June 28, 2007


Chief Justice Roberts said it all, and he said it well, as the Supremes struck down racial school assignments in Seattle and Louisville:

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race....” (Emphasis added)


Lest you rejoice too much, however (or, for those readers who are disappointed in this result, lest you lament too much), be sobered by Tom Goldstein’s analysis on SCOTUSblog, which points out that not only was Grutter not overruled; it was in some important senses brought down into the K-12 schools, thanks to the controlling concurrence of Justice Kennedy, the new O’Connor:

One reading of today’s decision in the race cases is that the Supreme Court has outlawed programs that seek to increase racial diversity in the schools. Justice Kennedy’s concurrence does not adopt that view, however. And because his is the fifth vote, it is controlling. The better view, I think, is that the Court today has come close to extending the Grutter model to the lower school context, holding that school districts may account for race as one factor among many in student placement.
Here is what is clear from Justice Kennedy’s opinion. First, there is a compelling governmental interest in school diversity that can justify certain uses of race. Op. at 2 (rejecting the plurality’s failure to “acknowledge that the school districts have identified a compelling interest here”); id. at 17 (“A compelling interest exists in avoiding racial isolation, an interest that a school district, in its discretion and expertise, may choose to pursue.”).

Second, and relatedly, the Constitution does not require color-blindness. Op. at 7 (refusing to join the “parts of the opinion by The Chief Justice [that] imply an all-too-unyielding insistence that race cannot be a factor”); id. at 8 (acknowledging Justice Harlan’s dissenting view in Plessy that “[o]ur Constitution is color-blind,” but concluding that “it is regrettable to say, it cannot be a universal constitutional principle”).

Third, direct racial classifications like those in the Seattle and Louisville programs are subject to strict scrutiny and may be employed only after other alternatives are first explored and have failed. Op. at 9 (“[I]ndividual racial classifications employed in this manner may be considered only if they are a last resort to achieve a compelling interest.”); id. at 10 (these programs are unconstitutional because “the schools could have achieved their stated ends through different means”); id. at 16 (in the case of “de facto discrimination,” “[t]he State must seek alternatives to the classification and differential treatment of individuals by race, at least absent some extraordinary showing not present here”); id. at 18 (“[M]easures other than differential treatment based on racial typing of individuals first must be exhausted.”).

Fourth, and on the other hand, certain uses of race are sufficiently innocuous that they do not trigger strict scrutiny review and are per se constitutional. Schools may take account of race in such decisions as “site selection of new schools; drawing attendance zones with general recognition of the demographics of neighborhoods; allocating resources for special programs; recruiting students and faculty in a targeted fashion; and tracking enrollments, performance, and other statistics by race.” Op. at 8. These are “race-conscious measures [that] address the problem in a general way and without treating each student in [a] different fashion solely on the basis of a systematic, individual typing by race” (id.), as distinct from “[a]ssigning to each student a personal designation according to a crude system of individual racial classifications” (id. at 9). These approaches can be employed “with candor and with confidence that a constitutional violation does not occur.” Id.

Justice Kennedy’s concurrence is, if nothing else (but of course it is much else), a full-employment act for race preference lawyers, and yet further evidence of why state initiatives barring race preferences are necessary.

June 27, 2007

News: Tattoos? Who Knew...

... that tattoos could be claimed as a civil right? Now, thank to this post on Overlawyered, you do. (HatTip to reader Stephen Thomas.)

Upside Down Brown

Writing in today’s Philadelphia Daily News, Villanova emeritus law professor Howard Lurie argues that if the Supremes allow Louisville and Seattle to assign students to school by race they will be turning Brown upside down.

At issue in the cases to be decided is whether the equal-protection clause allows governments to deny an educational opportunity to students simply because of their race.

Four years ago, in Grutter v. Bollinger (the University of Michigan law school affirmative-action case), the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, held that the government (in the form of a state school) could use an explicit racial classification system if it had a good motive for doing so.

That decision can be seen as standing for the proposition that government need not treat its citizens as individuals but rather as components of a racial, religious, sexual or ethnic class.

And as long as at least five justices of the Supreme Court are satisfied that the government's motive constitutes a "compelling state interest," the individual's interest can be subordinated to that of the state.

