January 6, 2010
Racial Spoils in Obama's AmericaBy George Picard
"There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America," declared Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. "There's the United States of America.''
One year has passed since Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress were swept into power. We felt our racial sins had been washed away as millions of whites pulled the lever for Barack Obama. He promised us unity and clearly implied that he would govern in a color-blind way.
This promise, like so many others, has been broken.
The administration and Congress have passed policies clearly based on favoritism. They have further appointed, approved, and empowered key officials who have displayed a strong desire to benefit African-Americans over the interests of all Americans.
Disparate Impact and Disparate Treatment
There are two ways this agenda has been promoted: steps that have a disparate impact in favor of African-Americans, and those that are designed to specifically favor African-Americans (disparate treatment).
Disparate impacts are outcomes that benefit African-Americans because they are compose a higher proportion of a particular group. These include:
Because African-Americans make up a high proportion of the disadvantaged, they will disproportionally benefit. This is an agenda at work.
Don't believe me? Listen to Barack Obama when he spoke to a friendly crowd of minority journalists in 2008 about why he favored universal care:
Obama expressed support for reparations (retracted during the campaign) and expressed frustration that the Constitution and the Warren Court presented roadblocks to redistributing wealth to blacks (do you recall his "spread the wealth around" gaffe during the campaign?). As Barack Obama has said, "Words matter." Listen to his own words in a 2001 radio interview. Maybe by the time he is done with the Supreme Court, that will be less of a problem.
In his 2006 book, Obama outlined a plan for essentially a government bailout of the inner cities, which he describes as "repositories for all the scars of slavery and violence of Jim Crow." (I urge readers to peruse "Obama's Stealth Reparations," written by Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution fellow.) Some of these ideas are being implemented now via the stimulus bill and other measures.
Those views (and goals) were buried by the campaign, but they are preserved and readily available on the internet for those willing to look and to see. (By the way, Google "Reparations by way of Health Care reform" to further explore this topic.)
But even that type of gaming is not enough. We also have disparate treatment on display if one can sift through over a thousand pages of legalese (some of the most creative writing comes out of D.C. these days, not Hollywood).
The Senate health care reform bill has been ginned up with a raft of provisions that will send money flowing to medical schools that offer preferential admissions to underrepresented minorities (read: quotas that exclude Asians) and that are geared towards sending doctors and nurses to "vulnerable populations" in "underserved areas" or "populations experiencing health disparities." Six federal agencies must create an "Office of Minority Health."
(Plus there is a big dollop of dollars for community organizing groups that have "existing relationships ... with uninsured and underinsured consumers" -- can anyone spell A-C-O-R-N?)
In other words, ObamaCare legislates racial discrimination to such an extent that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was compelled to send letters to the president and congressional leaders warning about the "racially discriminatory provisions" in the Senate's health care bill.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who rammed this new entitlement though the House, chimed in recently at a NAACP conference: "It is a moral issue for our country to reduce health disparities."
A fine goal...but why not have a national conversation (and make Eric Holder happy -- see below) regarding how best to accomplish that? And why obscure the goal by speaking of it only in front of the NAACP?
Is it any wonder that Jesse Jackson declares, "You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man"?
What is the end result of this type of gaming? The answer is a "new racial spoils system," according to Linda Chavez of the Center for Equal Opportunity, and we see this spoils system emerging both from the Oval Office and Capitol Hill. And if there is any politician who knows how to work a spoils system, it is one hailing from the Windy City.
Why should we be surprised? After all, Democrats (like Republicans) reward the special-interest groups that help elect them: unions, trial lawyers, teachers, and yes, African-Americans. Why should any special-interest group be shielded from scrutiny?
Despite the near-total media silence on this topic, maybe people are beginning to suspect the worst. Barack Obama's approval rating has plummeted among white Americans (almost in a free-fall), yet it holds steady among African-Americans.
There are important reasons for this continuing support.
Both racial groups are seeing things more clearly than many in the media. Perhaps people are asking themselves: Whose interests are being served? Whose interests are being sacrificed? Who are the winners and who are the losers?
Who can give us the answer?
Maybe Barack Obama can -- yes he can! Hasn't he given fulsome praise over the years to Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the anti-white race-baiter whom he chose to give sermons to his own daughters? Obama talked derisively of the "typical white person," pontificated on racial stereotyping as he denigrated the white policeman who had a run-in with Professor Henry Gates, and participated in Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March (and Farakkhan himself received an award from, and is friends with, the aforementioned Wright).
