July 4, Again

Below is the twelth recycling of a short statement celebrating July 4 that I published first in The Nation July 15, 1991, unchanged from the version I posted here last year.


Following is the eleventh recycling of a blog post I first posted, here, twenty years ago, and subsequently ten different times over the years on or around July 4 — most recently last year, here.

My preface to that first post explained how it had come to be published eleven years earlier, in 1991, as part of a symposium on patriotism in The Nation. Yes, that Nation. (I won’t repeat that explanation here; anyone curious about what I was doing in those left-wing precincts can just follow the link above to that twenty year old post.)

In order to continue the theme of my post of a few days ago — “The more things change…” — and because there may be a reader or two here who will not recall the 1991 controversy that generated the “Solidarity in Support of Diversity” banner to which my post refers in closing, I will add one annotation that has not appeared in any of my previous recyclings:

“A white law student’s allegation that black students attending Georgetown University’s law school are significantly less qualified than whites has shaken the Washington campus,” the New York Times reported on April 15, 1991.

The student, Timothy Maguire, raised the issue last week in an article in The Georgetown Law Weekly, a publication managed by students. In the article, which was labeled commentary and ran under the headline, “Admissions Apartheid,” Mr. Maguire asserted that the university used a separate and less demanding standard when considering black students for admission into its law school.

He went on to say that blacks applying to the Georgetown Law Center routinely score substantially lower than whites on Law School Admission Tests and have lower college grade-point averages. And, he said, that, in general, blacks admitted have lower test scores and grades….

Mr. Maguire wrote that the average white student accepted to the university’s law school had a Law School Admission Test score of 43 out of a possible 50 and that the average score for black students accepted was 36. Regarding grade-point averages, black students showed about 3.2 out of a possible 4, the article said, while whites had a 3.7 average.

Although the expression “cancel culture” had not yet been coined, there were predictable demands that Mr. Maguire be expelled. Dean of The Law School Judith Areen lamely replied that all accepted students were “qualified to be here,” but to the school’s credit did not expel the whistleblower. Mr Maguire wrote shortly thereafter that he “came out of [his] encounter with the politically correct all right, I guess,” having received “only one death threat.”

Georgetown’s recent treatment of Ilya Shapiro suggests that despite (?) thirty years of “diversity” its law school is less tolerant than it used to be.

The more things change….

And now for the 11th recycling:

FOR TOO LONG THE LEFT HAS TOO EASILY REGARDED patriotism as the first refuge of scoundrels. Perhaps the main source of this longstanding discomfort with patriotic sentiment is that patriotism celebrates, at least in theory, the national community as a whole while the left, especially in theory, is oppositional, outside, dissenting. Traditionally class based, with workers viewed as the engine driving society to a better future, the left is now largely a collection of racial, ethnic and gender interests plus some academic defenders of multiculturalism–progressives all, but with no agent of progress and hence no real reason to believe in progress, in sight or in mind.

With little to unite it except opposition to the dominant culture, the left today has lost both the desire and the ability to lay claim to any significant portion of the landscape of American values. Equal opportunity? It has a disparate impact. Free speech? It protects racist and sexist epithets. Self-determination? A principle useful only for bashing the Russians or protecting oil sheiks. This is overstated, to be sure, but not by much. From what precinct of the left today could an authentic voice claim something like “This land is your land, this land is my land . . .”? Patriotism is an expression of solidarity, a principle long favored on the left, but the term itself reveals our predicament. Solidarity of whom? With whom? For what? It is a far but revealing cry from “Solidarity Forever” to “Solidarity in Support of Diversity,” a banner displayed during the recent controversy over affirmative action at Georgetown Law School.

That’s a hard flag to rally around.



Beyond Bakke

I have a review essay, “Beyond Bakke,” in the just-published Spring 2023 issue of the National Association of Scholars journal, Academic Questions. It is available online here.

I argued more forcefully in an older draft that the Court could reach an equitable result (in the now older sense of fair and just) in the pending Harvard and UNC affirmative action cases by “simply” relying on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but there will be both real and poetic justice if instead it goes beyond Title VI and revives the older liberal version of the 14th Amendment — that it embodies the principle of colorblind equality — discarded by today’s progressives.

