- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
President Barack Obama has a choice: He can either destroy the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq or see the Islamic State bring its war to America. It is only a matter of time.
Never has an enemy been so clear and direct about its aims -- or more ruthless in its methods. The Islamic State has already said that it will launch attacks against Washington, D.C., and New York City, and we have seen from the blood flowing in the streets of Paris and the body parts strewn over the sands of Sinai that it has the means to do so. Yet the president cannot muster the will to take the fight to the enemy.
Perhaps French President Francois Hollande can convince Obama that the West is already at war and that the only question is whether the United States will commit to win the fight, which cannot be done only from the air. If Hollande fails to convince Obama, he may well find a more willing partner in Moscow -- forever changing the world in the process.
It is no accident that in launching a war against the Islamic State, as Hollande declared in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, France did not invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The mutual defense clause commits all NATO countries to treat an attack on one member as an attack on all. Instead, France invoked a far weaker provision of a European Union treaty, which pledges member nations to provide "aid and assistance by all means in their power" when a member nation faces "armed aggression on its territory."
France did so to keep its options open. Asked on Twitter why France didn't invoke NATO's Article 5, French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud tweeted that one reason was "the dialogue with Russia." In other words, if our oldest ally cannot depend on the United States, it will look to Russia to help.
Obama has created a vacuum of leadership that others will fill, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is all too eager to do so. Even before the Islamic State brought down a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula, Russia's involvement in the Middle East was troubling. Putin has committed planes, weapons and men to the civil war in Syria, but his main purpose to date has been propping up the Assad regime.
Russian bombs have hit anti-Assad rebels indiscriminately, not focusing on destroying the Islamic State but keeping Bashar Assad in power. Similarly, Russia has strengthened its ties to the Iranian regime, allying itself with the extremist government in Tehran to counterbalance U.S. anti-nuclear aims.
Even Israel has reached out to Russia in the wake of Obama's abrogation of power in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow in September when satellite photos showed a massive Russian military buildup in Syria, including fighter jets. Netanyahu said afterward that the discussions were aimed at ensuring "a joint mechanism for preventing misunderstandings between (Israeli and Russian) forces" in and around Syria.
Many intelligent analysts believe that Islamic State leaders on the ground in Syria directed the attacks on Paris and that they are planning more attacks on other cities. CIA chief John Brennan said in the wake of the attacks: "This is not something that was done in a matter of days. This was something that was deliberately and carefully planned over the course, I think, of several months in terms of making sure that they had the operatives, the weapons, the explosives with the suicide belts."
The men who stormed the Bataclan concert hall and mowed down restaurant patrons in the streets of Paris were disciplined, trained soldiers, many of whom had seen action on the battlefield in Syria. The United States must join France and those other nations that share our democratic values to destroy the Islamic State. Our aim cannot be simply to contain the Islamic State as the president maintained we had done in the face of all contrary evidence just days before the Paris attacks. Our goal cannot be just to degrade the Islamic State with hit-or-miss airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
The United States must root out this evil on the ground. Either we destroy the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or the Islamic State will come for us at home. The choice for President Obama is not whether we should fight the Islamic State on the ground but whether we want to do so on its home base or ours.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
Dear CEO Supporter,
We wanted to bring you up to speed on all of the important work we are doing at the Center for Equal Opportunity. Here is CEO's activities report for the last year:
Areas of CEO Interest
Opposing Racial and Ethnic Preferences. As America becomes an increasingly multiethnic, multiracial society—as, indeed, individual Americans become increasingly multiethnic and multiracial—a legal regime that sorts people by skin color and what country their ancestors came from, and treats some better and others worse on this basis, becomes increasingly untenable.
Fortunately, the principle of colorblindness is frequently enshrined in the laws of our land. While the courts have, unconscionably, carved out exceptions to these laws, they are only (limited) exceptions. Thus, an important part of what CEO does is act as a watchdog: We make sure that the laws on the books are followed, and that no American is treated differently or preferentially because of race or national origin. We have found that simply contacting an agency or organization that is discriminating—explaining the legal problem, asking that the policy be changed, and pointedly noting that if it is not, there will be a potentially costly and embarrassing legal violation—will more often than not end the discrimination.
Consider, to give just one example, the case of racially and ethnically exclusive programs at our universities. These include summer programs, internships, financial aid and scholarships, and other opportunities for which an absolute criterion of eligibility has been the applicant’s skin color or his ancestors’ country of origin. CEO has contacted hundreds of schools about such programs, and they have almost all agreed to change them. So successful have our efforts been that there is a growing consensus among schools that this change should take place. National publications such as the Wall Street Journal have reported on—and congratulated us on—our efforts.
We have done and are doing similar work against the use of racial preferences in all areas where they appear: university admissions (including playing an important role in Fisher v. University of Texas, discussed below), K-12 education, employment, public contracting, and voting (i.e., racial gerrymandering). We confront those discriminating directly, file administrative complaints, formal comments and amicus briefs, testify before Congress, and publicize what we find to bring public and political pressure to bear.
Supporting Assimilation. As Congress has worked sporadically on immigration reform, the Center for Equal Opportunity has been working to ensure that this process includes focus on a neglected element: assimilation. In this regard, we have already made some progress. We have done so by meeting with officials and discussing in a variety of media our ideas for improving assimilation. CEO’s Roger Clegg has circulated his ideas in written form to many of these officials, testified before Congress, and spoken on this topic at many universities and in other venues over the past few years. We are now working with other conservatives to inject this issue into the presidential campaign.
“Disparate Impact” and other CEO Areas of Interest. CEO also weighs in aggressively on other civil-rights issues of interest to conservatives. On hot button issues involving race, from Ferguson to Charleston, CEO is there to inject some sanity against the out-of-control demagoguery that the Left loves to use regarding race relations. No one opposes the ubiquitous race card more vigorously than CEO.
We steadfastly oppose the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement (that is, claiming violations based on racial disproportions rather than actual discrimination), and have filed amicus briefs, met with government officials, and advised on and facilitated filings by like-minded organizations on this issue. This is closely related to our opposition to racial preferences, since disparate-impact theory drives potential defendants to adopt racial quotas, as was illustrated in the 2009 New Haven firefighters case before the Supreme Court. Alas, the Obama administration has ramped up the federal government’s use of this approach—but CEO has played a key role in bringing these abuses to the general public’s attention (see, e.g., enclosed Wall Street Journal op-ed).
CEO president and general counsel Roger Clegg is also one of the few legal experts who has spoken out against the concerted efforts of the Left to allow felons—and not just those who have served their sentences, but those who are still on parole or probation or even still in prison—to vote. Mr. Clegg has written widely on the issue, testified before Congress, discussed the topic on many radio and television shows, and spoken at many law schools. CEO also helped write an amicus brief that was filed on behalf of it and the family of a murdered police officer with the Second Circuit (we won), and in a similar case before the en banc Ninth Circuit (we won again). Mr. Clegg has recently just finished coauthoring a paper on this subject that has been published and distributed by the Heritage Foundation.
