GOP less than firm on affirmative action

By Rod Dreher

New York Post, January 7, 2001

The race card is about to be wielded viciously against Labor Secretary-designate Linda Chavez.

“She is a strenuous foe of anti-discrimination measures, including affirmative action,” AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney said.

Huh? Chavez, like a majority of Americans, believes it is immoral and unjust to discriminate in hiring and promotions on the basis of race and gender, and has said so many times.

“There is simply no way for the state to be in the business of picking winners and losers on the basis of skin color or sex without doing great violence to the principle of equal protection of the laws,” Chavez has written, typically.

Obviously, she thinks discrimination is wrong, whether it’s against men or women, black or white, and should be illegal. Therefore, according to the left, Chavez supports discrimination. Good grief.

It’s going to get real ugly, real fast. Are Senate Republicans ready? Doubtful.

What is it about the Congressional Republicans that turns them into a gaggle of sissies when quotas are at issue? They’ve got the moral argument on their side, a majority of the public and, increasingly, the courts.

Yet they cave. As Chavez has ironically observed, “They want to be on the side of angels.”

It would be a great day in this country if the GOP were on the side of working stiffs like an old pal of mine I’ll call Dave.

Dave is depressed. Over the holidays, he learned he had been turned down for a position on a big-city fire department – for the fifth time.

He has perfect test scores, expert training, commendations for over a decade of experience fighting fires with another squad, a strong back and a consuming passion for the job. It’s his fondest dream.

The fire department has never officially told Dave why his applications have been denied.

But according to sympathetic sources inside the department, Dave has one problem that all his study, experience, strength and hard work can’t overcome.

He’s a white male.

This is illegal. Dave should sue the bastards.

That’s what three white male New York City school custodians did to the Board of Education last year when it settled a civil-rights lawsuit with the Clinton Justice Department on blatantly discriminatory terms.

Under the settlement, the Board agreed to give women and minority custodians special treatment in promotions, testing and seniority. A federal district court approved, prompting the white male custodians to file a lawsuit in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision could come at any time, says Curt Levey, a spokesman for the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest law firm representing the three men.

While Levey is cheered by Chavez’s nomination, he cautions that the labor secretary has little jurisdiction over affirmative-action programs.

Chavez could use her bully pulpit, however, to draw attention to the harmful effects quota programs have on the lives and dreams of ordinary people of the wrong color and gender.

“One thing we’ve been successful in doing in our admissions lawsuits against universities is to put the focus on victims,” says Levey.

“It’s one thing when you say fewer white people or Asian people got in because of quotas. It’s another thing when the victim has a blue-collar background.”

It’s past time for Americans to face the cost of reverse discrimination in the lives of real people. Racial justice and gender equity can never be achieved by imposing racial injustice and gender inequity on innocents.

That’s what Linda Chavez believes, and she’s about to be flayed for it. Republicans who defend and confirm her will take some licks, too. It’s the very least they can do.

Unlike Dave, they don’t have to live with the personal heartbreak and professional humiliation that comes with knowing that your fondest dream will never be realized – all because of the color of your skin.