- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2001

The University of Georgia awarded black applicants a fixed and substantial admissions bonus for skin color. The race-based preference did not remedy the effects of past discrimination, a laudable objective achieved by 1989. Instead, the university professed educational diversity as the alpha and omega for preferring non-white to white enrollees. The bonus stereotyping, stripped of euphemisms, was as follows: Blacks as a race are intellectual clones, like a cattle herd; their beliefs are forged not from distinct cerebral faculties and moral reflections, but are nursed by their racial extraction; thus, all blacks will bring an identical set of beliefs to the classroom denied to whites, which will enrich debate and understanding for all.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals correctly held the admissions preference a flagrant violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in Johnson vs. Board of Regents (Aug. 27). The cardinal assumption of the preference was counterfactual. Its stereotyping was racist. And its message warred with intellectual growth and pioneering.
Blacks never have and do not today fit a mental Procrustean bed. Frederick Douglass maintained that blacks like whites are Americans who should cherish their assimilation and contributions to the making of the country. Marcus Garvey, in contrast, championed a "back to Africa" movement to Liberia. W.E.B. Dubois insisted that blacks should demand political and civil rights above economic opportunity, should be lead by a "talented tenth," and should prefer a classical to an industrial education. Booker T. Washington and his famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, however, shared a markedly different hierarchy of aspirations and tactics that would defer legal and social equality until black prosperity had been achieved.
Mr. Dubois urged black enlistment in the armed forces to fight in World War I despite President Woodrow Wilson's segregation policy. Military service — the willingness to give that last full measure of devotion on behalf of the country — Mr. Dubois maintained, would strengthen the quest to end segregation after the war. Several rival black leaders sharply disagreed and argued for a black boycott of the military.
Blacks splintered on how to handle the infamous Scottsboro, Ala., rape trials. They differed on legal tactics, on allying the cause with the Communist Party, and on whether the infamy was more class-based than race-based.
Legendary Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lions championed a rights strategy based more on lawsuits than street marching. Other leading blacks celebrated the converse, epitomized by the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks and the March on Washington culminating in the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" address.
The outlook of Jackie Robinson did not mirror that of Paul Robeson.
Black intellectual diversity has persisted in contemporary times despite an orthodoxy every bit as deadening as the Vatican's Index Liborum Prohibitorum preached by some black icons. Black writer Toni Morrison, for instance, hailed Bill Clinton as the nation's first black president because he aped prevailing black sentiments. And black heroine and former Democratic Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas scoffed that Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was not black because of his dissent from majority black thinking.
Attempting to deter blacks from non-orthodox views by threatening a bleak Babylonian exile, however, thwarts education. As John Stuart Mill stressed, the strength and depth of convictions and beliefs comes largely from knowing why we find competing wisdom unconvincing. Continual exposure to unconventional ideas should be welcomed as the lifeblood of understanding and knowledge. Have arid catechisms ever cradled intellectual independence and new insights?
The economic, political and social discouragements to black diversity have not triumphed. The views of Thomas Sowell, Oklahoma Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, Walter Williams, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Education Ronald Paige, syndicated columnist Clarence Page, and grass roots leader Ward Connerly, for instance, display both an intramural diversity and substantial variance with the likes of television deity Oprah Winfrey and lesser divines such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Roger Wilkins, Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Charles Rangel of New York, former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, and business wizard Robert Johnson.
In sum, genuine as opposed to counterfeit campus diversity requires individualized scrutiny of all applicants. An emporium of varied ideas and aptitudes is the goal. It is frustrated by a race-based, assembly-line admissions procedure whose assumptions reinforce rather than challenge stifling ideological prejudices.
The electrifying constitutional creed of Associate Justice John Harlan dissenting in Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) should carry the day: "n the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved."


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