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Quit Defending Abuse

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest on child abuse charges has sparked a huge debate about corporal punishment, one that exposes deep cultural rifts. I have to admit I've been surprised -- no, shocked -- at those who've jumped to the 217-pound football player's defense.

Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity said on his show this week, "I don't want to see this guy get a felony. I don't want to see this guy lose his job. ... He deserves parenting classes." Hannity followed up his defense by taking off his belt and slapping the desk to show how he was beaten as a child, and also described being punched in the face by his dad. "I deserved it," he said.

CNN's Don Lemon weighed in, as well. While not condoning what Peterson did, Lemon said, "I have to say that when I was a kid, I would have to go and get the switch off the tree. And if I brought back a switch that wasn't big enough, then my grandmother or my dad or my mom would go get a bigger one."

The pictures of Peterson's 4-year-old son, taken several days after the incident and available online, show blood-encrusted whipping marks on his thighs, both outer and inner. The indictment also describes similar marks on the boy's back, buttocks, ankles and scrotum, and Peterson admits stuffing leaves into the boy's mouth to stifle his screams.

This wasn't discipline. It was a beating by an angry thug who felt entitled to engage in it because the child is his biological offspring. (The man has multiple children -- he won't say how many -- by multiple women, one of whom was beaten to death at age 2 by another man.) One of Peterson's other children, also 4 at the time, bears a visible scar on his forehead from a "whooping" Peterson administered while the child was confined in a car seat. In that case, officials declined to prosecute the player.

Hannity's and Lemon's stories apparently resonate with large numbers of people. Whole swaths of Americans believe it is perfectly permissible to hit a child -- even to use an instrument like a belt, stick, paddle or anything else handy -- if the child misbehaves. According to the University of Chicago's General Social Survey (GSS), the overwhelming majority of Americans (about 70 percent in the last survey) believe that "it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking."

But when does a spanking become a beating? Both Hannity and Lemon described beatings, not spankings. And while both men claim that the punishment did them "good," the empirical research on corporal punishment is clear and virtually unanimous: It isn't effective in discouraging future bad behavior, is likely to increase the child's own aggressiveness, and produces children who grow into adults with increased violent tendencies and other mental health problems.

Many born-again Christians, who are more likely to defend corporal punishment according to the GSS, point to the Biblical injunctions to justify physical punishment of children found almost exclusively in the Old Testament, especially Proverbs. The New Testament, however, is mostly silent on the issue. In place of admonishment to use the "rod of correction," there are stories of forgiveness, as in the parable of the prodigal son.

According to the GSS, blacks are more likely than whites, Hispanics or Asians to favor corporal punishment. Southerners are more likely than those from the Midwest, West or Northeast to think it's OK to spank, and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to agree.

I'm not going to say it's never permissible to spank a child (though I never received a spanking or spanked my children) -- but the rules should be clear. Disciplining a child should never include hitting bare flesh. Nor should it ever involve using anything other than an open hand -- certainly no fists, belts, cords, switches, paddles, wood spoons or any other instruments. And there should be some reasonable limits on the number of swats a parent can administer and to how young a child.

Children are vulnerable and need protection -- and, unfortunately, that sometimes includes protection from their own parents. Too bad those who have been abused now see the need to defend the abusers.

Disparate Impact, Affirmative Action, and Other Nonsense

Last Tuesday, September 9, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., there was a multipanel event on “Civil Rights in the United States” sponsored jointly by the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute.  Needless to say, these issues are always of interest and have particular salience these days in light of the ongoing drama in Ferguson. 

I was the opening speaker on the opening panel, which discussed “Disparate Impact and the Rule of Law: Does Disparate Impact Liability Make Everything Illegal?”  You can listen to the panel discussion here (my opening remarks start at the 5:30 mark and last until 22:00, but you might want to listen a bit longer to hear the very nice compliment I received from the next panelist, Peter Kirsanow, at about 22:25; there’s also a lively question-and-answer period that starts at the 55:50, the most lively part beginning around 1:03:50).

I explained what the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement was and why it makes no sense.  To quote from a Wall Street Journal op-ed I wrote:

Landlords, businesses, local governments and others can be held liable for policies that have disproportionate racial effects — even if those policies make no racial distinctions, are adopted with no discriminatory intent, and are applied in nondiscriminatory ways.

