Invisible Victims: Institutional Responses
Invisible Victims: Affirmative Action and the Mass Media
Invisible Victims: Elites, the Steamroller, and the Spiral of Silence
I first heard of Frederick R Lynch’s 1991 book Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action from Hugh Murray’s article ‘White Male Privilege: A Social Construct for Political Oppression.’ Both Murray’s article and Lynch’s book are essential reading; the article for identifying the group and interest behind the initiative, the book for detailing the costs to European American men and their families. Together with Yggdrasil’s work on AA these works provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
In an appendix to the book Lynch quotes a 1976 article from the journal Minerva, ‘The Criteria of Academic Appointments in American Colleges and Universities: Some Documents of Affirmative Action at Work.’ The letters reveal what was going on in the early seventies and how White men were being displaced from the universities.
I have extracted some of the more revealing letters. Go to Scribd to read all the letters as published in Lynch’s appendix and presumably the journal article.
LETTERS BETWEEN A MAJOR STATE UNIVERSITY AND A STATE COLLEGE
3 December, 1971
Professor A . . . . B . . . . Department of Economics University of . . . .
Dear Professor B. . . . , -- All of the . . . state colleges have been requested to implement a program of active recruitment of qualified faculty of minority background, especially Negro and Mexican-American.
Since I am unable to determine this type of information from the resumes you have sent me, I should very much appreciate it if you could indicate which of your 1972 candidates are either Negro or Mexican-American.
Sincerely yours, N . . . . M . . . . Chairman Department of Economics
8 December, 1971
Professor N . . . . M . . . . Department of Economics . . . . State College
Dear Professor M. . . . , -- I was most distressed by your request that I classify our 1972 employment candidates by race. It is one thing, and highly creditable, for an institution like yours to make sure that no qualified candidates are overlooked for reasons associated with race. It is quite another aim, as on reflection I hope you will agree, to discriminate on grounds of race within a group of qualified candidates.
The list of candidates we sent you contained the names of fine young men and women, a number of whom would be (I feel) well qualified to teach at . . . . While these young people have a striking variety of ethnic origins, we do not classify them by race nor do we recommend them on any basis other than their individual professional merit. As an institution financed by citizens of all races and origins, I do not see how we can do otherwise.
I am, of course, quite aware of the pressure on all academic institutions these days to engage in "benevolent" racism in their employment decisions. However, you might be interested to know that among the dozens of inquiries I've received about our candidates, yours was one of the very few indicating that race was to be a major criterion for hiring. I sincerely hope, for both your sake and ours, that you will find yourself ultimately able to give due consideration to all our candidates without regard to race.)
Sincerely, A . . . . B . . . . Placement Chairman Department of Economics
22 December, 1971
Professor A . . . . B . . . . Department of Economics University of . . . .
Dear Professor B. . . . , -- I feel compelled to respond to your letter of 8 December. I did not intend to suggest, nor did I indicate in any way, "that race was to be a major criterion for hiring." When I go to New Orleans , I shall be seeking the very best people I can find. I have always done this and I don't intend to change. However, we are faced with a peculiar situation, not unknown in bureaucratic organizations such as ours. The powers-that-be are holding back faculty positions that become available only to those departments that happen to come up with qualified minority candidates. Since I have two positions allocated to economics when I really need four, I have adopted the strategy of filling the two positions with the best qualified people. If I can also find qualified minority candidates, the college doubly gains and my department gains as well. The department and the college gain by obtaining an extra economist. The college additionally gains by our using one of the held-back positions instead of its going to the Department of Sociology.
It turns out that as a result of my letter I obtained from Y . . . . University a curriculum vitae that for some reason had not been included in the original batch. Thus, I shall be able to consider someone (in this case a Negro) of whom I would have been completely ignorant otherwise.
I agree with your comments about racism. For this reason, and others, I have already submitted my resignation as chairman of the department.
Sincerely yours, N . . . . M . . . . Department of Economics
3 January, 1972
Professor N . . . . M . . . . Department of Economics . . . . State College
Dear Professor M. . . . , -- I was gratified to receive your fine letter of December 22nd. The situation you mention concerning the discriminatory allocations of positions to your department is of course not exceptional, but almost "normal" in colleges and universities today. At [my university] also, the administration has indicated that almost any candidate who can meet barely minimum qualification standards will be a most welcome appointment -- even in the absence of an open budgetary "line" -- if he or she falls into the currently preferred "minority" groupings. For all others, of course, the highest academic standards are supposed to prevail.
On this, perhaps one or two comments may be in order. First, I feel that faced with such pressure it is incumbent upon all of us to resist. For, there is no natural stopping-point to the evil of this process. I have just learned, for example, that in New York City Italian-Americans have now been assigned to the category of preferred "minorities!" Eventually, someone will be making demands for ideological quotas, too. Second, administration problems being what they are, the added budgetary line you receive for this purpose today is all too likely to be taken away tomorrow. So any departmental "profit" is likely to be short-lived.
