Quote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts
Figure of Speech: antistasis (an-TIS-stah-sis), the repeat that changes meaning. From the Greek, meaning “opposite stance.”
In yet another 5-4 decision, the Supremes ruled that quotas cannot be used as a factor to increase racial diversity in schools. Chief Justice Roberts, the court’s reigning master of figures, uses a powerful antistasis to support his side. The figure repeats a word, phrase or clause in a way that transforms the meaning.
If you want to stop discrimination — meaning the historically unfair treatment of racial minorities — then stop discriminating. But in this second clause, discrimination suddenly becomes something very different. It’s not discrimination against minorities but for them. Roberts cleverly uses Americans’ belief that discrimination is bad to make a case against racial quotas.
Is that an undiscriminating use of “discrimination”? Perhaps. But it more than meets Figaro’s daily figures quota.
Snappy Answer: “So the best way to help minorities is to stop helping minorities?”