Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, Attorney General of the United States, is undertaking an initiative to systematically, over time, remove large numbers of people of color from heretofore diverse college campuses nationwide.
The New York Times writes that “the Trump Administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.”
Lawyers within the Justice Department and those outside the government are asked to submit their resumes by August 9th in order to get in on a new task force that will sue the nation’s universities in hopes of ending affirmative action outright, or if not, to make litigation so expensive that our nation’s centers of higher learning will not seek minority students at all.
The narrative here is that all over the nation that somehow any spot given to a minority student is one taken away from a deserving white student. 21st Century Civil Rights Law will now be exclusively concerned with the civil rights of majority white people who wish to see racial integration ended in the United States.
Sessions had been turned back for a Federal judgeship in 1980, due to his earlier connections to the KKK in Alabama, and his distinct racial prejudice noted in a famous letter from Coretta Scott King, widow of the famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. It seems what Mrs. King warned of in her letter, the same one Elizabeth Warren was not allowed to read in the U.S. Senate recently, during Sessions own confirmation by the Senate to be Attorney General earlier this year has proved true and accurate.
The 1980’s Bakke decision correctly ended affirmative action where minority students were added willy-nilly without concern for their grades, class rank, or their deportment.
Just last year the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin, written by Justice Anthony P. Kennedy, that placed a burden on universities to show that affirmative action plans must withstand the most rigorous constitutional scrutiny. They have to only push affirmative action so far so that race “plays no greater role than is necessary to meet its compelling interest.”
The case involved a white prospective student to the University of Texas at Austin, Abigail Fischer, whose grades and class rank would have been charitably considered borderline, even in an all-white school. Texas used class rank to admit ¾ of its student body and for the other quarter of admissions race was only one of several factors used for those admissions. By any standards, Texas already had a pretty demonstrably weak affirmative action policy.
In 2003, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote an affirmative action opinion on an earlier case at the University of Michigan, where she actually recognized a value in having a more diverse campus. She wrote that having a diverse campus benefits all students regardless of their race. It promotes “the skills needed in today’s increasingly global marketplace” and something that “can only be developed through exposure to widely diverse people, cultures, ideas, and viewpoints.”
This brings to mind what Mark Twain said about the ability of travel and exposure to other cultures, peoples, and places as breaking down bigotry and all sorts of unhealthy prejudices and ignorance. The Trump Administration’s clear direction in support of ignorance seems to argue for the exact opposite proposition advanced by Mr. Twain, himself an inveterate traveler.
But all this legal detail may prevent us from thinking about the great question of what sort of nation we will become as this century moves along. Are we to be a nation that returns to the Jim Crow segregation era and calls that justice?
The entire premise of so much that Sessions wants to do at the new Injustice Department, and the racist polices of the President ignores history. Or it twists it like the new show Confederate on HBO, where the South has won the Civil War and slavery is still with us. The Sessions narrative on civil rights makes a mockery of all human rights.
It presupposes that white people don’t have the advantage anymore over people of color. That black people are those in control and that whites have no power to get any sort of opportunity to advance themselves in the United States. It argues that somehow people of color, especially black Americans, do not deserve their places at the nations best universities in the first place; a cruelty and bigoted view that never argues for a common humanity. And it suggests that white people should have the power and distinct advantage over all other American citizens. That conclusion is unavoidable.
Try thinking about it for a while, and do something I often asked my white students about. In 2017 what color would you wish to be in order to get ahead in America in the future? I never got one single hand raised where a student said they wished to be black, or brown, or yellow, or red. Why would that be?
I could ask, you are arrested by police on a charge of carrying a little bag of Marijuana after they stopped you to note your taillight was out. In that encounter with police, would you feel more or less comfortable if you were black?
It was announced today that a new Senate bill introduced by two Republican Senators will severely curtail legal immigration to the United States. We are talking about legal immigration here, and not even that of the undocumented. It is indeed time to return the Statue of Liberty to France. It has no place here in the United States of America. Green cards are going to be much harder to get.
When we say, or more properly, when white people say (as factually we all know whites still have the power) what it means to be an American what will America look like? Will it be an America in 1950? Will it even reflect E Pluribus Unim? Right now, this American is too ashamed to even be one