Finally, the Center for Equal Opportunity plays an important role in disseminating information on our issues to other conservative groups. For instance, it began and continues to co-host (with the Heritage Foundation) a monthly Civil Rights Working Group lunch attended by like-minded organizations, congressional staff, and other government officials. Mr. Clegg draws up the meeting’s agenda and leads the discussion. He also leads the discussion of equal protection issues at the Heritage Foundation’s semiannual Legal Strategy Forum, and advises individuals and organizations that have run afoul of politically correct (and racially discriminatory) policies. Equally valuable is Mr. Clegg’s work over the years on the Executive Committee of the Federalist Society’s civil rights practice group; both he and Ms. Chavez speak frequently to Federalist Society student and lawyer chapters.
Examples of the Current Work of CEO
Monitoring the Executive Branch. A current top priority of CEO is monitoring, publicizing, and challenging the Obama administration’s use and support of race-based policies. CEO is monitoring not only news stories and government websites but also the Federal Register, the public filings of the administration (particularly the Justice Department’s civil rights division), the introduction of federal bills, and nominees to the both the executive branch and the judiciary. When we uncover instances of racial preference or other race-based policies, we publicize those policies and then lead and coordinate opposition to them in the court of public opinion and in the courts themselves.
Supreme Court Litigation. One prominent area of our activity over the years has been in Supreme Court litigation. CEO has been heavily involved in a number of cases that have been decided by the Supreme Court. For example:
1)Fisher v. University of Texas – This case challenging racial preferences in student admissions relies on a legal theory we developed, and before the case’s first trip to the Supreme Court we joined and helped write an amicus brief with the court of appeals, were the first to flag for conservative media the opposing Obama administration brief there, and participated in a moot court for Abigail Fisher’s counsel. We joined Supreme Court amicus briefs (at the cert stage and on the merits, highlighting CEO’s studies), helped coordinate other amicus briefs, advised Ms. Fisher’s counsel, and did extensive speaking, writing, and media “truth squad” work. After the Court’s positive ruling, we filed dozens of FOIA requests to determine if universities were meeting the criteria set out in Justice Kennedy's opinion. Last summer, when a lower court panel issued an opinion inconsistent with Justice Kennedy’s opinion, we helped write and joined an amicus brief urging the full appellate court to rehear the case. This summer, the Supreme Court granted review again. It's welcome news that the Court recognizes the continued importance of the issue of racial preferences in university admissions, and the decision to grant review is an implicit recognition that the court of appeals' decision allowing this discrimination is unpersuasive. Once again, CEO had joined and helped write an amicus brief successfully urging the Court to take the case—stressing the non-responsiveness of universities to Fisher I that our FOIA requests had uncovered, as well as our studies documenting the continued (often increasingly) mechanical and heavy weight given race in university admission—and this fall we joined and help write another brief (discussed in a Chronicle of Higher Education article) now that the review has been granted. We are working with Ms. Fisher’s lawyers, scheduled to participate in a moot court, speaking and writing about the case in the court of public opinion, and doing media “truth squad” work in the run-up to Supreme Court oral argument on December 9.
2) Schuette v. By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) – The Center for Equal Opportunity succeeded in helping persuade the Supreme Court to hear—and rule correctly in—this important civil-rights case last year. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had held that Michigan's anti-preference Proposal 2 violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. CEO was involved in this case for a long time, first in the lower courts and then in the Supreme Court. In fact, we helped get Proposal 2 passed in the first place, by releasing studies that documented how heavily racial and ethnic preferences were being used at Michigan public universities. We joined and helped write a brief urging the Court to take the case, and joined and helped write another brief once the case was on the Court’s docket. We participated in a moot court for the State of Michigan counsel and provided comments on the state’s brief. And we won: The Court upheld Proposal 2.
3) Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project – This Supreme Court case in which CEO was involved last term presented the question whether “disparate impact” causes of action may be brought under the Fair Housing Act. For years, we had pressed the Supreme Court to rule that such cases may not be brought; this approach would hold defendants liable for policies that have disproportionate racial effects, even if there is no difference in racial treatment in the way a policy is written or applied, and no racial intent in the reason for its use. Thus, for example, a landlord might be held liable for refusing to rent to people with a record of violent crime if more individuals of one race than another had such criminal convictions. CEO opposes this approach in all areas, and the Court had never resolved the issue for housing. The advocates of this misguided policy were able to keep the issue away from the Court for years, but finally this term the case was decided. We are disappointed that Justice Kennedy's opinion did not flatly reject the use of the "disparate impact" approach under the Fair Housing Act. But in the latter part of the opinion he puts many limits on the use of that approach, and so the law is actually better now than it was before the Court decided the case. CEO is continuing to urge challenges to the use of the disparate-impact approach in other litigation—in housing and in other areas, and has discussed how to use the better parts of Justice Kennedy’s opinion—and we are discussing legislation that can be passed to end the misguided "disparate impact" approach, too.
4) Shelby County v. Holder – In this case, the Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; this should end much of the racial gerrymandering that was a product of Section 5. CEO again played an important role, filing amicus briefs at both the petition stage and on the merits, participating in the coordination of other amicus briefs, in addition to CEO chairman Linda Chavez and CEO president Roger Clegg testifying before Congress against re-enacting Section 5 in the first place. CEO is also working to inform the public about why Congress should not undo the good work the Supreme Court did in this case.
5) Other Court Cases – CEO has also joined amicus briefs in a number of other recent cases in the Supreme Court or in lower federal courts, including Arizona v. Intertribal Council of Arizona (defending Arizona’s requirement of proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote) and EEOC v. Kaplan (seeking to limit the EEOC’s disparate-impact enforcement policy). We are now working with Pacific Legal Foundation on its cert petition in a case challenging racial preferences in employment, and in a number of cases involving racial preferences in government contracting.
Studies of Racial Discrimination at College and Universities – Another important area of our work is the dozens of studies the Center for Equal Opportunity has published over the years that document the heavy weight given to race and ethnicity in school admissions. By using the universities’ own admissions data, obtained through freedom-of-information requests, CEO has exposed the use of racial preferences in college admissions. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these studies are those that were published just prior to the vote on ballot initiatives to ban such discrimination in California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, and, most recently, Oklahoma. In all six states, the initiatives passed (we were also active in Colorado, the one state where an initiative failed, albeit narrowly).
The release of our Wisconsin studies prompted university officials to instigate student protests resulting in a lawless mob effort to disrupt our press conference. Our opponents’ efforts backfired, however, as we received excellent national and local media coverage, and an invitation to return to Madison the following month and testify before the state assembly’s higher education committee, which we of course happily accepted and which enabled us to confront the university’s witnesses there directly. We continue to collect data, with an eye on future studies. Our current target: The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, in light of the admissions discrimination lawsuit that has been filed against it.
