Paul R. Lehman, George Will’s Commentary on the high courts challenge for Michigan on race lacks good reasoning.October 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, blacks, Civil War, college admission, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, Michigan, minority, Prejudice, segregation, Slavery, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
Tags: Affirmative Action, African Americans, bigotry, black, Civil Rights, college admission, current-events, discrimination, diversity, ethnic diversity, ethnicity, European Americans, George Will, Michigan, preferential treatment, race, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, the University of Michigan, Univerity of Michigan, University of Michigan, white
One of the ironies in America today is the lack of acceptance of the fact that America, from its beginning, was a biased society. Europeans who called themselves white, created a society of two so-called races—one white, one black. The character of each so-called race was also created; the white race was to be superior to the black race in every way. The problem with this creation of races from the beginning was that it was not logical because race was never defined, just assumed. Shortly after Africans were introduced into American slavery, the problem of race reared it ugly head in the form of children produced by individuals representing each so-called race. Society met this problem by creating laws based on its conception of race to keep the separation in place. The laws, however, were based on the assumption of race by color, an assumption which nature and biology did not share. Society, nevertheless, continued to ignore nature and biology while creating and enforcing as best it could laws to address the continuing racial problems. Had America used another form of separation in its creation of and assumptions of races by color, the problems society is incurring today might not be so challenging.
One such problem was published in The Oklahoman by George Will in his “Commentary “(10/13/13)on the Supreme Court’s up-coming hearing on the use of race by the University of Michigan in its admission’s policy. Will stated that “the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment says ‘No state shall…deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’” He added that “the following provision of Michigan’s constitution violates the Equal Protection guarantee: No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin…” The provision continued with the conditions “in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The laws seem to cancel out each other, so Will believes the court will rule in favor of the 14th Amendment.
The problem with this case can be seen in the use and lack of definition of the word race and the history of America’s prejudice. From the end of the Civil War to 1954, America practiced segregation and discrimination, separate and unequal polices based on race. In 1964 when the Civil Rights Act provided relief from the practices of separate and unequal practices in public institutions, many states complained that the rights of some of it citizens were being denied because preferential treatment was being given to African Americans and other ethnic minorities. What society and Will does not say is that for over two-hundred years the equal protection in the 14th Amendment was not applied to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities, so the suspension of equal protection guarantees had to be put in place while an attempt to try and remedy the injustices of the past could be addressed.
Now the question of should race be included in consideration for admission to the University of Michigan, and if it is, will that serve as a form of discrimination against other students? Common sense should dictate a reasonable approach. How can an injustice be addressed by simply retaining the status quo, which is what the Michigan state provision suggests. The suggestion of fairness seems to reflect the idea that all citizens are equal have the same rights. History tells us that the concept of race has and still does play an important role in how some people; especially African Americans, women, and other minorities are treated. For someone to suggest that bias, prejudice, and discrimination does no longer exist in society is to ignore today’s reality.
The fact that Michigan created the law requiring that “”No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…” anyone, suggests that many people believed that some people, African Americans and others, were receiving these preferences. They also believed that the preferences worked to the disadvantage of the majority population, regardless of the fact that they were not discriminated against in the past. Regarding those who were discriminated against in the past, the law suggests that they automatically and magically became equal and no program for addressing the inequities of the past need be instituted.
Interestingly enough, Will stated that “Michigan’s attorney general correctly argues that the voters who passed the amendment in 80 of the state’s 83 counties were not ‘restructuring’ the political process, they were using the process to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideal of a colorblind society.” One wonders if Will truly believes that the people in the 80 counties were voting without consideration of so-called race and color. If those voters in the 80 counties were not conscious of race during their voting, there would be no reason to vote. After all, the law was written to stop what they considered unfair treatment of themselves and preferential treatment of African Americans.
Part of the problem facing the court has to do with the concept of race and how the university might apply it in admissions. Because biased and prejudiced citizens accused the government of using race as a partial method to help remedy segregation and discrimination of Africans Americans in the past, and the Supreme Court agreed in part with them, the emphasis was redirected by the universities towards using race as a form of academic “diversity.” Now the practice of the University of Michigan in using race as a form of bringing diversity into the academic community is being challenged by people who believe that is also a form of granting preferences. At some point society will have to ask the question concerning addressing the injustices of the past to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities. So far, most of the people receiving complaints of preferential treatment in college and University admissions are African Americans. We rarely read of complaints of women receiving preferential treatment.
As a society, we must accept the fact that race was created to serve as a form of separation and discrimination and that society employed the concept of race by color to employ forms of preferences for European Americans while creating walls and roadblocks for African Americans and other minorities. The mere fact that Will made the statement that the people of Michigan voted “to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideals of a colorblind society” represents a form of hypocrisy, deceit, and ignorance. How can we believe in the ideal of a colorblind society when the majority population identify themselves as “white”?