In a move sure to be popular with lots of people who believe minorities have all the advantages, the Department of Justice is apparently switching around resources in its civil rights division to tackle one of America’s greatest injustices: affirmative action programs that supposedly discriminate against white students. The New York Times got its hands on an internal DOJ document that
seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
That ought to be a at least some relief to Trump supporters, who know for a fact that if any black kid is in college, it was at the cost of some more-qualified white kid. No telling whether it will be enough for those who are also convinced all black people go to college for free. The project will investigate and bring lawsuits against schools suspected of doing too much to encourage diversity, since white folks have it so hard.
Now, the DOJ actually has an office that handles claims of discrimination in education, the Educational Opportunities Section, but this new initiative is so important it can’t be trusted to career Justice Department civil servants, so it’s being run out of the front office of the civil rights division, by political appointees who can be trusted to agree with Republican priorities. And just who are the victims of discrimination this bold step into 1961 Alabama is intended to help?
The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.
Oh, OK, so that’s a bit of rightwing code there. That would explain why all the dogs in the neighborhood started howling when we opened the story on our computer. What it really means is that the civil rights division will be shifting away from silly wastes of effort like protecting voting rights and will be a source of succor for mediocre white students who think a brown person got “their” spot in a selective university.
In one of our favorite bits of question-dodging, a DOJ spokesperson told the Times that John Gore, the acting head of the civil rights division, wouldn’t be available for an interview about the new program because the department “does not discuss personnel matters, so we’ll decline comment.” Hey, it was a question about a document asking department lawyers to apply for jobs, so obviously, that’s a personnel matter, not a policy matter.Supreme Court held that a University of Texas at Austin affirmative action program was constitutional because it only considered race as one of many factors in selecting for a diverse student body. The school had been sued by a mediocre white girl who was very sad that several minority students with slightly lower scores on a “personal achievement index” were admitted instead of her, although that index also resulted in 42 white applicants whose scores were at or below her level also being admitted, and 168 minority students whose scores were equal or higher than hers being denied, just like her. But race was included among all the factors, so obviously she was a victim, she just knew it.
Now the Justice Department can get out there and do some Justice on the behalf of marginally qualified white kids everywhere. The move was welcomed by the usual suspects, like Roger Clegg, a former official in the civil rights division under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and now the head of a conservative group calling itself the Center for Equal Opportunity. Clegg was over the moon, calling the Trump DOJ project “long overdue,” because America has so many of Those People now (fine — he said “diverse,” but you know how he meant it):
The civil rights laws were deliberately written to protect everyone from discrimination, and it is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian-Americans are as well
Reagan and Bush, of course, started the tradition of Republican presidents using civil rights laws to make life easier for the oppressed white majority in America, which in those old-fashioned days was actually considered rather controversial.
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In other words, it’s business as usual for the civil rights division under a Republican president, hooray. Now when is Sessions going to fix it so nobody can print business signs in Spanish or make decent hardworking Americans press “1” for English, huh?
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