- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2011

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s obsession with racial grievance-mongering could get Americans burnt to a

crisp in their own homes. That’s because his Justice Department is trying to force the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) to hire flunkies who got 70 percent wrong on a basic, fire-related multiple-choice, open-book test.

The exam was used to screen applicants to the fire academy. More than 90 percent of black and Hispanic test-takers passed, which isn’t enough for liberals addicted to affirmative action. At Justice’s urging, federal district Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis threw out FDNY’s test results - blocking admittance to all successful blacks and Hispanics - and ordered a complicated process to admit more minorities.

On Feb. 28, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, submitted a proposed order for damages for rejected applicants who scored 25 or higher on the 85-question exams. New York’s taxpayers would be forced to pay compensation to the flunkies to make up for years of seniority supposedly lost when the city chose not to hire them. Minority rejects also would receive seniority over firemen who had been working all the while.

Highlighting the unreasonableness of this scandal is how low the threshold was. On one exam, the first 11 questions - related to a picture of a fire scene - asked how many firefighters were on hand, the number of fire hydrants in view, what the street address was and what floor had a person standing in the window.

The Justice Department’s race-based advocacy flies in the face of a high-profile 2009 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Connecticut locality could not discard results from an objective firefighter test merely because of a racially disparate passage rate. The Justice Department is trying to force the Big Apple to do exactly that.

FDNY is a justly proud organization which lost 343 heroic firemen saving lives during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. By promoting race over ability, the Justice Department is undermining the fire department’s ability to do its job, which puts lives in danger.