The Instigator
Pro (for)
35 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

On balance, affirmative action in the United States is desirable

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 12/7/2015 Category: Arts
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 16,011 times Debate No: 82303
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (262)
Votes (7)




First round is for acceptance. No new arguments in the final round.

"Affirmative action" refers to "policies that offer individuals affiliated with a beneficiary group a preference over others in competitions for employment, education, or other valued resources."


Evidently, I accept.

I thank my esteemed opponent, FourTrouble, for considering me worthy of challenge.

I wish him everything but victory =)
Debate Round No. 1


In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., observed: “Our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years. How then can he be absorbed into the mainstream of American life if we do not do something special for him now, in order to balance the equation and equip him to compete on a just and equal basis?” [1]

Echoing King’s question throughout, I will argue that affirmative action is generally desirable because it redresses past wrongs, creates diversity, facilitates integration, and counters ongoing racism/sexism. When taken together, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts, this case will show that affirmative action is not only a valuable tool in our ongoing struggle against racial injustice, but also a powerful vehicle to create a better, more just, society.

Before I turn to these arguments, a word on burdens. This is a normative topic, so the burdens of persuasion are equal on both sides. I must show that affirmative action in the United States is generally desirable. Con must show the opposite. However, that doesn’t mean I need to show affirmative action is desirable in all cases. The words "on balance" mean the resolution only requires that I show desirability more often than not (i.e. 51% of the time). The debate is also limited to affirmative action as implemented in the United States. So we’re not talking about whether affirmative action is beneficial in other countries, to other people, according to the norms in other societies. Having said that, onto my arguments:

(1) Reparatory Justice

Almost every black person in the United States has been the direct or indirect victim of past racial wrongs. For instance, anyone who attended segregated schools prior to Brown v. Board of Education, or who attended the many schools that remained segregated after Brown, are direct victims of racial injustice. Others are indirect victims – as the destructive vestiges of past oppression continue on, through education deficits caused by decades of inferior schooling, through the absence of inherited financial wealth, the absence of friends or relatives who offer useful job connections, and through institutional racism that persists in the interstices of our antidiscrimination laws.

Affirmative action seeks to redress these wrongs. It effectively “balances the equation,” “levels the playing field,” helping rectify, at least partially, injuries that continue to put certain racial minorities at a competitive disadvantage.

Why attempt to redress these wrongs? Because an essential element of justice is righting wrongs to the extent reasonable. And because it’s the only way to end racial injustice – for leaving past wrongs unaddressed often has the unintentional effect of perpetuating these wrongs, or even creating new wrongs. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized this problem, explaining that “if a man is entering the starting line in a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his fellow runner.” [1] Failing to actively rectify past racial wrongs continues to put racial minorities at a competitive advantage, so merely ending invidious discrimination isn’t enough.

(2) Diversity

Nobody disputes the value of diversity. It is repeatedly emphasized across academia, the government, the military, and America’s leading businesses.

In particular, studies show that diverse teams are better at solving a variety of problems than homogenous groups, even when homogenous groups are rated higher on standard ability measures. [2] These results aren’t surprising. Diversity produces different perspectives, different knowledges, and different inferences about cause and effect. Integrating these different perspectives boosts creativity, productivity, and excellence. In educational contexts, diverse classrooms result in a more fully informed classroom discussion, ultimately leading to better learning outcomes. Studies even show that cities with diverse populations experience greater economic growth, artistic surges, and other indicators of productivity. [2] The benefits of diversity thus apply in almost any context.

In pursuing diversity as a goal, affirmative action policies are fundamentally meritocratic. Minority candidates are chosen over apparently superior white candidates because these minority candidates are actually better qualified when we take into account their unique perspective. Professor Rodney Smolla notes that diversity, in effect, “does the institution a favor, enriches the institution, brings to it the positive asset of new perspectives … the institution needs the applicant more than the applicant needs the institution.” [3] At bottom, then, diversity brings something to the table that white candidates simply cannot offer.

(3) Integration

As a democracy, the legitimacy of our government depends on ensuring that the multiracial character of the United States is reflected in all its key institutions. That’s why President Clinton wanted to make his cabinet “look like America.” And it’s why the Supreme Court has emphasized that “effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civil life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized.” [4] This type of integration shows the public that our government cares about all Americans, including minorities who for various reasons find themselves marginalized. In facilitating such integration, affirmative action thus knits together our deeply divided society and promotes our government’s legitimacy.

(4) Ongoing Racism/Sexism

In a recent Supreme Court decision upholding affirmative action, Justice Ginsburg stressed the stubborn persistence of racism: “it is well documented that conscious and unconscious race bias, even rank discrimination based on race, remain alive in our land.” [4] Sexism, too, still exerts a pervasive influence on women’s socioeconomic opportunities, interpersonal interactions, media imagery, and institutional processes.

To be sure, our laws prohibit invidious discrimination in the workplace, housing, education, and other contexts. But these laws aren’t enough: (a) protecting one’s rights through litigation is expensive, emotionally taxing, and requires an immense amount of time, effort, and resources that many individuals simply don’t have; and (b) institutional racism and sexism persists in the interstices of the law, gaps that the law cannot reach. Throughout history, racists and sexists have somehow found a way to express their racism and sexism despite antidiscrimination laws. The most visible example today is police shootings: young black males are at 21 times greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts. [5] And blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though usage among blacks and whites is comparable. [6] Or consider this fact: full-time women only earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, a significant gap with significant consequences over a lifetime of work. [7]

Affirmative action helps counter ongoing racism and sexism, and in doing so, helps prevent further racism/sexism.


