Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Civil Rights Leaders: "The first thing you got to do is get mad."

The Detroit News' article, Civil rights advocates organize for action, reported that 500 people gathered in Detroit's Northwest Activity Center to get mad -- and it wasn't over a cartoon. I suppose that's the good news. Mary Francis Berry, former chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, believes a key ingredient to combating discrimination is, I don't make this up, more discrimination. She used stunning logic to motivate the attendees, "The first thing you got to do is get mad." This must mean Muslims throughout the Middle East and Europe are on the verge of authoring some ground breaking anti-discrimination legislation of their own. According to Ms. Berry they've taken the first step.

All this over confusion about what the word /discrimination/ means. One of the definitions from www.dictionary.com states:
"Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice: racial discrimination; discrimination against foreigners."
"Treatment or consideration" is important language. The ballot proposal uses more specific language, exploiting the common pejorative use of 'discrimination' and making clear 'treatment or consideration' includes favoritism:
"The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.."
Ms. Berry is mad she may have to give up her hard fought-for "preferential treatment" for any group she may be a member of but is apparently oblivious the other side of the coin is "discrimination against" other groups. Instead of the coin having a single value, "no discrimination," she sees a black and white side. It's OK to give preferential treatment to blacks and we presume women, and it's OK to discriminate against non-blacks and men. When the referee flips the coin she wants "preferential treatment" for her group on both sides. Those mobilizing against the ballot initiative devalue individual merit and instead categorize our state's citizens by the color of their skin. Prejudice and discrimination is OK as long as it benefits Ms. Berry's groups. That's a prejudiced and xenophobic due process that doesn't exist in the US constitution. The Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment guarantee and protect individual rights, not group rights.

Or does it?

Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Conner, champion of progressive constitutional interpretation, seems to agree with Ms. Berry.
“We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."
Here Justice O'Conner exceeds liberal expectations by interpreting the US Constitution not just for what it meant to say (apparently the framers made clear their real intentions to her with the help of Dionne Warwick's psychic friends) but discovered sections with expiration dates like the pizza coupons I find in my TV Guide insert. Of course, none of them are good for 25 years and usually expire minutes before I arrive to pick up my dinner.

In his dissenting opinion, the much older Chief Justice Rehnquist recognized the hypocrisy that escaped O'Conner, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer:
In practice, the Law School’s program bears little or no relation to its asserted goal of achieving “critical mass.” From 1995 through 2000, the Law School admitted between 1,130 and 1,310 students. Of those, between 13 and 19 were Native American, between 91 and 108 were African-Americans, and between 47 and 56 were Hispanic. If the Law School is admitting between 91 and 108 African-Americans in order to achieve “critical mass,” thereby preventing African-American students from feeling “isolated or like spokespersons for their race,” one would think that a number of the same order of magnitude would be necessary to accomplish the same purpose for Hispanics and Native Americans.
In a famous Abbot and Costello skit, Bud Abbot flips a coin and tells Lou, "Heads I win, tails you lose." Maybe that's where Mary Francis Berry found inspiration for her revivals. Come election day, Michigan citizens won't be so easily hoodwinked.

This fall, without any anger, I'll vote to approve the civil rights initiative.

No comments:

Post a Comment