BY JAMES TARANTO
Tuesday, December 5, 2006 2:42 p.m. EST
'Integration' Became Discrimination
The New York Times reports on an important case the Supreme Court heard yesterday:
By the time the Supreme Court finished hearing arguments on Monday on the
student-assignment plans that two urban school systems use to maintain racial
integration, the only question was how far the court would go in ruling such
There seemed little prospect that either the Louisville, Ky., or Seattle
plans would survive the hostile scrutiny of the court's new majority. In each
system, students are offered a choice of schools but can be denied admission
based on their race if enrolling at a particular school would upset the racial
At its most profound, the debate among the justices was over whether measures
designed to maintain or achieve integration should be subjected to the same
harsh scrutiny to which Brown v. Board of Education subjected the regime of
official segregation. In the view of the conservative majority, the answer
But liberal justices disagreed:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried unsuccessfully to turn the chief justice's
colloquy with [Seattle lawyer Michael] Madden in a different direction. The
question of whether "using racial integration is the same as segregation,"
she said, was "pretty far from the kind of headlines that attended the Brown
Bringing "white and black children together on the same school bench," Justice
Ginsburg continued, "seems to be worlds apart from saying we'll separate them."
The fundamental dispute is whether antidiscrimination laws--the 14th Amendment
and, by implication, the Civil Rights Act of 1964--ban discrimination altogether,
or only in the pursuit of invidious ends. Broadly stated, the "conservative"
position is that these laws protect individuals from discrimination,
whereas the "liberal" position is that discrimination is fine in the
pursuit of "diversity" or integration but not of white supremacy.
Liberals, in other words, are much more apt to say that the ends justify the
means. As Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in University
of California v. Bakke, "In order to get beyond racism, we must first
take account of race. . . . And in order to treat some persons equally,
we must treat them differently."
That was in 1978. Twenty-five years later, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in
v. Bollinger, upheld some racial discrimination in higher education,
but wrote that she expects the need for them to have passed in another
25 years. Justice Ginsburg made a point of disagreeing, saying that one may
only "hope" that it will be "safe to sunset affirmative action."
There is a curious disconnect here. "Affirmative action" is politically
unpopular, having been banned by initiative in three liberal states (California,
Michigan and Washington). With Justice Samuel Alito having replaced O'Connor,
its legal status is shaky.
In any case, it has always been presented as only a temporary measure--a way,
as Justice Blackmun put it, "to get beyond racism." Yet affirmative
action's advocates act as if it is here to stay. For them, discrimination is
no longer a means to an end but an end in itself. The Seattle
Public Schools Web site has a statement that expressly disavows
the goal of getting beyond racism:
The intended purpose of our work in the area of race and social justice is
to bring communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection
around what is meant by racism and the impact is [sic] has on our society,
and more specifically, our students. Our intention is not to put up additional
barriers or develop an "us against them" mindset; nor is it to continue to
hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality.
Will notes, this statement replaced one that was much worse:
Until June, the school district's Web site declared that "cultural racism''
includes "emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology,''
"having a future time orientation'' (planning ahead) and "defining one form
of English as standard.'' The site also asserted that only whites can be racists,
and disparaged assimilation as the "giving up'' of one's culture.
This is in fact baldly racist. In concept it is distinguishable from white
supremacy only in its refusal to condone value judgments. But the real world
imposes its own "value judgments," and in practice it seems obviously
pernicious to inculcate black children with the idea that because of the color
of their skin, they cannot learn to plan ahead or to speak standard English.
Advocates of affirmative action, thus, have abandoned the goal of "getting
beyond racism," upon which it was originally imposed on the public. Affirmative
action has become a way of perpetuating discrimination rather than overcoming
it. It is, at best, an experiment that has failed.
Against the Thin
"Proposed UW System Admissions Policy Would Add Weight to Race, Income"--headline,
La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune, Dec. 5
Era of His Ways
Paul Morin, national commander of the American Legion, describes himself as
a Vietnam veteran, though he never actually served in Vietnam, the Boston Globe
The only place Morin ever returned from was Fort Dix, N.J. According to his
military records, Morin spent his entire two years of Army service, from 1972
to 1974, at that Army training base . In fact, before he sought the coveted
one-year term as national president of the country's largest veterans' organization,
Morin was content to be known as a "Vietnam-era" veteran--a signal to other
veterans that he did not serve in Vietnam.
The Globe notes that "neither the US government nor the Legion itself
makes a formal distinction between veterans who served in Vietnam and those,
like [Morin], who did not." But that doesn't satisfy one great patriot:
Former US Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm in
Vietnam, and who has been a Legion member since 1969, expressed concern in
an interview on Friday that by inflating his résumé, Morin has undercut the
credibility of veterans' groups as they seek congressional support for underfunded
"For the national commander of the American Legion, who never even served
in the Vietnam theater, to call himself a Vietnam veteran is a lie," Cleland
We agree that it's misleading. When we hear the phrase "Vietnam veteran,"
we think of someone who was actually in Vietnam, even if only for a little while
like John Kerry*.