Yet if the numbers come out wrong, then none of the rest matters, unless a defendant can prove to the satisfaction of a judge or jury that there is some high degree of "necessity" for the policy or practice in question. Even then, defendants can lose if a judge or jury is persuaded that some other procedure would have been as good and wouldn't have resulted in those numbers.

The disparate-impact standard for antidiscrimination law pushes people to do one or both of two things: Get rid of legitimate selection criteria, or use a racial double standard to ensure that the numbers come out right.

Unfortunately, as I also discussed, the approach is being used aggressively today by the Obama administration in a wide range of contexts — to challenge, for example, employers’ use of criminal-background checks, school discipline policies, and voter ID requirements among other things.

*             *             *

Speaking of voter ID:  Last week I read this news account, suggesting that the challenge to invalidate Wisconsin’s voter-ID law prior to the upcoming election appeared to have gotten a cold reception before a federal courts of appeals panel hearing the case.  I immediately noted on National Review Online this promising development, and that the proper framework for determining whether such laws violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is the subject of this paper that I had coauthored.  Later in the day, the court indeed ruled that the election could go forward.

*          *          *

In that Wall Street Journal op-ed mentioned above, I also noted:

If a business, agency or school has standards for hiring, promoting, admissions or offering a mortgage that aren't being met by individuals in some racial and ethnic groups, there are three things that can be done. First, the standards can be relaxed for those groups. That is what racial preferences do. Second, the government can attack the standards themselves. That is what the disparate-impact approach to enforcement does. Third, one can examine why a disproportionate number of individuals in some groups aren't meeting the standards — such as failing public schools or being born out of wedlock — and do something about it. This option holds little interest on the political left.

And that mention of racial preferences is a good lead-in to this last item, involving a news story in the Washington Times about a speech given by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  The story was headlined “Sotomayor voices support for affirmative action,” and read in part:

She said [different opportunities] may start with many people of color being born in economically challenged circumstances, going to school in districts that lag behind, or even where people go to camp.

"So many of my lawyer friends, the people that they have as clients are people they met at summer camps. Many minorities never have the opportunity for that experience," said Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

The justice — only the third woman on the nation's highest court — wrote the dissent in April in a 6-2 decision that upheld a state's right to outlaw the use of race in determining college admissions. She told the audience that when she was a senior in high school, a friend who went to Princeton University called her and urged her to come to the school.

"'You have to go to an Ivy League school,'" Sotomayor recounted him telling her. "And what I said to him was, ‘What's an Ivy League school?'"

She did apply, got in and was a good student, the justice said, "but I wouldn't even have known to apply because I came from a world where that wasn't the expectation."

"And that's true of a lot of kids in a lot of communities," the justice said. "I certainly wouldn't be where I am today."

Here’s my question for Justice Sotomayor:  Does she think that there are no white or Asian students who were “born in economically challenged circumstances” or never went to “summer camps” or whatever?  And does she think that there are no African American or Latino students who were not born in economically challenged circumstances and who did go to summer camps?

The point is that there is no reason — none — to use skin color and national origin as a proxy for disadvantage in America in 2014.  University admissions decisions should be made without regard to race or ethnicity.

Enablers General and Other Thoughts on Ferguson

My handy online dictionary defines “enabler” as “a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behavior in another.”  Another online definition:  “one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior … by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.”

And that’s a fair description of the role the Left is playing, or would like to play, with respect to crime and substance abuse in many African American communities, isn’t it?  And this includes, alas, the Attorney General, as the Center for Equal Opportunity’s Linda Chavez discussed in her latest column.  

The Left’s preferred approach:  Let’s not focus overmuch on criminal and other self-destructive behavior, or talk about out-of-wedlock birthrates and a dysfunctional inner-city culture that romanticizes thugs and disparages “acting white.  Let’s talk instead about dubious arrest disparities and ill-defined “institutional racism.” 

Now, really, which discussion is more likely to improve the lives of those in these communities, law-breakers and law-abiders alike?

*          *          *

From Eric Holder’s “open letter” to the people of Ferguson: “And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.”

Hiring with an eye on race and ethnicity violates the civil-rights laws that Mr. Holder is supposedly enforcing. And such discrimination is not only unfair and divisive; it also means that the less qualified will be hired over the more qualified, which is in no one’s interest, including of course the general public’s interest in being protected.  