Ending Racially Exclusive Scholarships – As noted earlier, the Center for Equal Opportunity has ended racially exclusive scholarships and other programs at dozens of universities all over the country. Our initial successes were with MIT and Princeton; Harvard, Yale, and dozens of other have followed. We have done so by using university websites to identify such programs, contacting the schools, pointing out the illegality of the programs, and when necessary, filing complaints with the Department of Education. For these programs, students of all racial groups may now apply. While DoEd is generally no longer an ally, we continue to have successes in opening up their programs.
Ending Racial Discrimination in Jobs and Contracting – Likewise, the Center for Equal Opportunity has ended racially exclusive job opportunities all over the country. One widely publicized example involved graduate teaching positions at Southern Illinois University, where our efforts resulted in an end to the program and a front-page story in the New York Times. We have successfully challenged other such programs as well, requiring that they be made open to applicants of any race. Our efforts will continue here, too.
Frequently federal, state, and local government agencies give or consider giving preferences in the award of public contracts on the basis or race, ethnicity, and sex. The Center for Equal Opportunity has confronted the agencies and successfully persuaded them not to engage in such discrimination. These efforts will continue. For example, we use the Internet to find local news stories reporting that city councils or county commissions are considering such programs; when we do, we immediately email to the relevant officials a customized memorandum that describes the legal and policy objections to these programs (and notes recent decisions holding officials personally liable when they have authorized this discrimination without a solid legal predicate). As a tactical matter, we have asked Pacific Legal Foundation to join us in these emails, since it is a litigating organization and, thus, especially intimidating; it has happily agreed. We have also drafted a model brief (with PLF) and posted it on PLF’s website for potential litigants to use. And we are working with congressional staff to request a GAO study on federal contracting preferences.
Other Efforts in Education – We also work toward greater transparency when racial preferences are being used. While the Center for Equal Opportunity opposes the use of race and ethnicity in university admissions, for example, obviously there are those who disagree—but who can favor secret racial and ethnic preferences in public or federally-funded university programs? Accordingly, we have drafted and publicized model legislation that requires the disclosure of such preferences, as well as documentation that, where preferences are being used, they comply with Supreme Court limitations on their use.
We have urged the Justice Department to ask federal courts to terminate desegregation decrees in place against school districts that have already fully desegregated; these decrees no longer serve any purpose except to require needless busing and thwart initiatives that would allow parents (of all colors) greater choice in removing their children from failing schools. We have also written directly to the federal judges involved. When this project began, there were close to 900 school districts under supervision; now there are under 200. We sent out a recent batch of letters during this administration, and we will continue to follow up on them. USA Today has published our op-ed on this topic.
The Court of Public Opinion – Finally, a word about the court of public opinion, where CEO devotes so much of its efforts. It is hard to quantify public attitudes, and even harder to prove the extent to which they have been affected by one organization. But CEO has over the years been one of the very few organizations tirelessly pressing these three ideas, among others: that racial and ethnic preferences are wrong, that it is illegitimacy rates and not discrimination that are the principal hurdle now for the African American community (and that contribute so heavily to the crime disparities now in the news), and that assimilation is not a dirty word and must be included in any discussion of immigration reform. In our view, the tide of public opinion is now running in our favor on all three issues, and we think it is fair for CEO to claim some of the credit. We also believe that the public is becoming more and more aware
of how ridiculous the “disparate impact” approach to civil rights enforcement is. Accordingly, speaking out on our issues will remain a top CEO priority.
CEO has had opinion pieces published in, among others, the following: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Review, Washington Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Engage, Minding the Campus, National Association of Scholars website, Clarion Call, The Freeman, and SCOTUS Blog. This is in addition to Linda’s syndicated column and her blogging for Commentary magazine’s “Contentions” and Mr. Clegg’s blogging for National Review Online. Finally, Mr. Clegg has recently coauthored four papers that were then published and disturbed by the Heritage Foundation on civil rights issues.
We have testified many times (at their invitation) before Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. We have spoken at scores of campuses, often on multiple occasions, including: Harvard, Yale, Vermont Law School, University of St. Thomas, William Mitchell College of Law, University of Chicago, Samford University, Alabama, William & Mary, Northeastern, Northwestern, North Dakota, Duke, Temple, Virginia, Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan, Rutgers, Washington & Lee, University of Tulsa, Ole Miss, Ave Maria, Florida International, Rutgers, Kansas, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Penn State, University of Richmond, Florida Coastal, Florida, Seton Hall, Ohio State, Seton Hall, Tulane, Loyola in New Orleans, Wisconsin, Emory, Georgia State, Mercer, University of the District of Columbia, George Mason, Columbia, Widener, Phoenix University School of Law, Arizona, American University, Western New England College of Law, Samford University, and Faulkner University.
We also spoke to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the Congressional Black Caucus’s Issues Forum, the American Bar Association, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, multiple times at the Federalist Society’s annual convention, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation’s Legal Strategy Forum, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’s national conference; for the Federalist Society, we have also done podcasts on numerous topics, including disparate impact, the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, felon voting, the Voting Rights Act, the “diversity” provisions of the Dodd-Frank bill, and government contracting racial preferences. We will also be participating in the Intelligence Squared/National Constitution Center debate on racial preferences in university admissions on December 3 in New York City.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
There was a time when presidential debates were just that, debates on policy among candidates. Not so Wednesday's slugfest in Boulder, Colorado. Some of the blame goes to CNBC for picking ill-prepared "moderators," who showed more pique than knowledge of the issues in posing questions. But the biggest problem is that there are simply too many candidates onstage to allow for an actual debate.
Instead of voters being able to assess candidates' positions and discern differences on policy, the format turns into a personality contest, which may explain why Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still leading in the polls. And the CNBC moderators fell right into the trap early on. Carl Quintanilla's opening question was, "What is your biggest weakness?" It was a ridiculous way to start the debate -- and the questions didn't get that much better as the evening progressed.
The presidential debates were a disaster for Republicans in 2012, allowing such candidates as Herman Cain to capture the spotlight based on personality alone. This cycle, a large part of the Republican base is split between those who favor the bombastic extrovert Trump and those who favor the soft-spoken introvert Carson. If substance and actual positions on issues were the criteria, neither man would survive (and ultimately, I'm betting that neither will). In the meantime, undecided voters aren't getting a chance to examine where the candidates stand on issues, which is supposed to be the purpose of debates in the first place.
The next debate will take place in Milwaukee on Nov. 10. It will air on Fox Business Channel and will be co-sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. Ostensibly, the debate will focus on economic issues (which the CNBC one was supposed to do, as well, but didn't), with Fox hosts Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo along with WSJ Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker. The rules will allow any candidate who polls above 2.5 percent to participate; that is a low bar that serves no one's interest but the fringe candidates'.
