Center for Equal Opportunity

The nation’s only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity.

Mon03272017

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Destroying Records to Hide Race Discrimination

Stanford and Yale are destroying student records that would likely open them to charges of illegal racial discrimination.  See this news story in the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

This ought to be a very big deal. And note this:  “Students for Fair Admissions, an advocacy group that has filed lawsuits challenging the race-conscious admissions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on Thursday sent Yale and several other Ivy League institutions letters warning that they put themselves at legal risk if they destroy such records.”

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Maryland’s medical marijuana commission will be required by statute to “seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing medical marijuana growers,” to encourage “applicants who qualify as a minority business enterprise,” and to “seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when licensing dispensaries.”

Now, the usual justification for race-based decision-making is remedying past discrimination in a particular industry or agency, but it’s hard to see how that would apply here, since the marijuana business — at least, the legal marijuana business — is quite new in Maryland. So it must be that pot grown and dispensed by African Americans is somehow different from that grown and dispensed by white Marylanders. Who knew?

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Well, so much for sports uniting us:  The Washington Post reports, “ESPN 980 began developing a morning program built around [Jason] Reid and Chris Paul . . . The idea: a local sports-talk show hosted by two white personalities and aimed at white men . . . ”  

Just kidding!  Of course, the show was to be hosted by “two African American personalities” and was to be “aimed at African American men.”  That’s fine, whereas the former would have been illegal and racist.

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John McWhorter casts a skeptical eye here on the “white privilege” fad, and rightly so.

My take: It is, for starters, a divisive phrase, much more likely to hurt race relations than help them, as it lumps together all white people – many of whom cannot be considered “privileged” by any reasonable standard – and points an accusatory finger at them, asserting, “You don’t deserve what you have.” It is, at bottom, just another way of complaining about stereotyping, even though all racial groups – indeed, all groups, period – face stereotyping, some negative and some positive, and there’s nothing new or remarkable about it. It overstates the extent to which stereotyping occurs and the consequences it has. And, finally, playing this particular race card suggests that racial disparities — and, indeed, racial stereotyping — are due solely to racism simpliciter, and have nothing to do with culture and, in particular, cultural dysfunctions.

It is, in other words, the “conversation on race” that we have come to expect from the left: All whites must accept blame for all disparities of any kind, and any suggestion that some nonwhites have failed to act responsibly is blaming the victim.

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Finally, the Federalist Society recently posted an interesting podcast, involving the 2008 financial crisis. The conventional narrative is that this crisis was caused by Wall Street’s actions and insufficient regulation of the financial system. But a competing narrative is that, in fact, the crisis was caused not by bad actors on Wall Street, but by government housing policies. In the podcast, Peter Wallison marshals evidence in support of this view, which is also the thesis of his recently-released book, Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again.

And what does all this have to do with the Center for Equal Opportunity?  Well, those “government housing policies” were largely race-driven — that is, the feds brought pressure to bear on lenders to “get their numbers right” and make more loans to certain people because of their skin color or national origin.  You can read the related testimony I gave to Congress here in the wake of the crisis. 

During the podcast, you can hear me read in this part of that testimony, to get Mr. Wallison’s reaction:

By the way, if there was an uptick in subprime lending in the recent past, it may have come about because lenders were being pressured by government and quasigovernment agencies to make more loans to individuals with marginal creditworthiness. The response of the lenders might have been, “Fine, but if we have to make these loans, we will have to charge higher interest rates to make them economically feasible.” Thus, the same people who are lamenting “predatory lending” may have caused it by pushing for more loans to members of this or that racial, ethnic, or income group.

Mr. Wallison agreed.  Another bad government policy, driven by race, with disastrous consequences.  Here’s how I concluded my testimony:

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that the last thing the government should do is encourage lenders to worry about anything other than creditworthiness in making loans. …. Ramping up the use of disparate-impact civil-rights enforcement, and any other kind of pressure on lenders to make sure that they get their racial and ethnic numbers right, is a bad idea.  … [O]ur fair housing laws should and do make it illegal for lenders to treat people differently on the basis of race or ethnicity, and that is how they should be enforced. As a matter of law, legal policy, and economics, those laws should not be used to coerce lenders into arriving at politically correct statistical results.