Should an all-white jurisdiction avoid hiring nonwhites? Do most nonwhites insist on having a sub-optimum police force because of their racial preferences? If they do, should those preferences be catered to? Can and should a police force be trusted only if it has a melanin content that approximates the melanin content of the jurisdiction’s general population? The answers are no, no, no, and no. And it is certainly not a good thing for the Attorney General of the United States to encourage, apparently, the answers of yes, yes, yes, and yes.

*          *          *

But let’s assume the absolute worst and that it turns out that a policeman has acted with racial malice in killing a young black man. That may be one additional bit of evidence that the Left is justified in some part of its racial agenda, but one incident, no matter how dramatic, is not a universal proof. So it’s important that justice be done in this case, but it won’t tell us anything definitive about what goes on elsewhere. It’s not as if lots of people think that racism is nonexistent so that finding one example of it is really important. 

I can see the argument that an incident like this can be appropriately seized upon to force a particular reform in a particular community. But that’s about it. And, of course, you would want to wait until you actually knew what had happened.

And we know it may well turn out that what actually happened was somewhat different, or a lot different, from what the Left believes/hopes happened. In which case the Left’s worldview will not change, because that won’t be universal proof of anything either.

If the shoe were on the other foot, and a young black man was accused of some horrific crime, no one on the Left would concede that one young black man’s guilt made the case for this or that policy that the Left opposed. They would argue, rightly, that one incident can’t bear that much weight. And naturally we would hear a lot about being innocent until proved guilty.

I suppose it is human nature to like drama and, especially, to have a struggle come down to one decisive moment. But that’s not a sane way to view a broader reality or to make political decisions.

*          *          *

I can understand demonstrating against police racism.  But I’ve seen no evidence adduced of police racism in Ferguson beyond this shooting, where the facts are hazy at best and are still being investigated. 

And perhaps I’m being too charitable:  There are obviously some on the Left who believe they should just seize the moment to advance their agenda — although, even for them, it’s unclear to me just what that agenda is here — because it gives them an excuse to use a threat of unrest and even riots to extort this or that political payment (what would be more clearly seen as the blackmail it is if that excuse were lacking). 

Don’t waste a crisis; don’t even waste the opportunity to create a crisis where there really isn’t one.

And the media bear much of the blame here, too.  It sells too many newspapers and helps ratings too much not to help create a bigger story than this is, especially when doing so is consistent with the mainstream media’s liberal worldview anyhow.

*          *          *

One other item, this one not Ferguson-related: Here is a long — painfully, 876-words long — call for “Increasing College Diversity” on Huffington Post.  It’s quite unremarkable, the usual pabulum, and not at all worth reading. 

I send it only to note that at no point does the author argue that “diversity” will yield educational benefits for white and Asian students by exposing them to random conversations with students having a different melanin content from themselves.  Even that is not itself noteworthy, since most defenses of “diversity” likewise fail in this regard.  But it is worth noting that even those who defend the use of racial and ethnic preferences don’t seem to think much of the only legal defense the Supreme Court has recognized for such discrimination.

Civilized Sport

I'm not much of a football fan, never have been, but I've lived most of my life in households where games dominated family schedules during football season. My father was a Notre Dame and Denver Broncos fan. My husband and three sons are diehard Redskins fans, and at least one of them wouldn't miss a University of Maryland game for anything.

But try as they might, they've never managed to get me to sit down and watch with them, at least not an entire game, not even the Super Bowl. But I'll gladly sit through basketball and baseball games, and I even like attending Washington Nationals games when I get the chance.

This week, I think I finally figured out why I can't stand watching football for more than a few minutes. Violence is a major part of the game. The point isn't just to advance the ball down the field and across the goal line. With few exceptions -- the kickers, quarterbacks and wide receivers -- the job of everyone on the team is to stop the other guy with brute force or to use muscle and force to push through. Hurting or being hurt isn't an accident; it's part of the game. And with better cameras and microphones, the audience sitting at home gets to see and hear the violence up close and personal.

This week, my visceral discomfort with football made me ask whether suspended running back Ray Rice's left hook to his then fiancee's face wasn't so much an anomaly as a byproduct of his chosen career. That's not to say football players are all likely domestic abusers -- clearly they are not, and there are plenty of abusers who are milquetoasts in other aspects of their lives -- but the NFL still has a problem with domestic abuse, and not just in the relatively light punishment it has handed out for the offense in the past.

