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For many years, preferential treatment has been used to


try to make up for past wrong-doings to minorities. There
have been many cases tried over racial discrimination, with
verdicts of both innocent and guilty. Ronald Dworkin
attempts to argue that preferential treatment is socially
useful and at the same time does not violate people's
rights. This is wrong for many reasons; here I shall
illustrate how preferential treatment hinders racial
equality, violates people's rights, and can lead to a lower
opinion toward a particular race.
Dworkin believes that continuing preferential treatment
will decrease racial consciousness and the importance of
race. This is the total opposite of what truly happens. If
a person were to consider America's past, as an example, he
would see how racially diverse people were. Now look
around. Just walking across any given area, groups of
people of the same race are seen walking together. Most
people do not notice this, but very rarely are groups of
ethnically diverse people seen. Although there are no
longer any laws stating that there must be a separation
between different races, people still practice it
unconsciously. Dworkin states that the long-term goal of
preferential treatment "is to reduce the degree to which
American society is overall a racially conscious society
(294)." Preferential treatment does nothing of the sort. It
was used widely in the past and still exists in some areas
today. It has not reduced racial consciousness, but
increased it by making people think more about how many
spaces are reserved for their particular race. Instead,
people should think of what their chances are of getting
something on account of their personal knowledge over
someone else's, not even considering their race as a
factor. This is evident in a black's point of view of
getting into the medical school of the University of
California at Davis. Sixteen places are set aside just for
blacks and other minorities, no matter how low their test
scores are. That way, minorities don't even have to worry
about competing with whites for a position. This does not,
in any way, reduce racial consciousness by setting two
tracks for admission to medical school, one for the
minorities, and one for the majority. Mr. Dworkin supports
the idea that preferential treatment does not violate
people's rights. His argument is weak here because he
attempts to prove this by saying that if two things do not
violate people's rights, then neither does a third. The two
things that supposedly do not violate rights are the denial
of someone to medical school because of their age and
because their test scores are just below the cutoff line of
admission. He then assumes that because these two do not
violate rights, then neither does denying an applicant
because he will not reduce racial consciousness as much as
an individual of another race would. By taking this
argument apart piece by piece, it is evident that all three
parts of his argument violate rights. Preferential
treatment violates a person's right to be "judged on merit
and merit alone(299)." Dworkin says that another definition
for merit is qualification, and for some jobs, race can be
a qualification. Given a specific job, certain human
characteristics are more desirable than others. People with
these preferred characteristics are more likely to get this
job. For example, a desirable quality for a surgeon is
steady hands; therefore, a person with steady hands is more
likely to get this position than a person with shaky hands.
Using race in a similar example, preferential treatment
would be just if there were a job where one race is more
qualified than another. The problem with this is that there
are no such jobs. Dworkin says that denying a person
admission because of his age does not violate that person's
rights, but then, is the individual being judged on his
merit and merit alone? No. It is therefore wrong to
discriminate against someone because of their age because
it violates his rights. A second objection to Dworkin's
belief that preferential treatment does not violate
people's rights is that people have the right to be judged
as an individual. Preferential treatment supports grouping
people together according to race and then judging them as
a whole. Dworkin agrees with Colvin when he says that
people have the right not to be disadvantaged because of
one's race alone. Many colleges set cutoff limits to the
applicants' scores that they admit. Some applicants that
barely fall below the line have much more dedication and
enthusiasm than those above the line, and would make better
students by these attributes. Unfortunately, these students
are not even considered because they are not looked at as
an individual, but judged solely by their scores. Now
imagine a situation similar to this where race is the
determinant of whether a person is accepted or not. If a
person were to be turned down from a college because of his
skin color before he was given a chance to be interviewed,
the college may loose a very smart student. Skin color
should not be used to group people because within one skin
color, many different kinds of people can be grouped
together. A possible alternative to this approach is
similar to it, but with one slight change-create a range
around the cutoff line where the students are considered on
an individual basis. Those inside this zone with admirable
qualities are accepted and those without are rejected. The
third objection that preferential treatment does not
violate people's rights is that a person has the right not
to be excluded, disadvantaged, or denied some good because
of race alone. In Bakki's case, Dworkin agrees that he
would have been accepted had he been a minority, but says
that he was not disadvantaged because of his race. He says
that Bakki would also have been accepted had he gotten
better test scores or had been younger, so his color is not
the only thing that kept him from being accepted. Here,
Dworkin is comparing apples and oranges. A person's color
is no determinant of whether he should be suitable for a
job, and neither should his age (although I will not
discuss this here). His knowledge is what is important. A
doctor should not be turned away because of his race or
because he may be a few years older than another, but he
may very well be turned away because he is not performing
his job to the necessary degree because he lacks the needed
knowledge. A person's color or age has nothing to do with
his intelligence. This is yet another weak argument given
by Dworkin. One more disadvantage to preferential
treatment is how people feel when they work with people who
have been helped by preferential treatment. If a black man
were to apply to medical school and be accepted only
because of his skin color, what kind of business would he
run if he were to make it out of medical school for the
same reasons? There would be a great disadvantage to giving
him a little extra leeway because of his race. During
college, he might not try as hard on his studies because he
knows he will make it by and therefore not gain all the
necessary information to be a good doctor. Then, after he
graduates and works with other doctors, he may not only
give his race a bad name by not knowing what he should have
learned in college, but he may also lose patients from
being misdiagnosed. It is clear that giving racial
preferences can lead to great problems in the future, and
should therefore not be used. Many people have explained
both advantages and disadvantages to preferential treatment
since the racial injustice campaign began in 1954. One of
whom is Ronald Dworkin, who spoke on the side for
preferential treatment. He argued that while decreasing
racial consciousness, it does not violate anyone's rights.
When trying to prove his side, he uses examples that are
uncharacteristic to racial preferences such as race being a
qualification for a job. Although Dworkin argues his point
well, he uses examples that just do not back up his beliefs
as well as they should and do not draw a distinct line of
why preferential treatment should be used. 


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