Walter E. Williams

In last week's U.S. Supreme Court's affirmative action decision, Justice Clarence Thomas' dissent included a quotation from an 1865 speech by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. "What I ask for the Negro," Douglass said, "is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. ... All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... Your interference is doing him positive injury."

Forget how the majority used the phrase "compelling state interest" to trump the 14th Amendment's requirement of equal treatment under the law and give continued sanction to racial discrimination. Let's examine some practical matters ignored in the pro-affirmative action celebration of the court's decision.

According to recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports, the average black high school senior had math skills on par with those of the typical nitnth-grade white student. The average 17-year-old black student could read only as well as the average 12-year-old white. Twelfth-grade black students were doing science problems at the level of sixth-grade white students and writing about as well as whites in the eighth grade.

As of 1998, only 18 percent of black students were rated proficient or advanced in reading, as compared to 47 percent for white students, which itself is nothing to write home about. In Michigan, the source of the controversy leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, just 2 percent of black eighth-graders score proficient in reading, compared to 34 percent of whites -- again, nothing to write home about. In addition to grossly fraudulent education, there's unthinkable school violence at many of the schools that black students attend.

According to a Department of Education report, "School Crime Patterns" (August 2002), "High schools with the highest levels of violence tended to be located in urban areas and have a high percentage of minority students (black and Hispanic), compared to high schools that reported no crime to the police."

The bottom line is given the day-to-day destruction of education for black students at the primary and secondary levels of schooling, most will never be able to compete academically. The fact that the affirmative action crowd demands discriminatory admission practices for post-graduate education such as in law and medical schools confirms something else. Black performance on admittance exams, such as the LSAT, MCAT and GRE, is stark testament that four years of undergraduate education cannot erase the damage of 12 years of fraudulent primary and secondary education.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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