Last month, an "affirmative action bake sale" was organized by the Conservative Coalition for American Values, a student group "aimed at promoting conservative values on Purdue University's Campus." The point was to "raise awareness" about affirmative action, by selling baked items for different prices to people with different identities. The group posted the following video about the event at YouTube.
The largest recipients of affirmative action have actually been women, especially white women. The Conservative Coalition students do seem to acknowledge that fact, by offering differently priced goods for "Caucasian Men" and "Caucasian Women." But notice how in this video, the conservative students present the issue of affirmative action as if it's all about race, and nothing else.
This is another instance of white people doing what they often accuse non-white people of doing--"playing the race card." In fact, I would call this bake sale (and others like it) "race-baiting" events, because identity-based preference happens in terms of many other categories besides race or ethnicity.
When most white Americans hear the term "affirmative action," the one relevant identity category that immediately comes to mind is "race." These conservative students are promoting this oversimplified and divisive association between the two terms, and they're also diverting attention from other common forms of college-admissions and hiring preference (they're ignoring the ongoing legacy of de facto historical preferences for whites as well).
As I said above, most white Americans don't seem to realize that the primary recipients of affirmative action have been white women. The single-minded focus on preferences for racial minorities is the kind of false "common sense" that recently led many white American voters to suspect that race-based preference accounts for much of Barack Obama's success. A sad irony is that in the process, they often overlooked how gender-based preference clearly did account for Sarah Palin's presence at the side of John McCain.
Aside from the prevalence of gender preferences for women, and of de facto racial preferences for white Americans in general, another fact apparently unknown or ignored by this conservative student group is that in the realm of university admissions, a wide variety of applicants receive preference based on who they are. These include children of alumni (also known as "legacy admissions") and, ironically enough, men.
Applicants whose parents and/or grandparents attended a school are commonly favored, in the hopes that their parents will donate money to the school. Male applicants are sometimes favored as well, because female students tend to outnumber male students. Some schools also grant preference based on where students are from, because they seek "geographic diversity," and others grant preference to military veterans and people with disabilities.
The politically conservative students who organize such events believe that, as one student says in the video, "It's not the American way to help someone just because they're different." But if that's what they believe, then why are they so obsessed in these "affirmative action bake sales" with race, when many other forms of identity-based preference exist as well?
One thing's for sure--that obstinate obsession with race exemplifies the same delusional condition that's imposed on most white people by their racial status. This is a pathology, and it takes the form of a false, fantasized view of the social world, and of how it actually works.