But where was Cleland four
years ago, when Rep. Jim McDermott claimed that he and his then colleague
David Bonior--both of whom had just returned from Baghdad, where they propagandized
on behalf of Saddam Hussein--"were in that war," namely Vietnam? In
fact, McDermott was a Navy psychiatrist and Bonior an Air Force cook--both in
* 120 days, to be exact.
Moments in Higher Education
The Associated Press reports on the education of Carol Shea-Porter, newly elected
to Congress from New Hampshire:
Shea-Porter said she also recently attended a conference at Harvard to learn
more about national issues.
"We started with the budget," Shea-Porter said Saturday. "Whatever you think--it's
worse. We ended with terrorism. Whatever you think--it's worse."
Wow, no wonder Harvard has such a reputation for excellence!
Cuba Democracia y Vida, a Sweden-based exile site, claims that Fidel Castro
is dead, attributing the information to, as Google's
rough translation puts it, "a source near the Cuban regime of total
credibility." Havana has been holding back the announcement, the story
says, while awaiting the results of the election in Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez,
a younger, less dead version of Castro, is leading his challenger by 62% to
Press, however, reports that "Cuba's Communist newspaper on Tuesday
published a message reportedly from ailing leader Fidel Castro congratulating
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on his weekend re-election victory":
"The victory was resounding, crushing and without parallel in the history
of our America," read the brief message published in the online edition of
the Communist Party daily Granma.
Without parallel? Is Castro admitting that his own "elections"--whose
results are even more "resounding" by virtue of their 100% victory
margins--are a sham?
" 'In the name of both freedom of speech and common sense,' the American
Civil Liberties Union has asked Portsmouth
High School principal Robert Littlefield to reconsider a decision to bar
a senior yearbook photo showing a student dressed in a coat of mail with a reproduction
of a medieval sword over his shoulder," the Providence Journal reports:
Without naming the student, Patrick Agin, Littlefield suggested last week
that the photo would violate the school's "zero tolerance" policy banning
In a note to Patrick's mother, Heidi Farrington, Littlefield has said Patrick
may submit an alternate senior photo, or use the same photo if the family
were to take out an ad in the back of the yearbook.
"It is easier for the school to disavow endorsement or approval of a photo
when it is included in the advertising section," Littlefield wrote in a note
Farrington released yesterday.
So the school is willing to publish the photo if Agin pays for it? That's not
exactly zero tolerance. More like tolerance for sale.
"Pfizer Opens the Door for Abbott"--headline, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 5
Strip Clubs? Now We've Seen Everything!
"Charges Dog Strip Club Owner"--headline, East Valley Tribune (Mesa,
Ariz.), Dec. 4
News You Can Use
Bottom Stories of the Day
- "UNC Students Object to Proposed Tuition Hike"--headline, Chronicle
(Duke University), Dec. 4
- "Civic Center Not for Sale Yet"--headline, Asheville
(N.C.) Citizen-Times, Dec. 5
- "Actress Tori Spelling to Write Memoir"--headline, Associated
Press, Dec. 4
- "Auto Insurance Rates Stable for Many"--headline, USA
Today, Dec. 5
- "Thompson's Trial Balloon Below Radar: All quiet on ex-governor's presidential
Journal Sentinel, Dec. 3
In the New Hampshire, student newspaper at the University of New Hampshire,
Melissa DaCosta vents her outrage:
I was appalled at an advertisement I recently saw on the bulletin board in
my dorm. . . . The advertisement from Health Services, calling for
safe sex, reads, "Whether you're the catcher or the pitcher, always wear a
glove!" with a picture of a smiling woman holding a catcher's mitt and a man
holding a bat next to her. . . .
To consider the act of sex as a subject/object encounter, as this advertisement
does, where a woman's role is to "catch" a man's "pitches," is degrading,
disgusting, and completely beyond the type of behavior I expect from an institution
of higher learning. To pair this type of advertising alongside messages of
"always get consent" seems contradictory and dangerous to the lives of women--on
campus and elsewhere. This poster is sending a message that sex is defined
as an act done to a woman by a man, rather than a collaborative effort of
two people. I am afraid that this is just replicating a system of hierarchy
where women are expected to accept what they are given, including situations
where they may feel pressured by men to have unprotected sex, and I hope that
this type of safe sex awareness is torn down from our walls permanently.
It's all good clean fun, until someone gets offended.
(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to John Perry, Scot
Silverstein, Jay Nerby, Jim Triller, Thomas Dillon, Joe Lima, C.E. Dobkin, Scott
Wright, Matthew du Mee, Jim Grodnik, John Neal, Dan O'Shea, Ina Bohannon and
David Simon. If you have a tip, write us at email@example.com,
and please include the URL.)
Today on OpinionJournal:
& Outlook: So-called realists have an unrealistic view of Iran.
Miniter: Popularity and success couldn't save one Republican governor
from the Democratic tide.
Strassel: The seamy underside of asbestos litigation.
Moore: Solving the health-care "crisis" means not more government involvement