In short, affirmative action in the United States is generally desirable to redress past wrongs, create diversity, facilitate integration, increase legitimacy, and counter ongoing racism/sexism. Taken together, these points show that affirmative action promotes a better, more inclusive, productive, creative, equal, fair, and just society.

In response, Con will probably argue that affirmative action is “reverse discrimination.” Or maybe Con will argue something else, something so stupid that I can’t even fathom it. I’ll save my rebuttal for the next round. But as you read through Con’s arguments, keep Martin Luther King’s observations in mind – and focus on the both the big picture and the actual facts, not meaningless abstractions like “reverse discrimination.” Ask yourself: what is the alternative? Would you actually prefer a world in which no affirmative action programs had ever been pursued?



1. Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

2. Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies


4. Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003)






Thank you, FourTrouble. I will present rebuttals in the following round. For now, I will construct my own case.

Negation Case:

Premise: The cost of affirmative-action

Costs, according to the Center for the Study of American Business [8]:

  • $6.5 billion to the private sector in Affirmative-action grievances alone
  • $1.7 billion to Federal agencies to enforce affirmative-action
  • $21.4 billion to the private sector in total compliance costs

Further cost resides in the form of ‘opportunity cost’, of which Brimelow and Spencer, cited in the Helen Suzman Foundation, found to be a staggering $236 billion, all in one year alone [6]. This opportunity cost refers to the revenue lost, due to the increased drop-out and lower-capability facets of affirmative-action students, when compared to non-affirmative-action students.

It is Pro’s requirement that justification be provided for these exorbitant expenses. In my Negation Arguments, I will make use of these realities.

Negation Arguments:

Arguments in relation to minority affirmative-action recipients (i.e. African-Americans, Hispanics etc.)

Link 1: Affirmative-action hurts minorities

According to the Stanford Alumni (quoting Herrnstein and Murray’s, The Bell Curve), there is a substantial, average gap between African-American and White accepted applicants of 171 SAT points [1]. In terms of university admission, this can translate into statistics such as the ones found at Princeton University, wherein if affirmative-action were to be abolished, the 33.7 acceptance rate for African-Americans would fall to 12.2 percent. Incidently, the Hispanic acceptance rate would fall from 26.8 percent to 12.9 [2]. Furthermore, within the same source, with affirmative-action abolished, minority student admittance to the University of Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School plummeted 66 per cent from the previous year’s figures. Evidently, affirmative-action promotes unfit minority candidates *well above* their recorded ability level.

These conclusions are supported by Sander’s research, of which comes from the UCLA law school where Sander works at: minority students were exceedingly representative of the bottom ten percent of the class – only one in four passed [3].

Therefore, due to this mismatch in ability-level, is should be of no surprise that in Sander and Taylor’s Mismatch, referenced in The Daily Beast, it is argued that minority students are disadvantaged by [3]:

  1. Being less prepared for classwork, and therefore much more likely to drop-out anyway
  2. Being more likely to flunk the professional certifications required to make-use of their degree

Evidently, working at *well above* ability-level causes great stress, anxiety and failure in minority groups (indicated by racial-minority students having the lowest confidence-rates in themselves [14]), of which, due to the inflated perception of their ability, are seemingly unable to remedy.

Vicious circle: Furthermore, minorities experience self-doubt and self-esteem issues, according to a report by David Dodenhoff. Thus, affirmative-action students tend to prefer “easier” majors and drop-out of school at much higher rates, as corroborated with Stanford’s and Sander’s statistics. However, the issue never ceases as due to the selection of easier majors and higher drop-out rates, stereotypes are reinforced, which leads to, you guessed it: selection of easier majors and higher drop-out rates [4]. In fact, a paper by Antonovics and Sander [7] found that *without* affirmative-action, minority students are *more likely* to accept offers from universities, due to a release from this vicious circle. Thanks to affirmative-action, this vicious spiral continues to lower self-esteem and increase self-doubt amongst minority students as a collective.

Affirmative action incites entitlement (which creates unhappiness): However, despite receiving preference, affirmative-action does not satisfy even those who it is meant to help but instead sparks racial tension *in those whom benefit*. From an official Gallup Poll, it was recorded that, “three in four blacks believe that they do not have equal job opportunities in [America]” [5].

Link 2: Affirmative-action hurts high-performing students, and leads to racial violence

Asian people, since affirmative-action largely benefits Hispanic and Black people, are negatively affected by this discrimination (which, ironically, is designed to curb discrimination). In a Princeton University report, citing figures for the University of Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School, Asian admittance rates drop from 23 percent to 18 percent, if affirmative-action were used. These percentages are based on a sample-size of 45,000 Ivory League applicants, which is an enormous sample-size [2].

Discrimination breeds racial tension: From this, the impact is that Asians feel discriminated against and have less faith in the system. As David Dodenhoff suggests in his report: “[blacks, whites, Asians and all other racial groups] begin to resent the individuals and groups they perceive to benefit from such policies” [4]. Fostering deleterious division, as affirmative-action does, leads to tension amongst racial groups, of which can cause racial crime. Indeed, as a Gallup Poll suggested, whilst 72% of African Americans support affirmative-action, 49% of White Americans *opposed* affirmative-action [5]. A poll by the Pew Research Center corroborated this view: 62% of Americans disagreed with the statement that we should give "preferential treatment" to minorities, while only 33% agreed” [15].

Racial tension divides communities: In Frank Salter’s novel, On genetic interests: family, ethny, and humanity in an age of mass migration, he argues, “Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism” [16]. As racial tension strikes a community, as it becomes less homogeneous, it becomes less caring, less friendly and less stable, making it a worse place to live in.

