Whaddya want? A cookie?
Yesterday, as I was walking to class, I came across the now infamous Affirmative Action Bake Sale, sponsored by the Georgia Tech College Republicans. Cookies were sold at prices ranging from 25 cents to $1, depending on the customer's race, ethnicity, and gender.
As anyone would expect, this attracted a lot of attention. The sale was open from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and although I could not observe the event in its entirety because of my classes, there were at least 15 people hanging around discussing the issue at any one time. I was told that at some point during the day, a public policy professor brought her entire class outside to observe and debate the Republicans.
One of the most common complaints I heard from people who disagreed with the sale is that it is offensive. Which is precisely the point. It's supposed to be offensive, in the same way that many people, myself included, find Affirmative Action offensive.
Others tried to distinguish between preferences given in college admissions and preferences given in the sale of cookies - and they certainly are different, in the sense that no two things that are not entirely identical in every way are necessarily different - but the distinction between admissions and bake sales is not large enough to negate the overall point. If blacks, women, or other minorities are unable to purchase as many cookies as white men (relative to their overall proportion of the population), either because of socio-economic status, prior discrimination, or plain bad luck, it only makes sense - according to advocates of Affirmative Action - to engage in a bit of social engineering in order to rectify this inequity.
In fact, this argument proved especially useful. One of the critics of the sale argued that Tech and most colleges in general were not diverse enough and did not accurately represent the makeup of society as a whole. While this may or may not be true, it entirely ignores the question of whether we want the student body to be a mirror image of the general population in the first place.
Like any wise debater involved in a controversial argument over identity politics, I used myself as an example. Since I wear a yarmulke in public, it is obvious to anyone familiar with this religious garment that I am Jewish. I mentioned that Harvard, and many other Universities in the 1930s, maintained what we would today call a "reverse preference system" for Jews. Their justification for this policy was that Jews make up an incredibly small portion of the overall population, yet we are overrepresented on college campuses. In order to achieve racial equity and diversity, it is only fair that colleges should use quotas and reverse preferences to reduce the number of Jews on college campuses. For the bake sale equivalent, consider a situation where too many Jews and too few Gentiles purchase cookies. The logical response is to raise the price for Jews and/or lower the price for Gentiles. Fair and balanced, as always.
Sadly, though, someone who could not deal with diversity of viewpoints (and aren't we often told that viewpoint diversity is the goal, while racial diversity is simply the proxy?) decided to call the police. Instead of shutting the bake sale down on the grounds that it was offensive or that it "created a potentially unsafe situation," as was the case with Southern Methodist University, or that it violated the "university's nondiscrimination policy," as was the case with UC Irvine, the three very large police officers (Why do police officers always seem to be very large? When was the last time you saw a midget police officer? Perhaps some body-size Affirmative Action is in order?) simply asked to see the College Republicans' event permit. The Republicans had a permit, but did not bring it with them. They offered to go get it, but since it was past 3:00 pm anyway, they simply agreed to shut down. Keep in mind, though, that this is probably the first time in Georgia Tech history that police officers demanded to see the event permit of a recognized campus group.
So it seems that Affirmative Action supporters are willing to sacrifice the 1st and 14th Amendments on the alter of "diversity." I wonder which part of the Constitution they will discard next?