Jackson Speaks At IOP

Affirmative Action Defended

In an fiery address peppered with moral and emotional appeals, civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson defended affirmative action before an overflow audience at the Kennedy School of Government last night.

The hour-long address, titled "The Need to Act Affirmatively," was followed by a rebuttal from Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53 and a lengthy question-and-answer session from the crowd of more than 800.

Accusing affirmative action opponents of "scapegoating," Jackson said the nation must address its racism and sexism instead of dismantling the 30-year-old policy, which grants preferences to minorities and women in job hiring, government contracts and college admissions.

"Instead of identifying real problems and finding real problems and finding real solutions, many are instead perpetrating falsehoods and spreading myths blaming the weakest in our society," Jackson said.

Jackson, who sought the Democratic nominationfor the presidency in 1984 and 1988, accusedpoliticians of making unfounded claims thataffirmative action is pushing white males out ofthe workforce.

"Racial attacks are not grounded in reality,"said Jackson, the president and founder of theRainbow Coalition. "America has been very generousto white males."


Pointing to studies by the Labor Department andthe Urban Institute, Jackson said that white malescomprise 33 percent of the country's populationbut 80 percent of its tenured professors and over90 percent of its U.S. Senators and Fortune 500company executives.

In addition, less than one percent of allcomplaints of discrimination involve charges ofreverse racism, he said.

"The angry white male' characterization is onethat white men of dignity must reject, lest you beangry on some irrational basis," Jackson said.

The civil rights leader also said thataffirmative action opponents incite anger andracial hatred with their attacks.

"For the most part, race is the fuel forhatred," he said. "Anger leads to hatred, hatredleads to scapegoats and scapegoats lead toviolence."

While regaling the audience with examples ofdiscrimination in the nation's history, Jacksonalso searched for inspirational words.

"This is a critical, historic fightfor racial Justice, gender equality and fairness,"he said. "Keep hope alive!"

Offering a rebuttal to Jackson's oration, whichby one count was interrupted with applause 14times, Mansfield said that affirmative action is afailed policy which should be abandoned.

Affirmative action makes minorities and womendependent on the government, operates in an underhanded manner and exacerbates racial tensions,Mansfield said.

"Affirmative action now causes more troublethan it brings help," said Mansfield, who haslectured against affirmative at universitiesacross the country.

"It's time to give affirmative action a decentfuneral," he said. "The beneficiaries are thosewho did not suffer; the victims are those who arenot guilty."

Jackson, however, said affirmative action isstill needed because racism still exists inAmerica and that the effects of 250 years ofslavery cannot be erased within three decades