American Renaissance archives
|Vol 3, No. 7||July 1992|
You Are Not Alone
The Mass Media are Fooling Fewer and Fewer People.
American Renaissance is sometimes criticized by its readers for what seems to be be an unending stream of bad news. Such criticism is largely valid; there is not usually very much good news to report about racial matters in this country, and AR can only report events as they occur.
However, there is a very small category of events that do not merely occur; AR makes them happen. We do not like to boast about this, partly because our successes are small and partly because boasting is unpleasant. We do not make a point of always telling our readers about radio appearances, articles from AR that have been reprinted elsewhere, or references to AR in other publications.
Perhaps we should. Readers might be glad to know of the effect, however small, that AR seems to be having on what is said and thought about the most important questions that face our country. In the midst of so much gruesome news, it may be encouraging to know that there is a large audience of Americans who are ready, even eager to hear the message that AR brings.
Therefore, as the editor of American Renaissance, I would like to report to you on one of my recent radio appearances, and to explain why it is that despite the bad news that seems to fill these pages, I think that we can look forward to improvement.
On Being Openly ‘Racist’
In these pages and on the airwaves, I have publicly taken positions that are ordinarily called “racist.” Although many people think that this is a dangerous thing to do, there are real advantages to saying in public what others say only in private.
The most obvious is that I am free to write and say exactly what I think. After years of trying to fit important ideas between the lines, this is an enormous relief. A less obvious advantage is that anyone who takes a public stance on these questions becomes a lightning rod for others who feel the same way but are afraid to say so. There are people from all walks of life, some in surprisingly prominent positions, who agree with AR’s point of view. They feel they cannot afford to agree publicly, but it is encouraging to find support in so many quarters.
|Usually, about half of the callers agree enthusiastically with what I have to say.|
There are many, many people in this country who have managed to resist the media onslaught against common sense. I suspect that more people than ever before realize that what is said in the press about race, genetics, and immigration is neither true nor representative of what Americans think. Also, I believe that such people are slowly becoming more willing to speak openly about what they think.
Frequent appearances on radio talk shows give me an unusual look at how every-day Americans feel about these questions. When I first began speaking as the editor of American Renaissance, I expected to face a barrage of unremittingly hostile radio personalities and listener telephone calls. I have been very pleasantly surprised. Most talk show hosts are, at the very least, polite, and many are clearly sympathetic. Usually, about half of the callers agree enthusiastically with what I have to say.
Recently, I was on a Los Angeles radio program hosted by a man named Tom Leykis. He apparently has the reputation of someone who argues ruthlessly with opponents, and generally manages to get the better of them.
Unlike other talk show hosts, he was hostile from the start. He began with a violent attack on the idea that people of different races have different average levels of intelligence. I defended the idea and later we took calls from listeners. Because I was speaking to a Los Angeles audience, I would have liked to talk about other subjects — immigration, for example — but for two straight hours Mr. Leykis stuck to the subject of race and intelligence.
|On the Air in L.A.|
I was surprised to find that almost every caller thought that there were no racial differences in intelligence and some callers attacked me vehemently. Perhaps the radio station screened out callers who agreed with me or perhaps they just didn’t call. However, because I always invite listeners to write in for sample copies of AR, it is the response after the program that really matters.
About thirty people did not even wait to see a sample issue; they sent subscription checks immediately. Several hundred people wrote to ask for sample issues, and of that number, about one hundred subscribed. This was an unusually good response, but it only reflects the large number of people who listen to Mr. Leykis’ program. There is a great deal of support in America for common-sense thinking about even the most ruthlessly suppressed aspect of race: Differences in average intelligence.
As an indication of how that Los Angeles audience responded to the program, I have excerpted comments from some of the dozens of letters we received. Since the writers probably did not expect their letters to be published, I have withheld their names. We are printing them in place or our usual letters column, and I think they are a good reflection of the views of our readers. AR is proud to be a forum for ideas that are widely held but to which the mass media remain firmly closed.
from Los Angeles, CA:
I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for your courage in speaking out on a subject that is taboo in today’s America — despite the First Amendment. I have lived most of my life in awe of the inconsistency, unfairness, hypocrisy, and multiple standards that characterize race relations in this country. Unfortunately they also characterize the behavior of all the other special interest groups (for lack of a better term) that are screaming for special treatment: women, homosexuals, handicapped people, you name it.
This is a sad state of affairs. I hope that I will outlive this period in our history and that I will witness a return to our senses.
from Santa Ana, CA:
It was really refreshing to hear your radio interview. You gave us the hope that common sense has a chance to come back to the USA.