That is a frightening concept, one that is clearly at odds with the equal-protection clause of the Constitution.
If government-mandated racial diversity justifies student assignment to schools, it may at some later time justify restrictions on the sale of homes to achieve a government-mandated racial mix in neighborhoods, or restrictions on employment to achieve a government-mandated racial mix in the workplace.

It is but a short leap from the benefits of racial diversity in the schools to the benefits of racial diversity in neighborhoods and places of employment.

There may, in fact, be significant benefits to society in achieving racial diversity in our schools, in the workplace and in our neighborhoods. The question is whether we want to grant the government the power to allocate rights, privileges, and benefits to individuals on the basis of their race.


Racial Preference Can Be Deadly

From today’s Canton (Ohio) Repository:

CANTON – The police officer accused of killing his girlfriend and her unborn child was given consideration to be hired on the city force because he was black, according to the civil service director, police chief and city records.

Bobby L. Cutts Jr. scored 70th out of 98 applicants who passed the civil service exam for police officer in March 2000. Cutts, however, was interviewed and ultimately hired over about 40 other candidates, the vast majority of whom were white men. The reason is a city law that required black candidates be considered if less than roughly 18 percent of the police force was black, said Samuel Sliman, civil service director.

Note the euphemistic use of “considered” above. In the context of racial preference, just as “diversity” doesn’t mean diversity (it means black or Hispanic), so “consider” doesn’t mean consider. It means admit, or hire, the “diverse” candidate. Similarly, I’m sure that the requirement of “roughly 18%” black policemen in Canton is not, heaven forbid, a “quota.” No doubt it is merely a “goal” that the department is required to meet.

June 26, 2007

Glaring Lack Of “Diversity” In Women’s Sports

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports this morning that more black women participate in college sports since the enactment of Title IX, but very few of them “participate in sports other than basketball and track.” In fact, the article notes, “nine of every 10 black female college athletes participate in one of those sports.”

“What’s to blame” for this shocking lack of diversity, the article asks? And the obvious villains are identified. First, lack of money:

Sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and rowing, which have seen the biggest participation gains for female athletes, require enormous investments of money and time that many black athletes cannot make, says Emmett L. Gill Jr., an assistant professor at Rutgers University's School of Social Work, who studies race and gender in sports.

“Oftentimes females of color, specifically black females, don’t have the financial means to participate, and their parents are limited by time constraints in terms of getting them to practice, games, and tournaments,” he says. “Black females need some assistance with that investment.”

And then, there’s the always useful explanation of most things racial, a lack of “inclusiveness.”
Cultural issues also hold black women back. On largely white teams, many black women complain about not fitting in or not feeling like part of the team, says Mr. Gill. When a player feels more accepted, she performs better, but if she never feels like part of the team, she may walk away from the sport.

“We can’t think we can wave a magic wand and put these girls on soccer and lacrosse teams and expect them to fit in,” says Mr. Gill. But if high-school and club coaches recruited more black women in sports other than basketball and track, he says, that would help.

Of course, it’s also at least remotely possible that black women are heavily involved in basketball and track because, well, they like and are good at basketball and track.

Whatever the cause, however this shocking lack of diversity in women’s sports cannot be allowed to continue. Perhaps Title IX should be amended. Since it is based on the theory that “equity” will be present only when the participation of women in sports reflects their proportion the the student body, it would be a short step for federal regulators to demand that the participation rate of black women in sports, all sports, must reflect their proportion of the student body as well. And while they're at it perhaps they could also do something about the appalling paucity of Asian women in college basketball.

That requirement, plus financial aid to K-12 black girls who participate in approved sports and heavy affirmative action recruiting of them by coaches, might just do the trick.

And if it doesn’t? Just assign students to teams by race, not the outmoded, un-diversity producing method of individual choice. After all, if racial assignment of students to schools is a compelling national interest, how much less important is “diversity” on the playing field? How else would that field ever be made level?

June 25, 2007

Telling It Like It (Mostly) Is

Regular readers — or for that matter, even irregular readers — of this blog know that I have a high regard for the writing of Peter Schmidt, a deputy editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education who writes extensively, and well, there about affirmative action. That is not to say that I always agree with what he writes, but I always find his work fair and balanced even when I think he’s wrong.