Racial tension leads to violence: Especially since affirmative action leads entitlement, (“three in four blacks believe that they do not have equal job opportunities in [America]” [5]), it is no surprise that when entitlements are not met, minorities lose faith in the system, and racial violence erupts. An example includes, but are not limited to, the 2015 Baltimore Riots, wherein 20 police officers were injured, 285-350 businesses damaged, 150 vehicle fires and 60 structure fires, to name a few of the scary results [17]. Racial violence means serious community divides, terror and wasted governmental money (to mend the destruction).

Arguments in relation to non-minority affirmative-action recipients (i.e. women)

Link 3: Affirmative-action encourages women into jobs they have little interest in

Women are naturally interested in people-orientated professions: From an enormous sample-size of 200,000 from over 52 countries, Richard Lippa found that, “Men are much more orientated to the ‘thing-orientated’ occupations [(i.e. science, engineering etc.)]. Women, relatively, are much more orientated towards the people professions” [9]. Further, damning corroboration is found in the documentary, Brainwash, in the words of Trond Diseth of Oslo Univerisity. Trond, who works with, “children with deformed genitals”, can determine (with near 100% accuracy) biological sex in recently-birthed children, merely by observing which toy the child gravitates to [10, time: 17:26]. Evidently, women have a *biological* preference towards people and people-orientated professions.

Attempting to stymie women’s biological interests is expensive: Programs and organisations that push women towards certain professions, such as the ‘Steminist’ organisation, arouse sexist policies, such as ‘gender quotas’ so that there is a push towards ‘gender equality’ in the workforce. As cited earlier in my premise, the costs could hardly be seen to be worth pushing women into jobs they are not really interested in.

Men are heavily discriminated against: The other impact is this. Gender quotas, backed by U.S. President Barrack Obama [12], dictate that a certain number of women are *required* to be in STEM fields, or else the colleges whom do not meet these ‘gender quotas’ are reprimanded ($6.5 Billion in affirmative-action grievances alone [8]) [11]. However, a true indication of how heavily men are discriminated against, thanks to affirmative-action, comes in the form of discussions (involving Barrack Obama) about how ‘limiting male enrolment into science fields’ may be necessary, in order to curb, ironically, sexual discrimination [13].

Such blatant misandry results in the unfair treatment of men all over America, of which will be aggravating and depressing for those who realise, and contradicts the intentions of affirmative-action (i.e. this sexism against men does not fight sexism. Rather, it blatantly advocates for it).

Summary of Impacts


- Costs a lot of money (especially in terms of opportunity cost)

- Causes high-rates of anxiety, self-esteem issues, unhappiness (due to entitlement) and higher rates of failure, in regards to racial-minorities

- Causes racial tension (in both affirmative-action *and* non-affirmative action students), which whilst a bad thing in itself, also leads to racial violence

- Wastes money attempting to persuade women to defy their natural inclinations

- Is blatantly sexist against men

For these reason, I offer you a negation of the resolution.



















Debate Round No. 2


Con’s shamble of a case consists of four claims: (a) affirmative action costs the government and businesses billions of dollars, (b) affirmative action harms minorities, (c) affirmative action causes racial tension, and (d) affirmative action is sexist. Each argument fails for the same reason: it’s bull all the way down.

(a) Economic Costs

Con exaggerates the economic costs and ignores the economic benefits. Her source says $1.7 billion is spent on workplace regulations, not affirmative action regulations, and $21.4 billion is spent complying with those workplace regulations. To be sure, these regulations cover affirmative action in the workplace, but it’s a tiny fraction of the total costs. These regulatory/compliance costs are also non-unique, as there’s going to be regulatory/compliance costs whether affirmative action is pursued or not.

The $236 billion “opportunity cost” (Con’s word) is also bull. Con’s source says it’s the result of “bad hiring decisions” and “negative effects on morale,” not "increased drop-outs." But the notion that for-profit businesses actively sacrifice $236 billion dollars per year because of affirmative action is downright absurd. After all, there’s a reason that every leading business in America supports affirmative action, and it’s because the economic benefits of affirmative action hiring significantly outweigh whatever risks it entails. Con simply fails to take into account the benefits of diversity (see R2). Con’s source is also egregiously outdated (it’s from 1991, when affirmative action looked nothing like today), offers no data to support any of its assumptions/estimates, and even if it had, there’s no way to quantify, with even a modicum of precision or consistency, the so-called “opportunity cost” of “bad hiring decisions” and “negative effects on morale.”

(b) Minority Harms

Con suggests four harms to minorities: overpromotion, less black lawyers, more self-doubt, stress, and anxiety among minorities, and discrimination again Asians. I’ll address each in turn.

Overpromotion. Con’s argument suffers from what philosopher Michael Sandel calls “the smug assumption … that success is the crown of virtue.” [8] The truth is we learn more from our failures than our successes. There’s value in reaching for something beyond ourselves, in stretching ourselves past our present capacities. As T.S. Eliot wrote: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Or as Thomas Edison famously quipped: “I make more mistakes than anyone I know. And eventually I patent them.” So even if some minorities struggle more at higher-tier schools, they also undoubtedly learn and grow more through that struggle.

