The United States is approaching a turning point in the history of its affirmative action programs. Policies that privilege certain groups based on race may be nearing their end, with the Supreme Court set to reject racial preferences for college admissions and university systems in Texas and Florida moving to disavow the diversity, equity, inclusion agenda. As this week’s TelosScope post by John Croce-Renard indicates, the end of such preferences could also be the beginning of a redemptive process for universities. Recently, accusations of racism have served as a kind of bludgeon to silence opponents, undermining discourse and debate. As John McWhorter notes in Woke Racism, the success of such anti-racist rhetoric in suppressing debate has depended on the degree to which racism has become universally condemned. Everyone is scared of being branded a racist. But precisely this situation is the result of the degree to which countries such as the United States and Germany have made impressive progress in the last half century in recognizing and repudiating their racist pasts. Just as we need not forever link Germany to Nazism as part of its social and political DNA, it should be possible for the United States to also distance itself from its past racist policies in thinking about its present.
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