Share

Policy: Law

Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling and the Left's archaic discourse on racial discrimination

By |
Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Law,Race and Diversity,Magazine,Racial Discrimination,Cliven Bundy,Donald Sterling

Two plus two is not always a foursome, but to Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker, Justices John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy are four of a kind with Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling -- two old but unwise persons who said stupid things about persons of color that left most of the country outraged.

The sins of the last two are saying unpleasant things about some of their fellow Americans. The sins of the first two are in ruling against racial preferences at a law school in Michigan, which is supposed to equate to and/or enable such sins as saying blacks are less well-off being on welfare than living in slavery, or scolding one's girlfriend who's a mere 50 or so years one's junior for being photographed next to black men.

Roberts' other crime was having said "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," which Toobin appears to find sinister. What would he have said of Hubert Humphrey, who said he would eat the Civil Rights Act if it had quotas in it, or of John Kennedy, who said, when proposing the bill to the country, "Race has no place in American life"?

Toobin says also that in Brown v. Board of Education the Supreme Court ruled that "segregated public schools were by their nature unconstitutional," an assertion that isn't quite true.

What the court said was unconstitutional was the segregation of schools by intent and on purpose, denying black children living within a school district access to their own local school.

Schools segregated by happenstance because there was no racial mix in the neighborhood were constitutional, if not desirable, and should have been treated by redrawing districts, vouchers and charter schools, which were ferociously fought by the liberals. Instead, they went in for things such as forced busing, understandably hated by middle-class parents, and a two-tier admissions system in most elite colleges, which, whatever its intent wreaked havoc on the principle of equal protection to all of their rights.

Toobin heaps praise on Sonia Sotomayor for her emotional outburst against the court's ruling, agreeing with her that two high-profile bigots maketh a multitude, and saying she correctly writes to a country in which the Bundys and Sterlings hold sway.

But the question arises of, sway over whom? A black man with an African father, Muslim relations, and the middle name of Hussein sits in the White House, elected twice with larger margins than any president since 1988. Tea Partiers swoon over Allen West and Ben Carson, GOP stars are called Cruz and Rubio, a black man sits in the Senate seat once held by Strom Thurmond, having beaten Strom Thurmond's son. Anti-Semites may rant on C-SPAN and elsewhere, but Jews make up 1/10th of the Senate.

There are three Jews and five Catholics on the Supreme Court, and nobody finds this unusual. Hispanic and Indian Republican governors are warmly embraced in southwestern and former Confederate states. What this means is that the presence of a small but perhaps irreducible number of racists may speak no more for the rest of the country than the small but irreducible number of con men and muggers makes the whole country criminal.

"Racial discrimination, far from being ancient history, is as fresh and new as the latest alert on your phone," as Toobin would have it. Actually, it's as old and shriveled as Bundy and Sterling. The highest seats in the land are no longer off-limits to anyone in it. And they can't do a thing about that.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

View article comments Leave a comment