Professor Ian Ayres confirms this point, noting that “most overmatched students” are “carried along to more success.” This happens, in part, because overmatched students “may be mentored and inspired by their better-credentialed peers or teachers, or obtain the advantage of greater institutional commitment of resources.” [9] Similarly, Professor David Wilkins observes that students at higher-tier schools are “granted a lifetime membership in the elite networks to which the graduates of such institutions automatically belong,” as well as “a visible and durable credential that they can use to signal to employers that they have received all of the valuable goods that elite schools provide.” [10]

Unsurprisingly, then, most minorities choose to attend higher-tier schools despite having below average SAT or LSAT scores, because they recognize the immense benefit of attending a higher-tier school. They also recognize that their lower test scores are often the result of circumstances beyond their control: lack of caring parents, attentive teachers, a decent neighborhood, or test-prep courses. As Derek Bok explains, “black matriculants are … in the best position to weigh the pros and cons. The data are universal. Black students do not seem to think they have been harmed as a result of attending selective colleges with race-sensitive policies.” [11] And to the extent someone thinks they’re worse off at a better school, they’re free to attend (or transfer to) a lower-tier school. Affirmative action doesn’t force anyone to attend higher-tier schools; it simply provides the opportunity.

Less black lawyers. [12] Con cites Richard Sander’s discredited analysis of affirmative action in the context of law schools. Recent studies reveal that Sander made several false assumptions and exaggerated the “mismatch” effects in law schools. When interpreted correctly, the data shows that affirmative action “is pivotal in achieving racial diversity in law schools, and that any mismatch effects are concentrated among students who would not be admitted to any law school without preferences.” In the absence of affirmative action, “all but the least selective schools would enroll one-third to one-half fewer black students than they do today.” As a result, “many potentially successful black law students would be excluded, far more than the number who would be induced to pass the bar exam by the elimination of mismatch effects.” [13] Affirmative action thus leads to significantly more (and better trained) black lawyers.

Con also mistakes the baseline goal of affirmative action. It’s not to create as many black lawyers/professionals as possible, it’s to advance society and the black community as a whole. That goal is furthered by an admissions process that gets the largest number of blacks into top-tier schools, where they have a better chance of going on to become partners at major firms or to serve in the upper echelons of government. Moreover, it’s better for the black community to promote diversity, to facilitate transracial learning, and to instill a sense of multiracial solidarity, at all schools, not just lower-tier schools. So even assuming arguendo that affirmative action somehow decreases the number of black professionals, the benefits of affirmative action still outweigh that harm twice over.

Self-doubt. There’s no evidence that affirmative action causes stress, anxiety, or self-doubt. Con hasn’t even show there’s a correlation here, much less an actual causal chain. For instance, Con’s [4] doesn’t offer a single piece of reliable evidence – it’s just an “opinion” piece with no supporting data or citations whatsoever. Even worse, Con’s [14] shows that minorities in high school, not college, experience greater stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. That alone disproves any notion that affirmative action is causing these problems. And to the extent there’s something causing self-doubt among minorities, a better explanation is that it’s the institutional racism that minorities face on a day-to-day basis. Affirmative action helps solve that problem (see R2).

Asians. Con ignores the variability of the Asian American community, which includes many poorer subgroups (e.g. persons of Laotian, Cambodian, and Hmong ancestry). If you look at the data underlying Con’s source (from Espenshade’s study), it shows that upper-class Asian students don’t benefit from affirmative action admissions, but underrepresented Asian ethnicities that come from lower-income families actually have a higher probability of being accepted compared with students of other races. This shows that current affirmative action policies actually benefit underrepresented Asian students raised in lower-income homes. [14]

(c) Racial Tension

There's no evidence that affirmative action has any causal relationship with racial tension or racial violence. True, some white candidates (and maybe some Asian candidates) "feel" mistreated by affirmative action programs. But this "perception" rests on a misunderstanding of affirmative action and university admissions, and it's a minor social cost compared with the benefits of affirmative action.

First, the perception of mistreatment is usually wrong. Goodwin Liu has demonstrated that most rejected whites would have been turned down in the absence of affirmative action, and more than half would also have been turned down had they been black. The reason for this is because there are simply so many whites competing for each particular seat in a class. Thus, Liu found that “the admission of minority applicants and the rejection of white applicants are largely independent events." [15]

Second, affirmative action isn't a form of invidious racial discrimination. It doesn't send a message that whites are an inferior race. Rather, it's a collective effort to address a major social problem (see R2 on reparatory justice). There's nothing wrong or unfair about enlisting the help of all Americans in addressing that problem.

Third, universities dont exist to reward "merit," independently defined. Admission is only justified insofar as it contributes to the social purpose the university serves, and that purpose may legitimately include racial rectification.

So to the extent some whites feel mistreated by affirmative action, they're wrong. At most, thiat perception is a minor social cost that's completely outweighed by the benefits of affirmative action.

Also, Con randomly cites a novel for the claim that homogenous societies are better. But see R2: diverse societes are better on every level.

(d) Sexism

In the United States, women are free to pursue whatever careers they want. Affirmative action simply creates greater opportunity for them to do that. At bottom, it doesn't encourage/require women to do anything. Con also says something about quotas. But in the United States, quotas are illegal. So quotas are outside the scope of this debate.



8. Michael Sandel, Justice




12. Con’s source only discusses "mismatch" in law schools. So I only discuss that context.






Thanks to the opposition.


Addressing: Preamble

With all due respect, my opponent’s preamble is poor use of your time. Referring to a quote has zero impact on the debate, and explaining the resolution in rudimentary detail implicates that my opponent perhaps thinks poorly of your capacity to comprehend debate implications. This should strike as offensive to you, the voter, who spends your valuable time adjudicating debates. Spoken lowly to in condescension is not worthy of your time. I, however, promise not to waste your valuable time with such inanity.