As to our specific candidates, I do not know if you met any in New Orleans. However, if you'd like further word on them please let me know.
Sincerely, A . . . . B . . . . Department of Economics
LETTERS BETWEEN A LESSER STATE UNIVERSITY AND A LESSER PRIVATE UNIVERSITY
23 February, 1972
D . . . . E . . . . Department of Sociology . . . . University
Dear Mr. E . . . . , -- We have received a letter from Professor F . . . . G . . . . sent to Professor H . . . . I . . . . concerning your possible interest in joining our department. At the present time it does not appear likely that our department can act on this inquiry.
Here are the facts. The whole university is on a zero growth basis. Sociology was not held to this basis because of the great demand among students for courses in sociology. We thus had good reason to believe that we could undertake strong efforts in recruitment. We have now learned that recruiting throughout the university is almost completely limited to certain categories of persons whose employment would enable the university to meet certain equal opportunity requirements.
I am extremely sorry that we have not been able to respond more definitely to your inquiry. I want to thank you for your interest in our university and our department. There may be a chance later that we can get in touch with you on this matter.
Sincerely yours, M . . . . N . . . . Chairman Recruitment Committee Department of Sociology
16 March, 1972
Professor M . . . . N . . . . Chairman, Recruitment Committee Department of Sociology University of . . . .
Dear Professor N . . . . , -- Attached is a copy of a letter to the American Sociologist concerning "reverse discrimination" in hiring. It refers to the letter which you sent to my student, D . . . . E . . . . , although not mentioning you or your department by name.
As the letter indicates, I am very disturbed at the policy which you indicate in your letter. It sounds like this is university rather than department policy, but I would urge you and other department members to make whatever efforts you can to change this policy.
I would appreciate your reactions to my letter.
Sincerely, F . . . . G . . . . Associate Professor of Sociology
24 March, 1972
Professor F . . . . G . . . . Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology . . . . University
Dear F . . . . G . . . . , -- Of course I am sorry to have to send a letter to D . . . . E . . . . informing him of the constraints in our recruitment. I trust that you will show this letter to him. Perhaps I can describe in some greater detail those restraints at our University this year.
(1) The chief restraint is on recruiting generally; our University has entered upon a policy of limitation in the size of the student body. The vast majority of the departments have had no opportunity to undertake recruiting and at the present time our department is equally held back: only one opening is now available in our department -- a replacement for a special teaching assignment. Now I am not even sure that that is a policy because we are hoping that before the semester is out we may be able to compete for a highly limited number of openings in the College of Arts and Sciences.
(2) At the time I wrote the letter, although I had no official document I had the strong impression the University was trying to fill certain teaching positions to be coordinated with special educational opportunity programs for Blacks, Chicanos, Indians and other designated minorities. The students in these programs have made very strong requests that those teaching positions related to their programs be filled by persons from their respective ethnic backgrounds. It is true that the federal government has also strongly encouraged the hiring of teachers drawn from particular ethnic groups, "thus encouraging the University to meet certain equal opportunity requirements." I hope that you can read this last quote phrase from a previous letter of mine to mean that at least two sorts of pressures are involved: the government encouragement to hire teachers from particular ethnic groups and the strong requests on the part of the students for teachers hired from those groups.
Now all of this has not been set forth as University policy. I would join with you in any protest against any continuing and commanding policy that would not mean exactly equal opportunity for all persons, especially over any extended period of time. I do know that there is tremendous need for improving the special education programs. As the recruitment chairman I am working very hard to bring candidates from the minorities to the University who are concerned with and able to work within these programs. Thus my interest has been functional.
(3) I cannot see that there is a continuing and comprehensive University policy on this matter. The department itself has requested the hiring of a teacher to handle special sorts of topics within the department. Persons from a wide range of backgrounds have been considered for this particular position. The chief candidate with whom we are now negotiating happens to be an Anglo.
At our University there has certainly been serious consideration given to the ethnic backgrounds of persons. Up to now I should say this consideration has been directed honestly towards the need for special teaching requirements. And I shall be surprised if more than three persons in the University are hired as a result of this consideration.
Please extend to Mr. E . . . . my regret that I sent a letter that could have troublesome interpretations.
