The Anti-Southern Bias Of Pro-Preference Arguments

[NOTE: The following has been cross-posted on College Insurrection]

The heated and hostile reaction to evidence that there is greater black participation in politics in Southern states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act than in non-covered states, even liberal Massachusetts — especially to Chief Justice Roberts’ pointing to that evidence during the recent oral argument in Shelby County  v. Holder — reveals that a surprising (at least to non-Southerners) amount of the anger expressed by proponents at the prospect of Section 5 being overturned derives from simple anti-Southern bias, a determination to punish the region for its past sins.

Now comes a Harvard law professor who unabashedly expresses that bias as a justification for retaining racial preferences in university admissions. The Harvard Crimson quotes Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin arguing that the Supreme Court should uphold affirmative action in Fisher v. Texas because it is “the first case in which the Court will rule on an affirmative action case that arises from the South or South West, where the history of discrimination in higher education is egregious and effects of discrimination linger.”

Texas, of course, did not defend its racial preferences by saying they were necessary to overcome any continuing legacy of discrimination, no doubt at least in part because the Supreme Court has long rejected that justification. In Bakke Justice Powell’s controlling opinion specifically rejected “remedying of the effects of ‘societal discrimination'” as a justification for preference based on race, calling it “an amorphous concept of injury that may be ageless in its reach into the past.” In Wygant the Court held that “a racial preference cannot rest on broad-brush assumptions of historical discrimination.” In Croson Justice O’Connor wrote for the Court that to accept the claim

that past societal discrimination alone can serve as the basis for rigid racial preferences would be to open the door to competing claims for “remedial relief” for every disadvantaged group. The dream of a Nation of equal citizens in a society where race is irrelevant to personal opportunity and achievement would be lost in a mosaic of shifting preferences based on inherently unmeasurable claims of past wrongs.

The propensity of so many preference proponents to continue offering the need to overcome historical discrimination as a justification for affirmative action reminds me of nothing so much as the hapless fellow who insisted on looking for something he lost where the light was good rather than where he lost it.

Professor Brown-Nagin doesn’t stop, however, with pushing a proven loser of an argument. She also patronizes Justice Kennedy by telling the Crimson that “she thinks it is possible that he will support the University of Texas’s affirmative action policy ‘if he recognizes the historical and social significance’ of the case.”

It appears that Professor Brown-Nagin believes that the only reason Justice Kennedy (or presumably anyone) could disagree with her is stupidity.

Say What? (3)

  1. Cobra May 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm | | Reply

    One of the first rules of acknowledging wrong doings of the past, is to admit that there WAS wrong doing in the past. This is especially difficult for many conservative, anti-affirmative action types to do.


  2. Claire Boston June 3, 2013 at 10:09 am | | Reply

    So let’s punish those for their past wrongdoings. Oh, wait, they’re dead. So let’s punish their kids. Sorry, they’re dead, too. How about the grandkids, they’re still around, right?

    Hey, Cobra, how do you feel about being punished for something your grandfather did before you were born? Sounds fair, right? No? Then why do you think it is alright to do that to other people?

    My great-grandfather was taken as a slave when he was 11 years old. Should I go out and hunt down the descentants of his captors and punish them? At my best estimate, that consists of around 7500 people scattered throughout the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Think the Supreme Court will allow me to do that? I bet at least some of them have money; should I be allowed to take their money for something their great-grandfathers did to mine?

    By the way, I should probably mention: his captors are now members of protected minorities. Did that change your answer?

    I never met my great-grandfather. According to his journal and family letters, he was a narrow-minded SOB who beat his wife and kids, all for the glory and righteousness of the Lord. Do his descendants still deserve to take his captors’s descendants’ money? Can I be rich now? Think about your answer now.

    Got it? Will it change if I tell you my great-grandfather was Scottish (white), and his captors were Sabinal indians (Native Americans) and disaffected former slaves (African Americans)? Still think I should go after that money?

    I think so. I think I’m a victim, because some relative I never met had something bad happen to him, called ‘slavery’. What’s that you say? White people weren’t slaves? Tell that to all the Irish indentured servants who came to American to escape the Potato Famine. Do they deserve to be considered victims, too? How can you tell – after all, they all have white skin. So how do you tell the victims from the oppressors? Excuse me, the DESCENDANTS of the victims from the DESCENDANTS of the oppressors? At what point do you start to realize that its all an excuse?

  3. Cobra June 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | | Reply

    Claire writes:

    “Hey, Cobra, how do you feel about being punished for something your grandfather did before you were born?”

    I’m an African-American male. I am punished in American Society for that very reality, whether it be from lenders, law enforcement, health care administrators, insurers, realtors, landlords etc.

    I’ve been posting here at “Discriminations” for almost TEN years (time flies, huh John?) I’ve probably posted more statistics to support my above statement than you’d believe, so I won’t do so here. But ask yourself two questions, Claire…

    What place do you believe that White Males hold in the American Power Structure and how do you think they REALLY achieved that status?


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