If the bar were raised to 5 percent, we'd have a real chance of seeing an actual debate, though it might mean Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee would be absent unless their numbers were to improve over the next week. Even Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina might fall off, which would be a disaster for Bush. But it might force him to make a decision about whether to continue his race, which has sucked up a lot of money that might be better redirected to a candidate who can inspire voters; yes, I'm thinking Marco Rubio. As for Fiorina, she'd still be in the mix for a place on the ticket if she were to fall back down to the secondary debate, as would Christie and Kasich.
If the debate narrowed to Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz, voters would have a chance to see who best represents the party. Trump's bombast would become a sideshow. Carson would show just how out of his depth he is in the world of policy and governance. Rubio would continue to show his command of issues but have to face tough questions (if moderators are capable of asking them) on his economic policies. And Cruz could demonstrate whether he is more than a skillful debater and actually capable of attracting voters.
All of this would require that candidates now in the race put the party's chances of winning the White House in 2016 above their own personal ambitions. It's a tall order. But there was a time, long past, when politicians were in it for the sake of something bigger than themselves. Looking at this year's slate of GOP hopefuls, it seems that some are in it to boost speaking fees and book deals or simply to aggrandize their already outsize egos. Others, such as Bush, Kasich and Christie, know they'd make a good chief executive; they've proved that as governors. But at some point, each of them must realize that in order to get to the White House, you have to win over voters, and they aren't doing a good job of that right now.
Maybe the best solution would be to put the debates on hiatus until after the first primaries. At least that way, the candidates could spend their time focusing on actual elections. Eight more debates -- two of them in 2015 -- are too many. By increasing the number of debates and vastly expanding the numbers of participants, we've diminished the value of debates to those who matter: the voters.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
Racial unrest on college campuses has spread from coast to coast in the past several days, but it began at the University of Missouri, where a graduate student went on a hunger strike to force the resignation of the college president. A group known as Concerned Student 1950, named for the year in which the first black student was admitted to the University of Missouri, demanded not only that University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe step down but also that he acknowledge his "white privilege." Black football players piled on, saying they would refuse to play as long as Wolfe stayed.
Quickly, both the college president and chancellor submitted their resignations, handing the bullies a huge victory. Buoyed by the success at Missouri, students at Yale, Claremont McKenna, Vanderbilt, UCLA and some 20 other campuses took to the quads to express their own racial grievances and issue their demands. Who knows where this frenzy will end?
It is worth noting, however, that the evidence of rampant racism at Mizzou, which started the racial stampede, began with just a few anecdotal incidents. A student claimed that a group of whites in a pickup had yelled a racial slur as he walked near campus. Then word spread of the discovery of a swastika drawn with feces on the wall in a dorm bathroom. It was enough to send students scurrying to the barricades. But the more information that emerges about these incidents the more questions arise about whether the original allegations weren't much ado about -- if not nothing -- very little.
Missouri, known as the Show-Me State, hasn't lived up to its reputation lately, beginning with the false racial narrative of the Michael Brown killing in 2014. The Obama Justice Department found in a civil rights investigation into Brown's shooting that the "hands up, don't shoot" story was, as The Washington Post's liberal journalist Jonathan Capehart noted in March, "built on a lie." Forensic evidence and multiple witness accounts show that Brown, who had just stolen items from a nearby convenience store, was the aggressor. Even though unarmed, Brown tried to grab Officer Darren Wilson's gun, which discharged inside the police cruiser, and punched him before Wilson took off in a pursuit that ended with Brown's shooting as he charged back toward the officer.
Like the "hands up, don't shoot" story, the incidents that sparked charges of widespread racism at Missouri don't hold up under scrutiny. Payton Head, the young black activist who alleged he'd been called the N-word by an unidentified group of white men off campus, is the student president -- a position to which he was presumably elected by the majority-white student body on the very campus he claims is a hotbed of racism. Many are questioning Head's unsubstantiated allegation in the wake of his bogus claims tweeted earlier this week that the Ku Klux Klan was on campus and that he was "working with the MUPD, the state trooper and the National Guard." Head apologized for having falsely warned students to "stay away from the windows in residence halls" because KKK sightings had been "confirmed" on campus and saying he was working with law enforcement, but the incident raises questions about Head's overall credibility.
And the feces swastika, though totally disgusting, doesn't quite fit the racial narrative, either. If the point was to target black students, why draw a symbol most associated with anti-Semitism? To date, no suspect -- or any specific target -- has been identified.
As for Jonathan Butler -- the 25-year-old hunger striker who, with his fellow Concerned Student 1950 members, demanded that Wolfe acknowledge his "white privilege" -- he should know something about privilege firsthand. His father earned $8.4 million last year as an executive for Union Pacific, according to public Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Butler is hardly the poster child for disadvantaged minority students.
These protests might be chalked up as meaningless mau-mauing if they didn't actually threaten the institutions and individuals at which they're aimed. But the alacrity with which college administrators have been caving in to demands is truly dangerous. The newly appointed Missouri president, former college administrator Michael Middleton, has pledged to lead the "university towards satisfying each and every one of those demands that can be satisfied." Among those demands are 10 percent racial quotas for black college admissions and faculty hiring -- both of which are unconstitutional at a state university. It is no accident that Middleton was one of the founders of an earlier protest group at Missouri, the Legion of Black Collegians, whose 1969 demands Concerned Student 1950 has reissued and Middleton promises to satisfy.
This is madness -- and it promises to foster racism, not help end it. University administrators and trustees must learn to stand up to bullies who play the race card, not cave in to demands to fire university officials whose chief crime seems to be that they are white.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
Professor Gail Heriot, who moonlights as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, had an excellent Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that made two important points. The first is that the “mismatch” that results from racial preferences in university admissions is an important factor in the relative dearth of African American graduates in the STEM disciplines. The second is that, while some of the pressure to use these preferences is self-imposed, a lot of it is not — and, in particular, much of it comes from accrediting agencies.
She calls on Sen. Lamar Alexander and Reps. John Kline and Virginia Foxx — “congressional Republican leaders involved in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this fall” — to step up to the plate and “prohibit accreditors from wading into student-body diversity issues.” She notes that Sen. Alexander knows about this problem and, indeed, helped resist the politically correct accreditors when he was Secretary of Education.
Those interested in more information about what Congress should do can read Professor Heriot’s additional words of wisdom here and here. I should note that the Center for Equal Opportunity works frequently with Professor Heriot, and has been supportive of her efforts here in particular.