Sincerely yours, M . . . . N . . . . Department of Sociology
LETTER FROM A PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES AT AN "IVY LEAGUE" UNIVERSITY
23 December, 1971
Dear Professor J . . . . , -- . . . in the June encounter of chairman with the HEW "team" (three people!), the chairman explained that we did not get many applications for our program in Biblical Studies because at the graduate level knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is required. The HEW response is that we should discontinue such old-fashioned programs, in which minority groups could not participate, and instead establish programs without language requirements, which they could do -- e.g., a Ph.D. in black theology or whatever. Since our department receives no government support at all, we did not feel we had to give serious consideration to the discontinuance of language-requirements at the doctoral level. But I think we would discontinue our programs before we would lower their requirements to meet the demand of HEW. At any rate all this is documented.
Sincerely, K . . . . L . . . . Professor of Religious Studies
LETTERS FROM SOUTHERN STATE UNIVERSITIES
2 February, 1972
Professor V . . . . W . . . .
Dear Professor W . . . . , -- Since I last corresponded with you regarding the possibility of a position in this department, decisions have been made by the top administration of the University that have created some awkwardness in our recruiting efforts.
The decision I refer to is that all unfilled positions in the University must be filled by Blacks or females. Since I have no information regarding your racial identification it will only be possible to consider you for a position in the event that you are black.
I might add that we have received letters from your references and have been enthusiastic about your candidacy.
Sincerely, X . . . . Y . . . . Department of Sociology
27 May, 1971
Professor EE . . . . FF . . . . Placement Officer Department of Economics University of . . . .
Dear Professor FF . . . . , -- Your prompt response to my letter of 12 May with four candidates, all of whom seem qualified for our vacancy, is greatly appreciated. Since there is no indication that any of them belongs to one of the minority groups listed, I will be unable to contact them at present. My instructions are to exhaust every opportunity for recruiting a qualified person from among a minority group, including women. If this attempt is fully documented, I will then be given permission to seek the best qualified person regardless of race, color, or creed, which has always been our practice in the past. If I get this "green light," I would certainly be interested in X . . . . or Y . . . . and would contact them to see if they were still available.
Cordially yours, GG . . . . HH . . . . Chairman Department of Economics
28 October, 1974
Professor II . . . . JJ . . . . Department of Geography University of . . . .
Dear Professor JJ . . . . , -- Thank you for your interest in [our] university as indicated by your letter and vita. We will leave the position open through at least the end of November, at which time our departmental selection committee will begin its screening process. I will be in touch with you again at that time.
I believe that it is in the best interests of fairness (given the current state of the job market) to inform you that . . . universities are now operating under a Department of Health, Education, and Welfare mandate to increase their faculty mixes of minorities and women. Thus, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we will be able to tender an offer to a white male only under the most compelling of circumstances. In other words, I feel that I would be remiss in my obligations if I did not urge you to pursue whatever alternative opportunities you might have with all possible vigor.
Sincerely yours, KK . . . . LL . . . . Professor and Chairman Department of Geography
LETTERS FROM OUTSTANDING MIDDLE WESTERN STATE UNIVERSITIES
14 February, 1973
Professor JJ . . . . LL . . . . School of Education Building University of . . .
Dear Professor LL . . . . , -- I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the University Civil Liberties Board. I wish to file the following complaint:
On January 31, 1973, the clinical psychology faculty of the psychology department adopted a racial and ethnic quota to govern the admission of graduate students into its training program. The terms of the quota are:
(1) Thirty-three to thirty-five percent of the entering class for Fall 1973 must be of "minority group" origin; (2) "Minority group" is specifically defined as Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican and American Indians; (3) Cubans (unless also black), Asian Americans and underprivileged whites are specifically excluded from the quota; (4) No minimum standards in terms of grade point average or test scores are to be applied to the "minority group" pool of applicants. (In the past, such standards have been applied to other candidates.) Thus, as written the decision requires the admission of thirty-three to thirty-five percent "minority group" students regardless of the qualifications found within the pool of such minority applicants
It is my belief that this policy is blatantly discriminatory and violates the relevant guidelines of the University. It excludes from equal opportunity certain racial and ethnic groups (including some who are clearly underprivileged) and arbitrarily favors others. It specifies preferential criteria for admission to graduate training solely on the basis of racial and ethnic origin.
I am therefore requesting that the Civil Liberties Board investigates my complaint, and takes appropriate action.
Would you advise me what documentation and information you will need to investigate this complaint? I would appreciate your keeping in touch with me on the progress of your investigation.
Sincerely yours, CC . . . . BB . . . . Professor of Psychology
2 March, 1973
Dr. SS . . . . LL . . . . Chairman, Department of Psychology University of . . .
Dear SS . . . . ,-- I note in the minutes of the executive committee that the department proposes to hire a "black clinician." I would bring to your attention that to do so would be illegal. It violates Section 703 (a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which holds it to be unlawful for an employer to "classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities . . . because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin." In a relevant Supreme Court decision, Griggs v. Duke Power, it was held: "Discriminatory preference for any group, minority or majority, is precisely and only what Congress has proscribed."