According to an analysis by Benjamin Morris for the website FiveThirtyEight, NFL players have higher relative arrest rates for domestic violence than for any other violent offense. Now, Morris makes clear that players' domestic violence arrest rates are still lower than average for men their age -- but that isn't the end of the story.

NFL players are both affluent and educated, which makes them fall into a cohort less likely to engage in violent criminal activity overall. But as Morris points out, when players are arrested, it is relatively more likely to be for domestic violence than for anything else. Domestic violence arrest rates are four times worse than the NFL's arrest rates for all offenses, he says, "and domestic violence accounts for 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes among NFL players, compared to our estimated 21 percent (of such arrests) nationally."

Of course, this may be the tip of the iceberg. Who is to say that many of the victims aren't too ashamed, afraid or even worried about losing their own affluent lifestyle to keep the real numbers under wraps?
And even if the Rice incident hadn't focused the nation's attention on the NFL's domestic violence problem, what about the violence the players themselves experience every week?

The NFL already has agreed to settle a suit with former players for the traumatic brain injuries they incurred playing the game, setting up a $765 million fund for currently retired players who can prove neurological damage. But even with better helmets and tougher rules, football players suffer brutally in their careers, and far more than players of most other sports. They get repeated concussions or sub-concussions that can result in neurological degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Their hips and knees give out. They incur soft-tissue damage, torn muscles and ligaments, dislocated joints and broken bones. Even the sheer bulk required in some positions can lead to later diabetes and heart disease.

Yes, players get paid well -- though the average player receives relatively less than those in many other sports, and their careers are short-lived. The real money goes to the owners and the networks that broadcast the sport. Call me a wimp or a bleeding heart, but I think none of this constitutes entertainment. Football is more controlled violence and mayhem than anything else. We want players to act like civilized men off the field, but maybe we should also figure out a way to civilize the sport itself.

Fanning the Flames of Racial Tension

Words matter -- and never more so than when race is involved. For more than a week, we have been repeatedly told that a white police officer shot and killed an "unarmed black teenager" on a street in Ferguson, Missouri. The words conjure the image of a kid gunned down because of the color of his skin by a trigger-happy white cop.

And now we have the highest law enforcement official in the nation reinforcing this narrative. After visiting Ferguson this week to initiate a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that he understands the distrust of police that many blacks feel.

"I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man," he told an audience in Ferguson. Holder then met privately with the family of Mike Brown, the man shot, and later held a news conference in which he reiterated racial grievance: "This shooting incident has brought to the surface underlying tensions that have existed for many years. There is a history to these tensions, and that history simmers in more communities than just Ferguson."

Unfortunately, such words inflame racial mistrust -- and, even more importantly, undermine justice.

Let's start with the "unarmed black teenager" mantra.

Brown was 18 years old -- an adult by all legal standards. He was also 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds. Surveillance video from a nearby convenience store taken shortly before the shooting shows Brown as a towering muscled male stealing goods and then grabbing and violently shoving a store employee who tried to question him. The actual images of Brown on the video surely do not bring to mind a harmless teenager.

Unfortunately, we do not yet know exactly what happened minutes later when police officer Darren Wilson encountered Brown and a companion walking down the middle of a street. Brown's companion, Dorian Johnson, who had been with Brown during the earlier strong-arm robbery, told his version of what took place on St. Louis TV station KSDK on Aug. 13.

Wilson's arm, Johnson said, "extended out the window (and) grabbed my friend around the neck. (Wilson) didn't say 'step back' or anything like that. He started to pull my friend into the window. So the officer's trying to pull him in, and he's pulling away from the officer. He never once attempted to grab for this officer's weapon. He's still holding my friend with one arm. And now, with the other hand, he's pointing his weapon. The second time he says 'I'll shoot,' it wasn't even a second later before the gun just went off, and the officer let go, and that's how we were able to run at the same time."

But is Johnson's version of events plausible? Johnson's veracity is important, and he's told multiple, sometimes conflicting, versions of his story. Moreover, in 2011, Johnson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report and is currently still wanted on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on theft charges in Jefferson City, Missouri.

But even without such questions about Johnson's trustworthiness as a witness, other questions about the account arise. Publicly available videos and still photos of Brown and Wilson show significant size differences between the two men, with Brown appearing to have a height advantage over Wilson and outweighing the officer by about 100 pounds. How is it even possible from a sitting position inside a car for a smaller man to reach out and grab someone much larger with one hand and pull him into the vehicle?

