MSNBC host Al Sharpton conflated the repeal of racist Jim Crow laws with proactive, affirmative action, race-based preferences that allegedly exclude qualified Asian-Americans. In an MSNBC conversation on his show “Politics Nation,” Sharpton repeatedly asked me if as a conservative I would feel comfortable if Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was part of a Supreme Court ruling that would repeal affirmative action.
After repeatedly trying to respond that it’s difficult to comment on a specific case without a specific lawsuit in front of us, Sharpton said that I was unwilling to be upfront about my views on affirmative action. Then I mentioned legal action that is currently unfolding in Cambridge, Mass., at Harvard University for racial discrimination and the unintended consequences of affirmative action. I also mentioned plans by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to change the methodology for how students are admitted to New York’s elite public high schools, causing Asian-American families to feel that their qualified children will be left behind in a preference for black and Latino students.
“You have here in New York City, Asian-Americans parents who are upset about the city’s policies on affirmative action,” I said. “You also have Asian-American parents suing Harvard University to say that when you have race-based preferences instead of competency, merit-based preferences, this is a problem, and it excludes Asian-Americans. So perhaps there might be some instances where the pendulum has swung so far.”
“The reason there are race-based goals is because there was racial exclusion,” Sharpton said. “The only reason they had to set goals to include goals to include black students is because government had laws excluding them. Government has to undo what government did. This is not a favor. This is you really trying to address what you did by law. By law we could not go to certain schools.”
“That’s evil and vile, and Jim Crow is discussed,” I replied.
“I am going to leave it right there,” Sharpton said. “You can’t undo that.”