Center for Equal Opportunity

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


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Some Good News

I can report some good news this week. Last Friday, when President Trump signed the big appropriations bill keeping the federal government open, he included a presidential signing statement. Here’s the last sentence:

“My Administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender … in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”

The ellipsis is a list of examples of the federal programs the president has in mind, including minority contracting and subcontracting; preferred treatment for Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Alaskans; women in the workforce; and historically black colleges and universities.

Now, of course the key will be what this administration decides is the scope of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee when it comes to politically correct discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex. But it’s heartening that the issue has at least been flagged. And likely it was flagged by the Justice Department — and the bigger its role in this area, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions and the other solid appointments being made there, the better.

The people in the Rust Belt and elsewhere who voted for Donald Trump will be betrayed if, when the jobs, contracts, and other opportunities start coming back, they are told that the federal government plays favorites on the basis of skin color, national origin, and sex in allocating them.

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Speaking of the Rust Belt –  Last week I participated in a Federalist Society teleforum/podcast that featured J.D. Vance, author of the bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.  My appearance runs from the 0:30:00 to the 0:40:18 mark.

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Another Quick Note –  A recent article from Inside Higher Ed reports, "Though 50 percent of Division I football players are black, only about 10 percent of coaches are, [former Obama secretary of education Arne] Duncan said."  My response:  For the bean-counters, that shows more "overrepresentation" of black players than "underrepresentation" of coaches, since the percentage of blacks in the general population is 13 percent. And if schools are likely to hire only male college graduates to be coaches, then I suspect there is no underrepresentation at all (the percentage of black men with college degrees is about half that of men in the general population).

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Magnetic Attraction – Here’s an excellent article by Myron Magnet how the civil-rights movement on the Left has degenerated to what it is today.   A sample excerpt:

That scavenging for grievances that [Thomas] Sowell foresaw reached its logical but risible conclusion in the campus discovery of “microaggressions,” racist words or acts so infinitesimal that only the offended minority can discern them, while the oblivious white offender, as Obama put it, must, because of his race, necessarily “lack appreciation of what it feels to be on the receiving end of that.” [Note that the Center for Equal Opportunity’s Althea Nagai has a recent article on miocroaggressions in Academic Questions that has drawn national attention.] …

Similarly, the Black Lives Matter movement — spawned on campuses and in rectories across the nation, and fertilized by George Soros’s money — has spread the falsehood that America’s cops are the shock troops of a fundamentally racist nation, which licenses, even silently encourages, them to kill blacks. The result: a spike in cop killings by deranged blacks; unrelenting U.S. Justice Department and mainstream media scrutiny of scores of police departments, resulting in police unwillingness to risk their careers by intervening to stop trouble before it starts; and a rise in murder and other violent crime in more than two dozen U.S. cities in the first half of 2016, on top of a 10.8 percent jump in murders nationwide in 2015. Big lies, as history shows, have big real-world consequences.

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Post Mortem – A recent Washington Post article reports on a new study purporting to find that African Americans are discriminated against when applying for teaching positions in Fairfax County, Virginia, public schools. 
My response:  The claim is that blacks were less likely to get hired “even though they had on average more advanced degrees and classroom experience.”  But what if the distribution of blacks is bunched up in the middle and whites are more likely to be found at the extremes — and Fairfax County (with one of the best schools systems in the country) is able to be choosey and hire only the at the highly-qualified extreme?  In that case, there may be no discrimination but still fewer blacks hired, even though on the average black applicant is better qualified than the average white applicant.

In all events, it’s hard to tell whether there is credible evidence of discrimination here or not, once you’ve controlled for all the variables.  But we do know that the same people who are very unhappy about race discrimination against black teachers are the same people who, at least implicitly, favor race discrimination in their favor.  The justification for such discrimination seems to be a version of the “role model” justification, which the Supreme Court rejected decades ago as a constitutional matter and would almost certainly fail under Title VII as well.  And if it’s so important for black kids to have black teachers, as the article suggests, then why is it a bad thing if the black teachers end up at the black schools, as the article also says?  In fact, maybe this means we should have all the black students in separate schools with black teachers, and all the white students in their own schools with white teachers.  Has that ever been tried in Virginia?  Oh, wait  ….

Two other thoughts:  (1) interesting that there’s no evidence of discrimination against other racial minorities; and (2) it’s conceded that other “crucial” factors (like interviews) were not considered in the study and that what was looked at (advanced degrees and teaching experience) don’t “necessarily signal that a teacher will be more effective”; and note that we have the ironic situation where the Left is extolling “hard” credentials and ignoring “soft” ones, which is exactly the opposite of what it does in college admissions.

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Finally, recall that I wrote last week about the Center for Equal Opportunity’s opposition to a bill in Nebraska that would automatically re-enfranchise felons.  I applauded the governor for vetoing that bill, and urged the state legislators to vote against overriding that veto.  I’m happy to report that this week the override attempt failed.

So I began this email with good news and ended it the same way.  I wish that were always the case!