Thus I am looking forward to the publication of his new book, Color And Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning The War Over College Affirmative Action. But you don’t have to wait to get more than a taste of what it will contain. He has an impressive new blog , still under construction and not quite announced to the world but still very much worth looking at now, that previews the book, has some excerpts, and that also will provide a running commentary on affirmative action issues in higher education. I encourage you to look at it now, and to keep checking it.

But for a heavy-duty, concentrated dose of Schmidt’s take on affirmative action, drop whatever you’re doing now (except finishing reading this post) and take a look at this luncheon speech he just delivered to the Consortium on High Achievement and Success, a group of 34 selective, private liberal arts colleges trying to find ways to improve the success of minority students. I am embarrassed to admit that I relish the thought of the indigestion he must given all those good people trying to do good.

You really must read the entire speech, but here are a few appetizers to whet your appetite:

  • Now, I have had plenty of informal discussions with staunch advocates of affirmative action in higher education. And most cannot get through a glass of wine without betraying the fact that their chief reason for supporting affirmative action is the very same one Powell took off the table way back in 1978. They believe that affirmative action is needed to remedy injustice.

  • Here is another thing even some of the staunchest advocates of affirmative action admit. The evidence that race-conscious admissions policies produce clear educational benefits is still not all that compelling.

    The justices who espoused such benefits in the Grutter decision had either been snowed or, more likely, were too invested in the status quo in higher education to look at the research with a skeptical eye.

  • I have called my book Color and Money partly because it seems at times that color and money are the only thing the admissions offices of selective colleges care about. They extend affirmative action to the children of well-off immigrants from Africa or Central or South America. They lump Asian kids with white kids and treat the children of Vietnamese boat people and West Virginia coal miners as historically advantaged. They have all but shut their doors to much of working- and middle-class white America.
    Truth be told, your admissions policies promote racial and class segregation in our neighborhoods and our schools.

    Enrolling in a racially and ethnically integrated, middle- or working-class public high school is probably the single worst thing that can happen to a white student who ever hopes to get admitted into one of your institutions. Parents know that.

  • It is your institution’s decision to let rich families buy their kids’ way in. Your system salvages privileged applicants who have squandered every advantage offered to them, and screens out many white and Asian applicants who have overcome hardship or played the best hand possible with the cards life has dealt them.

  • Back in 1997, when the lawsuits against it were first filed, the University of Michigan was accepting more than half of the graduates of high schools in Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Point while turning away the valedictorians and salutatorians of blue-collar white schools.

    And people wonder why—when presented with a referendum affirmative action last fall—58 percent of Michigan residents voted to join California and Washington in banning the use of racial and ethnic preferences by public colleges and other state agencies.

    The elite of that state pulled out every stop to argue that affirmative action preferences need to be preserved for the good of everybody involved, and nearly six out of ten people in that state told its elite to go to hell.

  • Folks, I will be honest with you. There are times when I hear people defend race- conscious admissions policies and I feel like I am watching a crew of sailors refuse to abandon a sinking ship. Rather than trying to find a new vessel to board, they stay on deck and say: But this is a good ship. This is a noble ship. This ship will not sink because it does not deserve to sink. It will not sink as long as we stay with it.

    The question of how you feel about affirmative action in your hearts may soon be completely irrelevant. It’s entirely possible that nothing you do will save this ship.

Wow. I would like to have had the Tums or Rolaid concession outside the door to that luncheon.

As powerful and right-on as these remarks are, however, I believe Peter Schmidt would be surprised (and perhaps even a little disappointed) if I didn’t find a few nits to pick. Alas, there isn’t much to complain about, but I will mention one possible bone of contention that seems to me to mar his otherwise delicious fillet of affirmative action argumentation.

In the beginning of his remarks Schmidt quotes extensively from the epilogue to his book, and several times he suggests or implies or perhaps merely seems to accept the notion that equality means or requires something like proportional representation. He writes, for example, that

I have yet to encounter an expert on education or social policy who thinks the playing field is being leveled as quickly as O’Connor predicted.
There’s that pesky, ubiquitous “level playing field” metaphor. I’ve criticized it before, noting recently (here) that those who support racial preferences
don’t favor a “level playing field” at all, or at least not one where all contestants play by the same rules. If the general rule is ten yards for a first down, the preferentialists want their favored teams to be given a first down after only seven or so yards. If the general penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct is 15 yards, the preferentialists want their designated villains to be penalized 50 points, or perhaps forfeit the game at the outset. They’d like football, etc., to be more like golf, with its uneven field and players handicapped by history to be given handicaps making it easier for them to compete. And when their team strikes out on some test, they’d like it to be given unlimited mulligans until they get it right.
And, I might have noted, the games played on “playing fields” usually have winners and losers, a thought that is as foreign to many precincts of modern liberalism as the idea that neutral rules should be applied equally to all players.