Accepting Johnson's version depends heavily on the image of that "unarmed black teenager" minding his own business when confronted by a white cop bent on venting racial animus.

Officer Wilson's version of events has yet to be publicly recounted. Nonetheless, bits and drabs have leaked out, including assertions that Brown blocked Wilson's ability to exit the police cruiser (a fact Johnson concedes but says was caused because Wilson pulled his car up too close to the two men). Sources claiming to be familiar with Wilson's account contend that Brown leaned into the police cruiser, punched Wilson in the face and struggled for control of Wilson's gun, which discharged. Multiple sources allege that Wilson was treated at a hospital for facial wounds, perhaps even a fracture to his eye socket.

A grand jury will hear all accounts of what happened. But Holder's rush to judgment by ordering a full-scale civil rights investigation before the grand jury even reaches its conclusion undermines the criminal justice system. Instead, it fans the very racial tensions Holder says he wants to calm.

Can Obama Win the Fight Against ISIS?

President Obama, in the past, has demonstrated a way with written words, and he's done so again, this time in a joint op-ed with UK Prime Minister David Cameron for the London Times published on the eve of this week's NATO meeting in Wales. Promising that "we will not be cowed" by ISIS, the Islamist group that has beheaded two American journalists, the president and prime minister declared: "Those who want to adopt an isolationist approach misunderstand the nature of security in the 21st century. Developments in other parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria, threaten our security at home."

But the question is whether Obama has the will to live up to those words --even on his own, if our allies, including his co-author, will not join us.  But to do so, the president would have to possess characteristics he's shown he lacks over the past five and a half years: an interest in and understanding of foreign policy, the humility to know what he doesn't know and the leadership to forgo partisanship in the national interest.

The crisis that ISIS poses is different from the one we faced with al-Qaida and most of the other Islamists in the war on terror. ISIS now controls territory and has sophisticated weapons, and if it holds the territory it has captured, it will become, de facto, what it likes to call itself: the Islamic State. Its soldiers wear uniforms and fight under a flag. They are more than terrorists; they are an army. ISIS has an ideology that it seeks to impose throughout the Middle East and ultimately beyond that region, as far as its resources and ability to recruit soldiers will allow. It is, according to published reports, already making inroads on the Indian subcontinent.

ISIS has killed Americans, but it has yet to launch an attack on our soil. Does anyone doubt it will try? After 9/11, does anyone believe it might not succeed? The group has declared war on America. But does Obama have the guts to go to war against ISIS?

There is much he can do militarily without a formal declaration of war, which requires Congress to act and would elevate ISIS. (ISIS is a threat, but it isn't Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany.) But he should have Congress' backing for sustained military action, as President Bush did when he sent troops into Iraq in 2003.

Whatever one thinks of whether it made the right decision, Congress did authorize the president to use force in Iraq in 2002 and did so with bipartisan support. Yet it is hard to imagine Obama risking the ire of some in his own party, much less making the necessary overtures to Republicans to do something similar against ISIS. I hope I am wrong.

Obama has taken some steps against ISIS, namely bombing strikes in Iraq. But he must do more. It is not enough to try to contain ISIS. It is not enough -- though it is a necessary step -- to arm and train others to fight ISIS. It surely is not the right thing to do to give Iran a nuclear deal in the hopes that Iran will do something to stop ISIS.

Perhaps ISIS will be a wake-up call for this president. Perhaps he will do the right thing. He should be pressing our allies as hard as he can to join the fight. But he has wasted so much capital that it makes the task harder than it should be.

He came into office with the highest goodwill and expectations of our European allies. For goodness' sake, the man won the Nobel Peace Prize barely nine months into office (not that the list of past dubious winners inspires much confidence in the judgment of the Norwegian Nobel Committee). It will take hard work to round up a coalition of the willing. Does Obama have it in him to even try? Will he make his case to Congress and the American people? He needs both if he is to succeed.

Obama is writing and saying some of the right things. Now let's see what he will actually do.

CEO needs your help

Dear CEO supporter,

I hope all is well with you and yours this summer. It has been a banner year for the Center for Equal Opportunity, as we continued in our relentless opposition to race-based policies by the Obama administration and its politically correct allies. That’s why we are asking for your help again--but first let me tell you about some of what we’ve been up to.

Take, for instance, the results of three huge court cases CEO was involved in this past year. The first was the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, overturning the court appeals ruling that had upheld the University of Texas’s use of racial preferences in university admissions. 