Addressing: Reparatory Justice

The opposition’s argument here is self-refuting.
The notion that “past wrongs” are rectified by creating future wrong (i.e. racism against, non-affirmative-action Whites, Jews and Asians), is a self-defeating aspect of the opposition’s case. The opposition claims to correct “racial wrong”, by, well, creating further racial wrongs! In other words, as I demonstrated previously, non-affirmative-action students suffer greatly at the hands of my opponent’s myopic retribution, via way of *biased* racial preference. Talk about hypocrisy! Affirmative-action, whilst failing to help racial minorities (see my Negation Arguments), is also disguised, racial hatred against Whites, Jews (as if they need more) and Asians.

Furthermore, if we wish to humor the opponent’s thinly-veiled justification for racism, how would racial discrimination against Whites, Jews, Asians and other non-affirmative-action recipients “rectify” the past? The past, by definition, happened previously. Does my opponent laughably think that by granting university entrance more readily to an African American, a slave of the past unpicks a field of cotton? Nonsense. I suppose my opponent would advocate for “reparatory justice” for the Mexicans, due to the actions of the Spanish Conquistadors, despite this happening approximately 500 years ago! Or how about the Egyptians, demanding that Greece accept thousands of Egyptian students over Greeks, due to the work of Alexander the Great 1000s of years previously? You see, the people clambering for affirmative-action today were *not* even affected by it!

Justice, in reality, would be ensuring equal opportunity for all regardless of race (of which I advocate), not equal results to fulfil a racist’s desires.

Addressing: Diversity

My opponent equivocates when citing his first study. I have not the faintest idea how differences in race lead to better problem solving abilities, and this is largely because the term “diverse teams” is not specific to “racial diversity” of which this debate is covering. Have you ever heard of an affirmative-action advocate, arguing in favor of promoting those of thug-life culture? Neither have I. If anything, my opponent argues for cultural diversity, *not* racial diversity, of which the latter the resolution addresses.

The second cited piece is perhaps an attempt at humour by the opposition. Apparently, a Professor “notes” something about affirmative-action, and therefore it’s a valid argument. Further hilarity ensues when the opposition claims that affirmative-action is “meritocratic”, as if “pursuing diversity as a goal” (i.e. wanting distinct people) is more valid than pursuing those of competency (i.e. high-marks on the SAT test).

Now for actual evidence/studies; the negatives of diversity are bolded:

Professor Robert Putnam of the prestigious Harvard University completed a study, in which he interviewed a staggering 30,000 people from multifarious parts of America. He came to the conclusions that when diversity increased in communities: fewer people volunteered, smaller sums were given to charity and work for community projects, civic health declined, and people had roughly half the trust in other people (when compared to people from homogenous communities) [18]. In the classroom setting, this translates to a less charitable, less healthy, less trusting environment.

Further evidence of diversity come in the form of Professor J.P Rushton’s scholarly work, in which his researched report concludes, “Since individuals have a greater concentration of genetic interest (inclusive fitness) in their own ethnic group than they do in other ethnic groups, they can be expected to adopt ideas that promote their group over others” [19]. Thus, increases in diversity merely exacerbate these genetic interests, which leads to racial tension/division in the classroom (which is bad within itself, and can lead to violence).

Addressing: [Forced] Integration

The opponent’s advocation here is that there must be equal results (“ensuring that the multiracial character of the United States is reflected in all its key institutions), rather than (as I have purported), equal opportunity. As I demonstrated with 171 SAT point gap, increased fail-rates of racial minorities and the vicious circle of lowered self-confidence(under Link 1), even with affirmative-action implemented, show that the opponent’s advocation fails to sprout into fruition. Clearly, *forced* integration simply does not work. Rather, *equal opportunity* (i.e. non-affirmative-action) is obviously far more beneficial, for both minority and majority racial groups, as evidenced by my Negation Case.

Addressing: On going Racism/Sexism

The opponent’s quote of a court is nothing more than an appeal to authority. Instead of lending our minds to be slaves to others, let us look at the facts ourselves, and we will see if the conclusion is reasonable.

My opponent, in comical discombobulation, makes my argument for me! Yes, Pro, I agree that “[U.S. laws prohibit invidious discrimination in the workplace, housing etc.” Thank you very much! From this, enforcement of these laws would solve the apparent problems for the first two issues which the opposition raises.

Increased black shootings

How does the opponent suppose allowing underqualified students into universities amends the increased rate in black shootings? Are affirmative-action students supposed to wear their diplomas on their chests to stop the bullets? I am beyond baffled at this non-sequitur.

More likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana

Again, even if this is the case, why is this issue not amended with actions which affect it, rather than irrelevant changes in preferences in matriculation?

Wage-pay gap

My opponent poisons this debate with misinformation. The reason there is a wage-pay gap is that the people whom purport it do not incorporate variables into the data in which they derive the statistic.

When controlled for variables, such as hours worked, education, experience, occupation, union states etc., the wage-pay gap shrinks to ~5-6% (i.e. women earn 95 cents to a man’s dollar) [20] [21]. Why? The reason is that those who purport the 77 cent to 100 cents, for example, compare the average wage of a part-time female primary school teacher, to that of a male petroleum-mining executive.

But the remainder is indicative of sexism, right? Incorrect. The Stockholm School of Economics released a paper detailing how, according to their study, 42% of males negotiate pay, whilst only 28% of the females did. This capacity to negotiate higher pay certainly accounts for a fraction, if not the whole, of the remaining gender wage-pay gap [22]. This result is corroborated with the fact that women are far more likely to be satisfied, if not easily satisfied with their job, hence the tendency not to push for higher wages. According to The New York Times, the amount of money which makes men say, “I hate my job,” is the annual salary of ~$52,000 at which women say they are “extremely satisfied” [23].

So, by championing reverse-sexism against men with clearly faulty statistics, my opponent champions sexual discrimination against men.

