As a defense of race preference, the alleged compelling need for racial diversity is entirely without merit. That defense has been advanced and accepted only because there is no other way, under the U. S. Constitution, to rescue the drive to expiate white guilt. We are told repeatedly, by people who seem not to fear embarrassing themselves, that diversity is the very heart of educational excellence. The compensatory payments by race that cannot otherwise be defended are saved by a dreadful argument.

That the diversity defense is no more than a stratagem is made manifest by the history of this controversy. Diversity was hardly ever mentioned until the compensatory justification was thrown out by the courts. The evidence in the Michigan cases (Grutter and Gratz) exposes and highlights the ruse. If a “critical mass” of minority students (what was claimed to be a compelling need) in the black minority requires, let us say, 50 blacks among the entering law school class, how can it be that only 25 are needed for a critical mass of Hispanics? And only five for a critical mass of Native Americans! I wish not to offend, President Coleman, but candor compels the admission that all our talk about using preference to achieve a “critical mass” of students in each minority for the sake of educational excellence is—in the words of four members of our Supreme Court—a “sham.” It is a device, the only device available with which we can continue to satisfy the inner compulsions of white guilt.

(Carl Cohen, “Open Letter to the President of My University,” Academic Questions 19 [fall 2006]: 78-82, at 80-1 [italics in original])