According to Princeton’s general counsel (Campus Notebook, Sept. 19), the University is arguing, in a pending Supreme Court case, in support of “the acceptability of considering race and ethnicity in the context of a holistic review of an applicant’s candidacy for admission.” Let’s repeat that slowly. Princeton says it is acceptable to consider race and ethnicity in deciding who to admit to college.  

It is completely unsurprising that Princeton has argued this, as it is a consummately politically correct position. Yet it is also the position that racists take. How did this happen?  

May I suggest that the problem is the failure to distinguish between the prohibition of race-based decision-making, and the undertaking of race-based decision-making? To prohibit racial preferences/disadvantages, one need not decide anything more than that race-based decision-making is illegitimate. But to engage in racial preferences (for some)/disadvantages (for others, most heavily Asians) requires one to put individuals into racial boxes. Is one-quarter Latino enough for preference? One-eighth black? If a person is half-black, half-Asian, does that person count as a favored or disfavored ethnic group?  

Racial labeling is no proper business of government agencies (or, for that matter, private agencies, including universities). Indeed, it is a fundamentally arbitrary and demeaning practice.  

As a person of mixed ethnicity, I call upon the University to stop and think. Why is it arguing for precisely the privilege that racists long wielded?