Paul R. Lehman, Civil rights for all Americans is a constant battleDecember 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Abigail Fisher, Affirmative Action, African American, American Bigotry, blacks, college admission, desegregation, Equal Opportunity, equality, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, minority, Prejudice, segregation, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 3 Comments
Tags: Abigail Fisher, Affirmative Action, African Americans, American Education, black, Civil Rights, current-events, discrimination against african americans, Edward Blum, European Americans, Koch bothers, Lou Dubose, neighborhood school, politics, Prejudice, prime movers, public schools, race, separate but equal, The Washington Spectator, white, white neighborhood
Most Americans do not dwell on the fact that America was created as a biased society and that the government was one of the prime movers in creating, maintaining, and promoting segregation and discrimination. After all, the government is not some strange, mysterious organization that influences the lives of the people. No, the government is not strange and mysterious; the government is the people and the mind-set and perceptions of the people in control of the government does affect and influence the lives of the people. Since American society had distinct biases against African Americans that were spelled out in the laws, those laws had to be challenged in order to effect change. Many of the laws were neither just nor fair, but they were legal. Many of the laws created problems for society because they were contrary to the ideals and values that America promoted to the world. For example, the government sanctioned laws of segregation that discriminated against African Americans.
The rights of the people are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, so any challenge to an existing law must eventually go through the Supreme Court. For example, the concept of separate but equal laws that supported segregation in society had to be challenged and brought before the Supreme Court. In 1954 the case Brown v. Board of Education which involved a young African American student, Linda Brown, who was prevented from attending a white neighborhood school, was successfully argued before the Supreme Court. As a result, the law was changed and schools were ordered to desegregate. To some Americans, this ruling was wrong because it took away their rights to segregate in spite of the fact that to do so was considered un-American. The anger came from the fact that the government had been aiding and abetting the concepts of segregation and discrimination against African Americans, women, and other ethnic Americans since after the Civil War. Many citizens believed that America belonged to European Americans only and that they had the right to live any way they pleased. The concept that living in a society had responsibilities as well as benefits for all individuals was lost on many European Americans.
So, when groups like the NAACP began challenging some of the laws that had prevented African Americans from enjoying the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, they were vigorously opposed. The belief was that when a law was changed to correct a long-standing abuse, that change in the law gave the plaintiffs an unfair advantage. The resentment of some Americans regarding the rights given to African Americans in particular, resulted in a number of cases challenging, for example, Affirmative Action that allowed race to be considered in college and university applications for admission. Several cases have become part of our common knowledge including a recent case involving Abigail Fisher, a young European American female who claimed she was discriminated against because she was white. In essence, she claims that she was denied admission to the University of Texas in favor of an African American with lesser academic qualifications. What most Americans do not know is that Miss Fisher’s case was used as a test case to challenge the use of race in college and university admissions.
In a November 15, 2012 article in The Washington Spectator,” Lou Dubose, the writer, introduces us to the crusader who wants to undo many of the civil rights laws: “Edward Blum’s campaign to dismantle statues and case law that provide advantages to minority groups began in 1992. After Blum, who is white and ran as a Republican, failed to unseat a black Democratic congressman, he filed his first lawsuit.” Blum is the behind-the-scene backer of the Fisher case. Although what Blum does is legal, one wonders why he believes hundred of years of preferential treatment favoring European American is acceptable and need not be changed when we witness the results of years of injustice in education every day. Dubose notes that “Blum confirmed that his litigation is funded by Donors Trust and that the names of contributors to the fundraising collective are not available to the public.” Dubose does mention that there might be some connection with the Koch brothers via the Donors Trust.
So, while many Americans view the language in our national documents that describe life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens, some American have yet to accept the concept of democracy and the diversity that make this country strong. Many of the people Blum represents in his lawsuits have a mind-set that speaks to the idea of “just us” as apposed to “justice.” He identifies these people and says “The Reagan-era cabal of Federalist Society lawyers and think-tankers co-opted the “equal rights” language of the civil rights movement and managed to turn the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the people it was intended to protect.”
What this writer finds difficult to understand is how the courts can omit or discount the conditions that resulted from the laws and not consider them in the reasons for wanting to over-turn the laws. If Affirmative Action was created to address some social ills based on race, how can race be removed when trying to correct the problem? If race is removed, what is left to combat the problems of segregation and discrimination that existed before Affirmative Action? None-the-less, Dubose notes that “Meanwhile, the consensus of legal scholars has the Court wiping out some, if not all, of the race-based college admissions practices that Fisher and Blum are challenging in Texas.”
What seems to be the primary reason for some Americans wanting to proscribe the rights and privileges of ethnic and minority Americans is bigotry. In spite of our history of injustice, discrimination, segregation, prejudice, and bigotry, some people would like society to not address these detrimental features in an effort to create a better, more democratic and just America. They, in fact, want to destroy the progress we as a society have made. So, now we know that the fight for civil rights for all Americans is a continuous battle.