Art for Color’s Sake

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio wants to coerce museums and arts groups that receive city money into using hiring quotas based on race and ethnicity, according to the New York Times. But it would be illegal for employers to give in to this pressure, because Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids such discrimination.

Federal statute aside, it is unconstitutional for the city to engage in such pressuring. Any use of racial and ethnic classifications is “presumptively invalid” and triggers “strict scrutiny,” which can be met only if, for starters, there is a “compelling” government interest. The courts have recognized no such interest in the context here.

And no such interest is cited in the news story, just a claim by an official that hiring by skin color and national origin will lead to a “cultural sector” that “is fairer, more equitable and looks like the city it serves.” That, Justice Powell wrote many years ago, is just “discrimination for its own sake. This the Constitution forbids.”

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – The Left has been asserting for some time that there is no such thing as voter fraud: Not just that it is not widespread, or that there is only some of it, but that as a practical matter there is none of it at all.

There are a couple of reasons that the Left needs to take this dubious and extreme position.

First, it is essential to its credibility in opposing ballot-integrity measures like voter ID. As long as there is (or even could be) at least some voter fraud, it is hard to see why measures taken to stop it are a bad idea.

Second, if voter fraud is accepted to be a myth, then any and all ballot-integrity measures can only be explained as racist, and this in turn makes it more plausible that we have to resurrect Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, incapacitated by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, to keep states from enacting these measures. And the resurrection of Section 5 (requiring federal “preclearance” of all state and local practices and procedures that affect voting) is important because it will enable the Left to block not only perfectly legitimate voting laws, but will also get it back in the game of requiring racial gerrymandering that is partisan driven and politically correct.

(By the way, I’m not saying that it is impossible for a state-enacted ballot-security measure to be racially motivated. But there are plenty of laws available to challenge them.)

So the Left has to discredit the new election-integrity commission from the get-go. It says it is afraid that the commission will somehow falsely declare that there is widespread voter fraud, but really it would be fatal to the Left’s agenda even if the commission just found that there was some voter fraud.

Conservatives, on the other hand, should be happy with the commission simply doing an honest job of documenting what the facts are. If it does so, it probably won’t find that, for example, fraudulent ballots cost Donald Trump the popular vote, but it would also be most unlikely to find that, as a practical matter, there is no voter fraud at all. And such a balanced conclusion would be not only perfectly reasonable — it would also shut up the Left.

So let the commission do its job.

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The Left’s Backward-Looking Racial Narrative – I have just finished reading part I of Jason Riley’s new book False Black Power?, and I want to recommend it right away as highly as I can (by the way, Mr. Riley recently joined the Center for Equal Opportunity’s board of directors).  I’ll write more when I finish part II, in which the always-interesting John McWhorter and Glenn Loury offer their critiques and Mr. Riley responds. 

It’s a short book (only 122 pages), and I’m savoring every paragraph.  The thesis, in brief:  “The major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination and hasn’t been for decades.  The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the antisocial, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.”

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One More Thing – R.R. Reno in the current issue of First Things quotes William Deresiewicz (who is not a conservative, by the way): 

“Unlike the campus protestors of the 1960s, today’s student activists are not expressing countercultural views.  They are expressing the exact views of the culture in which they find themselves (a reason that administrators prove so ready to accede to their demands).  If you want to find the counterculture on today’s elite college campuses, you need to look for the conservative students.” 

Now, I’m not sure there wasn’t a lot of truth in this even in the sixties, but my point is that it is certainly true now.