CEO had filed a series of amicus briefs in this litigation--first in the U.S. Court of Appeals, then urging the Supreme Court to take the case, and then urging the Court to end racial preferences.  Before that, we also filed an administrative complaint against the University’s policy.

The Supreme Court was right to tell the lower court to take a harder look.  In a country that is more and more multiracial and multiethnic, our laws and institutions simply cannot sort Americans by skin color and what country their ancestors came from.

The second landmark Supreme Court case we’ve been involved in was the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder. And we won! CEO is very excited the Court struck down as unconstitutional the coverage formula of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  CEO had filed amicus briefs at both the petition stage and on the merits, urging this result.  In addition, CEO president and general counsel Roger Clegg and I had testified against re-enacting Section 5 when it was last before Congress.

And in the third case, Schuette v. BAMN, the Supreme Court has now upheld the constitutionality of a Michigan ballot initiative that banned, among other kinds of affirmative action, racial and ethnic preferences in admissions to public universities.

This is another case that the Center for Equal Opportunity has been involved with for a long time. We had joined amicus briefs with the court of appeals and the en banc court of appeals, and then also joined two briefs in the Supreme Court: one urging the Court to take the case and, when the Court did so, another urging it to rule the way it did. What's more, CEO studies of the heavy weight given to race and ethnicity at the University of Michigan helped galvanize public support for the ballot initiative in the first place, and Roger Clegg and I spoke in Michigan several times about the initiative in the run-up to its passage.

As we have been celebrating the latest important victory--and making sure its importance is not buried by the liberal media--I devoted my column to the decision, and Roger and I were both quoted widely in the media about the case (including the New York Times, New York Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed). Roger also appeared on the PBS NewsHour show to discuss the case, and coauthored a column for National Review Online. And he has written and distributed a paper that urges other states—and Congress—to do what Michigan did: ban racial preferences.

None of this would have been possible without the help of loyal supporters like you. But to continue our efforts, we need your help now more than ever.  Thanks to the sluggish Obama economy, CEO is facing a difficult budget crisis.  Yet no one does the work CEO does on these critical issues.  Although Fisher, Shelby County and Schuette were good decisions for us, there remains work to be done in both racial preferences and voting rights. And CEO is already doing it. 

Once again, for example, the race baiters--including, amazingly, President Obama himself—have been out in full force telling the public that the Voting Rights Act case ruling turned back the clock on civil rights. But CEO was also out there giving countless interviews in mainstream media outlets, educating the public that the Court ruling simply made one thing clear: that in 2014 there is no justification for treating some states unequally and subjecting only some to extraordinarily intrusive federal oversight, based on obsolete data.  This does not turn the clock back; it simply recognizes that times have changed.

What’s more, the Court’s decision will put an end to much of the politically correct racial gerrymandering that was the main use--along with challenging antifraud voter ID laws--to which Section 5 was put. 

As we predicted, liberals will try to undo the Shelby County voting rights decision by trying to pass new legislation that will, for example, seek to perpetuate politically correct racial gerrymandering. But CEO is working to blow the whistle and educate congressional staff on this issue:  In fact, we started that process even before the decision came down. And CEO board member Abigail Thernstrom last month testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee against a bad voting-rights bill.

As for racial preferences in university admissions, the Fisher case can be a useful tool--but only if the opponents of racial preferences use it. CEO will do just that, by systematically contacting schools all over the country and using freedom-of-information laws to make sure they are following the rules that the Court’s Fisher opinion has set out.

We already have a case we hope the Court will take next term that will help fight race-based discriminating in another context. We are supporting a petition asking the Court to review a case out of Texas in which the attorney general of that state is challenging the use of the “disparate impact” approach under the Fair Housing Act. This approach, which the Obama administration loves, leads to more race-based discriminating, not less.

All that I’ve discussed so far is just what the Center for Equal Opportunity has been doing in its Supreme Court litigation.  But there is much, much more that we do.  We help write and file briefs in the lower courts, too, on issues involving racial preferences and other race-based policies like “disparate impact.”  We testify before Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on issues like whether felons should automatically have voting rights restored (no), whether there should be a commission set up to lay the groundwork for African-American reparations (no again), whether there should be federal legislation on racial profiling (also no), whether Native Hawaiians should be declared an “Indian tribe” so that they can be eligible for preferential treatment (you guessed it:  no), and on many other bills.  

