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"Reaffirm the Affirmative"

May/June 1995 issue of Poverty & Race

by Max Frankel

... To reward people for something beyond merit is as American as apple pie. Universities routinely bend a bit to admit the children of alumni, acknowledging with a wink that this fosters loyalty and annual contributions. Few objected when "diversity" in a Northern college meant saving a few places for Southern or Western students. If Californians don't watch the language of that amendment they could end up sinking their best college teams; how else but by "affirmative action" do they recruit so many black athletes and favor them with "set aside" scholarships.

Many enterprises, including this newspaper, favor the rapid rise of the boss's kids, tapping their devotion to the business. Immigrants have always acted affirmatively to help their own advance in certain lines of work-Irish cops, Italian truckers, Jewish peddlers, Portuguese fishermen, Chinese launderers, Korean grocers. And politicans practiced affirmative action long before they had a name for it; no Voting Rights Act was needed 50 years ago to persuade New York Democrats to nominate a Vincent Impellitteri and a Lazarus Joseph to share the ticket with a William O'Dwyer....

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