Other key Obama appointees seem to have joined this chorus.
The Attorney General
Attorney General Eric Holder infamously declared in his maiden speech to the Justice Department that the United States was "a nation of cowards" who "simply do not talk enough with each other about race." That call brought about this article.
What better place to start than the Justice Department? It is Ground Zero of a plan to use the levers of government to reengineer race relations in America (Democrats have a fetish for reengineering society).
Abigail Thernstrom in "Lani's Heir: The new, old racial ideology of the Holder Justice Department" explores Holder's views toward race and the law. She informs us about a card that Holder carries in his wallet on which is written "a black man's race defines him more particularly than anything else." Holder explains its meaning:
And that cause seems to have impelled Holder to use the Justice Department to tilt what should be a level playing field into one that disproportionally favors African-Americans. He is betraying the principle of equal rights -- a fundamental principle enshrined in our Constitution.
How? Let us count the ways.
Holder's Justice Department shields the new Black Panther Party from punishment for intimidating voters during last year's campaign, suddenly dropping three of the four charges in a layup of a case and penalizing the final one with a laughable tickle on the wrist. Then he stonewalls congressmen and the Civil Rights Commission, who want to get to the bottom of this miscarriage of justice. To top off the audacity, the lawyer who pursued the action against the New Back Panther party has been "reassigned" and is less available to answer subpoenas being ignored by Holder.
Could Holder claim a lack of manpower to answer claims regarding this scandal? No, because he has vastly expanded the Civil Rights Division to pursue, among other things, voting rights cases. It just doesn't seem to interest him when perpetrators of voting-rights violations are African-Americans or are believed by him to benefit African-Americans.
Why has ACORN escaped investigations for conspiracy across state lines? Perhaps it's for the same reason that Justice has ruled that ACORN is eligible for federal aid -- despite all the scandals surrounding the group. Recall that the Obama campaign paid ACORN hundreds of thousands of dollars in registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Conversely, Holder and the political appointees Obama has made since his inauguration are using the reins of power to help ensure that African-Americans are able to elect the candidate they want in the mixed community of Kinston, North Carolina by fixing the rules in a very blatant manner. They are also working across the country to loosen registration requirements that states have enacted to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In the case of Georgia, Holder vetoed the state's verification law because the DOJ claimed it would have a "disparate impact on minorities" -- a claim belied by the facts. The Department of Justice is also focusing energy on Missouri's voter registration laws. This is just the beginning.
As Hans Spakovsky, former counsel at the DOJ, wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
Justice's objection defies common sense, manipulates federal law, and shows a complete disregard for the integrity of our election process and is a sign that the "current administration is trying to stop verification of voter registration information."
The corollary question might be, "How far will the DOJ go to empower African-Americans, even if it means ignoring facts on the ground?" Will Justice monitor census counts, for example? There was a reason this White House broke all precedents when it sought to bring the census operations under its own control. Funny numbers are a White House specialty -- especially when they are under the control of Chicago politicians who can manipulate the process to benefit one group over another. Sampling and estimating, rather than an actual enumeration, for example, has the prospect of greatly enhancing the counting of minorities (at the expense of accuracy).
What will be the focus of all those civil rights attorneys that Holder has hired? They will push the Justice Department into the most important areas of American life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices, and redistricting after the 2010 census.
How about pressuring businesses to hire minorities, regardless of any evidence of racism? For added measure, Obama's Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has announced that affirmative action will be a focus of her department.
Tom Perez, the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, recently telegraphed these plans by promising to "bring plenty of disparate impact lawsuits -- those are the ones where practices that are not discriminatory in their terms, intent or application are still challenged because they yield politically incorrect numbers." Perez "holds extreme views of civil rights law and has long advocated racial quotas even for jobs for which merit should be the sole criterion (e.g., doctors, firefighters)," Jennifer Rubin writes. (Rubin also predicted that Christopher Coates, the Voting Section chief who has championed the application of civil rights laws in a racially fair and neutral fashion, and who pursued the New Black Panthers case, might be forced out.) She believes that this would be an indication that the Obama administration has adopted "the Left's view that the laws only run in one direction -- against white perpetrators." In fact, that occurred on the verge of New Years Eve, a perfect time to kill someone's career without much notice.