We came to the USA from Europe one decade ago without any money, with three teenage sons and with no English at all! Now we are living in our own house and the older son owns a house, too. Two younger sons finished college study with bachelors degree diplomas and both are working hard on their professional qualifications.
I wonder why we are not homeless and why we aren’t buying our groceries with food stamps the way so many blacks and Hispanics do.
Thanks again for your clear words on a subject that has been so long taboo.
from Newbury Park, CA:
It was certainly refreshing to hear your views articulated in such a concise and philosophically consistent manner. You may be pleased to know that your host, a well-known liberal knee-jerker, never allows guests or callers to voice opinions as controversial as yours without challenging them. It was obvious to me that he was intimidated by your mastery of the material and thought a tactical retreat was his only option.
I am particularly annoyed by the travesties unleashed under the guise of affirmative action. I finished my BA at UCLA last year and, despite graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, was awarded the grand total of $100 in support for my entire first year of graduate school. My research indicates that all minority graduate students were completely or almost completely funded to attend UCLA. I continue to seethe.
If I may make a suggestion, when presented with the time-worn canard that intelligence tests are culturally biased, you might ask why no one has been able to design a test on which blacks score as well as whites. I find this argument to be particularly effective.
from Van Nuys, CA:
I heard you on the Tom Leykis show and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. You are a very dangerous man to the “Powers That Be in the Media.” Your intelligence, articulateness, and common-sense use of facts and statistics could not be refuted. You certainly made a quiet man out of the normally loud-mouthed Mr. Leykis.
You are a dangerous man because you have the courage to stand on the side of truth in the face of tremendous forces. Truth is a very dangerous and hated thing to those who identify with lies.
from Sherman Oaks, CA:
I am sorry I was not able to get through to support you on the air, but you did very well and spoke very articulately, I might add, using statistics, references, and history to make your points. What I don’t understand is why so many callers called you a racist. You were very polite and calm, and did not make one racist remark. Yet, many callers responded to you as if you were the second coming of Hitler. Liberal thought has done more to hurt minorities than help, but you can never tell them so without their coming to their usual conclusions about you. How did we get to this point?
There’s something else I’m still trying to figure out: If there are many conservative, thinking people in this country — and I truly believe there are — why are the media so firmly on the left? Still, I do believe there is great change coming. Rush Limbaugh and people like him finally have a chance to get the conservative message onto the airwaves. And thank you, Mr. Taylor, for your contribution.
from Los Angeles, CA:
Never have I heard anyone articulate white, racial issues so intelligently and eloquently. Furthermore, it was very gratifying to hear Tom Leykis verbally and intellectually defeated, not that the latter is a difficult task, but the former is a mighty victory.
from Arcadia, CA:
I could not leave the radio until your program was over. The truth and logic of what you said had even the “great” Tom Leykis on his knees — not to mention the light-weights who called in to his show.
It is not often these days that someone has the courage to stand up and “speak the truth.” The pressures of the liberal/racial activists keep the silent majority silent. Three cheers for you and for your publication.
And on and on they went — some too flattering to print. The point is that despite a massive campaign of distortion and misinformation, there are many, many Americans who have not swallowed the party line on race. They are waiting and hoping for someone to take the lead and say what must be said.
|Our ‘leaders,’ as we call them, are not leaders in any real sense. They are followers of whatever they think political fashions are likely to be; they are the slaves of public opinion.|
Our country has not yet reached the stage of near-total hypocrisy that characterized the dying days of the Soviet Union, when virtually no one believed in Communism but virtually no one dared say so in public. There are still many Americans who appear to believe that the races are equivalent, and that a non-white, third-world future would be a wonderful thing for our country. Of course, the mass media persist in parroting these views.
A repudiation of this fashionable nonsense must come from below before it comes from above. No politician or editorialist is going to take the lead unless he is forced to by a groundswell of public opinion. Our “leaders,” as we call them, are not leaders in any real sense. They are followers of whatever they think political fashions are likely to be; they are the slaves of public opinion.
Public opinion — and when the subject is race, it is vastly different from published opion — is made up of people like you. Take the first step in expressing a taboo thought. You may be surprised by the sudden emergence of friends you never expected. And do not forget that being called a “racist” is not the end of the world. In fact, it is likely to be a sure sign that you are saying something worthwhile.