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Interview with Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. — Among other accomplishments, Mr. Wharton was the president of Michigan State University and chancellor of the 64-campus State University of New York, and he’s just published his autobiography. In this interview with Inside Higher Ed last week, I liked this exchange (not only did it implicitly reject the need for racial preferences, but it was honest in acknowledging that “affirmative action” is in conflict with “intellectual merit”):
Q: At Michigan State, you created a commission to study the composition of the student body. As you look at higher education today, affirmative action is under legal attack. Can higher education achieve diversity without affirmative action?
A: My personal experience has ranged from attending higher education when there was no such thing as affirmative action — at Harvard my class in the 1940s had only four blacks, who were admitted on intellectual merit, not affirmative action — to the University of Chicago, where I was the first black to receive their economics degree. At MSU in the 1970s, I created a commission on admission which recommended a then radical program rooted in the need to provide enhanced activities that improved the ability of economically disadvantaged students — black and white — to succeed. We did not have any numeric diversity admission goals or affirmative action quotas. The result was that when fully operative, the graduation rates for economically disadvantaged minority and white students were the same as their classmates. And the numbers of such students increased steadily.
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You Can’t Beat Quotas! — The Wall Street Journal published a series of pieces recently on corporate gender diversity. The first sentence in one of them typifies all of them: “Top executives understand that gender diversity is both an ethical and a business imperative.” Why? No explanation in the piece is given. Now, nondiscrimination may be an ethical and business imperative, but that’s quite different.
There’s also lots of discussion about how setting “targets” for female hiring and promotions — and then rewarding or punishing those who succeed or fail in hitting those targets, respectively — is a great technique. My posted comment: “Yes, I bet that nothing succeeds in getting your numbers right like having the boss set a quota. But quotas inevitably lead to discrimination, and discrimination is unfair, divisive, inefficient — and illegal. More here.”
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Smiling at “Disparate Impact” — As CEO supporters know, we’re no fans of the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement, but this recent victory for some municipal firefighter plaintiffs nonetheless makes us smile.
Not because some of the plaintiffs were white: There’s no reason why whites can’t make disparate-impact claims, and of course there would be serious constitutional problems were civil-rights statutes interpreted otherwise (literally a denial of equal protection of the laws). But what’s funnier is the (affirmed) “finding that Akron’s promotional process adversely impacted African–American Lieutenant candidates and Caucasian Captain candidates.”
This just goes to show that everything has a disparate impact on someone. And that, of course, is one of the many reasons why this approach to civil-rights enforcement is ridiculous.
* * *
EEOC and Criminal Background Checks — And speaking of “disparate impact,”I wrote earlier this year about a big loss that the Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suffered when it claimed that a company’s use of criminal background checks had an illegal “disparate impact” on the basis of race and sex. Here’s an update: The EEOC has now been socked with nearly a million dollars in attorney fees.
* * *
Finally, the Palm Beach Post recently published (with the title “Not every felon should regain the right to vote”) my response to an editorial it had run that endorsed felon reenfranchisement. Here’s what I wrote:
In reference to the Monday editorial, “Fight to restore ex-felons’ voting rights must not be abandoned”: If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else — which is what you do when you vote.
The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis, after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf — not automatically, on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that many people who walk out of prison will be walking back in.
We don’t let everyone vote. That’s because we have certain objective, minimum requirements of responsibility, trustworthiness and commitment to our laws that we require of people — before entrusting them with a role in the solemn enterprise of self-government. So we deny the right to vote to children, noncitizens, the mentally incompetent — and people who have committed serious crimes against their fellow citizens.
Once a person has shown he has turned over a new leaf by going some period of time without committing a new crime, he could be re-enfranchised at a congratulatory ceremony, rather like a naturalization ceremony for new citizens. But it has to be earned if it is to mean anything.
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
I’m devoting my email this week to a review I recently wrote for the Federalist Society’s Engage magazine. The review is of Carl Cohen’s excellent book, A Conflict of Principles: The Battle Over Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan. You can find the full review here (it includes the footnotes I’ve omitted from this version). Professor Cohen chronicles a long fight in which the Center for Equal Opportunity was involved every step of the way – and the book has kind things to say about us, by the way.
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This book is important for anyone who cares about the use of race and ethnicity in making university admissions decisions, the practice widely referred to as “affirmative action.” The author, University of Michigan professor Carl Cohen, was not only an observer but also a key participant in the long struggle against the use of racial and preferences at his school. So the book is part memoir, part history, part policy—and all excellent. Because of the part he played in this fight, Professor Cohen has insights, knowledge, and perspectives unavailable to anyone else.
The book begins with some political and legal background, and then turns specifically to the use of racial and ethnic admission preferences at the University of Michigan. Professor Cohen played an important role in uncovering the extent to which race was weighed in admission decisions, which was in turn an important contribution to the legal challenge that followed and that resulted in a pair of Supreme Court decisions in 2003, Gratz v. Bollinger (undergraduate) and Grutter v. Bollinger (law school).
Those decisions, while limiting the extent to which discrimination would be allowed, still permitted it, and so the stage was set for the successful ballot initiative that amended the state constitution in Michigan to ban the use of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination and preference in state employment, contracting, and education—including university admissions. That ballot initiative was then challenged in a lawsuit, which also found its way to the Supreme Court, and the Court upheld the ban on racial preferences.
I especially enjoyed Professor Cohen’s discussion of some of the relevant social science research (pages 206-08), his debunking of the supposed benefits of racial diversity (pages 241 and 253-55), and his useful litany of the costs of racial preferences (pages 245-46). The appendices of the book are likewise useful, and include the Freedom of Information Act requests that Professor Cohen filed, the 1996 report he wrote on what he found as a result of those requests, and the text of the ballot initiative that was passed in 2006.
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I see by the word-count feature on my computer that I still have several hundred words left to write in this review, and so I turn now to the only thing I didn’t like about this book. That is its title, which suggests an equivalence between the two sides that, as the rest of the book documents, does not exist. The documentation is rancor-free, to be sure—Professor Cohen is unfailingly gracious; more on that later—but there’s no denying my conclusion: There is no “conflict of principles” here because the pro-racial-preference side is, by and large, unprincipled.
This is perhaps most obvious in the scofflaw attitudes of universities, which is something I know about, so allow me to give some chapter and verse on this.
You would think that, as the twenty-five year clock set in 2003 by Justice O’Connor in Grutter v. Bollinger has been ticking—“We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today” —schools that use racial and ethnic preferences would be weaning themselves off them. But this isn’t happening, as studies published by the Center for Equal Opportunity show. Our post-Grutter study of undergraduate admissions at the University of Wisconsin found the severest discrimination that we’ve ever seen, before or after Grutter. We found the worst law school discrimination we ever saw at Arizona State, also post-Grutter. We likewise found severe post-Grutter law school and undergraduate discrimination in, respectively, Nebraska and Ohio. And we even found law school, undergraduate, and medical school discrimination at the University of Michigan (before voters banned it) —and indeed worse undergraduate discrimination than there was in the system that the Supreme Court struck down in Gratz v. Bollinger. Fewer schools may be using preferences; many states have banned them, and most schools don’t use them since they are nonselective. But those that continue have doubled down.
