Imagine the following scenario: The U.S., recognizing the painful gap of wealth and resources between the rich and the poor nations, has decided to implement an aid program designed to alleviate the situation. The U.S. will give foreign aid, in the form of money, to individual citizens of foreign nations. However, the money will be allocated via a specific distribution method only the most well off citizens of the poor nation will be given the aid, while the worst off citizens of the poor nation will be given nothing.

Liberals would respond with outrage. The first part (giving financial aid to developing country) is a liberal idea, but the second part (giving the aid only to the wealthiest) would elicit an incredible amount of liberal criticisms.

Conservatives would be equally outraged. Right wingers would consider the whole idea ridiculous citing the need for isolationism. Moderate conservatives would have general disdain for the first part (suggesting that foreign development ought to be driven by non-government business), while being slightly more favorable toward the second part (assuming that trickle-down economies would come into play plus, conservatives just like rich people).

But now, let”s play a little word game that we”ve all played in grade school. We”re going to replace some nouns and adjectives thought the point of this lesson will not be about the English language.

Let”s replace “U.S.” with “University.” “Rich” becomes “white” and “poor” becomes “black,” while “nations” become “communities.” “Foreign aid” becomes “educational opportunities,” “money” becomes “admissions,” “citizens” becomes “members” and “foreign nations” become “underrepresented minority groups.”

The scenario would become this: The University, recognizing the painful gap of wealth and resources between the white and the black communities, has decided to implement an aid program designed to alleviate the situation. The University will give educational opportunities, in the form of admissions, to individual members of underrepresented minority groups. However, the admissions will be allocated via a specific distribution method only the most well off members of the black community will be given the aid, while the worst off members of the black community will be given nothing.

Liberals and conservatives alike ought to shudder.

Affirmative action doesn”t work because it tries to pass off two fundamental mistruths that the real disparity in this country is between black and white and that diversity is a birthright. Let”s not kid ourselves.

There is a disparity between black and white in this country, but the fact is that the black/white issue is only a symptom of a larger issue: The disparity between the poor and the rich. It”s surprising that liberals, who shudder at the idea of wasting resources on those that don”t require extra help, would be so adamant in defending a program that does just that.

A cursory look at impoverished high schools in this country where less than ten percent attend college is an indication of the need for upward mobility among the poor communities in this country. What is affirmative action doing to solve that?

Would affirmative action decrease minority enrollment rates? Certainly, if it wasn”t replaced with a truly affirmative application process one that admits poverty is wreaking havoc on this country. Poor high schools across the nation have black student populations in the high-90 percent range and they deserve a chance to succeed.

The second myth perpetuated by affirmative action advocates is that being black is an automatic guarantee of cultural diversity. That”s as ludicrous an assumption as any but it”s one that is entrenched in the liberal psyche.

Take the following story: A (white) guy I know is applying to medical schools. At a recent interview, he was asked how many black people he knew to which he answered “a few.” When asked how many black people he”s friends with, he admitted that his circle of friends is fairly monochromatic.

Sounds to me like he lacks diversity.

But he doesn”t. Said (white) guy is an international student, went to an international high school with students from around the world and knows more about other cultures than most. But his interviewer didn”t consider him to be particularly diverse because he is white. White people can”t be diverse.

I can”t be the only one concerned about this subversive not to mention false definition of “diversity.” Nor can I be the only one concerned about the status of the poor who come in all different colors (including, dare I say it, white). I can”t be the only one because, if I am, the hopes for a truly inclusive and equitable nation are shot.

As hard as it is to root against my own school, I sincerely hope that the University loses these lawsuits. Because if racially biased admissions policies are struck down, maybe we”ll start helping the people who really need it.

Manish Raiji can be reached via e-mail at mraiji@umich.edu

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