Book Review: ‘For Discrimination’ by Randall Kennedy

The Wall Street Journal

The case for racial preferences in higher education has long been made using sophistry designed to hide the heavy social and moral costs of affirmative action. In “For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law,” Randall Kennedy makes that case with rare intellectual honesty and fair-mindedness. And while it won’t persuade opponents of the policy, the book has the salutary effect of clarifying the terms of the debate. The author, a professor at Harvard Law School, begins building his case for racially… Continue reading the column here.

The Rot At Duke — And Beyond

National Journal

You might think that a university whose students were victims of the most notorious fraudulent rape claim in recent history, and whose professors — 88 of them — signed an ad implicitly presuming guilt, and whose president came close to doing the same would have learned some lessons.

The facts are otherwise. They also suggest that Duke University’s ugly abuse in 2006 and 2007 of its now-exonerated lacrosse players — white males accused by a black stripper and hounded by a mob hewing to political correctness — reflects a disregard of due process and a bias against white males that infect much of academia.

In September, far from taking pains to protect its students from false rape charges, Duke adopted a revised "sexual misconduct" policy that makes a mockery of due process and may well foster more false rape charges by rigging the disciplinary rules against the accused.

Meanwhile, none of the 88 guilt-presuming professors has publicly apologized. (Duke’s president, Richard Brodhead, did — but too little and too late.) Many of the faculty signers — a majority of whom are white — have expressed pride in their rush to judgment. None was dismissed, demoted, or publicly rebuked. Two were glorified this month in Duke’s in-house organ as pioneers of "diversity," with no reference to their roles in signing the ad. Three others have won prestigious positions at Cornell, Vanderbilt, and the University of Chicago.

(Disclosure: I co-authored a 2007 book on the case, Until Proven Innocent, with historian KC Johnson of Brooklyn College and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. His scrupulously accurate blog details the events summarized here.)

The two stated reasons for the revised sexual-misconduct rules, as reported in the student newspaper, The Chronicle, almost advertise that they were driven by politically correct ideology more than by any surge in sexual assaults.

Opening Argument – Academia’s Pervasive PC Rot

National Journal

"A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. ‘The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists.’ " [emphasis added]

Such stuff has long been a staple of the totalitarian "diversity" obsessives who pollute — and often dominate — political discourse at almost all of our universities, from coast to coast. The University of Delaware recently got a step ahead of its peers by including the all-whites-are-racists dogma in training those who administered a systematic thought-reform program for incoming (and other) students.

The quoted language appears in an August 2007 "diversity facilitation training" program for resident assistants. The RAs were, in turn, assigned to use far-left propaganda such as this in what university documents called the mandatory "treatment" of freshmen and the rest of the 7,000 students in university residence halls.

University President Patrick Harker suspended this particular program two days after an October 30 expose spurred media reports and horrified parents and other citizens. But history suggests that it may well be back in some less obvious form before long. And it provides the latest glimpse into the political correctness rot that infects our universities and a great many secondary schools.

This and dozens of other cases suggest to me that the cancerous spread of ideologically eccentric, intellectually shoddy, phony-diversity-obsessed fanaticism among university faculties and administrators is far, far worse and more inexorable than most alumni, parents, and trustees suspect.

Opening Argument – ‘Rape’ and the Navy’s P.C. Police

National Journal

This is a story about a 23-year-old African-American midshipman who has limitless potential to serve his country but now faces a grave risk of seeing his Navy career derailed because of a bogus rape charge by a white woman whose violations of Navy rules were worse than his.

Lamar Owens Jr., the star quarterback, captain, and MVP of the Navy football team through the 2005 season, was resoundingly acquitted of rape last July 20, after the evidence presented to a military jury of five naval officers showed clearly that his sexual encounter with a female midshipman six months before was consensual and that the rape prosecution was a travesty.

More broadly, this is a story about how overreaction to the bad old days when real rape victims were not taken seriously has fostered a politically correct presumption of guilt in many rape cases, leading to wrongful prosecutions of innocent men and, probably, the convictions of some.