Quotas are coming, big time. Such are the joys of racial spoils.
How else will the scales be tipped? How about appointment to lifetime positions of judges who believe one's race or heritage should inform legal decisions (a clear violation of all legal principles)?
Sonia Sotomayor is one of the judges who ruled in Ricci v. DeStefano that white firefighters did not have their rights violated when they were denied promotions because the fire department wanted minorities to have them instead (despite minorities' failures on the test needed for the promotion). Sotomayor saw nothing unjust about the decision; perhaps, as she famously said, a "wise Latina woman" can reach a better legal conclusion than a "white male who hasn't lived that life."
Sotomayor is just one of the more visible judges that Obama has nominated. But other recently nominated judges also share the view that racism is pervasive in America and that a judge's own ethnic and racial background has a bearing on his or her legal decisions .
Is this ideology a job requirement for the bench? Is identity-politics playing a role in the choosing of judges? It seems so.
As of October 12th, Obama had nominated ten appeals court nominees: three African-Americans, one Asian-American, and four women. He has also nominated ten district court nominees: four African-Americans, three Asian-Americans, one Latino, and four women.
Was Time magazine columnist Mark Halperin being flippant or prophetic when he penned a column regarding nominees for judgeships titled "White Men Need Not Apply"?
There are other levers of power that Barack Obama and his supporters in Congress are pulling to help minorities. At the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Obama created something called the Chief Diversity Officer (so much for the government budget). The first person to hold this position is Mark Lloyd, who has spoken publicly of getting white media executives to "step down" in favor of minorities. He spoke of the limited number of these powerful positions and then expounded,
(He and Holder seem to consider much of white America racist.)
The FCC controls licensing decisions for broadcast outlets (including talk radio, a conservative bastion). Lloyd co-wrote a study for the Center for American Progress (the training ground for many Obama appointees) that detailed how licensing rule changes could be used to change the political balance of talk radio. The study also argued in favor of concepts called "ownership diversity" and "localism" that would use government power to put more minorities on the air.
(Coincidentally, Democratic congressmen may have recently come to the rescue of a major minority-owned radio station empire: Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which was co-founded by Percy Sutton, Malcolm X's lawyer and a friend of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who owned thousands of shares of Inner City Broadcasting. The Congressional Black Caucus boycotted [shook down?] a key House committee vote and threatened to abandon support for banking reform unless billions were added to budget bills to help minority-owned auto dealerships and banks that lend in African-American communities, as well as promote more government advertising in minority-owned media. Will Inner City be blessed with tax dollars, as was OneUnited, a bank that has among its major shareholders Congresswoman Maxine Waters -- a member of the Congressional Black Caucus?
Americans should be concerned that when the late African-American leader Percy Sutton's Inner City radio empire [one of the leading minority broadcasters] was in danger of collapse, the Congressional Black Caucus came to his rescue by threatening to block congressional voting on banking reform and then went to the White House to meet with Obama's Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary. They "demanded that the Administration squeeze Sutton's biggest creditors to renegotiate the nearly $230 million in debt choking" the company. The tactics worked, and Goldman Sachs announced that it would "renegotiate" its loans with Inner City, a company that has failed to pay taxes owed to the state and that, according to lawsuits, has been looted by the Sutton family.
Will this type of activity become a blueprint for empowering African-Americans in Obama's America? Stay tuned.)
Then there is Van Jones, the so-called Green Jobs Czar, who was forced to leave his position (where he was to work with all departments and government agencies to advance the president's agenda) when his views became known to Americans outside the Obama inner circle. He, again, seems to be simpatico to the views held by Holder and Lloyd. (If Obama was truthful during the campaign regarding the need to bring us all together, then why does he empower those who view white Americans with such disdain? Maybe now we can better appreciate why he stayed in Wright's pews for so long.)
Van Jones has accused "white polluters" and "white environmentalists" of "steering poison into the people-of-color community" when in fact, there is scant evidence of "disparate" environmental harm to minorities. But he did want to work with Marxists to get a million black prisoners released. Where would they go? He had, along with Obama, the idea of having released felons receive taxpayer dollars to install insulation in American homes (a program now being funded via the stimulus act).