We have pointed out that Obama administration legislation like the Dodd-Frank bill and Obamacare contained, in addition to their other problems, unconstitutional racial preference provisions, and we have worked with Congress to get rid of federal contracting preferences based on race.  Every day, we check the Federal Register for what the Obama administration is up to in our areas, and have filed dozens of comments and written dozens of articles where we have found problems -- which is just about every week.  We successfully opposed the nomination of radical lawyer Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

And all that is just at the federal level:  We keep busy at the state and local level, too. I already discussed how CEO helped pass the anti-racial-preference ballot initiative in Michigan. To give another example, we have frequently weighed in against racial contracting preferences at the state and local level.  And, in the court of public opinion, we tirelessly write columns, blog, and speak, not only on television and radio, but on university campuses across the country.

Racial and ethnic preferences are a destructive force in our society.  They are unfair, divisive, and mismatch people and schools or jobs. But they are not going to stop – in fact, they will continue to spread – unless there is pushback.  The intellectuals love them, sleazy politicians love them, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson love them.

Fortunately, there are ways to push back:  in the courts, in Congress, and in the court of public opinion. But there is only one organization that is devoted to this pushing back:  the Center for Equal Opportunity.

But we need your help to do all this. And we need your help to continue to fight back against the politically correct race profiteers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and their pals in the media.

The success we’ve recently had before the Supreme Court is nothing new for CEO. From its founding in 1995, CEO has helped to drastically change the political and legal landscape on:

  • Racial preferences in education, contracting, and employment;
  • The detrimental effects of bilingual education;
  • The rise of multiculturalism in our schools and other institutions; and
  • The importance of assimilation and the impact of immigration on our society.

But with liberals in charge of the Senate, White House, and most universities, we need your support now more than ever. The Obama administration will continue to be disastrous for Americans like you and me without CEO around to challenge them on civil rights issues. That’s why your support right now is so crucial. 

CEO has led the nationwide fight against racial preferences -- so-called “affirmative action.” We’ve persuaded more than 200 schools to open up their minority-only scholarships to people of all colors. We’ve exposed racial preferences in admissions with hard-hitting studies at over 60 colleges and universities. And we’ve had success after success in all three branches of government. 

Will you help by sending a generous, emergency donation of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or whatever you can afford today? Any donation before the end of the summer will be a big help at this critical time.  As always, 100% of your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

I truly appreciate all you’ve done for us in the past and we hope to hear from you again very soon.

Sincerely,

Linda Chavez
Chairman

An Honest Conversation on Race

After weeks of national angst generated when a white police officer shot an unarmed black man on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., perhaps it is time we have an honest discussion about race in America. But if we do so, the voices should not be restricted to those who carry a sense of racial grievance and blame racism as the root cause of all the problems that afflict the black community.

Jason Riley, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member and author of "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks To Succeed," is certainly one man who should be listened to.

Riley is not oblivious to police bias. He recounts, in what is a very personal book, several incidents in which, as a young black man, police pulled him over when he was driving through white neighborhoods or high-crime areas, suspecting he might be up to no good, based solely on demographics.

In the early 1990s, while driving home from work as a sportswriter late one night through Washington, D.C., he got a harsh taste of what it sometimes means to be a young black man.

"I was sitting at a red light when no fewer than four squad cars converged on me, lights flashing and sirens screaming," he writes. "Seconds later police officers were pointing guns at me as I sat cowering."

The police ordered him out of the vehicle, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him, while two officers kept their guns pointed at him. A few minutes later they let him go, explaining he fit the description of a suspected gunrunner from New York (his license plates were from the Empire State).

The incident, far more traumatic than the one Attorney General Eric Holder recounted in the wake of the Ferguson shooting about being stopped by the police while running to a movie in Georgetown, didn't leave Riley embittered and angry, however. Nor did a series of other slights and suspicions, such as being followed in stores and while driving around white neighborhoods when visiting friends.

Why? Because he recognized that the behavior of all too many young black men makes many people -- including other blacks -- fearful. Riley recounts the statistics on crimes committed by blacks, most importantly young black men, from a variety of sources.

But one needn't take Riley's word for it. According to statistics compiled by Holder's own Department of Justice, black men commit a hugely disproportionate share of violent crimes. In 2012, blacks made up 38.5 percent of all persons arrested for violent crimes and 51.5 percent of those under 18 arrested for such crimes, but they constituted only 13 percent of the population. And even accounting for the possibility or likelihood of bias in arrests, the conviction rates are similarly stark. One Bureau of Justice Statistics study from 2002 concluded that when the race of the person committing homicide was known, blacks committed 51 percent of homicides.

