Perhaps it was unfair to expect that the election of Barack Obama would “bend the curve” on hundreds of years of racial attitudes and the politics that developed around those attitudes. Then again, for a man that entered office with a promise to calm the seas and heal the sick doing “post racial” should have been a piece of cake. Moreover, with all the talk of “hope and change” it was not outrageous to imagine that there might be some positive change in the tone surrounding discussions of race. Certainly it was not unreasonable to imagine that at the very least this President- who was going to win back the worlds respect -- would not stoke the fires of racial enmity here at home. Well, as my mother used to say: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Instead of bringing Americans together, this President is proving to be the most divisive and racially polarizing president in recent memory. And France still isn’t all that crazy about us.
The press of course has been filled with reports of the racism rampant on the political right. There is no doubt in my mind that there are American citizens that dislike President Obama because he is black, who are threatened with the increase in the population of “brown” people and resent the idea of a black man with as much smarts, power and charisma as Barack Obama. I am also absolutely certain that there are Americans that continue to believe O.J. Simpson did not murder Nicole, believe men from space have landed and infiltrated our citizen ranks or believe the recent healthcare bill passed by congressional democrats and signed by the President will actually reduce the deficit.
Particular invective has been directed at members of the various Tea Party’s, who are depicted as violent racists come together to protest a brother with power and prone to chant the N-word at members of the congressional black caucus. Of course this yarn is spun with an absolute disregard for the truth and absolutely no evidence. The tea party’s were formed in response to profligate spending by a white Republican President. And in this day and age – with every cell phone equipped with a video camera – it is difficult to imagine that not one frame has materialized showing dozens of tea partiers chanting the N-word and spitting on black congressmen as has been reported over and over again. The charges, however, fit so neatly with the new lefts narrative that facts just get in the way. As does any notion that playing the race card every time someone disagrees with this President hinders political debate and stirs the pot of racial animus.Now comes news that the Obama Justice department has filed an amicus brief supporting a return to the use of racial preferences at the University of Texas at Austin.
Following the 1996 decision in Hopwood v Texas the University of Texas was forced to find race-neutral means to increase the enrollment of minority students on its campus. The school began granting automatic admissions for students graduating in the top 10% of their high school senior class.
In 2003 the Supreme Court in Grutter v Bollinger held that some use of race is permissible only if race neutral methods fail and then they must be narrowly tailored. The University of Texas chose to hold onto the top 10% program and return to the use of race preferences for students falling outside that percentage.
In 2008 Abigail Fisher, the lead plaintiff in Fisher v University of Texas, graduated in the top 12% of her high school class and was denied admission to the university. Her lawyers argue that the race-neutral 10% plan has been successful and therefore any use of race preferences oversteps the dictates prescribed by the Supreme Court and is unlawful.
What is of particular interest is that the administration has gone beyond simply filing a brief in support of existing law. The President has extended the argument beyond what The University of Texas applies and the Supreme Court envisioned in Grutter and endorses the use of racial preferences in all "educational institutions"---K-12, undergraduate, and graduate. As Roger Clegg, president and general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity points out, “The Supreme Court has never found there to be a compelling interest in the former instance---nor, for example, in post-doctorates for chemistry---and it is aggressive and wrong to argue that, because the Court found there to be compelling educational benefits in diversity at the University of Michigan law school, therefore any educational institution can make that claim.”
It was anticipated by many of us that a black man sitting in the oval office would fundamentally change the racial discussion in America. This nation would finally and at long last leave the chains of race on the ground and thus unburdened soar to the heights promised at our founding. This new post racial America would be the defining contribution to the American narrative by the first post racial president, Barack Obama. Or so we hoped.