In the meantime, American Renaissance will try to get on the air as often as possible, and you may be able to help us. There are sure to be talk show hosts in your area who would be interested in AR’s point of view. They have to find guests day after day, and they know that race is a vitally important subject. The rioting that followed the verdict in the trial of Rodney King only confirms how important race is. Please send an issue of AR to the station and ask them to contact us.
You can be sure that even though you may not know them, many people in your area think as you do, and would be delighted to hear someone talk sense about race for a change. You are not alone.
Alas, Poor Yuqui
A strange, little-understood creature emerges from the Bolivian jungle.
With each passing year more and more of the ancient Amazon forests are lost to slash and burn farmers, loggers, and miners. While this destruction endangers many species that depend on the forest for survival, it also yields surprises in the form of hitherto unknown creatures that have lived for centuries unmolested by the world beyond the jungle’s edge.
Among the more recent specimens unearthed from the heart of the Bolivian Amazon are the Yuqui. This discovery has been catalogued by neither botanist nor zoologist, for the Yuqui falls to the lot of the anthropologist. However, an article in the New York Times Magazine (Feb. 23, 1992) on these “accidents of history” suggests that the Yuqui might be more fitting subjects for the paleontologist.
Indeed, the Yuqui have far more in common with our pre-historic ancestors than with anyone walking the earth today. The Times introduces us to a band of two dozen or so Yuquis and their leader Ataiba (Yuqui for “anteater’s arm”) who were the third group coaxed from the forest by evangelical missionaries, in Dec. 1989 (the entire known population of Yuqui now stands at around 150).
Ataiba and his people believed themselves to be the only humans in existence and had never ventured out of the forest. Not surprisingly, the Yuqui word for “world” is the same as that for “leaves.” They spent their entire nomadic existence foraging for food or hunting small animals with bows and arrows — their only tools. Like homo erectus, who roamed the planet 1,000,000 to 500,000 years ago, the Yuqui carried glowing embers from place to place; they did not know how to make fire. That skill became common some 75,000 years ago, when Neanderthal man displaced homo erectus.
Fire-making is not the only way in which the Neanderthals outstripped the Yuqui. Neanderthals buried their dead, and their graves contain the remains of sick and old people, who could have survived only with the help of other tribesmen. The Yuquis left their sick and old behind to die and covered their dead with leaves.
|The usual crowd of uplift artists is chattering about ‘empowerment,’ ‘dialogue,’ and ‘choices.’|
Yuquis built no homes, but sheltered under palm fronds when it rained. They had no written language, no agriculture, no pottery, no metal smelting, no art, no domestic animals, no wheel. They wore no clothes. They were primitive even by stone-age standards. Nor did the Yuqui have an oral tradition. They had no history and they told no stories. It is hard to imagine a human being who has nothing to tell his children. The Yuqui did have slavery, though, and whenever a high-ranking Yuqui died, a slave was strangled to accompany the master’s spirit into the leaves.
The list of Yuqui non-achievements is a long one. However, as all readers of AR know, in this age, no people are born inferior, nor do they achieve inferiority; instead it is always thrust upon them” by the white man.
According to Allyn Stearman, an anthropology professor at the University of Central Florida, the Yuqui are not living fossils, but victims of the Spanish Conquest. Before the Spanish arrived, the Yuqui were part of an advanced, agricultural society, but were forced to flee into the jungle during the 16th Century to escape from Catholic missionaries. Where Prof. Stearman gets his information is not clear, since the Yuqui certainly cannot enlighten him, but he explains that after their escape from the clutches of Christianity the Yuqui “forgot” everything they had known.
Prof. Stearman argues that the Yuqui “lost” their spiritual leaders and healers, their knowledge of planting and pottery and fire. They also “forgot” all their arts, how to wear clothes, how to count, and despite the fact that they live in a land of many rivers, they forgot how to swim.
The Yuqui have now been settled in a missionary village, where white people are trying to jog their memories. Undoing 400 years of white wickedness may be a daunting task, but it pales in comparison with the prospect of turning a people with an achievement level somewhere between Homo Erectus and Neanderthal Man into productive 20th century citizens.
Although the Yuqui have never before planted or even stored food, the Inter-American Development Bank has set aside $240,000 to help make yeoman farmers out of them within two years. The usual crowd of uplift artists is chattering about “empowerment,” “dialogue,” and “choices.”
Ataiba, the tribal leader, seems to be setting the pace for his people. He has developed a taste for welfare and has given up hunting. He prefers to spend his days idly swinging in a hammock. Though he has made no attempt to learn the skills of Neanderthal Man, he has his eye on some of the fruits of modernity. In a hammock-side interview, he told the New York Times: “I want a big house like the missionaries. I want to eat that lovely food they eat. I don’t want to go back to the forest. The forest gives you great sadness.”
