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Copyright (c) 1995 Widener University School of Law 
Widener Journal of Public Law

ESSAY: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: A DEAN'S REFLECTIONS

1995

5 Widener J. Pub. L. 1

Author

by Arthur N. Frakt *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The term affirmative action recently joined a handful of other verbal combinations that provoke such strong and disparate responses that they virtually defy rational debate and meaningful compromise. Capital punishment, gun control and abortion are some phrases or words that leap to mind. Like these subjects, affirmative action spawns a number of synonyms and euphemisms whose use instantly labels the speaker as maintaining a whole series of opinions and convictions. Terms such as "quotas," "goals," "level playing fields," and "discriminatory preferences," have joined such terms as "the right to bear arms," "gun control," "the right to life," "a woman's right to choose," and "victims' or society's right to protection," as expressions likely to stereotype a speaker's beliefs.

Like sharks smelling blood, opportunistic politicians seize upon the emotions generated by the affirmative action issue to gain what they sense will be an easy advantage among a constituency that they seek to cultivate. 1 At the time I write these lines, the Governor of California, Pete Wilson, a hitherto bland and colorless Republican moderate, has seized upon the supposed excesses of affirmative action policies at the University of California in a futile effort to bolster a moribund presidential campaign. 2 The Reverend Jesse Jackson responded in a characteristically bombastic fashion in an effort to regrasp a leadership position that in recent years appears to have been deteriorating. 3 The sincerity of these and other politicians is almost beside the point. The affirmative action debate has now been reduced to ...
 
 
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