How is "utilizing connections" any more unethical than getting special treatment during the admissions process because you're a minority?
Well without arguing for or against affirmative action, that's quite the provocative statement you've got there. I have no opinion, but I think it's funny how people say it's "unfair." the difference is, with using AA or not, the institution is setting their own rules which they are free to do. Arguing that this is "unfair" betrays a sense of entitlement, a normative judgment regarding what should be considered.
Now, one could argue that institutional privilege to set their own admissions standards is well and good and fair, but race or ethnicity is unfair because it is not an accomplishment or something one can change. Fair enough.
Also, just putting down your race is a little different from calling in a favor. Although you could argue one knows that their race is being considered when they voluntarily write it. I have no opinion, just chewing this over.