Center for Equal Opportunity

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


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E pluribus unum 1

I noted in an earlier email that, in the aftermath of the election, much is being made of the nation’s changing demographics.   And I added that, in an increasingly multiracial and multiethnic country, it is simply untenable for our governments and institutions to sort individuals by skin color and what country our ancestors came from, and to treat some better and others worse based on which silly little box is checked.


Let me elaborate a bit on this point:  It is essential that, as the country changes, there must be less focus on our differences in skin color and national origin and more emphasis on nurturing those qualities that are essential if a multiracial, multiethnic society is to work.

With regard to assimilation, here's my top-ten list of what we should expect from those who want to become Americans — and those who are already Americans, for that matter, and no matter what their political party. The list was first published in a National Review Online column over a decade ago and it is fleshed out in my Congressional testimony.  Here it is:

1. Don’t disparage anyone else’s race or ethnicity.
2. Respect women.
3. Learn to speak English.
4. Be polite.
5. Don’t break the law.
6. Don’t have children out of wedlock.
7. Don’t demand anything because of your race or ethnicity.
8. Don’t view working and studying hard as “acting white.”
9. Don’t hold historical grudges.
10. Be proud of being an American.

With regard to racial preferences in a changing America, let me note that our fastest growing racial group — Asians — is frequently discriminated against in public university admissions by “affirmative action,” and that our largest ethnic minority group — Latinos — has recently been discriminated against in government contracting by such programs.

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Here’s some more food for thought along these lines:  If you have a set of standards that are not being met by some racial and ethnic groups, there are logically three things that can be done to address that problem.

First, you can relax the standards for those groups. That’s what racial preferences (a.k.a. affirmative action) do, and that’s wrong.

Second, you can attack the standards themselves. That’s what the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement does, and it’s wrong, too.  (A disparate-impact lawsuit is based strictly on a racial disparity, without regard to whether the disparity was a result of discrimination.)

Or, third, you can figure out why some groups aren’t meeting the standards and address that problem. The principal and underlying reason for most racial disparities is the disparity in out-of-wedlock birthrates. So, for a number of obvious reasons, this would be a good issue for President Obama to talk about, as columnists Jonah Goldberg and Kathleen Parker have recently pointed out. (I should add that this is an increasing problem for all racial and ethnic groups, though it is much worse so far for African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos versus whites and Asians.)

If all this makes sense to you, by the way, then you should love the work of the Center for Equal Opportunity.  It’s what we’ve been fighting for from Day One of our existence, and will continue to fight for — no matter what the election results in a particular year.

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Speaking of “disparate impact,” some folks in Congress are trying to sneak through legislative amendments at the end of the year that would, by overturning a number of Supreme Court decisions, both codify and expand disparate-impact causes of action under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (regarding race and ethnicity) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (regarding sex). The effort has been made for the National Defense Authorization Act and is also being made for the Servicemen’s Protection Act — and, no doubt, will be tried elsewhere, too, so Hill staff need to keep their eyes peeled. These bills would be disastrous, since the disparate-impact approach to civil-rights enforcement guarantees quotas and legal challenges to a wide variety of perfectly legitimate policies that happen to have politically incorrect statistical results (e.g., being able to speak English, not having a criminal record, doing well on a physical or written test, etc.).

That’s not all:  Take a look at this interesting testimony at Senate hearings last week that focused on K–12 suspension policies. The testimony highlighted two recent and highly sophisticated studies by Rochester University professor Joshua Kinsler. The studies suggest that higher minority discipline rates are generally not the result of racism on the part of school officials, and that preventing suspension of disruptive students would actually exacerbate racial achievement gaps and disproportionately harm African-American students by increasing classroom disruption and reducing learning in predominantly-black schools.

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I’ll end with some good news and some bad news on college campuses. 

Here’s the good news:  A recent poll of Brown University students found 58 percent of them opposing racial preferences in university admissions. An anti-preference ballot initiative in Oklahoma passed last month with 59 percent of the vote (with help from the Center for Equal Opportunity, by the way). One suspects that you can’t get much redder than Oklahoma nor much bluer than Brown, and yet on this issue the two see almost exactly eye to eye.

The bad news is that the student government at Arizona State University has voted to change Columbus Day to “Indigenous People Day.”  The email that I sent the reporter is quoted in the story:  "There's nothing wrong with celebrating Native America — as a heritage, not a race, since the principle of E pluribus unum means that we shouldn't be singling out particular races for celebration — and there's nothing wrong with celebrating the heroic explorers of America either.  We should be able to celebrate both without denigrating either.  The juxtaposition in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day, on the other hand, is a silly anti-Western statement and a celebration of fashionable victimhood."