Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why Justice Scalia should scare us all

This is a political post. 

Justice Scalia, long of the legal tribe of elders of these United States, has seriously suggested during an actual case in front him that perhaps black students would prefer to attend “less advanced, slower-track” schools where they might feel less challenged. What year is it? It's as though a time machine malfunctioned and his brain is operating in 1959. He seems to forget that the person sitting next to him got into school under affirmative action and obviously did so poorly he only ended up on the highest court in the country. If nothing else Thomas, whom in the interest of full disclosure I despise, should take offense at the very idea that "blacks" want to be challenged less in education. What? Thomas just whispered "Yassur boss, dat dere shole do be right" in support of Scalia? I see.

That this case made it into a court room, much less to the Supreme Court (twice) is astounding. I find the claim of injury as a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendment extremely dubious unless she can show that but for race being considered as a factor she would have been admitted. I say dubious because once you get past her chosen school's flat top 10% automatic admission concept, the whole decision process with it's leadership roles and awards holistic approach gets more than a little murky. Does she have something like the exact admission chart slot with her name on it crossed out and the name of person of color with lower test and other merit scores filled in it's place? No? I see. So the plaintiff's argument boils down to, after failing to meet the automatic admission requirements for spot at the college of her choice that there is no way that many people of color could have earned through the merit system an bonafide admission, at least not before her, UNLESS they were helped by this system which threw in race. And that such a system is unfair.

Now under the rules a 3.6 GPA from Dirt Poor High will be viewed the same as a 3.6 GPA from Nice Neighborhood High, but once we enter the murk, what about the intangibles? I ask because I'm fairly certain of two things: first that DPH is predominately minority and NNH is not, and two at NNH that there are way more extracurricular activities and opportunities to get those sought after holistic puzzle pieces. NNH might offer internships, travel and access to culture that DPH just can't afford working with less resources. One of the flaws of the argument that only merit should be judged is that not all merit opportunities exist in every forum. Race, in an effort to correct all the other other forms discrimination which have ultimately caused the lack of resources at DPH, maybe the less than 'easy' fix for those missing holistic pieces. But no, she was treated unfairly.

Note: I think the school might be better served by instead considering not the student, but the graduated High School and it's level of resources during admissions, which might have the same effect of diversifying the student body.    

Anyway, the bottom line of the case is that people who are "tired" of affirmative action would like to see race as a factor in considering a person for, well really anything, eliminated. The old I-don't- see-color argument. The jeez, we've got a black president now, everything is equal, don't you get it? The redress of past injustices is done, although we still have clear cases of corporate and individual discrimination and rampant racial injustice as headlines in 2015, these are like 400 isolated incidents that don't expose a deeper core issue stemming from issues of self enforced segregation and other societal factors. No really, it's all good. USA! USA! 

Now, to be fair, these are people who believe affirmative action gives minorities not only access they shouldn't have, but somehow makes the whole following process, whatever it maybe, so much easier. Um, for the record it doesn't make anything easier, it just gives someone an opportunity that they should get but can't because of outside factors. And black detractors of affirmative action, like the aforementioned Justice Thomas, deride it because it makes their owned hard earned success suspect, even when they know how hard they worked. This is ingrained self hate, which speaks to a whole other issue about race in this country if the belief is that the mere existence of this program casts a taint on all achievement. Is the idea that black people are just PEOPLE so crazy?

Which is why Scalia scares me. Because his brain is apparently from 1959. When black people weren't ever going to be just people. And he's a Supreme Court Justice. 

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