Race-based preferences harm society

Posted: Mar 31, 2001 12:00 AM
Let me make a bold statement: Our society is not going to make any progress toward improving racial relations until we encourage the idea of racial colorblindness. Seriously, we cannot promote harmony among races if we continue to allow ourselves to be held hostage to the tyranny of political correctness. Political correctness is that fashionable body of thinking promulgated by the postmodern left that permits no dissent. It is enforced by tyrannical thought police who actively suppress airing of the opposite viewpoint. If a white person, for example, openly opposes the idea of reparations being paid to blacks to compensate them for the sins of slavery visited upon their ancestors, he is immediately presumed and branded a racist. If the left really thinks it is making converts by chilling speech -- indeed, thought itself -- it is sorely misguided. You don't convince a person of a proposition by denying him the opportunity to express his views. Instead, you build up resentment. The same is true with the application of racial preferences. By granting minorities preferences in hiring, education, government contract awards and the like, you are not going to ameliorate racial relations; you will exacerbate them. People who are denied the fruits of their labor or rewards based on their own merit will mightily resent the government imposing those discriminatory practices, not to mention the minorities who deprive them of what is rightfully theirs. No amount of phony charges of racism will change these legitimate feelings. And shame on anyone who accuses those who oppose such racial preferences of being racist. This nonsense has got to stop. It is people who constantly level such charges who are guilty of practicing racism. Notice I didn't say that they are racists -- that's a charge exclusively within the province of the left. I said they are practicing racism. And they are. One of the dictionary definitions of racism is: "discrimination or prejudice based on race." That is exactly what proponents of affirmative action engage in: discrimination based on race. This is precisely why Republican senators such as Orrin Hatch opposed Bill Clinton's attempted appointment of Bill Lann Lee to head the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. As I detail in my new book "Absolute Power," the Civil Rights Division was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, among other things, to enforce federal laws (BEGIN ITAL) against discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations. As explained in "Absolute Power," conservative groups were very leery of Bill Lann Lee because they feared he would not honor the United States Supreme Court's rulings against quotas. Specifically, in 1995, the Court held that race-based employment preferences are unconstitutional unless the government can show it has a compelling interest in enacting such preferences, the preferences are narrowly tailored and of limited duration. Conservatives' concerns about Lee were not merely academic. He had a history of supporting racial quotas whenever possible. During the confirmation hearings Lee gave senators further anxiety about his confirmation when he expressed a distorted view of the existing law on quotas and preferences. He seemed to read the Court pronouncements as liberally sanctioning racial preferences, which was exactly the opposite of their meaning. The senators were right in opposing Lee's nomination, but that didn't keep President Clinton from playing the race card and accusing them of being racist for their opposition. The Senate's rejection of Lee also didn't prevent Clinton from using inapplicable statutes to install him in office anyway in absolute derogation of the Senate's constitutional advice and consent rule -- a matter I go into in thorough detail in my book. The Adarand case is back before the Supreme Court (following several remands and appeals), and the Court will again have an opportunity to reaffirm, modify or reverse its position on government-sponsored race-based preferences. I am hopeful that the Court will reinforce its principled stance against racial discrimination. While some well-meaning advocates of affirmative action doubtlessly believe that such practices are beneficial to society, they are not. They are destructive of the long-term goal of racial colorblindness and the principle of equality under the law. It is a logical absurdity to suggest that society will benefit minorities by treating them as inferior and in need of special governmental treatment. On the other hand, opposition to race-based preferences, by definition, will foster improved relations among the races in the long run. We must have the courage to face (and speak) these truths.