Nor have things improved since the Supreme Court’s more recent decision in Fisher v. University of Texas (“Fisher I”). That case required universities to reevaluate their use of racially selective admissions policies; presumably, if the costs of racial preferences were found to outweigh the purported benefits, or if less discriminatory means could achieve similar benefits, the discrimination would have to stop. Consider one obvious potential cost, much discussed in the run-up to Fisher I: Recent empirical research provides strong evidence for the “mismatch” theory, which posits that racial preferences cause significant harm to the very students who are supposedly the beneficiaries of racial admission preferences. Even if some academics continue, in the face of all this evidence, to dispute the mismatch effect, any fair reading of Fisher I would require schools to determine that the benefits of using racial preferences outweigh any obvious costs, and one would think that this would in turn include at least a consideration of the possible mismatch effects on minority students.
There is, however, no evidence that universities have undertaken this type of introspection in the wake of Fisher I. To the contrary: Last year, the Center for Equal Opportunity sent public records requests to twenty-two public universities seeking information detailing how the institutions had considered the costs of their racially selective admissions policies after Fisher. In particular, CEO sought to find out how the universities had considered the mismatch effect on their students. Astonishingly, half (eleven) of those institutions responded that they had zero documents responsive to the request.
The response at the remaining eleven universities was no better. Two universities sent documents that confirmed that they had failed to consider the costs of mismatch at their schools. Seven of the institutions refused to honor the request—saying it failed to meet their requirements for some reason or another. One university quoted a price for searching for the documents that was too expensive for CEO—even though CEO engaged in extensive attempts to negotiate around the cost difficulty. The last request went to the University of Texas itself, which is still going back and forth with CEO on it.
During the same time period as CEO’s requests, state-based affiliates of the National Association of Scholars likewise asked universities for documents confirming that they had considered the costs of racial preferences and investigated race-neutral methods of achieving the same benefits. NAS’s requests met the same fate. Not a single university responded with documents showing it had seriously considered race-neutral alternatives as Fisher I requires, and not a single university responded with documents showing it had seriously considered the costs of their racially preferential admissions policies. Stanford and Yale are destroying student records that would likely open them to charges of illegal racial discrimination. There are many more such examples of intransigence.
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I hate to end the review on this dyspeptic note, not so much because I regret casting aspersions on the character of those supporting racial discrimination in university admissions, but because it suggests that Professor Cohen is to be faulted for not sharing this dyspepsia. To the contrary: That’s to Professor Cohen’s credit.
So let me wrap things up by quoting from a tribute to the late Irving Kristol written by Peter Wehner in Commentary (a magazine to which Professor Cohen contributes as well, by the way). In it, Mr. Wehner makes an important point, and so I keep this passage on my desk. It’s a message implicit in Professor Cohen’s book, too—and it’s an important message for conservatives generally, in my humble opinion.
A fifth quality of Irving Kristol’s that conservatism today would be wise to replicate is what his friend Charles Krauthammer called “his extraordinary equanimity.”
His temperament was marked by a total lack of rancor. Angst, bitterness and anguish were alien to him. That, of course, made him unusual among the fraternity of conservatives because we believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. That makes us cranky. But not Irving. Never Irving. He retained steadiness, serenity and grace that expressed themselves in a courtliness couched in a calm quiet humor.
When you think about some of the leading figures on the right today, words like “steadiness” and “serenity,” “grace” and “calm quiet humor” are not ones that immediately come to mind. Instead the tone and approach we often hear can best be described as apocalyptic, brittle, angry, and embittered. This approach to politics, by the way, was not simply stylistic; it was rooted in a deep understanding of conservatism itself. Kristol believed conservatism was “antiromantic in substance and temperament.” “Its approach to the world,” he wrote, “is more ‘rabbinic’ than ‘prophetic.’”
It also would help for conservatism to embody a kind of cheerfulness that was a hallmark of Kristol. As his writings show, he was deeply realistic. He certainly didn’t sugarcoat things. In fact, he described himself as “cheerfully pessimistic.” But one sensed that deep down, the needle leaned a bit more in the direction of cheerfulness than pessimism.
In any event, as long as I’ve been alive (and well before I was born) there have been people on the right issuing dark warnings of the decomposition and dissolution of the West; people who warn about impending tyranny and America’s march toward Gomorrah. I’m all for cursing the darkness when necessary, and have done a bit of it myself now and then. But that cast of mind, without any leavening agent, can lead to despair and radicalism. Those attitudes were unknown to Irving Kristol. He seemed very much at home in the world in the best sense and nudged it along in the right direction when he could. And my how he did.
I will note in passing here that Cohen’s tone in this book is quite opposite from that of one of today’s leading civil rights commentators on the Left, Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Now, I don’t know what Professor Cohen thought of Irving Kristol or whether he would describe himself as a conservative or neoconservative on any issue other than racial preferences (he has served as chair of the Michigan affiliate of the ACLU, and for years as a member of its national board of directors). And “serenity” and “calm” and “quiet” are not the words I would choose to describe Professor Cohen; “animated” and “passionate” and “exuberant” are more like it. But I admire both men, and an important part of each’s charm is his “extraordinary equanimity” and “total lack of rancor.”
So perhaps I shouldn’t even complain about the too-generous title that Professor Cohen chose for his wonderful book.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
Hillary Clinton's performance before a House hearing on Benghazi, Libya, this week proved once again why the former secretary of state will be a formidable candidate for president. Under hours of intense grilling from Republican members of the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton managed to remain calm, professional and responsive. She never lost her cool. She didn't raise her voice. She refrained from eye rolling, kept condescending looks to a bare minimum and generally comported herself well.
It was a far cry from her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, when she first addressed concerns about her response to the terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. In that hearing, Clinton famously brushed off notions that the administration had misrepresented the attack on the U.S. Consulate. "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?" she angrily responded when challenged by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
The Hillary Clinton of 2013 was not the woman who testified before Chairman Trey Gowdy's Benghazi committee Thursday. Even her physical appearance had changed. In 2013, Clinton wore thick glasses, her long hair hanging limply around her face, which looked sallow against a dark green suit. She spoke quickly and with an edge in her voice. The Washington Post actually counted the words per minute in both appearances, finding that Clinton's speech had slowed to 110 words per minute this week from her previous 150 words per minute in the earlier hearing.
This time around, Clinton looked rested and attractive. And yes, it matters what she looked like, not because she's a woman but because a candidate's appearance is the first thing people respond to. She needed not only to sound good before the committee but also to look good. Maybe physical appearance shouldn't matter, but it does.
