The Justice Department’s internal job posting seeking lawyers to help crack down on affirmative action programs that perpetrate “intentional race-based discrimination” has really resonated with the usual anti-affirmative action wingnuts, and may be just the thing to help Jeff Sessions win allies as Donald Trump has nosed around the possibility of firing him. Of course, Sessions may be safe for now, since new chief of staff John Kelly called him this weekend to assure him he can keep his job for now. However, just in case that was John Barron pretending to be John Kelly, Sessions may still want to keep a couple of cardboard boxes in his office, you know, if he needs to suddenly pack up his desk.
Of course, if Sessions going after affirmative action makes Trump more popular with his base (which is as base as they come), Trump may end up taking credit for the move, because he has the best ideas.
The DOJ’s move is being seen by some as a bit of easy red meat that can be thrown to keep the base satisfied:
“This touches a lot of issues and talks right to the folks who look at college admissions and believe slots for their kids are being taken, whether it’s by illegal immigrants or by other groups,” said Brett O’Donnell, a veteran Republican consultant. “It strikes to the heart of how they feel college is increasingly unaffordable and sometimes impossible to get into.”
Mind you, this assumes there even is any DOJ effort to take on affirmative action — Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement that the Fake News Media had blown the job announcement completely out of proportion:
Press reports regarding the personnel posting in the Civil Rights Division have been inaccurate. The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved. The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices.
See? Just one case, and how could a single case ever set some kind of legal precedent, huh? Flores also denied the DOJ had “received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative, or policy related to university admissions in general” and insisted the department is committed to “protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination” — which on the right is a nice way of saying any admissions policy that attempts to promote diversity.
WaPo, however, said that the job announcement happened because of the refusal of “career staffers who specialize in education” to work on the case, “out of concerns it was contrary to the division’s long-standing approach to civil rights in education.” So if the career civil servants won’t touch it, let the political hires take it on, because Republicans just love a good civil rights case that helps undermine affirmative action.
Heaven knows Linda Chavez, Ronald Reagan’s head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and now head of the right-leaning Center for Equal Opportunity, is pretty happy to see the DOJ taking what she called a “long-standing conservative approach” to affirmative action:
“It isn’t just white students who are excluded,” Chavez said. “Probably the biggest group of people who are affected by this are Asian students. But, it also isn’t a service to the students who get admitted under those different qualifications because many of them struggle.”
It really isn’t fair to make middling minority students carry the burdens of working hard in college when mediocre white students could do just as average academically, but at least have their other social advantages land them a good job with a gentleman’s C. It worked for George W. Bush and Rick Perry, after all.
WaPo notes that anxiety over affirmative action is a bigly motivator for Trump supporters:
A Washington Post-ABC News poll last year showed 44 percent of registered voters who supported Trump saw “whites losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics” as a bigger problem than minorities “losing out.”
Beyond the respectable segments of the Republican right, those of the unhinged racist variety are delighted by the move. Old racist failure David Duke was heartened to see the Trump administration taking on “(((affirmative action)))” — the parentheses indicate it’s a Jewish plot — saying affirmative action has an inherently “anti-white nature” and hoping “this could be the start of something big.” At Duke’s official website, another headline (for the same story) announced, “Prez Trump Declares War on Ant-White Racial Discrimination – Zios are Enraged!” At the white nationalist site “Occidental Dissent,” the news was met with some satisfaction, even while acknowledging that the Trump administration isn’t getting racist red-pilled fast enough for their taste:
While the Alt-Right and Alt-South have leveled numerous justified criticisms against the Trump Administration we can be assured that moves like this on behalf of White people would not be taking place if Donald Trump had lost the 2016 presidential election. If Hillary Climton [sic] or a cuckservative had won the might of the DOJ would have been firmly against our interests and out to destroy what is left of White America.
Then again, maybe the sudden emphasis on immigration was tactical — we wouldn’t want Jeff Sessions stealing all the wingnut racist attention for himself, after all.
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