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The Morality of Affirmative Action

The moral status of affirmative action always provokes a lot of disputes either among the majority or the minority, which is ‘positively discriminated’. Such counter-discriminative actions at the educational establishments, workplaces and other places of social activity as preferences to minority groups are harmful for the majority. Affirmative action is considered to be a modern response to discrimination, which was or is affecting the minority groups. However, it is nothing but merely an eye for an eye justice. Undoubtedly, there should be no place for any kind of discrimination in the modern society in the United States; in the contemporary discourse of racial and gender equality, affirmative action looks like a considerable excess in struggle for human rights.

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Affirmative action may be viewed from different points. As for racially or sexually based affirmative action, it may be defined as “an effort to rectify the injustice of the past by special policies” (Pojman, 1992, pp. 181-206). This model helps to correct discrimination and to compensate damages caused by injustice. It is supposed to create equal opportunities for people deprived of them because of discrimination. Generally, affirmative action applies to many areas of social life, but the most spread and disputable positive discrimination occurs during the entrance to educational institutions and the employment. This is related to different social groups who are sexual, racial or ethnic minority in the particular field, such as profession, faculty, etc. Additionally, veterans and disabled people are involved in the model of affirmative action. Nonetheless, if veterans have deserved any preferences due to their merits while physically disabled and healthy people are not equal during the employment, then there are a lot of questions concerning the affirmative action, which is based only on ethnical, racial or gender-related issues. Students who belong to a racial minority group have more chances to enter a college than their white rivals. During the employment process the representatives of the minorities have more preferences than the other candidates. As a result, unqualified persons may be placed to positions of responsibility (Taylor, 1991). In both education and work, affirmative action has an extreme effect on all the aspects in the field it is applied. Because of the affirmative action model, the education and the labor systems are not aimed at teaching or hiring the best students or specialists, but at having the appropriate number of people who belong to a racial or a gender minority.

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Among the numerous arguments put forward for affirmative action, one has a historical context. Positive discrimination is considered to be a compensation for all the infringements of civil and human rights, the racial or sexual discrimination, and the religious prosecutions. Indeed, people who were prosecuted for their ethnicity and religion, such as Irish Catholics, or for the skin color , such as African Americans, or for gender - all must have some compensation. Nevertheless, in the contemporary society, where all these infringements and discrimination are heavily blamed and even punishable, such measures look like a historical revanchism. All in all, it may evoke only the aforementioned senseless revanchist actions. Obviously, such revanchism is out of place in the modern society where numerous activists in support for human and civil rights have been advocating equality during hundreds of years. Instead of becoming an integrated society, Americans have become a truly separatist society, identifying themselves by the order of a race or by their ethnicity (Tomasson et al., 2001). That is why it is not worth to give birth to other disputes that might cause irreversible consequences because it would be extremely difficult to explain an average white man from Kentucky why he is supposed to be guilty of the deeds of his predecessors. It would not help to maintain equality and consent between different ethnic groups but fuel them for new conflicts. Additionally, it has another negative effect on African Americans because it “holds the danger of blacks becoming permanently handicapped by a need for special treatment” (Pojman, 1992, pp. 181-206).

Finally, affirmative action is not logical because it is an obvious attempt to eliminate discrimination with the help of another form of discrimination. This is as paradoxical as fighting for peace. Moreover, positive discrimination clashes with the simplest principles of democracy such as all people were born equal or have equal opportunities despite their skin color or sex. The model of affirmative action directly questions the system of meritocracy, equal opportunities, and individualism (Skrentny, 1996). Additionally, affirmative action suggests the collective responsibility that is an obvious breach in this supposedly democratic model. Discrimination cannot be positive, it is always negative as well as evil cannot be good.

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Undoubtedly, it is impossible to claim with confidence that there is no kind of discrimination in the modern society. People are discriminated every day at school, college or workplace because of their distinctive features. Nonetheless, one can also claim that there is a great progress of eradication of discrimination from the social life. The affirmative action could be useful in the 1960s or earlier when African Americans struggled for their civil rights, or earlier for other minority groups. However, currently positive discrimination looks like, at least, irrelevant. Moreover, it is not as ‘positive’ as it may seem for minority groups. First, affirmative action diminishes the individual features and achievements of those who benefit from it. A woman can hardly be satisfied when she gets a job, which many males failed to get only because of affirmative action; or an African American student cannot be glad to enter a college while passing exams worse than his white rivals did. Second, affirmative action may have a negative effect on personal motivation of the minority groups to compete for better jobs because their vacation is already reserved. Finally, it would lead to a situation when people who got their jobs or education due to affirmative action would get used to the situation when government assists them in everything.

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