zhelinrentice Scott rehash the same tired arguments in their essay “The Continued Importance of Affirmative Action” [August 8]. They quote Martin Luther King, “how can the black man, who has suffered for hundreds of years, be absorbed into the mainstream of American life? Doesn’t the present America owe it a duty to do something special for him in order to balance the equation and equip him with the means to compete on a just and equal basis?”

The answer, simply, is no, because affirmative action is based on a warped sense of “justice.” By collectivizing the individual injustices faced by individual black Americans, proponents of affirmative action are attempting to justify the false concept of collective culpability on the part of majority groups. Should I, the moral individual, suffer for the sins of others who happen to share my majority status? To assign fault by an inessential such as race is -- surprise! -- racism.

Yes, the elimination of racism (and all such illogic, for that matter) in society is an admirable goal. Nevertheless, discrimination against majority groups is not only a high price to pay culturally, but an assault upon the very principle of individual equality. So it seems that affirmative action is paying only lip service to any rational notion of justice, and like all evils, it is ultimately about getting something for nothing.

Does all this sound familiar? Affirmative action is little more than “reparations lite.” I sincerely hope The Tech will fill the pages of future editions with material that is fresher and not so obviously flawed.

Sourav K. Mandal ‘00