I remind you that we are constrained to advertise this position openly and without reference to race, and that we must entertain and consider applications without discriminatory preference. If we fail to do so, I am prepared to file a complaint against the Department with the pertinent University and Federal authorities, and I am further prepared to encourage and support legal action on behalf of candidates who have not been afforded equal opportunity.
Sincerely yours, CC . . . . BB . . . . Professor of Psychology
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AT A PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
14 July, 1972
Dear T . . . . , -- When I got back to the office last week I discovered that the Robert X. University case had turned in some interesting directions. We now have documents which clearly confirm what was hitherto X . . .'s unsupported testimony.
Let me summarize the situation: X . . . . , a graduate student here, was asked by BC . . . . CB . . . . , dean of the business school at . . . University, to come for an interview last March. X . . . asserts that he was told that a teaching job was his, pending clearance by Affirmative Action . . . . University agrees that matters got to the point where CB . . . did discuss salary range and affirmative action. Vice President YY . . . denies that any promise of a job (implied or otherwise?) was made. . . . Acting Dean CB . . . . (5/28/72) says that the equal opportunity officer is overburdened and offers this as an explanation of the delay. Again, it is obvious that the discussion was far more than pro forma.
It seems quite clear from CB . . . .'s letter that he was told by Affirmative Action not to hire X . . . . ; YY . . . ., ZZ . . . and CB all agree that a position exists and that no satisfactory alternative to X has been found. Thus, even though YY . . . may successfully sustain his claim that no legally binding offer of a job was made, there is abundant internal evidence that the decision with respect to X . . . was based not on merit but on race or some other non-admissible criterion. . . .
Sincerely, W . . . . W . . . . .
Mr. Robert X . . .
Dear Mr. X . . . , -- I spoke to Dr. W . . . . this morning and conveyed to him the background of the faculty hiring situation here. The equal opportunity officer of the University had previously been clearing positions in a fairly expeditious fashion, but apparently he became overburdened and he has now requested that the individual teaching units share in the search for minority group faculty. Consequently, I now face delays of the order of months, rather than weeks, in current hiring. I had my secretary call you in order to alert you to this situation.
I have written to Dr. W . . . separately in this regard.
Sincerely, BC . . . . CB . . . . Acting Dean
Mr. Robert X...
Dear Mr. X . . . . , -- President QHQ . . . . asked me to make a thorough examination of our record of the facts and circumstances underlying the contents of your letter to him. He directed that I respond to you directly upon completion of my inquiries.
Your stated purposes in writing to the University were somewhat imprecise. . . . We are not sure that you contend any remedies due to you from the University and we assume that you do not. Certainly, if it is your contention under the circumstances you allege that a promissory relationship, rooted in contract, existed upon which you relied to your detriment, then we must advise you that upon our investigations we have concluded that no express or implied contract existed in law or fact and your unilateral reliances on preliminary and conditioned exploratory discussions, totally ordinary and customary to the appointment processes in academic institutions, was conjectural on your part. Your reliances based on the record of the circumstances as we have them were your own acts and not reasonably binding upon the University. On advice of counsel, we are prepared to support and defend our position should you choose to take action.
We understand the following summary to recite our record.
Your application for a faculty appointment in our School of Business Administration was unsolicited by us. Dean CB . . . . found your credentials impressive and you were invited to visit the campus in late March for an interview. You executed a formal application on March 3, 1972, and you were interviewed by Dean CB . . . . and others here on March 20, 1972. Dean CB . . . . asserts that in his conversations with you on that date that he explained to you University processes for new faculty appointments which included compliances with the University's Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Program. He also advised you of our salary ranges for new faculty appointees recently awarded the doctoral degree. Dean CB . . . . advises further that at the time of his oral discussions with you he made no firm express or implied offer to you concerning the faculty appointment under consideration.
The University is an equal opportunity employer and all deans and faculties have been directed to comply substantially and fully with our Affirmative Action Program. Dean CB . . . . was in the process of doing so before and subsequent to his interview with you. He so advised you by letter on April 18, 1972, and though he indicated at that time that he personally would recommend your appointment the affirmative action program compliances were not pro-forma and they would be time-consuming. At that point he learned through your intermediary that of your own motion, based on your unilateral reliances on your own assumptions, that you had turned down another position. We have reason to believe that you made no effort to contact Dean CB . . . . on the status of your application prior to April 10, 1972, when we are advised that you rejected an offer elsewhere. Your turn down action on another position was scarcely three weeks from the date of your visit to our campus.
To date the position for which you applied remains open. 
We sincerely regret the turn of events which has prompted your recent expressions but we must respectfully submit that they are unjustified under the circumstances.
Very Sincerely yours, WD . . . . YY . . . . Vice-President