Mark Davis

The 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was sure to draw a flood of retrospectives and analysis, and properly so.

But an equally safe bet was the hijacking of the occasion for the proliferation of agenda-driven malarkey.

If you name something the “Civil Rights Project” and put it at UCLA, it becomes easy to predict what it will crank out. Just in time for what should be a celebration of a landmark ruling marking our societal path to enlightenment, along come these Debbie Downers to tell us that no, in fact, segregation is still very much alive.

This may come as a surprise to anyone with a grasp of what words mean.

“Segregation,” as it pertains to the history of U.S. education policy, refers to actual laws preventing kids of certain races from attending certain schools. It recalls the unfathomable days when a black student could live within the territory of a school near his home and be denied admission because of skin color. Our schools have long been purged of such poison, but how will the Civil Rights Project at UCLA fill its days if American law has indeed righted itself racially?

Needing a narrative of America as a land still in dire need of racial scolding, they have graced us with a report, “Brown at 60: Great Progress, a Long Retreat and and Uncertain Future.”

Rest assured the “Great Progress” section in no way recognizes our society’s enormous leaps toward racial awakening. It embraces instead the social engineering that yanked both black and white kids out of schools they wished to attend, casting them into faraway classrooms to achieve diversity numbers that pleased an activist bureaucracy but made kids miserable.

I saw this firsthand in Prince George's County, Maryland in the mid-1970s. Hundreds of my white classmates were ripped from their daily routines to satisfy a federal court’s whim to plant them miles away in majority-black schools. Simultaneously, hundreds of black kids at those schools were wrenched away from their familiar environment and planted in my largely white school.

So why did I attend a largely white school? Because, heaven forbid, I lived in a largely white neighborhood. If Camp Springs, Maryland had been more diverse during the Nixon years, I would have had more classmates of color. Similarly, the two largely black schools forced into this unholy busing trade reflected the demographics of the neighborhoods surrounding them.

Oh, the horror.

This concept of kids attending the school closest to their homes drives the left insane. The scourge of busing loosened its grip in the county of my youth, but the ensuing years saw white families fleeing the area (or at least its schools) in waves. Today, PG county is majority African-American, and so are its schools, which is thoroughly proper. A school’s halls should be filled with the sounds of kids who live nearby, whether they are all black, all white, all Hispanic, all Asian, all Eskimo or any combination thereof.

One indicator of my hometown demographic shift: The junior high school I attended was named after Roger B. Taney, the Chief Justice who gave us the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857, and the mascot was a confederate flag-waving Rebel. I have no reason to believe either decision was spurred by any intended racial slight, but the building is now Thurgood Marshall Middle School, reflecting the wishes of a community chilled by the old namesake and mascot. Once again, the marketplace works.

But that marketplace is an offense to the busybodies who cannot fathom the notion that circumstance and actual freedom of choice may land large racial groups alongside each other in neighborhoods they choose to live in.

Freed from the marionette strings of forced busing, families are sending their kids to neighborhood schools again, which means that diverse neighborhoods sprout diverse student bodies, and neighborhoods dominated by a single race will see those numbers reflected in the schools.

To the UCLA “researchers,” this is not merely a landscape of choices they do not approve of, it is the de facto return of segregation. This is a preposterous attempt to paint us as a nation still stuck in the bigotries of past generations, curable only by the benevolent theories of, well, the Civil Rights Project and its ilk.

The executive summary of their report laments that increasing numbers of black kids and Hispanic kids are going to school with other black and Hispanic kids. They hate that the white kids are going to school with each other as well (alongside the Asian kids), noting that the White and Asian schools tend to be upper- and middle-class while the minority black and Hispanic schools are crumbling and plagued with many societal ills.

That should be a concern to everyone. But the solution will never be to uproot kids from their families’ chosen environments and punt them miles down the road in some perverse numbers game.

Such stunts sidestep real solutions, like making sure schools in less affluent neighborhoods are not stiffed in the local school budget, and improving family structures so that they yield fewer kids likely to go to school and tear up the place, and each other.

I’d love to think that even if we achieved these goals, the Civil Rights Projects among us would nod and realize that the skin color of a student body should make no difference, a concept in harmony with the goals of Martin Luther King.

But in an America so racially healed that its most hated man can be a racist NBA owner, oblivious malcontents strive onward, claiming urgent necessity for social engineering.

They decry not just segregation by race, but by poverty, pointing out that the disproportionately high numbers of poor kids of color means that they are more likely to live among each other, resulting in their attendance at the same troubled schools. Here are people with college degrees who have not grasped that people of low income are going to have limited options on where to live.

They also fail to notice that if a poor kid’s family lifts itself up out of poverty, the first likely event is a moving van taking them to another house and another school. Nothing in law or society prevents this upward migration, and evidence of it is everywhere.

But this does not quell the fires of mischief among those who cannot rest unless they are invoking government power over our various choices.

That, more than actual diversity, is their aim. Suggest a voucher program that would give minority kids greater access to better schools (and thus a greater chance of rubbing elbows with white classmates), and they recoil.

The heroes who toiled so honorably to bring about victories like Brown deserve special recognition in history. But the need for sweeping court intervention to combat societal racism is just that— history.

Racism is not dead. It never will be. Human nature will always feature dark corners of prejudice, invoked against all races by practitioners of all races. But to the chagrin of interventionists like UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, we have chased racism to the ash heap of our most reviled behaviors.

Now we must apply equal vigor to dissuade those who would make race relations worse with the self-serving foment of needless discord.