September 25, 2003
Stupid Young Conservative Tricks
There's not really much you can say about the affirmative action bake sale put on at SMU by a chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas once you get past the basic responses of "dumber than a box of hair" and "these guys think they're the best example of meritocracy in action?" I'd be willing to simply nominate them for one of Jack Cluth's Dumass Awards while thanking all that is holy that the tactic of protesting naked is limited to the left wing were it not for the fact that a certain name leaped out at me from this story:
David C. Rushing, 23, a law student and chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas at SMU and for the state, said the event didn't get out of hand. At most, a dozen students gathered around the table of cookies and Rice Krispies treats, he said.
"We copied what's been done at multiple campuses around the country to illustrate our opinion of affirmative action and how we think it's unfair," he said.
Yes! It's my old buddy David Rushing, the guy who had a stoopid op-ed piece
printed in the Chronicle under a dishonest byline
last year. At least here, he's being up front about who he is and what he stands for, which in his case represents progress. Have fun, Dave! Don't spend the buck-fifty y'all raised all in one place!
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 25, 2003 to The great state of Texas
While I'm not that thrilled about the 'bake sale' (I tend to think 'symbolic' protests like this are pretty stupid), I couldn't pass without injecting a bit of fairness and balance (TM) into this discussion.
Take a look at the quote from Matt Houston a couple of paragraphs before the end:
"My reaction was disgust because of the ignorance of some SMU students," said Houston, who is black. "They were arguing that affirmative action was solely based on race. It's not based on race. It's based on bringing a diverse community to a certain organization."
What exactly does this guy think is meant by "diverse community"??
Affirmative action is (or can be) based on both race and gender, which the YCTs addressed (50c for white women).
Makes me wonder what's in the water up at SMU...
Michael's family has connections up at SMU. I'm going to be interested to hear what they have to say about this case.
Actually, "diversity" really does mean a lot more than race and gender. It's about different backgrounds and perspectives. There's a reason a lot of big companies, such as the large multinational for which I work, have diversity programs and outreach. They know that they benefit from having a wide variety of people who don't all have the same shared experiences.
Here's what diversity means to a big, conservative oil company. Check out their definition of diversity for a good example of what I mean. Here's another example, and here's what 20 Fortune 500 companies thought about the recent U Michigan case.
I'm sorry, Doug, but those guys really are ignorant and small-minded. There's no two ways about it.
"We copied what's been done at multiple campuses around the country..."
Southern Money University, that bastion of originality and creativity. Let's check out the diversity of their legacy admissions policy!
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I agree that ideally, "diversity" involves different backgrounds and viewpoints. However, in the context of affirmative action as practiced at today's university campi (ref. Gratz & Grutter v. Bollinger), "diversity" is simply a placeholder word for "race and/or gender".
At the very least, that is how universities measure whther or not they are "diverse" enough.
Now, whether universities and industry should be using the diversity ideal as a criterion with which to discriminate (in the non-pejorative sense) amongst students or workers, as opposed to solely merit or talent, is another argument. I can see arguments on both sides, but I tend to come down on the "merit-only" side of this one.
If that's the case, then I'd argue that they're doing it wrong. For example, I'm quite certain that both of our alma maters (Rice and Trinity) put some value on being a non-Texan, since they get so many applicants from Texas. Bringing a white, middle-class heterosexual male like myself to San Antonio from New York adds another kind of diversity to a class, and I know that they know that.
(Besides, with women now outnumbering men in college, the day may come when being male will be considered a preferential factor. One wonders if David Rushing will find that distasteful.)
The argument about meritocracy is way too sticky to get into on a Friday. Suffice it to say that I find merit in thinking differently.
Assessments concerning the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the group's protest probably depend as much, or more, on one's views of affirmative action itself. But this particular issue strikes me as being beside the point. If the facts are as represented in the media, SMU's reaction to the mock bake sale was unwarranted. Although a private university is not bound by the First Amendment in the same fashion that a public one is, SMU represents that it cherishes academic freedom and the other rights associated with the First Amendment. However, it's hard to square its conduct with its purported commitment in this case. I have provided a fuller view of my thinking here and here.
I agree with you in that SMU's actions violated the YCT's freedom of speech (Constitutional issues aside). The most effective response to stupidity is to hold it up for ridicule, not suppress it. Unfortunately, now the YCTs get to don the mantle of victimhood. Bad move, SMU.