兼听则明，这篇文章选自《经济学人》的 Debate 板块。我们很喜欢这个板块，可以把公共议题拿到台面上讨论，多一些自由思想的碰撞，少一些教条的政治正确。最后，不是必须赞同哪一方的看法，你也应该有你自己的思考🤔
作者：Ella WhelanVS & Julia Rubin
译者：王津雨 & 赵萌萌
Should affirmative action be scrapped?
Julia Sass Rubin is an Associate Professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, and an Associate Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.
Affirmative action refers to efforts to provide equal opportunity in educational admissions, employment hiring, and promotion to those of different races, ethnicities, income levels and physical abilities. Affirmative action is necessary because our society is not meritocratic. In fact, preferential treatment based on income, race and ethnicity is the norm.
meritocratic /mɛrɪtəˈkrætɪk/ adj. A meritocratic society or social system gives people status or rewards because of what they achieve, rather than because of their wealth or social position. 任人唯才的; 以功绩定地位的
I write this as someone who has benefitted from those privileges. As a white, upper-middle class woman from a highly-educated family, I never had to worry about whether I would have enough to eat, a safe place to live, or would be able to see a doctor when ill. I never attended underfunded schools with unprepared teachers, inadequate textbooks, unsafe or dilapidated facilities, and fellow students who were hungry, traumatized by violence, or exhausted from holding down two jobs to help feed their families. My parents had the knowledge, time and ability to help me with my schoolwork or to open doors by connecting me with others in their social networks. Teachers and employers never assumed that I was not smart or competent because of my skin color, ethnicity or accent. These privileges provided me with many advantages over others who worked just as hard or perhaps even harder than I did but were not as fortunate.
In America, we could address such inequities through public policies, as we did for a short time in the 1960s and 70s. But we are not. Instead, income inequality is increasing dramatically, further limiting access to opportunities. And because income is very unevenly distributed by race and ethnicity, growing income inequality is exacerbating America’s already substantial racial and ethnic inequalities.
Affirmative action is also necessary because there is no “objective” way to compare candidates when admitting to universities or hiring for jobs. Supposedly meritocratic selection criteria actually reflect and reinforce our society’s inequities and prejudices, giving tremendous advantages to those already at the top. For example, multiple studies have confirmed that standardised test scores mirror family educational attainment and income, and that job and admission interviews are subject to numerous perceptual biases that favour in-group candidates. Since those doing the selecting are likely to be from more privileged groups, that means others like them have an edge. Only by acknowledging these biases and inequities, and structuring selection to consciously address them, can we make access to opportunities even remotely equitable.
There are many reasons to support affirmative action. Diversity of experiences, cultures, and ideas brings immense benefits to classrooms and work environments. For me, however, the most compelling reason to support affirmative action is equity. As an upper-middle class white person, I have benefited from our society’s de facto affirmative action for people like me. That is not right because the family you are born into should not dictate your life chances. I support affirmative action because I want the economic and demographic composition of an entering college class or a company’s workforce to reflect the broader population from which it is drawn rather than being skewed by privilege. I support affirmative action because everyone in our very unequal society should have an equal opportunity to succeed.
译者注：affirm 有offer (someone) emotional support or encouragement 的意思。所谓 affirmative action ，实质是权益分配向弱势群体倾斜。在政治运动的语境里译为“平权运动”没有问题，但这里翻成“权益分派”才准确。
Ella Whelan is a columnist for spiked magazine and author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism.
Life isn’t fair. So how do we change it? Support for affirmative action often comes from a genuine sense of injustice. Why shouldn’t life be fair? What can we do to make life fairer for those who draw the short straws?
However, it often tends to be the richest, whitest, most privileged people who worry about affirmative action. It’s a desire that’s less about the needs of the disadvantaged, and more about easing the guilt of those who’ve done pretty well. In this way, calls for affirmative action often end up acting as a means of self-flagellation for the better off. Isn’t it interesting that the most vocal supporters of affirmative action are often university students or public intellectuals?
Perhaps it’s because affirmative action feels a little insulting to those of us who aren’t part of the much-maligned pale, male and stale group. It’s more commonly known as a leg-up—suggesting ethnic minorities, women, the disabled or the working class have short legs in the first place. As well as this, there’s a danger of fetishising diversity. Some have argued in the comments that diversity is a good in itself. But that suggests a concrete difference between identities—what do women bring to the table that men don’t? A softness? Femininity? In fetishising diversity, we often stray dangerously close to stereotypes.
much-maligned: If you describe someone or something as much-maligned, you mean that they are often criticized by people, but you think the criticism is unfair or exaggerated because they have good qualities too. 被过度中伤的
pale, male and stale: means a complaint about any organization dominated by old white men. 年老的白人男性
stray /streɪ/ v. to start thinking or talking about a different subject from the one you should be giving attention to 偏离、背离、离题
But what really clinches the argument for me—and what I’ve seen some of the comments touch on throughout the week—is that affirmative action suggests we need to be told to be good to each other. It’s rooted in the same kind of politics which believes in things like unconscious bias or microaggressions. Supporters of affirmative action believe that minorities need help, but the rest of us need help, too, to overcome our implicit racism. Without the threat of legal action if we don’t fill our quotas, there’s no way we’ll hire a woman of colour or a gay wheelchair user. If it weren’t for the gentle push of policy, we’d be a nation of bigots. One comment asked whether white males would give up their space for black females. If they didn’t, would that mean they were racist? Instead of redistributing wealth and opportunity based on identity, why not create new jobs, new opportunities and new systems which include everyone?
clinch /klɪntʃ/ v confirm or settle (sth) finally 最终确定或解决（某事物）
touch on: to talk about someone or something but without saying much about them 提及
microaggression: a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group.
bigot /ˋbɪɡət/ n person who holds strong (esp religious or political) beliefs and opinions, and is intolerant of anyone who disagrees 偏执的人（尤指在宗教信仰或政治方面）
The misanthropy behind affirmative action—the mistrust of society—does a disservice to the merit and talent of those it patronises, and is an insulting indictment on those it intends to instruct. Affirmative action suggests that, without elite beneficiaries, the only people who will excel are the white and rich in society. Instead of rowing over who gets the handout at Harvard, why not campaign to change the quality of education throughout America? Rather than promoting women over men for board positions, why not provide better childcare provisions so that more women are free to come back to work sooner? If we want to make the world a fairer place, we should stop seeing minorities as less capable and put some energy into a collective commitment to change society for the better—and for all.
misanthropy /mɪs`ænθrəpi/ n. the feeling of disliking people and avoiding their company 厌世主义
disservice /dɪsˋsəvɪs/ n ~ (to sb/sth) [C, U] harmful or unhelpful action 损害; 危害; 伤害
row /raʊ/ verb [I] MAINLY UK INFORMAL to argue, especially loudly 争吵，争论。