Evelyn Mackenzie is a writer who lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Civil Rights, Civil Wrongs
The astonishing story of how the courts turned “civil rights” into racial preferences.
Civil Rights Under Reagan Robert R. Detlefsen ICS Press, 1991, 237 pp., $24.95. Available directly from the publisher, ICS Press, 243 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
The enforcement of civil rights laws has been one of the most amazing frauds ever perpetrated on the American people by its own government. Laws that were passed to forbid racial discrimination have been turned completely inside out and are now used to require the very behavior they were written to prohibit. How could this have happened?
Robert Detlefsen, an assistant professor of political science at California State University, has written a fascinating and brilliant account of how the very notion of “civil rights” was stood on its head. He shows, case by case, how the Supreme Court, almost single-handedly, twisted the law to suit its own political views.
Because the media and the academic bureaucracy have generally held the same political views, there have been very few accounts of this subversion of the law that were not transparent attempts to justify it. Prof. Detlefsen’s book is therefore one of the first to combine a fine legal mind with a proper sense of outrage at the violence that has been done both to the law and to simple notions of justice. It is an indispensable volume for anyone who wishes to know how “equal opportunity” was transformed, legally, into “affirmative action.”
Civil Rights Under Reagan is ostensibly about a Republican president’s attempts to undo that transformation, about how his appointees in the Justice Department tried to dismantle race-based preferences and return to the color-blindness that had been Congress’ intent. The book certainly tells that story, but in so doing, it tells the more important story of how President Reagan’s men were defeated by a Supreme Court that was determined to sacrifice the Constitution to its own views of race.
The Act of 1964
As Prof. Detlefsen makes clear, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unequivocal in forbidding racial discrimination in employment practices. One can argue that in a free country, an employer should have the right to choose his employees for whatever reasons he likes, racial or otherwise (see “Free to Choose,” AR, May 1992). Congress did away with that freedom, but it went no further. It specifically denied that employers were required to use racial preferences to make up for imbalances in their work forces, and it specifically permitted employers to use standardized employment tests so long as their purpose was not racial discrimination.
Contrary to popular mythology, it was not President Johnson but President Nixon who first violated the principle of color-blindness. It was the “Philadelphia Plan” established in 1969, that first required employers — in this case, Philadelphia construction companies doing government work — to set non-white hiring quotas. There was strong opposition to this both in Congress and within the administration, but Attorney General John Mitchell, hardly a name associated with liberal derring-do, ruled that the plan was legal.
Prof. Detlefsen points out that by forcing companies to hire by race, Attorney General Mitchell had repealed an act of Congress, passed only five years previously, that forbade precisely that. Any ordinary student of American government would here expect the Supreme Court quickly to rule against the administration. Instead, as soon as it got the chance, the Court broadened racial preferences.
Griggs v. Duke Power
The chance came two years later, in 1971. The Duke Power Company had a special training program that was open only to high school graduates who had scored well on a standard intelligence test. Applicants of all races had to meet the same requirements. However, since blacks were more likely to do badly on the intelligence test and to have left school without a diploma, the Supreme Court ruled that the requirements were racially discriminatory. Thus was born the famous “disparate impact” rule, whereby race-neutral job standards could be thrown out if non-whites were less likely to measure up to them.
Once more, a law passed by Congress was neatly sidestepped. Congress forbade job requirements intended to discriminate; the Court did away with intent and forbade standards that had what it called discriminatory effect. This was a huge difference, because there is virtually no test or qualification for a job by which whites do not surpass blacks.
In the Griggs case, the Court ruled that only employers who had, in the past, practiced racial discrimination (Duke Power apparently had done so before 1964) had to worry about “disparate impact,” but this limitation disappeared almost immediately. By 1972, it was illegal for any employer to rule out potential employees who had arrest records, since this had a “disparate impact,” that is to say, blacks were more likely to have arrest records than whites.
Thus began the horror that has plagued employers ever since: what is a legitimate job test or hiring standard and what is discrimination? Eleanor Holmes Norton, now the non-voting congressional delegate from the District of Columbia, was one of Jimmy Carter’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioners in the 1970s. At the time, she explained that there was a simple way for employers to figure out whether their hiring practices were free of disparate impact: make sure that they hired a lot of blacks. Any company that did not might be the target of a law suit.
