In the most recent Republican debate, Ron Paul gave an interesting line of reasoning. He said he did not agree with terms like gay rights or women’s right. He felt we should not try to specify rights to different groups of people but rather everyone should just be equal. He argues we just need liberty for all. That sounds all right, but then he proceeded to say because we should all have equal rights things like affirmative action are wrong. However, the problem with his rational for getting rid of affirmative action is that not everyone is treated equal. We call it gay rights because gay people do not have certain rights, which heterosexual people do have i.e. the right to get married.
The whole reason we have terms like gay rights or women’s rights is because those groups are not treated equal. They do not have equal opportunities. So Ron Paul’s idea that we should just treat everyone as equal would be great in an ideal world. However, our society is not ideal and the fact still remains many groups are either discriminated against, not given equal chances or do not have equal opportunities to succeed.
Since all persons do not have the same opportunities it makes policies like affirmative action become necessary. It is no secret the current education system has its flaws. In general the quality of education differs greatly between high-income and low-income school districts. This means not all students are being given the same opportunity to succeed. Also many of those students tend to be minorities who benefit from affirmative action. The whole goal of affirmative action is to correct the problem of inequality. It gives those students an opportunity they would not normally receive and then gives them the ability to create a new generation with a higher standard of living. This new generation should in theory have the same opportunities as everyone else. Therefore getting rid of the need for things like affirmative action.
So it is not the fact that we do not see everyone as equal that has created affirmative action, as Dr. Paul seems to believe. Rather because there actually is inequality in our society that affirmative action becomes necessary. It is necessary to eventually create a society where people are not discriminated against and they have equal chances and opportunities. Until that happens though it is the role of government to step in and help the problem.