Pursuant to Nancy Chesley’s communication (“Affirmative action ruling a good thing for everyone,” July 19), we were stupefied to believe that someone in today’s society, with access to vast amounts of historical data, can possess such a loss of institutional memory. She makes two statements in support of her non-historical beliefs. One,  “race-based affirmative action was a support system designed to aid some students while infringing on the constitutional rights of others. Not acceptable.” Two, “how can equal rights under the law hurt a country or its people?”

We draw Chesley’s attention to this country’s historical record. In the past, did the following citizens have “equal rights under the law”? Japanese Americans, who were placed in internment camps during World War II. Thousands of Black Americans, who were lynched or massacred throughout the Midwest and South. Indigenous peoples, who were massacred and dislocated to various parts of this country. And Black Americans in Alabama, where the Republican party refuses to obey a 2023 Supreme Court ruling, instructing the GOP to formulate a new redistricting plan, allowing them more equal representation in their state?

This country has yet to place its citizens “under” the umbrella of equal rights for all. Since the 1960s, national laws have been promulgated to insure equality in voting rights, housing opportunities and more in efforts to make all citizens equal, with respect to any opportunities available to them. In this regard, affirmative action was designed to “make right” a protracted legacy of unequal treatment of some citizens. It is not a perfect plan, but it did have a noble goal, i.e., admit our historical wrongs and allow for more minority representation in institutions of higher education. Is this endeavor “wrong” given our past/ongoing history? We think not.

John Mishler and Sigrid R.E. Fischer-Mishler