Connecticut v. Teal
Just how far the concept of “disparate impact” could be taken became clear in the 1982 case of Connecticut v. Teal, in which the Reagan Justice Department suffered one of its many defeats. The state of Connecticut used a written test to determine which employees in its welfare department would be eligible for promotion. The state knew very well that it could not simply give the test and promote the people with the top scores, because they might all be white. Therefore, it lowered the passing score from 70 to 65, so as to open the door to more blacks.
Still, only 54 percent of blacks passed, whereas 80 percent of whites did, with the result that 206 whites and 26 blacks passed. Whites had higher average scores than blacks, but even if the state had ignored the scores and made proportionately equal promotions by race, only five of the 46 employees who were eventually promoted would have been black. The state doubled that number — at the expense of whites — and promoted 11 blacks and 35 whites.
To the layman it would appear that it was whites who had been disadvantaged, and who would have reason to sue. In the upside-down world of civil rights law, it was blacks who sued. Blacks who failed the test — despite the lowered passing score — claimed that they had been unfairly deprived of an opportunity for promotion because of the test’s disparate impact.
The Reagan Justice Department opposed the case, but on the mildest grounds. It agreed that the test had had a disparate impact but pointed out that this had been compensated for by the jiggery-pokery afterwards that resulted in a disproportionate number of promotions for blacks. Thus, the case turned on whether the entire selection process, which had not had a disparate impact, was discriminatory because one stage of it had a disparate impact.
The black plaintiffs won, thus establishing the rule that preferential treatment of blacks was still not good enough if, at any point in the selection process, disparate impact could be detected. This was a stunning setback for fairness and common sense, but the decision was met with jubilation in the press, and the Reagan Justice Department was tarred as racist and reactionary for having been on the “anti-civil rights” side.
The Justice Department tried something bolder in the case of a systematic racial preferences program established in 1981 by the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to correct alleged but unproven “discrimination.” It argued that the Civil Rights Act provides for race-based hiring preferences only as a remedy for victims of past discrimination. The NOPD plan completely ignored the past, and handed out benefits to blacks just because they were black.
In Williams v. New Orleans, the Court of Appeals simply brushed aside the Justice Department’s argument. Despite a clear request to explain itself, it gave no legal or moral justification for an affirmative action program that gave benefits to blacks who may not have suffered discrimination, and punished whites who may not have been guilty of it.
Johnson v. Transportation Agency
The impulse to discriminate against whites was soon directed against men. The most definitive example of this was the 1987 case of Johnson v. Transportation Agency, in which Santa Clara County (CA) was allowed to promote a less qualified woman over a man simply because there were fewer women than men at the supervisory level. Once again, there was no evidence that the imbalance of men was due to discrimination or that women had even wanted those jobs in the past. As Prof. Detlefsen explains, what makes the case interesting is that the Supreme Court made explicit something that had always been implicit but never spelled out: “that a statistical imbalance favoring white males as a group is in itself sufficient to justify employment discrimination against individual members of that group.”
Justice John Paul Stevens openly admitted in his Johnson opinion that in approving race and sex preferences, he was flouting the will of Congress, which had explicitly forbidden such preferences. Prof. Detlefsen wonders if this is not “the most forthright admission of judicial malfeasance ever made by a sitting justice.”
The cumulative effect of cases like these was enormous. The Griggs, Teal, and Johnson cases established that “discrimination” was not a matter of malicious intent but of numbers, or what came to be called “underutilization” of minorities or women. The entire thrust of “civil rights” litigation changed. It was not necessary to prove intent to discriminate or to find actual victims of discrimination. Any company that had not voluntarily discriminated against whites so as to have enough non-white employees, could be forced to discriminate against them.
As the definition of “discrimination” changed, so did the remedies for it. The courts have a long history of requiring restitution to someone who has been wronged. Nevertheless, restitution has always been to injured individuals. Once the notion of discrimination had been stripped of both intent and of identifiable victims, restitution had to be made to a race. If a company were forced to give blacks preferential treatment because of “underutilization,” the beneficiaries were not being compensated for past wrongs. They were reaping windfall benefits because they happened to be black at a time when blacks as a race were getting preferences.
Prof. Detlefsen explains that the notion of group punishments and group rewards is a radical departure from the principles of the Constitution, which is deeply concerned about individual rights but says nothing about group rights. Even the Supreme Court justices who sanctioned this revolution had some notion of what they were doing. Justice Lewis Powell once wrote, “As part of this nation’s dedication to eradicating racial discrimination, innocent persons may be called upon to bear some of the burden of the remedy.” In what other branch of the law would a judge blithely admit that he was prepared to punish the innocent? This is all the more astounding, because when it comes to robbery or murder, the liberals who support affirmative action happily quote Sir William Blackstone: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.”
