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Partisanship Propagates in Post-ness

Last week the Washington Post has a big, front-page, above-the-fold article, headlined, “Budget would cut civil rights positions” and “Diminished federal role in fighting discrimination” and “Cuts part of broader effort to curtail federal programs on civil rights.” That’s quoting the hard copy; the online version is perhaps even worse: “Trump administration plans to minimize civil rights efforts in agencies.” The article itself declares as a matter of fact that the Trump administration wants “to rein in government programs that promote civil rights” and “dismantle compliance efforts” and that it is “reducing the role of the federal government in fighting discrimination and protecting minorities.”

Well, democracy may die in darkness, but don’t count on the Washington Post to shed any meaningful light on the truth. This isn’t reporting; this is just stenography, writing down whatever disgruntled bureaucrats and left-wing activists dictate.

The story starts with the budget’s proposal to combine two agencies that police private-sector compliance with federal antidiscrimination directives in employment. Not so outrageous (and indeed not a proposal that some conservatives are entirely happy with). The administration’s proposal regarding its “environmental justice program,” the Post’s second item, is likewise a matter of reorganization. The Post’s third item, regarding the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, involves only an extremely modest budget cut, $1.7 million out of $108.5 million (that’s less than 1.6 percent) according to another Post article. And that’s it, with respect to civil-rights budget matters.

What the administration is doing, but what the Post doesn’t get to until the jump-page, is to change the Obama administration’s policies with regard to some LGBT issues and the federal micromanagement of state and local police. Thinking that the Obama administration was wrongheaded in these areas cannot fairly be labeled a war on civil rights. And cutting the budget of an out-of-control bureaucracy like the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is long overdue if it is to be put back on the track of enforcing laws instead of rewriting or ignoring them.

Indeed, if the Trump administration is to be faulted for anything, it is for not doing more, and one hopes that eventually the Trump administration will be more aggressive in redirecting civil-rights enforcement. It needs, in particular, to reverse Obama-administration policies that endorsed politically correct racial discrimination (a.k.a. affirmative action) and the aggressive use of the “disparate impact” approach (which likewise encourages race-based rather than merit-based decisionmaking in a host of areas, such as school discipline and criminal background checks by employers and ballot-security measures).

The bureaucrats and left-wing activists won’t like that either, and the Post will condemn it, but guess what? These people will never support this administration and, if they did, it would be because it had abandoned the people who elected it, along with the principles of colorblind government and the rule of law.

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After I published this critique on National Review Online, I was invited to discuss it on National Public Radio.  You can listen to that here (I come in at about the 00:33:45 mark).

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No Noose Is Good News – I don’t really have too much to say on the subject of nooses, but I hate to miss out on the opportunity for a punny headline.

Well, if I have to say something, it’s this:  Always ask, Cui bono?  That is, who is benefited if there is a news story about a noose being found someplace or other?  The answer is generally the Left, and so it is no surprise that a lot of these incidents turn out to be hoaxes.

While I have the floor, a couple of other short observations. 

The problem (and genius) with term “cultural appropriation” is the term itself.  That is, culture is not something that can be appropriated.  You might as well accuse someone of stealing your attitude.  Indeed, when culture is used by a non-native, there’s no legitimate objection to that.  And if a cultural artifact is used in a way that demeans an ethnic group, it’s the spirit in which it is used that is objectionable, not the use itself.  Note, too, that members of the group that originated the artifact do not have unreviewable authority to dictate whether the spirit is objectionable or not.

On another topic in the news:  Schools should have one graduation ceremony for everyone.  If different groups — ethnic, religious, athletic, culinary, fashion — want to organize their own ceremonies somewhere, it may or may not be a good idea, but the school should not get involved.  That’s especially the case when the separation is by race, which can raise legal issues as well (and this line-drawing problem:  If blacks are entitled to their own ceremony, then why not whites?).  E pluribus unum is a good policy for schools on graduation day as well as for our country, every day.

Finally, when did being a victim become a desirable thing?  It used to be that, if someone was trying to insult you, you’d try not to flinch, to avoid giving the would-be victimizer the satisfaction of knowing that you were stung (better yet, you’d also smilingly reply with your own put-down).  Now the opposite is true:  People exaggerate or manufacture the wrongdoing so that they can claim to be a victim.  A wrong is still wrong, but I think the old attitude was healthier.