Supreme Court To Take Up Affirmative Action Again
February 23, 2012, 12:16 AM
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The Roberts Court intends to take up the case of white girl in Texas who was denied admission to U.T. in favor of legally preferred races. 

An Amherst college official responds:

“Nine years, when you’re talking about a decision of this magnitude, it really took me aback,” said Tom Parker, [Email him] the dean of admissions at Amherst College. “What happens with the next president, the next Supreme Court appointee? Do we revisit it again, so that higher education is zigging and zagging? If the court says that any consideration of race whatsoever is prohibited, then we’re in a real pickle. Bright kids have no interest in homogeneity. They find it creepy.”

Obviously, Amherst could have lots and lots of Asians if it wanted them, so "homogeneity," creepy or not, is hardly a threat. But this gets at a subtle point of what is part of the package of what luxury colleges like Amherst are selling, which is that smart, studious blacks are the ultimate luxury good. Everybody has grown up being told how great blacks are, but most white people's real life experiences have tended to be a little disappointing compared to what we hear about in school and on PBS. But everybody knows that somewhere out there there must be the right kind of blacks. It's your own fault you aren't classy enough to be admitted to the right circles. But, maybe your kids can be!

So that's one of the things that elite colleges offer: carefully vetted blacks. They're very expensive, which is why the richest, most hard-to-get-into colleges (e.g., Stanford) have more of them than the not so rich, not quite as hard to get into colleges.

The man in the White House is, in this sense, a democratic luxury good. We can't all go to the Ivy League, but we can have the honor of voting for an Ivy League black as President, and thus earn some indirect classiness.