Race and the Schools
Once segregated schooling was brought to an end with the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, definitions of school desegregation went through as great a change as definitions of discrimination. The original Brown case was about ending forced racial separation in schools. Prof. Detlefsen recounts how the goal of the courts quickly became the quite different one of bringing about forced racial mixing in schools. Mandatory busing was the means to bring this about. Whereas, in the past, children might have been prevented from attending certain schools because of race, they were now obligated to attend certain schools because of race. Supreme Court Justices decided that racial mixing was such a desirable goal that they would force it on schools that had never been legally segregated to begin with.
Prof. Detlefsen also tells the less well known story of the Reagan Justice Department’s battle with the Internal Revenue Service over tax-exemption for schools. At the time, the IRS was doing everything within its power to crush the so-called “segregation academies” that appeared in response to forced integration.
The Agency’s zeal for this task was behind its attack on Bob Jones University of Greenville (SC). Bob Jones was a private, Christian school that did not have a racially discriminatory admissions policy. However, its administrators had found what they took to be biblical injunctions against inter-racial dating and marriage, and forbade this to their students on pain of expulsion. In 1976, the IRS officially revoked the university’s tax-exempt status, retroactive to 1970. The university appealed the revocation to the Supreme Court, where the Reagan Justice Department argued in its favor. The university lost.
In deciding Bob Jones University v. United States, the Supreme Court almost entirely ignored what the case was about. In their majority opinion, the Justices roared about “racial discrimination in education,” and the “shackles of the ‘separate but equal doctrine’” as if Bob Jones had put up a big sign on its admissions office that said “No blacks need apply.” In fact, the university was a voluntary association of like-minded people who happened to read the Bible in a particular way. Moreover, a ban on inter-racial dating is not “discriminatory” since it affects all races. There was no law that applied to what the university was doing, which was why the Court had to act as if Bob Jones were doing something illegal. It seems that the justices simply did not like the ban on inter-racial dating and decided to punish the school because it had one.
As Prof. Detlefsen points out, the effect of this decision was to give huge powers to the bureaucrats at the IRS. What was to stop them from attacking any school that took an unconventional position? Could a school lose tax exemption for teaching libertarianism or Marxist revolution? Presumably so, if the Supreme Court could be made to feel strongly enough about it.
|Group punishments and group rewards are a radical departure from the principles of the Constitution.|
The string of defeats the Reagan Administration suffered at the hands of the Supreme Court is sad enough, but perhaps saddest of all was its defeat at the hands of American businessmen. There was one form of affirmative action that was wholly within the President’s power to abolish. This was what had begun with the Philadelphia Plan, the Department of Labor’s requirement that government contractors practice racial hiring preferences. The requirement could have been revoked by executive order, and in 1985, the administration let it be known that it was considering doing so.
It is important to note that government contractors were not going to be prevented from practicing affirmative action voluntarily; they were simply to be relieved of the obligation of doing so. This did not stop the press and civil rights groups from acting as if Ronald Reagan were about to stand at the school door with an ax handle. That was to be expected. The surprise was that the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) strongly opposed relaxing the requirement.
Why would they want obligatory racial preferences rather than voluntary preferences? The reason is that so long as they were obligatory, disgruntled whites were essentially prevented from claiming reverse discrimination. As soon as preferences became optional, whites would be in a much stronger position to file discrimination suits.
Then why not abandon affirmative action entirely and hire strictly on merit? Most NAM members are large companies with well entrenched affirmative action bureaucrats who would make a fearful din if they were fired or reassigned. Often these people are black, and if affirmative action were abandoned they could call down the wrath of the civil rights industry in the form of boycotts, protests, and who knows what else.
There was another reason why NAM preferred the status quo. Its members have already hired the head-hunters and head-counters necessary to comply with government-mandated racial preferences. Small companies, which were generally in favor of lifting affirmative action requirements, often have not. The overhead of discriminatory hiring and racial paperwork is therefore a greater burden for small companies than for big ones, and this gives big companies an advantage. NAM mounted so much opposition to the idea of lifting discrimination requirements that the government backed down.
Prof. Detlefsen’s book is full of such illuminating and disappointing stories. He writes, for example, of the two Carter-appointed Civil Rights Commissioners who, in 1984, wrote that civil rights laws were not passed to protect white men. He writes of how the Supreme Court decided that consent decrees were not court orders, thereby circumventing the law and stopping 51 Justice Department suits in their tracks.