In fact, the superficial aspects of the hearing probably did most to help Clinton and hurt the Republicans. I know it's difficult for political junkies and conservative activists to remember, but the public doesn't follow issues -- especially foreign policy -- very closely. Most Americans won't have listened to the hearings. They will have heard a few sound bites, looked at a few minutes of video and formed an opinion.
For many, if not most, conservatives, the Benghazi attacks represent everything that is wrong with the Obama foreign policy. The administration's intervention in Libya led to a vacuum of power that gave terrorists a more secure foothold in the region. When security deteriorated, the administration didn't do enough to protect American lives, and then it misrepresented the facts surrounding the death of Stevens and three others. Worst of all, politics seemed to drive the administration's actions -- and Clinton was, at best, complicit in the administration's failures.
But Republicans didn't do a good job of presenting that narrative. Instead, they got down into the weeds, wasting precious time focusing on Clinton's email with her confidant and sometime aide Sidney Blumenthal. Only Washington insiders could believe that Americans are concerned about some guy they never heard of and whether he had Clinton's personal email and ear. Blumenthal is a loathsome character, a gossip and a political hanger-on. But who cares? Certainly not the American people.
At the end of the marathon session, Hillary Clinton emerged not only unscathed but in better shape than when she went into the hearing. Clinton haters will claim the hearing showed a manipulative woman whose ambition always trumps honesty. Her supporters will see the day as a steppingstone on her way to the White House, allowing her to neuter congressional Republicans before she faces the Republican presidential nominee. But unfortunately for the GOP, those Americans who haven't made up their minds about Clinton may well think her performance showed grace under fire. It's those undecided voters the GOP needed to impress -- and Thursday's hearing did exactly the opposite.
- Published Date
- Written by Linda Chavez
The deaths of Middle Eastern refugees are becoming so commonplace they rarely make it on to the front pages in the United States. However, the deaths of 23 refugees in a rocket attack in Iraq on Oct. 29 should have been the exception. The U.S. has pledged to protect these particular refugees, yet has repeatedly failed to do so. The incident is one more example of the Obama administration's feckless foreign policy, especially when it comes to dealing with Iran.
The attack took place at Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military camp outside Baghdad that is home to more than 2,000 Iranian refugees who are members of the main opposition group to the mullahs who rule Iran. Some 80 Iranian-built rockets hit the small camp that has been home to members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran under an agreement signed by the United States and the government of Iraq in 2011. The Iranians, who now pull the strings in the Iraqi government, want the PMOI eliminated -- and are continuing to slaughter them while the U.S. looks the other way.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, members of the PMOI, who had built their own city, Ashraf, near the border with Iran, agreed to turn over their weapons to the U.S. military in return for written guarantees of their safety issued to each individual in the camps. When the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, the PMOI agreed to be temporarily resettled from their homes in Ashraf to Camp Liberty with the understanding that the government of Iraq would protect them -- an agreement memorialized in a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Iraq.
Instead, the group has suffered numerous attacks that have resulted in hundreds of casualties both at Ashraf and Liberty. Nor has Camp Liberty, which was supposed to be a temporary relocation camp before the refugees were resettled outside Iraq, met the most basic humanitarian standards, lacking sufficient water, food, medical supplies and decent living facilities.
As tragic as the loss of lives at Camp Liberty was, the stakes for the U.S. are even graver. The Obama administration negotiated a bad nuclear deal with Iran -- one that gives Iran sanctions relief without adequate inspections to assure Iran's compliance. Since that agreement, Iran has repeatedly poked the Obama administration in the eye, testing long-range missiles, arresting American citizens in Tehran, and fostering terrorism in the region with no consequences.
So what will the Obama administration do in response to these continued Iranian provocations? Probably nothing. But one action that the U.S. could easily take is to honor its promises to the Iranian refugees still stuck in Camp Liberty.
The Iranian mullahs see the PMOI as a major threat to their tyrannical control. According to one young woman who escaped Iran recently whom I interviewed via Skype, opposition to the mullahs is growing in Iran.
Paria Kohandel, an 18-year-old student, described the horror young Iranians experienced when men believed to be members of so-called vice squads threw acid on the faces of several women in Isfahan a year ago because the women's clothing was deemed "immodest." To date, no one has been arrested in the attacks, despite promises by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
Kohandel was just days away from taking university entrance exams in Tehran when she decided she could no longer live in such a society. "I was at a crossroads. Should I join the resistance or go back to my personal life?" she said. She knew how perilous the decision was because her family had already suffered enormously after the Iranian Revolution. Her father is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Iran for supporting the PMOI and an aunt and uncle were killed in the Iranian-backed 2011 attack on Ashraf. Nonetheless, she decided to join the PMOI and escaped Iran in August, telling me it would have been "selfish to think only of my personal dreams and not the dreams of my friends and all Iranians."
If the Obama administration were serious about confronting Iran, it could do no better than to assist members of the Iranian resistance such as Paria Kohandel. Ms. Kohandel is now living in Europe, but many of her fellow PMOI members are stuck in Camp Liberty. The U.S. owes these people protection. They must be resettled safely outside Iraq immediately. If the U.S. cannot even honor its basic commitments, should it be any wonder Iran thinks it can get away with murder?
- Published Date
- Written by Roger Clegg
In this week’s email, I’d like to share with you an essay that I coauthored and that was published last week on National Review Online:
Recently the acting head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Principal Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta, gave a very long speech for the “Community Policing Summit” hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey. The speech was a longer and more detailed version of remarks delivered repeatedly by Obama administration officials these days, so it is worth reading with some care.
Given the most charitable interpretation, the speech presumes a moral equivalence between the police and those arrested by them. On a less charitable reading, it displays hostility to law enforcement and makes a wrongheaded assumption that Americans and American culture are racist and discriminatory. More broadly, it accepts the progressive line that institutional racism is to blame for the ills in America’s inner cities and ignores entirely the possibility of a culture that encourages individuals to act irresponsibly.
But, if personnel are policy, then perhaps we should not be surprised. Gupta is a former director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which focuses on stopping not only the death penalty, but all of the supposed systemic problems in the American criminal-justice system. (In fact, ours is one of the fairest systems in the world, particularly in its due-process protections for defendants. But we digress.) As the acting head of the Civil Rights Division, Gupta no doubt felt that she was being evenhanded by saying some nice things about the police in a speech that then proceeds to repeat baseless charges that are being made against them.
Gupta spends far more time attacking the police than defending them, and even her defense sometimes damns with faint praise. It is hard to read the speech without concluding that the police are failing either because they are well-meaning but incompetent, or because they are not well-meaning at all. In either event, she certainly leaves the impression that critics of the criminal-justice system are basically correct in asserting that the police have been historically discriminatory and that the whole system remains rigged against people of color. Because, after all, at least according to Gupta, the “science” shows that “we all hold biases we aren’t aware of” and we have to identify and correct the “explicit and implicit bias” of police officers.
