Jewish World Review June 27, 2003/ 27 Sivan, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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When racism is oh, so refined | There are two kinds of Nice White Ladies. One means well, the other is just mean.

Sandra Day O'Connor no doubt means well, but her prescription for suspending the Constitution for 25 years to do something nice for "the colored folks" is a prescription for disaster, first of all for aspiring blacks.

Maureen Dowd, the columnist for the New York Times, is just mean. Her denunciation of Justice Clarence Thomas as "barking mad" is mean-spirited racism, because she means to put him in his place for not tugging at his forelock and accepting with gratitude all the nice things white liberals like Miss Maureen have done for him.

Justice Thomas' dissent in the Michigan case, she writes, "is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received. It's poignant, really. It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race. Other justices rely on clerks and legal footnotes to help with their opinions. Justice Thomas relies on his id, turning an opinion on race into a therapeutic outburst."

Well, we know about the id. The part of the id that Miss Dowd, who writes in the voice of the jilted spinster, worries most about is the man's libido. Naturally, she's still obsessed with Anita Hill. She's heard about black men and the libido. Talk about indulging ugly stereotypes.

"He is at the pinnacle," she writes, "an African-American who succeeded in getting past the Anita Hill sexual harassment scandal by playing the race card, calling the hearing 'a high-tech lynching' ... ." Uppity Mexicans upset her, too. "President Bush, the Yale legacy who also disdains affirmative action, is playing affirmative-action politics in the preliminary vetting of a prospective Supreme Court nominee, Alberto Gonzales. No doubt Bush 43 will call Mr. Gonzales the best qualified man for the job, rather than the one best qualified to help harvest the 2004 Hispanic vote."

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Poor Mo. She's consumed with racial resentment, beginning with Irish bile directed at the Bushes, father and son, not for their politics, but for their Anglo-Saxon Protestant pedigree. Once upon a time you could celebrate Easter morn by blowing up the post office. Ah, the good old days.

But we can take her or leave her to her fans on the Upper East Side. Sandra Day O'Connor, on the other hand, actually matters. The Nice White Lady inflicts real damage to the Constitution. The very language of her majority opinion has the genteel fragrance of a chicken a la king luncheon in the ladies' dining room. She found the Michigan Law School choose-by-race scheme OK because it "engages in a highly holistic review of each applicant's file," and the scheme "aspires to achieve that diversity which has the potential to enrich everyone's education."

Justice O'Connor dismisses the plain and unequivocal language of the Constitution as mere irrelevancy. "We are mindful that [a] core purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to do away with all governmentally imposed discrimination based on race ... ," she wrote. "Accordingly, race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time ... . We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest [of preferring one race over another] approved today."

Besides, a little racial discrimination does "not unduly harm members of any racial group." This is, of course, precisely how Southerners of a generation ago justified laws requiring racial segregation. Mrs. O'Connor cites, with satisfaction, the testimony of the dean of the Michigan law school that discrimination by race "varies from one applicant to another," that sometimes it "may play no role" and another time it "may be a determinative factor." (Sometimes, when there were more white folks than colored folks aboard his streetcar, the motorman let colored folks ride up close to the front. It varied.)

Maureen Dowd sneers at Justice Thomas for his dismissal of affirmative action as "racial aesthetics." The libs have worked so hard to apply racial aesthetics, and now an ungrateful black man with an enlarged id treats them with disdain. But he has their number, and flaunts it. He scorns affirmative action as "a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti," and disdains it as something only to "fulfill the bigot's prophecy about black underperformance." No one, and the liberal cognoscenti least of all, wants to look at why, after decades of throwing money at a rotting educational establishment and years of racial preferences black students are worse off than ever.

A scheme to get a few blacks into law school is much easier than reforming the system to make affirmative action unnecessary. But a Nice White Lady, eager to feel good about herself, will think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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