Former Reagan aide speaks at Mercersburg Academy

January 16, 1998


Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - About 400 students at Mercersburg Academy heard Dinesh D'Souza, author and aide to former President Ronald Reagan, talk Friday about putting an end to racism in America.

He said non-white immigrants who come to America don't understand how the country's blacks, who have been here for generations, think about America.

"My work explores that question," said D'Souza, whose books include "The End of Racism," published in 1995, and "Liberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus," published in 1991, which made the New York Times best-seller list.


Immigrants come here because they believe that America works - that it offers freedom and opportunities found no where else in the world.

"They feel that here they can write a better script for their own lives," D'Souza said.

Then they meet leaders of the black community and other minority groups who say that America doesn't work, that racism is so powerful that it keeps people down.

D'Souza, who was a White House domestic analyst in the Reagan administration from 1987-88, is a Dartmouth College graduate. He said he got into the Ivy League school because of affirmative action, something he said is no longer needed in America's colleges and universities.

Affirmative action programs were widely instituted in the late 1960s to help blacks overcome discrimination. Proponents said blacks had suffered more than other groups and needed special help.

In the 1970s more multicultural groups stepped forward, including Latin, Asian and women's groups, demanding preferential treatment.

"Immigrants were qualifying for benefits that were being denied to native-born whites," D'Souza said.

He said affirmative action should be replaced by policies that bring equality through merit.

"How do you raise the levels of those who are under-represented? You can't raise the floor without lowering the ceiling," he said.

Affirmative action results in an inadequate form of diversity, he said.

"American society is at a crossroads. Everyone has a right to equal treatment under the law. It's the only right that we have, the right to the pursuit of happiness, but not to happiness itself," he said.

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