A piece in the New York Times this week suggests that ending affirmative action is a “white nationalist” position.
A piece published by the New York Times this week reflects on the tragic white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last year. The piece primarily focuses on the failure of white nationalists to stage a similar event this year. Just a handful of attendees showed up at a planned follow-up event that took place over the weekend in Washington D.C.
While the piece fairly analyzes the fracturing of the white nationalist movement, it makes the bizarre claim that ideas that are widely popular amongst mainstream conservatives, such as ending affirmative action, are actually white nationalist in origin.
“But some experts on white nationalism say the movement’s political agenda remains disconcertingly widespread,” the piece reads. “And some policy issues the far right has promoted, including immigration restrictions, ending affirmative action and instituting trade protections, have been embraced by mainstream right-wing politicians and pundits.”
To the thinking person, the claim doesn’t make sense. How could this be a new phenomenon adopted from the small white nationalist movement when mainstream conservatives have been fighting to end affirmative action for decades?
Conservative author and economist Thomas Sowell has been arguing against affirmative action for decades. Economist Milton Friedman argued against it in the 1980s. President George W. Bush argued against it in the early 2000s.
Users on Twitter quickly pointed out the absurdity of this claim.
.@nytimes claims that ending affirmative action is a "white nationalist" idea that has been "embraced" by the mainstream right. Really? Prominent black intellectuals like Bayard Rustin and Zora Neale Hurston were opposing racial preferences decades ago. https://t.co/7qhWao8UKx
— Coleman Hughes (@coldxman) August 14, 2018
Breitbart News has extensively written about affirmative action. Most recently, coverage has focused on a pending lawsuit against Harvard University filed by an activist group which claims that the Ivy League school’s admission’s practices are biased against Asian applicants.
Thoughtful critics of affirmative action have pointed out that race-based admissions policies are vulnerable to perpetuating specific injustices. For example, the children of a wealthy black entrepreneur may be favored over the white children of absent or abusive parents. A truly holistic admissions approach might allow admissions officers to take race into the equation only when it is demonstrated that race-based discrimination posed a significant barrier to the applicant’s life, if at all.