2. The belief that group disparities in representation are suspect anomalies that can be corrected by apportioning places on the basis of group membership is an illusion. Every aspect of this belief fails the test of evidence in country after country. The prime moral illusion is that preferential policies compensate for wrong suffered. This belief has been supported only by a thin veneer of emotional rhetoric, seldom examined but often reiterated. Affirmative action has become a test of continuing liberalism among people who know they are backsliding on other issues. Many liberal policies continue to be bound up in the premise that social justice requires special treatment for groups, and many powerful liberal constituencies have an interest in seeing those policies continue, whether or not they serve the goal of equality that was once their stated purpose.