Since Prof. Detlefsen clearly sees the folly in what the courts have done, he even speculates about what could have motivated them. He argues that of the three branches of government, the judiciary is most vulnerable to intellectual fashion. The fashion that dictated one disastrous ruling after another is what Prof. Detlefsen calls the civil rights ideology. In its pure form, all white men are seen as the oppressor class, and all non-whites and women are the oppressed class. Civil rights are therefore not a means of securing legal equality but of liberating the oppressed. Supreme Court Justices may properly violate the Constitution and ignore the law in the name of this vital task.
Prof. Detlefsen also sees no coincidence in the fact that the whites who enforce affirmative action are men well established in their careers, who will never suffer the sting of discrimination. He has little sympathy for the likes of Senators Joseph Biden and Edward Kennedy, who promote self-righteous policies at no cost to themselves or to their families.
Civil Rights Under Reagan is a thoroughly worth-while book. Prof. Detlefsen’s research is meticulous, his reasoning clear, and his examples convincing. Some of Prof. Detlefsen’s arguments are subtle, and he makes no concession to readers who do not stay alert, but these are only advantages to anyone willing to give this book the close reading it richly deserves.
IN THE NEWS
O Tempora, O Mores!
The Los Angeles riots may be over, but their effect lingers on. While Los Angeles was burning, a black Dallas County official was on trial in Dallas for breaking a white man’s ankle during a demonstration. Jurors as well as the Assistant District Attorney were threatened with death if the man was convicted, and there was wide-spread speculation that a guilty verdict would provoke race riots. On May 11, the jury found the black man innocent. There were no charges of jury tampering, nor was a mistrial declared. [Robert Suro, Dallas black leader is acquitted in tense trial on assault charges, May 12, 1992, p. A16.]
The New York Times did its part for the jury system by publishing a long article, in which it named each of the jurors at the trial of the officers who beat Rodney King. The article went on to name the neighborhoods in which the jurors live and to describe their houses. It did everything but give out their addresses and telephone numbers. [Putting the L.A. jurors at risk, NY Post, May 12, 1992.] Many of the jurors had already left town in fear for their lives, and the Times article hardly added to their peace of mind. The article also reminded white potential jurors of the treatment they can expect if they render unacceptable verdicts.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, a governor of the Federal Reserve Board warned bankers that they were partially to blame for the riots. Lawrence B. Lindsey said that if banks didn’t make enough loans to non-whites, banks could be regulated just like public utilities, with lending quotas for every ethnic group. [AP, Banks that don’t lend to minorities warned, NY Newsday, May 12, 1992.] Mr. Lindsey seems not to have noticed that black-owned banks make even fewer loans to blacks than do most white-owned banks. Since they will not be accused of “racism” for turning down shaky non-white borrowers, they are free to apply prudent credit standards across the board.
The Rising Tide
Immigration to Miami and surrounding Dade County is changing southern Florida in dramatic ways. Forty-five percent of the county’s residents are now foreign-born [Lizette Alvarez, A decade of upheaval and transformation, Miami Herald, April 3, 1992, p. A22.] and the languages the county speaks reflect these changes. In 1980, a majority of county residents still spoke English at home, but in 1990, only 43 percent did.
Today, of the county’s 1,798,000 people, just over 50 percent speak Spanish. The next most popular language after English is Haitian Creole, which is spoken by 3.8 percent. Only 24.4 percent of the population is white. One wonders how many other counties in the nation have majorities that prefer to speak a foreign language. [David Hancock, Census: Dade speaks in many tongues, Miami Herald, April 10, 1992, p. 1B.]
Although we are told over and over that immigration is an economic stimulus, incomes in Dade County did not budge over the past decade, while the average income in the state of Florida increased by 12 percent. Within Miami, which attracted most of the immigrants, the average income dropped by 12 percent over the decade. Half of Miami’s children under the age of five now live in poverty.
In Miami proper, only ten percent of the population is white, whereas it was 90 percent white 30 years ago. No doubt it is pure coincidence, but Miami has the highest crime rate in the nation.
Immigration to southern Florida is affecting the entire state. In 1980, one in 33 Floridians had a hard time understanding English; now, one in 13 do. In 1980, five percent of all homes did not have telephones; now ten percent do without. [Dexter Filkins, Dade incomes stagnant in ’80s, census says, Miami Herald, April 3, 1992, p. 23 A.] The third-world is no longer at our doorstep; it is well over the threshold.