Actual racial distinctions

Rather than slathering the entirety of racial discrepancies with a label of “institutional racism”, perhaps a more intelligent approach would be to consider other possible causes of higher incarceration rates and lower university admittance.
In terms of genetics, Rushton and Jensen’s work, involving MRI scans of 3 year old children, found that racial differences in I.Q. already emerged, despite a lacking of what my opponent calls “institutional racism” [24]. Furthermore, corroborated with a plethora of other studies they cite, the average I.Q. score for African Americans is 85, and around 106 for East Asians and 100 for Whites. From this, it is plausible that significant differences in academic results are a result of these cognitive discrepancies.

Summary of rebuttals

Reparatory justice: Racism is not rectified with more racism. In fact, past racial injustices cannot be rectified, for they happened 100s of years ago *in the past*.

Diversity: My opponent offers not a shred of evidence that *racial diversity* is of value. Furthermore, I demonstrate, using actual research, that racial diversity leads to classroom environments in which participants are: less trusting of each other, less healthy, less charitable and harbor greater amounts of racial tension/division.

[Forced] Integration: I advocate equal opportunity, where my opponent argues for harmful equal results. My entire Negation Case is the impact.

On going Racism/Sexism: My opponent offers several non-sequiturs, and then makes a colossal blunder in arguing that there is a pay-gap (to which, with my answer, I gain serious negation on the resolution). I also offer an alternative theory to racial differences in academic results, as opposed to my opponent’s: it’s all institutional racism.


[18] Putnam, R. (2006). E Pluribus Unum:Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First. [no publisher found] Vol.30(2), pp.137-174
Debate Round No. 3


I’ll start with a quote. This one is from a recent Supreme Court decision in which Justice Sonia Sotomayor makes the case for affirmative action far more eloquently than I possibly could:

“Race matters. Race matters because of persistent racial inequality in society—inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities. And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, ‘No, where are you really from?’, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’ [So] the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race. We ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.” [16]

Con’s Rebuttals

Most of them don't actually address the substance of what I argued. I'll go over the main points.

Reparatory Justice. Con ignores my argument that the destructive vestiges of past racial wrongs continue to put nearly every black person in America at a competitive disadvantage when compared with whites. Instead, Con asserts that affirmative action is racist. But to say affirmative action is somehow racist misunderstands its nature. It doesn’t send a message that whites are an inferior race, it doesn’t humiliate, ostracize, or stigmatize white, and it doesn’t express any racial contempt or other negative prejudice towards whites. Rather, it simply acknowledges that race still matters. In fact, the story of affirmative action is largely the story of whites choosing to increase the number of blacks in key institutions, with the consequence of decreasing the number of whites. And whites have done this for reasons that have nothing to do with putting themselves down because of their race.

Diversity. Con offers no reason to prefer conventional meritocratic criteria over a holistic approach that takes into account circumstances beyond grades and SAT scores. Con asserts that the benefits of diversity are limited to "cultural diversity," but my source specifically speaks about the benefits of "racial diversity." Robert Putnam, Con's own source, also confirms that racial diversity has demonstrable benefits. True, Putnam’s research shows that there are short-term obstacles (e.g. a reduction in social solidarity) to acquiring the long-term benefits of diversity in neighborhoods. But Putnam repeatedly stresses that the “important cultural, economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits” of diversity are worth pursuing despite that short-term cost. And Putnam emphasized that his results were exclusive to diversity in neighborhoods; in the context of universities, workplaces, the government, and especially the military, the benefits of diversity are immediate (i.e. there aren't any short-term obstacles). [Con’s 18] No surprise, then, that Putnam not only supports affirmative action but has submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing in favor of affirmative action precisely because of its diversity benefits. [17]

Integration. Con drops my argument that integration increases the legitimacy of our multiracial democracy. And Con drops my argument that affirmative action helps facilitate integration. I never said anything about forced integration. Nor do I see how affirmative action forces anyone to do anything; it merely creates opportunities.

Ongoing Racism. Con misses the point. We live in a world where racism/sexism still exists. Nothing Con argued shows otherwise. In fact, Con's [19] is nothing but racist propaganda. Seriously. Look up Rushton. This guy has spent the past three decades using pseudo-scientific techniques to justify racism, claiming that blacks are so inferior to whites that they don't even deserve civil rights or Constitutional protection. To the extent anyone is racist in this debate, it's Con, not me.

Conclusion: Vote Pro

Throughout this debate, I have shown that affirmative action is generally desirable to rectify past wrongs, create diversity, facilitate integration, and combat ongoing racism/sexism. Each of these points, when taken alone, outweighs the entirety of Con's case. When taken together, they explain why affirmative action has been so successful. Indeed, the effects of affirmative action thus far have been overwhelmingly positive: more blacks are going to top-tier universities, more blacks are getting positions in major firms, more blacks are getting positions in the upper echelons of government, and the SAT gap that Con keeps citing is gradually getting smallter. These are tangible results that have a significant impact on racial justice.

In contrast, Con's case is an impotent cocktail of convoluted bull with a tinge of racism thrown in at the end. She hasn't come close to meeting her burden in this debate. Her case consists of assertions that aren't actually substantiated by her sources and therefore shouldn't be given any weight. She has failed to prove that affirmative action harms minorities, or that it causes self-doubt, anxiety, or depression among minorities. The most Con has proven is that some white candidates feel mistreated by affirmative action. But see R3: that perception is mistaken on multiple levels. So it's nothing more than a minor social cost, a cost that is justified by the important task of racial rectification. The benefits of affirmative action thus outweigh this minor cost multiple times over.

For all these reasons, vote Pro.



