discriminatory about excluding kids who can't cut
Published in The Orlando
Sentinel, June 2, 1998
You want to know how nutty this country has
become? City University of New York just voted to
exclude students who can't read, write or do math
from its four-year college programs. And the move
Heavens, how bigoted to expect college
students to know how to read or write. A
hodge-podge of minority groups is screaming
discrimination. Now let me make sure that I
understand their position.
If you require a person desiring a college
degree to know how to read, write and do basic
math, you are discriminating against minorities.
Does that mean minorities are dumb? Or is the
argument that reading, writing and math are some
difficult white man's supersecret code that you
can't break without certain genetic
I don't know which is more nutty -- people who
say that having to know how to read and write is
discrimination or City University admitting
students who can't read or write to their degree
programs for the past 18 years.
The basis for alleging discrimination is that
more blacks and Hispanics flunk the basic tests
than do white students. In saner days, all that
would have meant was that blacks and Hispanics
need to work harder. That is, after all, the
normal response when we don't do something as
well as we would like.
If you finish last at a track meet, you don't
say you're a victim of discrimination. You train
harder. Same with the bookish stuff. The bar is
on the same level for everyone. If you can't
clear it, you have to work harder.
A university, of course, ought to discriminate
against people unqualified to do college-level
work. People who can't do college-level work
don't belong in college, just as people who can't
play football don't belong on the football team.
College degrees handed out to functional
illiterates are worthless.
It is a hopeful sign, however, that City
University -- once a proud and distinguished
institution -- is recovering from the madness of
the 1960s and 1970s, when leftists politicized
everything and demanded and got open admissions
regardless of qualifications.
The substitution of group politics for
individual achievement is a dangerous and
ultimately self-defeating proposition. It
institutionalizes incompetence and immorality
(it's immmoral to demand what one knows one has
not earned). Who the devil wants to have
open-heartsurgery with a surgeon who has a
It's discrimination when somebody says you
can't come in, because they don't like people
with black skin or Spanish accents. It is not
discrimination when someone says, ``Here's the
test. Pass it and you're in. Flunk it and you're
Understanding that difference does not, it
seems to me, require a genius intelligence
quotient. Imposing racial and other minority
quotas on the job market and institutions is just
politics that is both corrupt and hypocritical.
If you applied a racial quota to the National
Basketball Association, only 12 percent of the
players could be black.
If merit-based hiring is OK for the NBA, it's
OK for college admissions, the private job market
and public-service jobs. There should, in fact,
be nothing in America but merit-based admissions,
hiring and promotions.
What distinguishes us is that we were
traditionally a nation of individuals, with
individual rights and individual opportunities.
The assigning by the government of group rights
and group opportunities is as foreign to the
American ideal as communism or aristocracy.
It should cease forthwith.
[Posted 06/01/98 8:09 PM EST]