In the same vein, Schmidt writes:

Even if the Supreme Court’s Michigan decisions hold up, it is important to keep in mind that they embraced a justification for race-conscious admissions policies that has little to do with ensuring minority members equal access to higher education. Michigan’s stated goal was not enrolling minority students in numbers that reflected their share of the population; its goal was to maintain a “critical mass” so that everyone on its Ann Arbor campus could reap the purported educational benefits of diversity....
As I read it, this passage implies that “equal access to higher education” will be achieved only when minority students are enrolled “in numbers that reflect[] their share of the population.” This is certainly one possible meaning of “equal access,” but it is a highly controversial one that needs to be argued, not merely asserted as though we all agree that equality requires proportional representation. We don’t.

And finally:

Black demands for equal opportunity have already brought about two revolutions in higher education, the first carried out through integration, the second, through affirmative action. What remains to be seen is whether the shortcomings of those policies will lead to another revolution down the road.
Yes, but the controversy over racial preference concerns a fundamental disagreement over the relationship of those two revolutions. Preferentialists see them as both of a piece, sharing values, purposes, principles. Critics, by contrast, argue they are at odds, pointing out that the first civil rights revolution was based on the principle that discriminating on the basis of race is wrong while the second abandoned that principle to argue that discriminating on the basis of race is good, and necessary to promote either social justice or diversity.

Let us hope that the coming third revolution comes full circle around to the position of the first, this time with liberals and conservatives embracing (at the same time!) the principle advocated by the NAACP in its long march leading up to Brown and expressed so forcefully in Thurgood Marshall’s brief there:

The Fourteenth Amendment precludes a state from imposing distinctions or classifications based upon race and color alone. The State of Kansas has no power thereunder to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities to its citizens.
Let’s hope that when the Supremes decide the racial school assignment cases this week, they decide that Seattle and Louisville have no more power “to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities to its citizens” than they found in Kansas in 1954.

Righting What Wrongs?

The best guess now is that the long-awaited Supreme Court decision on racial school assignments will be announced on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Post Intelligencer has an editorial today, “Seattle Schools: Righting wrongs,” hoping that the Supremes will leave the Seattle schools “room to right the long-lasting wrongs of discrimination and prepare young people for living in a diverse world.”

I wasn’t aware that Seattle or its schools had discriminated against blacks in the past. Thus, if the editors are going to posit “righting wrongs” from the past as a justification for racial discrimination in the present, they have an obligation to specify what wrongs they have in mind and how assigning students to school based on race will right them.

Otherwise they’re defending nothing other than what the courts have rejected as “naked racial balancing.”

June 24, 2007

The Sky-Is-Falling Chorus Starts Up In Colorado

Here we go again. The hysterical fear-mongering accusations that barring the state from discriminating on the basis of race will prevent university officials from speaking to black ministers and outlaw “[s]creening programs targeting Latinas with high rates of breast cancer or African-American males who die of prostate cancer in disproportionately high numbers” have begun to appear in the press, and they will no doubt continue, I hope to the exact same effect the exact same arguments had in Michigan. When will one of these hysterics point to a cancer-screening program that has been shut down in California or Washington or Michigan by the identical requirement of official colorblind equality?

The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative would require that the state “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin ..." According to Denver Post columnist Diane Carman, however, that proposal is a “wedge issue[] designed to appeal to voters’ worst instincts,” and supporting it is a “race-baiting” effort “to whip voters into a frenzy.”

Carman writes that “State Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, calls the whole concept ‘sadly comical.’” On the contrary, it is Carman, Groff, et. al. who are, to haul out that word I’m using too much here but can’t avoid, hysterical, in the sense now not of nuts but of extremely funny. Consider:

University of Colorado spokesman Branson Hilliard said enrollment at CU-Boulder was “the most diverse” ever in 2006, with 14.7 percent of students from minority groups.

And while the university has worked hard to improve diversity on all its campuses, he said, “it is not based on affirmative action,” so the proposed constitutional amendment would not make any difference.