16. Schuette v. BAMN




Thank you for taking time to read however much of the debate you read. I know that reading long debates like this one is quite challenging (especially at 10k characters a round), so I really mean “thank you” when I say it!

For you, I have summarized all cases and contentions.

Negation Case

A salient accusation from the opponent is that my argument is “bull”. I will demonstrate between “bull” and my argument:

(Above is “bull”, found here:

(Above is not “bull”)

As you can see, “bull” and my argument are entirely different entities.

Premise: The cost of affirmative-action

The opponent’s counter-argument is mitigation, so even if you agree with the opponent, my argument still generates negation weight.

I will admit that the $1.7 and $21.4 billion costs are only partially accounted for by affirmative-action. My Negation Case generates partial weight from this point.

The opponent’s misinterpretation of my source is catastrophic, when he blunders accusing my source of saying that the $236 billion cited is a result of “bad hiring decision” and “negative effects on morale.” Please, control+f the source, and you will not find either. Rather, the source *explicitly* says, “Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer determined […] cost attributed to federal compliance with affirmative action policies [… were] well over $225 billion” [6]. This figure, ultimately, is uncontested.

As for lack of data, Brimelow and Spencer published data in their Forbes article [2].

As for the data being not recent, does that mean that the opportunity costs today is non-existent? If anything, due to inflation, the costs will be higher. The opponent’s complaint is trivial.

The diversity argument is addressed under my Counter-arguments section.

Negation Arguments

Argument in relation to minority affirmative-action recipients (i.e. African-Americans, Hispanics etc.)

Link 1: Affirmative-action hurts minorities


The opponent begins by wasting everyone’s time with more impact-less quotes.
Ayres’ qualitative assessment is destroyed by the facts I presented: minority students, with affirmative-action in place at a law school, had a pass rate of one in four and are over-represented in the bottom 10% of classes [3]. The opponent provides only an appeal to authority.

Wilkin’s point is null because whilst these affirmative-action students have greater networking opportunities available, the expense is that someone else (likely Asian) is deprived of these opportunities – someone gains and loses either way.

The argument, in conjunction with Bok’s argument, is more qualitative nonsense. Here, it does not matter whether someone “thinks” they are being harmed. Rather, *are* they actually being harmed? The answer, as I showed in my Round 2 arguments under this heading, is yes! Even worse, as the opponent’s data suggests, is that they’re tricked into thinking that attending courses far above their ability is beneficial! Again, more banal quotes for my opposition.

Less black lawyers

The opponent’s counter-argument to Sander’s source is beyond ridiculous. The opponent argues that affirmative-action is “pivotal in achieving racial diversity”, and therefore, Sander’s data is “discredited”. Sorry, but “racial diversity” is not an end in itself (hence the contention). What is an end, is the three out of four minority students flunking their law school courses, and over-representing the bottom 10% of classes [3]. Law schools enroll “potentially successful” students (i.e. the one in four who pass, along with the three who do not) *instead* of the students who are far more likely to succeed, which damages the U.S. economy with $236 billion of opportunity costs [6], as well as the emotional harms to the students [14].


My opponent’s round 1 definition dictates that affirmative-action applies to “education”, hence, my “high-school” sources remain relevant. Ultimately, three out of four blacks will fail their degrees, thanks to affirmative-action policies. Furthermore, the bottom 10% of classes were found to be over-represented by affirmative-action students [3]. I do not think, especially after presentation of my sources, that anyone enjoys failing or doing poorly at school. Therefore, after failing like this, it is no surprise that affirmative-action students experience self-doubt, great stress and anxiety [14]. Remember: affirmative-action hurts the people who it is meant to help, too.


This point negates itself; the Asians whom apparently benefit are null by virtue of the ones who do not. Remember: someone’s promotion is another’s sacking.

Link 2: Affirmative-action hurts high-performing students, and leads to racial violence

The opponent concedes that both high-performing White and Asian students are negatively affected by affirmative-action.

After that, the opponent argues irrelevancies. The fact is that there are Whites and Asians who *feel* discriminated against (for every affirmative-action student, there has to be someone who misses out). Implicit within the opponent agreeing that “the perception of mistreatment is usually wrong”, is the concession that affirmative-action does indeed generate great amounts of racial tension. Add to that the fact that the opponent concedes my graphs demonstrating great, public tension on the issue, and the result is that my argument here generates great weight.

Thus, even the opponent agrees that racial tension results from affirmative-action!

The novel “randomly” cited is a summary of research conducted on genetic (racial) interest, so the opponent concedes that source. The opponent later concedes via Ad Hominem and bare assertions (e.g. “racist propaganda”) Professor Rushton’s work on racial tension. Therefore, I affirm, as Salter summarizes, that: “As racial tension strikes a community, as it becomes less homogeneous, it becomes less caring, less friendly and less stable, making it a worse place to live in” [16].

As my example of the Baltimore Riot shows, racial tension can erupt into racial violence, which gives further weight to my argument [17].

Link 3: Affirmative-action encourages women into jobs they have little interest in

Gender quotas are backed by the U.S. government, whether illegal or not [12]. The opponent does not understand the grave implications of my contention here. Women *already* have the choices available, as there are laws against exclusion. Now, the U.S. government is taking steps to actively exclude men from positions they would otherwise be entitled to, under equal opportunity laws. As expanded upon in my counter-argument to the Ongoing Sexism contention, women are *choosing* not to enter these professions, even when they have every opportunity to. Hence, there is a great cost in terms of opportunity cost and enforcement of affirmative-action (see my Premise) in attempting to persuade women into jobs they are not interested in. The other impact is that the government openly supports the idea of blatant sexism against men!