The speech begins by listing a half-dozen individuals killed by the police and noting what’s called “the sobering public reactions” in Ferguson, New York City, Baltimore, and elsewhere. She recounts the charges made against the police, and what the police say in their own defense, and then concludes, “There is truth in both of these perspectives.”
But is there really? That is certainly not what her own Division said about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Gupta’s summation is deaf, dumb, and blind moral equivalence with a vengeance. It was clear that the witnesses who originally stated that Brown had surrendered with his hands up in response to an unprovoked attack by Officer Darren Wilson had fabricated their testimony. In fact, Wilson was attacked by Brown after robbing a convenience store, and the shooting was entirely justified. So there was no “truth” in what was driving the Ferguson protesters; their perspective was completely wrong, based on false information that generated a mob mentality and mob violence.
But Gupta says nothing about that or how former attorney general Eric Holder and other supposed leaders of the black community such as Al Sharpton inflamed public opinion in Ferguson, assuming from the very start, without any evidence, that the police officer was at fault.
Then Gupta justifies the mistrust of the police as a result of America’s racist past and “criminal-justice policies over the last few decades, and the concentrated impact they have had on poor and minority communities.” This has resulted “in mass incarceration, particularly of people of color accused of low-level crimes.” Yet she refuses to acknowledge the fact that the reason so many “people of color” are in jail is not because of discrimination or an unfair criminal-justice system; it is because, unfortunately, black Americans commit crimes, particularly violent crimes, at far greater rates than do whites, Asians, and Hispanics.
This is a tragic situation that must be attributed in large measure to the widespread absence of two-parent black families and black male role models, not racism or an inherently discriminatory criminal-justice system. And while she may think that drug dealing is a “low-level” crime that does not deserve incarceration, we doubt that law-abiding citizens of inner-city neighborhoods would agree. They are the ones who have had to endure — and watch their children endure — the violence, criminality, destruction of property, and degradation of their communities caused by unchecked drug dealing.
Next she launches into a long discussion of how the Civil Rights Division is “rebuilding police-community trust” by “holding individual officers accountable for criminal misconduct.” What’s more, she boasts that the administration has “opened 22 investigations of law-enforcement agencies across the country” and prosecuted 350 law-enforcement officers. She then proceeds to detail the results of these investigations.
One example is the investigation into the practices of the Ferguson Police Department – an investigation that, according to Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was as a whole “so replete with conclusions unsupported by fact, so lacking in basic methodological rigor” that it “is an embarrassment.” She doesn’t mention her Division’s attempted prosecution of five New Orleans police officers, in which a federal judge ordered new trials because of the “grotesque” misconduct of federal prosecutors, including that of a Civil Rights Division lawyer (who was not terminated and still works in the division).
To quote former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey’s important Hillsdale College speech from last summer:
State and local jurisdictions do not have the resources or the political will to fight the federal government. As a result, more than 20 cities are now operating under consent decrees secured by the Justice Department, with court-appointed monitors imposing restrictive standards on police officers who now think twice before they stop suspects or make arrests. The results are predictable. Shootings are on the rise in New York, as are quality-of-life crimes that create a sense of public disorder and social deterioration. Seattle is also a good example: a federal lawsuit and a court-appointed monitor followed on the heels of a publicized incident, and now homicides are up 25 percent, car theft is up 44 percent, and aggravated assault is up 14 percent.
In an attempt to be evenhanded, Gupta talks about the importance of “officer safety and wellness.” She acknowledges and condemns the recent assassinations of police officers. And she says the police are asked to do too much, often “lack adequate policy guidance, supervision and even equipment,” and are sometimes “unfairly blamed for decisions made far above their rank, or even by local officials outside of the policy department.”
Gupta says the feds want to “make sure officers have the tools and specialized training to do their jobs consistent with community values,” to deal well “with the mentally ill and others in crisis, as well as to ensure respectful interactions with LGBTI [sic] persons, immigrants with language barriers and other vulnerable populations.” She concludes, “Critically, we also owe it to provide [the police] with the professional support to cope with the stress and trauma they encounter on the job.”
That is certainly not something that the Civil Rights Division can provide. Both of the authors of this piece are veterans of the division, and we can attest that the militantly liberal ideologies and backgrounds of the attorneys who now work there — like Vanita Gupta — are well known in the law-enforcement community. None of the lawyers who work with law-enforcement agencies and police officers and conduct the investigations into their supposed misconduct have any experience in law enforcement — including Vanita Gupta.
All, however, are “progressive” lawyers with little patience for, and more often an overt hostility to, law enforcement. As was pointed out in an exposé several years ago, almost all of the division’s lawyers come from left-wing advocacy groups such as the ACLU:
While there were numerous lawyers hired who worked as public defenders or for advocacy organizations for criminals and prisoners, not a single lawyer was hired with experience as a prosecutor or in law enforcement in a Section which has as one its main jobs investigating the practices of local police. Do local jurisdictions really think they will get a fair, nonpartisan, objective hearing from the lawyers in this Section?
Towards the end of the speech, Gupta ties up a few loose ends. Here’s one:
We cannot have a conversation about policing in isolation of broader systemic inequality. Many of the problems in our criminal justice system reflect structural barriers to opportunity. The elevated conversation gives us an opportunity to connect these dots and address inequalities in housing, education, access to transportation, good jobs, and more. These things are undeniably related.
This is not an “elevated” conversation. The myth that there is “systemic inequality” and “structural barriers to opportunity” is part of the false, fashionably progressive claim that America is an inherently racist nation, permanently scarred by past racism. It’s not that conservatives are in denial about past racism; it’s that liberals are in denial about the last 50 years of progress. The racism we still saw in the 1950s and early 1960s has not only become illegal, it has become culturally unacceptable.
American society is not perfect — no society ever will be — but there are no racist “structural barriers” that prevent any Americans, no matter their color or ethnicity, from getting an education and making the most of their opportunities — if they are willing to work hard and not see themselves as “victims” who can’t get ahead. Of course, using and dealing drugs or committing violent crimes are huge barriers to success. For a high-ranking federal official to give a speech that repeatedly excuses law-breaking and discounts personal responsibility and opportunity is, in itself, irresponsible.
Here’s the last of Gupta’s loose ends:
If we would take the time to listen — really listen — and understand why most protesters take to the streets, why police officers risk their lives every day, we would find that, while perspectives may differ, people’s aspirations — and their values — tend to be very similar. We all want safer streets. We all want stronger communities. We all believe in justice.
We find it hard to imagine that, for example, the Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis — chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” right after two New York police officers were assassinated — have the same “aspirations” and “values” as law-enforcement officers who risk their lives every day. Or that the protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore who looted and burned local shops and drugstores, shot civilians who resisted them, and threw beer bottles, rocks, and other objects at law-enforcement officers trying to maintain the peace, have the same desire for safer streets, stronger communities, and justice as the rest of America.