An Answer in the Affirmative

This essay was originally written in 2007, but my opinion - like so many of my opinions - remains relatively unchanged.

When I was in college, our school newspaper featured an editorial page. Each week, two columnists would present opposite points of view on the issues of the day. It was a Jesuit school - Catholic, yes, but a very liberal brand of Catholic - and there weren't too many topics that were taboo. As I recall, abortion and gay rights were both discussed and debated, from both sides, numerous times.

One week, the topic was "Affirmative Action."

The young woman who favored affirmative action used a lot of the concepts we still hear today -- that women and people of color have been historically disenfranchised and underrepresented, and that affirmative action, while not perfect, is a tool that society can use so long as it is still necessary, and went on to argue that it was still necessary, and she then laid out some statistics to bolster her case.

The young man who opposed affirmative action told one simple story. It was the story of another young man, who happened to be white. This young, innocent white man earned a grade point average of 4.0 while in high school, and was in fact the valedictorian of his graduating class. In addition, he was the president of the student council and the star of the football team. He was universally loved by his teachers and fellow students. All agreed that he was destined for great things.

But ... (cue the threatening music) ... he was denied access to our school to make room for ... (gasp!) ... black people.

Well, right away, I knew something was fishy about this story. I was not the valedictorian of my class (and it was a small class), nor did I receive a 4.0 grade point average. I was not the president of my student council, and I never set foot on the football field unless it was to sneak a cigarette during lunch. Most of my teachers liked me, but I'm sure there were one or two who thought that I was only "okay" -- more than a few times I was told that I wasn't living up to my academic potential. What the hell, I thought ... I'm having fun, and a 3.7 grade point average doesn't exactly suck.

This was my story ... and I got into this school. And if I could get into this school, then the perfect boy who was sculpted out of cream cheese certainly should have been able to survive the admissions process. And if anyone should have been denied access to our particular institution of higher learning to make room for a disenfranchised other, it should have been me.

This mythic kid was just that, I figured -- a myth. Upon reading both essays twice, I determined that the young woman had several valid points and that the young man who couldn't stop praising this imaginary victim of "reverse racism" (I hate that term, and only use it in a mocking tone) had just made the whole thing up. I made a mental note in that moment, that people who argue against equality and fair treatment for everyone are very often full of crap.

But something just occurred to me a couple of days ago. And now, I don't think that the mythic boy, the stuff of legends, the epitome of everything that's right with America was made up at all. I think he was completely real. And I believe that everything that our young anti-affirmative action activist wrote about him was absolutely true. Except that he left out one crucial detail.

The kid was home-schooled. C'mon, think about it.

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