Center for Equal Opportunity

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

Sat10252014

Last update08:08:06 AM

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White Privilege

The University of Minnesota–Duluth has launched a bizarre campaign to raise awareness of “white privilege.”  The accompanying video has to be seen to be believed.  This is white guilt on steroids:  You have to be living in a different world if you believe that people who happen to have white skin (and who may or may not have had an easy time of it in life) ought to feel apologetic to anyone who does not share that skin color (and who may or may not have had a hard time in life).  Oh, well.

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According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans are now the nation’s fastest-growing racial group, overtaking Latinos. Much of this reflects immigration rates, and Asian Americans are doing very well in this country, according to the report. And so our fastest growing racial minority group is also a group that is frequently discriminated against in university admissions. Does this make sense? No, this does not make sense.  Oh, and by the way, the same folks who rail against “white privilege” think that this sort of discrimination against Asian Americans is perfectly fine.  Bizarre.

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And if all that is not bizarre enough, here’s news story about how “the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith recently changed its restroom policies after Jennifer Braly, a transgender student, filed a complaint with the Department of Justice.”  So the Obama administration sent the school a letter and, though we don’t know exactly what that letter said, we do know that now he/she gets to use the ladies’ room:  “After this intervention from the government, the university reversed its policy, now allowing transgender students access to the restroom of the gender with which they choose to identify.”  The news story includes an interview with yours truly:

Roger Clegg at the Center for Equal Opportunity, in an interview with The College Fix, said that the federal government’s intervention was perhaps based on the argument that Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, like universities) is being violated if an incorrect bathroom assignment is made.

“This is in line with other Obama administration policies…the Department of Justice has also said that ‘gender stereotyping’ in violation of Title IX is involved when male students who wear high heels and makeup are harassed by other students,” he continued.

Clegg said that it was “very hard” to see how the school’s decision to only allow males use of the male bathroom and females use of the female bathroom violates Title IX. “No one is being denied a bathroom, after all; the only question is which bathroom; and the school’s decision on who should use which does not implicate Title IX — does not, that is, involve anyone being discriminated against ‘because of sex.’”

A broader issue exists in the division between state and federal powers, and which body of government can claim authority in such a case. According to Clegg, the issue did not call for federal government intervention, but rather should have been dealt with by the university itself.

“But,” Clegg asserted, “the Obama administration apparently wants to push its culture-wars agenda aggressively in this area.”

You can read what I’ve written about the Obama administration’s aggressive interpretation of Title IX regarding “sexual orientation” in the appendix to this testimony I gave last year to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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But let’s end on a more upbeat note.  Links to the merits brief for Abigail Fisher in her lawsuit (to be argued before the Supreme Court this fall) challenging racially preferential admissions at the University of Texas, and to the supporting briefs filed recently by a wide variety of amici curiae, are posted here. There’s real diversity (pardon the expression) in these briefs, folks: conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; social scientists, economists, statisticians, and journalists; Asians, Jews, Indians, and African Americans; present and former civil-rights officials, including four of the eight current members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; lots of conservative lawyers and legal organizations; and U.S. Representative/Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Allen West, to name just some.

I won’t try to summarize the briefs here, but will note a few themes: It is bizarre (that word again!) for the law not only to allow racial and ethnic discrimination but to defer to a university’s judgment on whether and how to discriminate; this discrimination is offensive and harmful not only to whites and not only to the other groups discriminated against but also to the groups who are supposed to be the “beneficiaries” of this discrimination; the discrimination is widespread and schools face not only internal but external pressure to engage in it; the discrimination cannot be supported by social science and, indeed, there is more and more empirical evidence that the costs of racial preferences overwhelm the increasingly shaky claims of its benefits; and the whole business is now just silly (Cherokee-wannabe Elizabeth Warren is mentioned in at least one of the briefs).

Oh, and of course the Center for Equal Opportunity is represented:  You can read the brief that we joined and helped write here.