Riley's book discusses why these depressing statistics stem not simply from poverty or prejudice, but from cultural changes that have occurred in the black community and the unintended consequences of liberal efforts to blame everything on poverty and prejudice. Much of Riley's discussion has to do with what has happened to black culture. He describes the pernicious effect of even middle-class black youngsters eschewing proper diction and devotion to schoolwork. In one study of fairly affluent kids in an Ohio suburb, Riley reports that researcher John Ogbu, a Nigerian-born anthropologist and Berkeley professor before his death in 2003, found that "black kids readily admitted that they didn't work as hard as whites, took easier classes, watched more TV and read fewer books."

But, of course, the major problem in the black community that accounts for so much of the disparity in achievement and criminal behavior is that more than seven in 10 black children are born to single women and will spend much of their lives with no father present.

If we want to have an honest conversation about race, we need to begin here. Riley is not afraid to confront this issue or any other. As the conversation on race in America continues, let's hope his voice gets a hearing.

Medicare Solution

Next week I'm scheduled for a cervical spinal fusion that costs upward of $100,000, but I won't be paying for it. Like 50 million other Medicare recipients, I will receive the medical care I need more or less free of charge thanks to Medicare. It's something most seniors take for granted -- a benefit we believe we're entitled to because, after all, we paid Medicare taxes all our working lives. But as it happens, those taxes aren't nearly enough to pay for the benefits we receive from the system -- at least for most of us. Despite the fact that I still work and pay hefty Medicare taxes, I am likely to become one of those people who becomes a drain on the system if I live long enough (my mother died at 90, my grandmother at 95).

Medicare is fast becoming unsustainable, especially as baby boomers like me enter the system. We may be living longer and healthier lives, but it's costing taxpayers more than we can afford unless something changes. Debate in Washington has centered on fixes that are likely to be painful: lower benefits and restrict procedures; raise the age of eligibility; or substantially increase taxes to pay for the system. But a new idea emerged this week from a study that shows that one demographic group in our population actually takes less out than they contribute: immigrants. Allow more people to immigrate here, and we keep Medicare solvent longer.

The study, "Staying Covered: How Immigrants Prolonged the Solvency of One of Medicare's Key Trust Funds and Subsidized Care for U.S. Seniors," demonstrates how it might work. Prepared for the Partnership for a New American Economy by Dr. Leah Zallman, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, the study shows that immigrants contribute billions more in Medicare taxes than they take out of the system.
Zallman looked at data from the Current Population Survey and the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey for the years 1996-2011. She found that in that period, immigrants contributed $182.4 billion more to Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund than they used in benefits. In 11 of the 16 years examined, immigrants contributed $10 billion more each of those years than they took out.

The reasons are largely demographic: Immigrants are younger and more likely to be of working age than the native-born population, and some older immigrants don't satisfy the requirements to participate in Medicare. In order to draw benefits, recipients must have worked and paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters. As for illegal immigrants -- many of whom, contrary to popular myth, pay taxes, including Medicare -- they likely will not ever be able to draw benefits because they have used false Social Security numbers.

But even those immigrants who receive Medicare apparently use fewer benefits than the native-born, according to Zallman's analysis. Medicare's Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund pays for doctor's visits, lab tests and preventive care for Medicare patients, and when the SMI doesn't have sufficient funds, Congress must appropriate additional money to fully fund benefits. According to her calculations, immigrants took an average of $776 in 2011 from the SMI trust fund, and non-citizen immigrants took even less, around $330, while the U.S.-born took $951. In only one area did immigrant spending exceed that of the native-born: Home health-care agencies received more for immigrants' care than for the U.S.-born.

It's hard to know precisely why immigrants use fewer health services. Some studies suggest that immigrants are less likely to engage in unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs, and their longevity rates reflect healthier lifestyles. But whatever the reason, it's clear that immigrants improve the health profile of the population. And now, it turns out, they are helping pay the freight for the rest of us, as well.

So next week when I check out of the hospital, in addition to thanking my doctors (both immigrants, by the way), I'll thank those millions of immigrants whose excess contributions helped pay for my stay. If we want to solve the looming Medicare crisis, maybe inviting more immigrants here should be part of the solution.