Still, critics of the initiative worry that it could have far-reaching effects on college campuses and beyond.

“It would end all the flexibility for state schools to recruit people of color,” Groff said.

Requiring the University of Colorado (what about the rest of the state government, which goes unmentioned here?) to refrain from discriminating on the basis of race “would not make any difference,” but would nevertheless “have far-reaching effects on college campuses and beyond.”

As I said, hysterical.

Lott Of Hot Air

Q: How can you tell if Sen. Trent Lott, Republican Whip, is saying something dumb?

A. Watch to see if his lips are moving.

His appearance today on Fox News Sunday was no exception. Chris Wallace, the moderator, quoted a couple of his recent attacks on talk radio, including this one:

Take a look at this. You said this also last week. “I’m sure senators on both sides of the aisle are being pounded by these talk radio people who don’t even know what’s in the bill.”
Note carefully how Lott, not carefully, replies:
WALLACE: Senator, your response?

LOTT: Dianne [Feinstein, also on the program] and I were just talking about that. One of the mistakes that we have made many times on legislation is it's introduced, it comes out of committee, we bring it to the floor. We never bother to explain what we're trying to do and what is in it.

I think that was the mistake that was made with immigration. Talk radio defined it without us explaining that there were reasons for it and the good things that were in it.

Really? Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that the “immigration reform” bill in the Senate was written behind closed doors and was rushed directly to the floor without ever having been considered by a committee.

But Sen. Lott shouldn’t worry. As noted in the post immediately below, if his colleague Sen. Feinstein has her way government regulators will be able to force radio stations to air talk show hosts who will provide “correct reporting,” i.e., who will celebrate celebrate all “the good things” in the immigration bill.

Speech Police To Insure “Correct Reporting”?

On Fox News Sunday today with Chris Wallace, Sen. Diane Feinstein was asked if she favored reviving the fairness doctrine, a discarded regulatory scheme in which broadcaster were supposed to present equal time to all opposing views. (It was discarded in part because it came to be seen as a First Amendment violation and in part because its orginal justification — the very limited nature of the airwave spectrum — has been made less relevant by the technological advances that have dramatically increased the sources and channels of information.)

Feinstein was asked this because of persistent reports (or rumors, if you believe the denials) that Democrats want to rein in talk radio because it is so critical of them. Her reply will do little to assuage the fears of those who worry about a new attack on the First Amendment:

WALLACE: So would you revive the fairness doctrine?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm looking at it, as a matter of fact, Chris, because I think there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side. And unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way.

WALLACE: But the argument would be it's the marketplace, and if liberals want to put on their own talk radio, they can put it on. At this point, they don't seem to be able to find much of a market.

FEINSTEIN: Well, apparently, there have been problems. It is growing. But I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a fairness doctrine, and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people.

So, we need government regulation of private speech over the public airwaves in order to promote “correct reporting.”

Perhaps Sen. Feinstein had in mind the example of the Oakland city government, across the Bay from her home in San Francisco, which refused to let a group of its black employees post a notice endorsing the view, as George Will reported this morning, that “Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values.” (The city had no objection to gay employees posting notices advertising gay coming out day.)

June 23, 2007

Profile In Courage ... Or Maybe Vote-Counting

Looking an audience of Democrats — mainly, in fact, of university-based Democrats — in the eye yesterday, one candidate in the crowded field of Democrats running for president stepped forward and boldly and courageously declared his support for ... abortion rights. Speaking at Drake University in Des Moines,

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Friday that if he is elected president, he would use abortion as a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, rejecting candidates who don’t support the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

“I know that I am going to upset some people,” Richardson said. “I would say, ‘Do you believe Roe v. Wade is settled law?’ and if they say, ‘Yes,’ they have a good chance of being picked. If they say ‘No,’ I will not pick them.”

That’s not all president-to-be Richardson said. There was more:
.... When I am president, I am going to restore habeas corpus. We are going to shut down Guantanamo Bay. We are going to say that we are for civil rights and affirmative action, and ... we are a nation that is not going to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."
I think it interesting that Richardson distinguished affirmative action from civil rights, implicitly recognizing that it is possible to support one and not the other. That distinction made his additional promise — that “we are a nation that is not going to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation” — sound a bit less emphatic than I suspect he intended, making gays and lesbians into second-class recipients of civil rights protection.

