Lying as a qualification for office

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Ed Whalen, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, quotes me in this item on National Review Online's Bench Memos blog as saying that a willingness to lie is an essential quality in a university president these days. The quote is accurate but may seem puzzling to some readers. Let me explain.

One of the things university administrators do these days—I'm thinking primarily of selective universities, but I'm sure it's true of others—is to use racial quotas and preferences in admissions. Only they can't say so out loud. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's unfortunate opinion in the Grutter case makes this clear. So they have to lie about what they are doing. They lie when they say they don't have racial quotas and preferences: They make sure that a certain percentage of blacks are admitted. They lie when they say that the credentials of blacks admitted are the equivalent of everyone else's: Sadly, they aren't. And everyone knows they are lying about these things. That encourages people to presume that individual blacks at any institution tend to be less qualified than others. I try never to make that presumption and to judge individuals by their demonstrated talents and performance. But I fear others may not.

It is a sad thing when the heads of institutions that are supposed to pursue truth are required to lie. But such is the state of our universities today. We have seen what happened when Harvard President Lawrence Summers, whom I admire greatly, suggested that something politically incorrect might be true. He was slapped down and forced to submit to something like a re-education camp.

Advisory note

I will be traveling next week, and blogging will be light to nonexistent.