Bruce S. Thornton - Contributor
is a professor of Classics at Cal State Fresno and co-author
of the Humanities: Rescuing the Classics in an Impoverished
Age and author of Greek
Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization (Encounter
Books). His most recent book is Searching
for Joaquin: Myth, Murieta, and History in California (Encounter
Books). [go to Thornton index]
Preferences Thrive On California Campuses
Voters wrongly believe they voted
race-basing away in '96...
[Bruce S. Thornton] 11/17/03
In November of 1996,
the voters of California passed the Civil Rights Initiative,
which amended the state constitution to forbid
the state from "discriminat[ing] against or grant[ing] preferential
treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex,
color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public
employment, public education, or public contracting."
despite this clear-cut legal prohibition, seven years later
race-based preferences and policies live on in California higher
education. The recent Supreme Court decision upholding the
of Michigan law school's race-based admissions policies means
that the democratically demonstrated wish of California voters
not to take race into account-- a wish consistent with the
federal Civil Rights Act-- will be further ignored.
Take, for example,
the process of hiring faculty in the California State University
system. Despite the much-publicized "end
of affirmative action," every hiring committee must have
an "affirmative action" representative, recently renamed
the "Equal Employment Opportunity designee." Despite
the name change-- intended no doubt to circumvent the state prohibition
against Affirmative Action and to perfume its bad odor-- the
EEO rep performs the exact same function based on the same assumptions
the voters supposedly rejected.
The purpose of this representative is not to make sure the most
qualified and suitable person is chosen for the position, which
is the only legitimate function for a search committee member.
The EEO designee can be from any department on campus, and so
will likely not have any inkling of the qualifications required
or desirable for the particular academic appointment. Yet despite
this lack of knowledge about the position's requirements and
qualifications, no hire can go forward without the EEO representative's
approving signature at every step of the process.
The EEO representative
isn't the only example of race-based hiring procedures still
in place. All the applicants in the pool
are identified by race and sex, and this information is part
of the hiring process. When applicants are invited for campus
visits, their race and sex, and the race and sex of the hiring
committee members, are identified and made part of the process
as well. If "preferential treatment" has been presumably
outlawed in California, why is this information still being gathered
and made part of the hiring process in a state-funded institution?
And why is an EEO commissar involved in hiring for a position
outside his own field?
One answer comes from
the bigoted ideological assumptions that have driven race-based
preferences for thirty years. That is,
whites, particularly white males, are inherently racist and sexist
and so, if not monitored, will make racist or sexist hiring decisions,
either consciously or unconsciously guarding their own privilege.
Thus a presumably more moral and objective overseer is necessary
to make sure the benighted committee doesn't exclude qualified
minority candidates--even though outside the field of Education,
minority PhDs are extremely rare and typically receive numerous
job offers from institutions equally desperate to display their
commitment to "diversity."
So too with the data on race and sex. A committee comprising
all white males would immediately raise a red flag and invite
further scrutiny, the presumption again being that rather than
basing decisions on merit, such a committee will hire according
to their prejudices and biases.
But there's another reason, one important to keep in mind. The
affirmative action machinery on campus is a form of litigation-proofing.
Given the legions of jackal-like lawyers and bureaucrats at the
federal Economic Employment Opportunity Commission ready to pounce
at any hint of discrimination, the institution must protect itself
from potential discrimination lawsuits by creating a procedural
paper-trail that shows the school has done everything in its
power to avoid discrimination, thus giving no grounds for a complaint.
After all, who's going to sue an individual faculty member for
discrimination? It's the institution with the big bucks.
In other words, affirmative action isn't just an ideology whose
fraudulence and incoherence need to be exposed. It's an institution,
a bureaucratic fiefdom with jobs and budgets and power, and a
source of lucre for rapacious lawyers and opportunistic functionaries.
And such institutions never go gently into that good night. Like
Rasputin, they take a lot of killing.
But now that the Supreme
Court has ratified the fraudulent idea of "diversity" and validated racial discrimination,
the offices and programs that have proliferated on college campuses
will grow stronger, as will the lawyers eager to file suit against
deep-pocket defendants. This threat of litigation in turn will
force institutions to elaborate even more intrusive bureaucratic
safeguards to insure they are not liable when a rejected candidate
runs to the federal big brothers at the EEOC. And don't forget
the minority faculty and students, not to mention the race-based
ethnic studies departments and programs, all of whom will continue
to pressure the administration to show its "commitment to
diversity" with some sort of racial preferences.
A more difficult obstacle
to eliminating race-based preferences, however, comes from
the people themselves within the institution,
who need neither institutional directives nor offices to advance
their ideological agendas. A guilty white liberal eager for some
noble-savage "person of color" to spice up his department
will be as effective as a naked quota at ignoring merit and using
race or sex as a criterion for hiring. Administrators have all
sorts of ways of insuring the results they want without explicit
instructions. No one will admit it, but I know that many times
administrators have approved faculty positions on the assumption
that the final candidate better not be a white male. This sort
of subtle self-policing explains why professors are overwhelmingly
liberal or leftist: no one has to issue a directive or instructions.
The faculty themselves ensure that only the politically correct
end up getting hired.
The persistence of race-based policies and procedures in California
after they were presumably outlawed suggests that now that the
Michigan admissions policy has been given the Constitutional
seal of approval, our colleges and universities are even more
unlikely to live up to the promise of the Civil Rights Act. Race
will still be used in admissions and hiring, however much disguised
or camouflaged. And the intentions of the people of California
who thought they were voting out racial preferences will still
2003 Bruce S. Thornton
Searching for Joaquin
by Bruce S. Thornton
by Bruce S. Thornton
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by Victor Davis Hanson, John Heath, Bruce S. Thornton
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