How did he do that? you ask. Here’s how. In supporting affirmative action, Richardson supports policies that treat some people better than others because of their race or ethnicity (many of whose beneficiaries, as it happens, share his own Hispanic, or partly Hispanic, ethnicity). Gays and lesbians, on the other hand, apparently don’t deserve this special treatment. They have to settle for being treated with neutral, sex-blind non-discrimination.

Like all supporters of affirmative action, Richardson obviously believes that some people have more civil rights than others.

CCRI Headed For The Ballot

The Ballot Title Board has approved the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative for the 2008 ballot, over the objections of opponents who claimed that the meaning of “preferential treatment” was unclear and that people could believe it is possible to give preferences to people of one race without discriminating against people of other races.

The Ballot Title Board disagreed that banning discrimination was different from banning preferential treatment, holding that CCRI’s operative language — “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin” — does not violate the state’s “single-subject” requirement.

Opponents, predictably, say they will appeal.

Another Driver-By Attack On Equality

Shanta Driver, of BAMM fame (or perhaps “infame,” since she’s infamous [“well known for some bad quality or deed,” says the dictionary built in to the Apple operating system]), is at it again, continuing her tirades against racial equality. This time the target of her Driver-by attacks are two new University of Michigan scholarships that have just been created to replace two now-illegal ones that had been based (“partly based,” said U-M officials) on race and sex.

Why U–M felt it necessary to give preferential aid to women, who are overrepresented in the undergraduate student body, has never been satisfactorily explained. In the class of freshmen who entered in Fall 2006, for example, 386 more men than women applied, but 278 more women than men were admitted. But forget that for now.

According to Provost Teresa Sullivan, the new scholarships have dropped their concern to reward race and gender and “moved towards socioeconomic status, or some other form of underrepresentation, such as being a first-generation college student.” The university claims that it is too early to know what impact this change will have, but it is not too early for Ms. Driver. She knows.

Shanta Driver, national spokesperson for BAMN, a pro-affirmative action group challenging the ban in court, predicted a “tremendous decline’’ in scholarships for poor black and Hispanic students because there are many more poor white students in Michigan....

“A lack of financial aid is the single highest [sic] reason that black students do not come to a University of Michigan and stay,’’ said Driver.

In the same vein The Detroit News quoted Ms. Driver’s accusation that “U-M is denying educational opportunities to black and Latino students who could succeed at U-M.” Well, yes, in a manner of speaking, but not because they’re black and Latino. By her logic U–M is “denying educational opportunities” to even more whites, since there are more poor whites who are not receiving aid than poor blacks or Latinos.

The all-knowing Ms. Driver did not say how or where she came by the certainty that finances were more important than academic qualifications or performance in explaining why blacks did not attend U–M or left after enrolling. Still, note her objection to preference based on class or economic need because it will help too many whites (not a disproportionate number of whites, but too many whites).

Alas, Ms. Driver’s implicit equation of civil rights with a racial spoils system does nothing more than echo the argument of today’s racial rights leaders. Theodore Shaw, head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said exactly the same thing here (in remarks I criticized here):

More and more, Shaw said, he hears that affirmative action should be based on class, not race. But since the majority of poor people are white, Shaw said, such a shift would leave black and Latino students underrepresented.
Of course, it’s no longer news that the rank and file of the civil rights movement has abandoned civil rights for racial spoils. Indeed, we should probably stop referring to Shaw, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et. al. as “civil rights leaders” and start referring to them as advocates for racial rights.

June 22, 2007

Preferences For (Formerly) Illegal Immigrants III

In two recent posts — not surprisingly, Preferences For The (Formerly) Illegal Immigrants and Preferences For (Formerly) Illegal Immigrants II — I discussed (again, no surprise) preferences for the currently and perhaps soon to be formerly illegal immigrants. If “comprehensive reform” in its current form passes, I warned, illegals will immediately be catapulted “out of the shadows” to the front of every affirmative action line.

Now comes attorney Kris Kobach, writing in today’s Washington Times, who reveals that the bill currently before the Senate specifically “allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, discriminating against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students.”

These provisions are buried deep in the Senate bill. They are part of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act section.