The Obama team also has sent social engineers to Westchester County, New York, to pressure the community to settle a lawsuit brought by liberal activists over "affordable" housing. The deal requires Westchester County to spend $50 million dollars to build hundreds of affordable units and market them aggressively to minorities. As the Wall Street Journal noted, "the lawsuit was clearly a solution in search of a problem."
The Housing and Urban Development agency went on war footing. Deputy Secretary Ron Sims declared that "there was a significant amount of racial segregation" in Westchester. This is false. The county's population of minorities already mirrors that of the nation's population as a whole. Minorities do cluster in certain communities and are relatively absent in the higher-income areas, such as Scarsdale. This replicates the history of social migration in America, whether by Jews, Italians, or African-Americans themselves. As incomes increase, people move to nicer areas. In fact, even in the wealthier areas of Westchester, African-Americans are only slightly underrepresented. Regardless, the county settled to avoid the enormous costs of tangling in court with the Obama administration.
HUD has made its goals clear. Any community that accepts federal funds for housing development will have to toe the line regarding minority housing. "They are now on notice," said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. "That means in suburban areas, we're going to ask that they provide that opportunity for choice so people are able to enjoy what I call the fruits and benefits of an established neighborhood." The Westchester case could provide a new tool for fair-housing advocates fighting what they allege are discriminatory policies by cities and suburbs nationwide. The settlement marked a significant shift in federal efforts to enforce fair-housing law, particularly in suburban areas.
Indeed, Sims has said that the Westchester settlement "can serve as a model for building strong, inclusive sustainable communities in suburban areas across the United States."
Incidentally, Attorney General Holder's also criticized America for being "voluntarily segregated." So will we now be involuntarily integrated?
A Wall Street Journal editorial ("Color-Coding the Suburbs") points out a peril of this brow-beating approach:
In the 1960s, Chicago's Gautreaux Program moved several thousand inner-city residents to the suburbs over the objections of whites and black community leaders alike. The move stoked racial unrest and resulted in unprecedented "white flight." In the 1970s, the Philadelphia suburb of Mount Laurel, New Jersey was ordered to build subsidized housing. Local opposition was so strong that municipalities ultimately were permitted to pay into a fund and have much of the housing built in places like Newark and Camden instead.
Blacks have long populated Westchester towns such as White Plains, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon, and the administration is assuming that low percentages of racial and ethnic minorities in places like Scarsdale are a result of discrimination. Yet there's no pattern of fair housing complaints or other evidence showing that black families with incomes similar to whites in more upscale neighborhoods were barred from those jurisdictions. History also demonstrates that racial and ethnic minorities have incurred far less resistance when they move into neighborhoods where they can afford to live.
Will the use of taxpayer dollars and government power to forcibly integrate neighborhoods spark strife and provoke racism in the years ahead? Westchester County voters have already shown their anger by voting out the county executive who agreed to this coercive settlement -- perhaps presaging the future of politicians who become handmaidens to Obama's agenda.
Did we sign up for such social engineering when we voted for Barack Obama? Recently, senior White House officials declared that "we are not in disagreement with the Congressional Black Caucus of any part of their agenda." Any?
Maybe Barack Obama and the Democratic powers that be in Congress have just dismissed the white vote. Perhaps that is why immigration "reform" that will provide a path to citizenship for twelve million illegal immigrants is being fast-tracked in 2010.
What we have seen so far certainly belies Obama's claim that he would unite us or that he was the symbol of post-racial politics. That was all so 2008. The agenda for 2009, 2010, and beyond seems to reflect a shift of priorities to bring health care, stimulus money, housing, jobs, voting power, and a range of other benefits to African-Americans as African-Americans, not just as Americans. This may be a worthwhile goal, but then maybe we should have a national conversation about this agenda instead of it being played out behind the scenes and under the radar.
Is racism stoked when critics of Barack Obama or his policies are called "racists," or when Congressman Charles Rangel says that opposition to health care reform is a "bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling"?
After a while, this type of name-calling exacerbates racism. We have seen that race card played too often by Obama's allies and satraps. Barack Obama, a poker player, should realize that it has become a type of tell that someone's interests are being sacrificed on behalf of someone else's agenda.
Does this administration promise to be, as Victor Davis Hanson writes, "the most polarizing administration we have seen in matters of race since the 1920s"?
George Picard is the pen name of an author who fears retaliation for writing this article.