Crystallization: Reparatory Justice

The opponent never verges on affirming that *past* racial wrongs affect black people *today*, so this argument is hollow nonsense. The opponent’s only attempt at affirmation was under the “Ongoing Racism” contention, wherein both examples the opponent gave vanished in later rounds. Otherwise, the opponent never attempts to demonstrate adverse effects present today; the contention is merely a massive bare assertion.

Furthermore, should we not focus on the present? How does racially discriminating against non-affirmative-action students (seeing that places are limited, and someone has to miss-out) “rectify” *past* wrongs? Conclusively, this contention is a massive bare assertion and non-sequitur.

Crystallization: Diversity

The opponent completely drops my research from Professor J.P. Rushton, of which demonstrates, using methodology and the scientific method, that increases in diversity merely exacerbate these genetic interests, which leads to racial tension/division in the classroom (which is bad within itself, and can lead to violence). Please extend this argument.

The opponent’s interpretation of Putnam is inaccurate. Curiously, even if Putnam does not agree with his data, the fact is that his results show serious problems with diversity, and as we know, diversity leads to racial tension and violence. Again, my opponent appeals to authority, rather than what the facts say.

Evidently, diversity is weakness, and actually helps me negate this resolution.

Crystallization: [Forced] Integration

The opponent’s final clarification is circular: “integration increases the legitimacy of our multiracial democracy” – why would we want such a thing in the first place? Is not one of the contentions on diversity? We are debating this contention on diversity, yet the opponent wants to use it as an assumed premise!

Crystallization: Ongoing Racism/Sexism

What a cataclysmic embarrassment this was for the opponent! The opponent drops *ALL THREE* of his original evidence, and then whimpers the bare assertion: “we live in a world where racism/sexism still exists.”

After the racial ones were displayed for comedic benefit (they never linked to the resolution, regardless), I eviscerated the gender wage-pay so badly that it is now working heavily in my favor. Moreover, due to the gender wage-pay gap *not* existing, men are heavily *and* unfairly discriminated against under sexist affirmative-action. This impact here is enormous: any place where a woman is hired under affirmative-action (elaboration in Link 3) means that a man is sexually discriminated against!

The opponent’s final efforts involve Ad Hominem and bare assertions against Professor J.P. Rushton. Hence, extend my arguments from here (the contention: Actual racial distinctions)


[18] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, "The National Extortion Association?" Forbes, June 7, 1993, p. 74.
Debate Round No. 4
262 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by geho89 2 years ago
I came here to read about affirmative action and all I get is a cluster**** in the comment section that is not thought provoking on this issue. If I wanted to see a debate on the character of Zarroette, then I would have clicked on a debate that stated as such rather than waste my time on the ad hominem and accusations in the comment session. Who cares if a person is a liar as long as their conclusions can follow from their premises and the factual evidence they provide.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Nevermind, I'm sure I don't even want to know, what petty stuff is going on.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
What did she lie about? Did I miss that? I know she provided a screenshot of some PMs, are the screenshots fraudulent? Or is this about some other lie?
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
It is amazing that so much drama would be brought about by a single person's flagrant and disgusting lies.
Posted by Mikal 2 years ago
Calling someone out that you have issues with is one thing, going out of your way to inflict mental harm to make a point is another. You can disagree with them without having to call them names and degrade them. Referring to her as a pathetic human being, ugly, and implying she has no purpose in life is going above taking issue with someone, and bordering on stupidity.
Posted by Benshapiro 2 years ago

What was the comment "Zarro is truly the most pathetic and deluded human being" in response to? If you can't provide anything then it's an unprovoked attack.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 2 years ago
Re: "I don't know Zarroete from anyone but clearly people here in the comment section are hurling unprovoked insults at her."

Don't opine on matters that you know nothing about. The insults being hurled at her are, in no way, "unprovoked." She fully deserves every single one of them.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Disregard that. I must've responded to something 10 pages back and long forgotten
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
I can tell you that I don't relentlessly defend her. Her behavior is unacceptable. I do think people are harder on her than she deserves though. That is definitely not excusing her bad conduct, it just highlights a fact that others often overlook, because her bad conduct often overshadows the other stuff
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
It's not always so obvious, particularly if the debaters disagree about which system they're under. I wouldn't say it's as easy as you've stated, though I think the bigger issue is that it would allow for a number of terrible votes to persist, since the standards you set, even for the strict system, are far lower than the standards currently in place.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 2 years ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision:
Vote Placed by PeacefulChaos 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD - Interesting debate. Even after this, however, I still remain ambiguous as to how I feel about affirmative action.
Vote Placed by YYW 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Objective win for PRO. Anyone who disagrees is wrong.
Vote Placed by Lexus 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: On balance is the key word here - impacts of the pro outweigh impacts of the con. If you take issue to my RFD, just respond to that thread.
Vote Placed by imabench 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD shown here:
Vote Placed by Genghis_Khan 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by bballcrook21 2 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: This current debate rests on 3 key issues: financing, equal opportunity, and effectiveness. On terms of financing, Con effectively demonstrated the negative cost of Affirmative Action programs, and Pro was not able to show a positive trend in economic output or productivity. On terms of equal opportunity, Con showed masterfully the impact of quotas, and the disadvantage individuals of majority descent face, thereby showing a contradiction in Pro's original argument. Additionally, Con was able to maul the "wage-gap" theory, even though a wage gap argument has no prevalence whatsoever in a debate about Affirmative Action. Lastly, Pro used an awful lot of information that was not relative to the debate itself. Not only did he explicitly refer to Con's arguments as "bull" which can be reasonably inferred to mean an explitive, but also failed to show any logical reasoning as to why the arguments are demanding of such a brand. Remainder of my reasoning shall be in the comment.