The DREAM Act is a nightmare. It repeals a 1996 federal law that prohibits any state from offering in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, unless the state also offers in-state tuition rates to all U.S. citizens. On top of that, the DREAM Act offers a fast track to U.S. citizenship for illegal aliens who attend college.

On its own, the DREAM Act never stood a chance of passing — even in the Senate. Every scientific opinion poll on the subject has shown over 70 percent opposition to giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens.

Not surprisingly, the DREAM Act languished in committee for five years — until the opportunity arose to hitch it to the Senate's “comprehensive” immigration bill of 2006. Now, Sen. Edward Kennedy and his allies have added it to this year's amnesty bill, too. They know that the only way to slip such bad legislation past the American people is to bury it in a comprehensive bill.

But perhaps this doesn’t really matter, since so many states have found ways to ignore this prohibition with immunity. Author Kobach, by the way, is doing more than complaining about this state of affairs. He is representing clients in lawsuits proceeding in Kansas and California challenging in-state tuition for illegals.

Does “Diversity” Turn People Into Turtles?

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam (of Bowling Alone fame) thinks so.

“Diversity seems to trigger not in-group/out-group division, but anomie or social isolation,” Putnam writes in the June issue of the journal Scandinavian Political Studies. “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’ — that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
Putnam has been engaged in his large study of diversity for quite a while, and we have encountered findings from it before, here and here.

Putnam seems quite taken with his turtle metaphor (or maybe I’m just taken with quoting him using it). In the first “here” linked above, I quoted him as follows describing his findings:

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where “diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic.”

Actually, turning people into turtles may be among the mildest effects of diversity. The New York Times Magazine linked first above, for example, also reports other, non-reptilian but even more unwelcome effects.
Studies by Wendy Berry Mendes, a social psychologist at Harvard, and her colleagues find that when research subjects play a cooperative game with someone of another race, they can show physiological signs of distress — reduced cardiac efficiency and arterial constriction, for example. On a daily basis, this alarmed reaction might make people pull inward. Putnam himself speculates that, with kaleidoscopic changes going on around them, people in diverse communities might experience a kind of system overload, shutting down “in the presence of confusing or multiple messages from the environment.”

It’s thus no surprise, and maybe even a good thing, that campuses that fetishize “diversity” are often the ones sporting the most racially segregated dorms, dining room tables, lounges, etc.

In my first discussion of Putnam’s research, linked above, I commented:
If we’re going to set aside the formerly fundamental principle barring discrimination against any person based on race in order to bask in the benefits provided by “diversity,” shouldn’t we at least begin seeing, sooner or later, some research demonstrating just what those benefits are?
That now seems too mild. Let me rephrase: shouldn’t we at least begin seeing some research demonstrating that “diversity” doesn’t turn people into turtles or sick, arterially constricted, stressed out humans?

More Expert Opinion...

Regarding the impending Supreme Court decision dealing with racial school assignments in Seattle in Louisville:

Amy Stuart Wells, a Columbia University professor of sociology and education who studies desegregation, said some are watching to see how a more conservative court’s decision will square with conservatives’ long championing local control.

“I don’t get where the Supreme Court thinks they [sic] can come in” to these districts that opted to integrate schools “and decide that race doesn’t matter,” she said.

I think Prof. Amy Stuart Wells is absolutely correct. She doesn’t “get” it.

I wonder if she “got” it when the Warren Court thought “they” could “come in” to local school districts in Delaware, Kansas, and South Carolina and “decide that race doesn’t matter.”

Meanwhile busing advocate Gary Orfield, late of Harvard and now of UCLA, says “[w]ithout these plans, it is very likely that public schools could again become resegregated in Louisville and Seattle over time.” Perhaps, renowned expert that he is, he could explain how Seattle schools, even “over time,” could become “resegregated” when they’ve never been segregated.

who what why?

who? Discriminations was originally the joint production of John and Jessie Rosenberg, but Jessie has adopted Honorary Founding Blogger status. A 19 year old second year graduate student in applied physics at Caltech, she doesn’t have time to sleep, much less blog. John, who has retired from real life, does have time. He is one of the world's older grad students, now completing a 30-year overdue dissertation at Stanford on discrimination.

what? John's focus, not surprisingly, is the theory and practice of discrimination, and how it is reported and analyzed. ()

Jessie's, if she ever has time, will be discriminating thoughts on ... whatever catches her fancy or attracts her attention. ()

why? Why not?

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