In the now-infamous Duke lacrosse rape fraud, the falsely accused men are white, the lying accuser is black, and racial demagoguery has fueled the prosecution. In other cases, such as that of Lamar Owens, the races have been reversed and suspicions of racially selective prosecution muted. In most, the men and women have been of the same race.

Owens endured a court-martial that should never have been convened, in the face of powerful evidence of innocence, thanks to the "leadership" of the Naval Academy’s superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt. He has led a much-publicized crackdown on sexual assault and harassment, but has badly overshot the mark.

Opening Argument – Males, Females, And Math: The Evidence

National Journal

I wish to propound a hypothesis that I can only begin to document here and will abandon should it be undermined by further study: A very large percentage of the professors and administrators at Harvard and most (if not all) other prestigious universities in this country are high-IQ ninnies, ideologues, cowards, and/or hypocrites.

The Affirmative Action Decisions

The Duke University Press

In approving racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School in Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion for the Court tacitly endorsed an essentially permanent regime of racial balancing through preferences while purporting to ban both racial balancing and permanent preferences. At the same time, in striking down the all-too-transparent point system used to award racial preferences by the university’s undergraduate school, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the justices signaled that concealment of the nature and magnitude of racial preferences–which has long been indispensable to their political sustainability–will henceforth be the way for selective universities to insulate them from legal challenge as well.

Taken together, the decisions reflect the majority’s evident desire to perpetuate the racial-preference regime long used by almost all major establishment institutions while using obfuscation to insulate it from the overwhelming popular disapproval that candor would have provoked.i

I. Grutter’s impact: a racial spoils system forever?

In Grutter, Justice O’Connor, who had never before voted to uphold a system of racial preferences, quoted a 1977 article asserting that "[i]t would be a sad day indeed, were America to become a quota-ridden society, with each identifiable minority assigned proportional representation in every desirable walk of life." But now she has done more than anyone alive to entrench just such a pervasive racial spoils system. In doing so, she and her four more liberal colleagues have cast aside, perhaps forever, the Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream of an America in which people are judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

How Campus Censors Squelch Freedom of Speech

National Journal

Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic State University, was posting fliers around campus last November 12 that advertised a speech to be given the next evening. The fliers contained a photo of the speaker, black conservative Mason Weaver, and the words "It’s OK to Leave the Plantation," the name of a book in which Weaver likens African-American dependence on government programs to slavery.

Legal Affairs – Politically Correct Idealogues, Still Stuck In Their Ruts

National Journal

The horrors of September 11 have had some healthy aftereffects: A newfound patriotism and community spirit. A deeper respect for the heroism of people who do dangerous jobs to protect the rest of us. A fuller appreciation of how much more free, more diverse, more tolerant, and more civilized our much-disparaged society is than the societies that wallow in anti-American hatred and barbarism.

Legal Affairs – Politically Incorrect Profiling: A Matter of Life or Death

National Journal

What would happen if another 19 well-trained Al Qaeda terrorists, this time with 19 bombs in their bags, tried to board 19 airliners over the next 19 months? Many would probably succeed, blowing up lots of planes and thousands of people, if the forces of head-in-the-sand political correctness prevail-as they did before September 11-in blocking use of national origin as a factor in deciding which passengers’ bags to search with extra care.

But a well-designed profiling system might well catch all 19. Such a system would not be race-based; indeed, most Arab-Americans would not fit the profile. It would factor in suspicious behavior, along with national origin, gender, and age. It could spread the burden by selecting at least one white (or black, or Asian) passenger to be searched for every Middle Easterner so selected. And it should be done politely and respectfully.

We have no good alternative. For the foreseeable future, the shortage of high-tech bomb-detection machines and the long delays required to search luggage by hand will make it impossible to effectively screen more than a small percentage of checked bags. The only real protection is to make national origin a key factor in choosing those bags. Otherwise, federalizing airport security and confiscating toenail clippers will be futile gestures.