Bill Cosby, whose television show has aired its final episode, funded a study to see what effect “The Cosby Show” had had on race relations. Sut Jhally of the University of Massachusetts reports that it “desensitized” whites to the problems of blacks because the middle-class success of its characters suggested that blacks are not held back by inveterate white racism. Of course, any television program that depicted black urban life realistically would be attacked because of its “negative stereotypes.” In his research, Prof. Jhally found that almost all whites think that affirmative action is unfair to whites. The professor calls this “enlightened racism,” [Jeff Donn, “Cosby” study sparks race debate, NY Newsday, April 28, 1992.] whatever that may be.
Mississippi and Georgia use the Confederate battle flag as part of the design of their state flags. Naturally, the flags are denounced as racist, and the usual crowd is trying to have them changed. Georgia’s flag is under particular attack, on the pretext that it will be an embarrassment to the city when it hosts the Olympics in 1996.
The last time a big anti-flag campaign was mounted was before the 1988 Democratic convention, on the pretext that the flag would offend convention delegates. Olympic athletes are probably even less likely to be upset by the flag than the delegates were.
Two states, South Carolina and Alabama, still fly the battle flag above their state houses. In South Carolina, the flag is also displayed in both houses of the state legislature. [AP, Battle brewing on altering state flag, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Georgia), April 25, 1992, p. A1.]
Freedom of Speech
Nicholas Sobb, a high school student in Palm Beach County (FL) was suspended after he distributed flyers for a book called Disaster Zone-U.S.A., which argues against school integration. His suspension came during final exams, and Mr. Sobb filed a First Amendment suit against the school to have his suspension lifted. Judge Edward Garrison turned him down.
A lawyer for the school gave unwitting support to Mr. Sobb when she explained why he had to be suspended: “We’ve got enough racial problems on campus as it is, without something that could incite students.” [Judy Plunkett, Student suspended for anti-integration book, Miami Herald, May 23, 1992, p. 5B.]
Boyz ‘n the Scouts
The British Boy Scouts are trying to change their image so as to attract inner city blacks. They have hired a black rap singer, named T-Love, to record a rap song about scouting. The Economist of London wonders coyly whether Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, would have approved. [The Economist, Feb. 29, 1992, p. 63.] We can assure The Economist that he would have been livid. It is now considered rude to recall that Lord Baden-Powell was a self-conscious racialist, who did not want non-whites in his movement. For many years, the Boy Scout magazine, Boys’ Life had the subtitle, “The magazine for white boys.”
In May, Hispanics from all over the state of Arizona gathered in Phoenix to protest “discrimination” in the schools. Discrimination used to mean treating people differently because of race, but now it means treating them the same. The protesters don’t like what they are being taught, since they say they do not want to be assimilated into the Anglo way of life. Curiously, they want the “Anglos” to be taught a Hispanic curriculum, too. “All people need to learn more about what the indigenous peoples on this continent have to offer,” said Tupac Enrique, who drove his point home by performing a “sacred Aztec ceremony” at the State Capitol. Arizona Governor, Fife Symington, usually pays no attention to uninvited demonstrators, but this time he invited the Hispanics into his office so they could speak to him in person. [Kim Sue Lia Perkes, Hispanics allege bias in schools, Arizona Republic, May 5, 1992, p. B1.]
‘The Race of None’
Barbara Ehrenreich is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and other lefty journals. She has fully absorbed the required ethnicity lessons of the day, and thinks that her Irish-English-Scottish ancestry has no meaning or significance. In a recent article, she explained that when she was younger, ethnic nothingness seemed a terrible legacy to pass on to her children, but she thought she had found a way around it:
I had hoped that by marrying a man of Eastern-European Jewish ancestry I would acquire for my descendants the ethnic genes that my own forebears so sadly lacked.
It didn’t work. She tried to celebrate Passover with her children, but gave up when they realized she was faking it. She reports that her children grew up with no racial or ethnic consciousness, but she wasn’t sure that was an entirely good thing until recently:
A few weeks ago I cleared my throat and asked the children, now mostly grown and fearsomely smart, whether they felt any stirrings of ethnic or religious identity, which might have been, ahem, insufficiently nourished at home.
“None,” they said, adding firmly “and the world would be a better place if nobody else did, either.” My chest swelled with pride, as would my mother’s, to know that the race of ‘none’ marches on.
Surely, only a white person could have written those lines or thought those thoughts.
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