Affirmative Semantics From S.D. O’Connor

The usual spin from the usual suspects followed the Supreme Court’s recent decision that race still matters in college admissions. For example, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek — of governor’s office sit-in fame — called on Jeb Bush to now correct the “mistake with One Florida.”

Four points:

*The Court’s decision on the University of Michigan Law School case reaffirms that affirmative action is permitted. But it’s not mandated.

*Back to Bakke. What wasn’t settled 25 years ago remains unsettled today. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor advises waiting to see how the landscape looks in 2028. Chances are, no different.

*Dwight Eisenhower had no idea what he was getting in Earl Warren. Ronald Reagan’s legacy now includes Justice O’Connor, the diversity diva.

*Semantics rule. Strategic word choice has always been a vital part of selling social agendas — as well as creating effective push polls. To wit: the connotations of “the homeless” as opposed to “vagrants.” Or “standards” and “censorship.” Or “pro-choice” and “pro-life” instead of “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion.” On “affirmative action,” itself a benign enough term, polled Americans consistently have favored “equal opportunity.” Not so, however, when it’s referenced as “racial preference” — let alone “reverse discrimination” and “racial quotas.”

And word has it none of this linguistic legerdemain is about to change. Anyone hear an affirmative action celebrant crowing: “Yea, we won. Lower standards stay”?

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