Poetic, because …

Unlikely as it might appear in 2023, today’s defenders of affirmative action stand on the shoulders of dead racists. Justice John Marshall Harlan was wrong, they assert, to argue in Plessy that “our Constitution is colorblind.” They applaud, as the Harvard brief does, the success of the racists and “moderates” in the Thirty-ninth Congress who rejected colorblind language in the Fourteenth Amendment proposed by former abolitionists Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and the radicals, “choosing instead to guarantee ‘equal protection’ rather than prohibit all distinctions based on race.” And what of more recent iconic liberals such as Hubert Humphrey, who did succeed in embedding colorblindness into Title VI and the rest of the 1964 Civil Rights Act? “The words of Senator Humphrey and his allies forswearing affirmative action should be understood as mere strategic feints,” Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy superciliously explains in his book, For Discrimination (2015), at best a reflection of the limitations “of early 1960s white racial liberalism . . . that regrettably underestimated the barriers” of continued racial discrimination….

[T]he Bakke judgment overturned or rejected opinions by two of the most liberal justices of the twentieth century … the holding of the California Supreme Court, whose 6-1 opinion written by Justice Stanley Mosk, widely regarded as one of the most impressive state court judges in the country, had held, “To uphold the University would call for the sacrifice of principle for the sake of dubious expediency and would represent a retreat in the struggle to assure that each man and woman shall be judged on the basis of individual merit alone.”

[Bakke] also rejected the powerful opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, probably the most liberal justice to serve on the Supreme Court in the twentieth century, four years earlier in DeFunis v. Odegard (1974), a case from the University of Washington law school that foreshadowed the issues in Bakke. “If discrimination based on race is constitutionally permissible when those who hold the reins can come up with ‘compelling’ reasons to justify it, then constitutional guarantees acquire an accordion-like quality,” Justice Douglas wrote.

“Since today’s progressives defend racial preference with the arguments of dead racists,” I concluded, “it would be ironic and fitting for the Court’s conservatives to revive the colorblind radical abolitionist tradition” that today’s progressives have abandoned.


UVa Men’s Tennis: There They Go Again!

First, STOP READING! There is a pre-requisite for reading this post. Do not read another word here until you re-read (you did read it last year, right?) UVa Men’s Tennis: A Dramatic, Perhaps Unique, National Championship! from almost exactly one year ago. Even assuming you did read it a year ago you’ve probably forgotten it by now […]

From Affirmative Action To DEI

There was a time, not very long ago, when it was regarded as insulting, even racist, to describe someone as an “affirmative action hire,” even though everyone knew when affirmative action hires were in fact affirmative action hires. That seems to have changed. “Notes of a DEI Search Chair,” which appears in this morning’s Inside […]

Wokery At UNC: If Balanced is Conservative, Then Unbalanced Must Be …

Inside Higher Ed reports this morning: Confusion Over a New Unit at Chapel Hill The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s board chairman told Fox News a new school would provide equal opportunity for right- and left-of-center views. Faculty, caught off guard, have expressed concerns, while the provost says it’s not what it sounds […]

Stanford’s Words For The Woke

Stanford wants to improve its — and by implication, our — language. When the British say, “Can I have a word?,” that’s generally a request for a chat in private. Here, when a student is told, “The principal wants to have a word with you,” the kid knows he’s in trouble. In the current instance, […]

Martin Luther King, Redux Redux …

On a number of Martin Luther King days past I have posted version of the following. Since these comments still seem relevant, I post one version, linking others, here: On a past Martin Luther King day, several years ago, I noted (“Dishonoring Martin Luther King, Jr.”) that one of the saddest commentaries on the sorry […]

“Equity”: Disparate Impact, Unhinged

Affirmative Action Pro And Con

Affirmative Action At Stanford, Then And Now

Diversity As “Racial Parity”?

The Chronicle Airbrushes Affirmative Action

Phonics … Or Not

Barone On Biden’s Leftward Lunge

Patriotism? Recycled Again

President Claims Republicans Are “Fascists’ Tool, Threaten U.S. Liberty”

UVa Men’s Tennis: A Dramatic, Perhaps Unique, National Championship!