Buried in the pages of an obscure White House statement on energy policy are 50 words that reveal the Bush men's actual affirmative action policy: they oppose all programs that can be interpreted as providing special benefits to minorities. The four-page "Statement of Administration Policy," or SAP, raises red flags on three programs scheduled for funding, significantly narrowing the scope of what the White House interprets as permissible under the "due process" clause and equal protection provision of the Constitution. The May 8 document, revealed by the Washington Post, shows that the administration plans to tolerate no program that even smacks of minority advantage. These are the suspect items:

Section 931, relating to small business, said at least $5 million of grants "shall be made available for grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions." Section 987 calls for national laboratories to "increase the participation of small business concerns, including socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns." Section 1005 says science education programs should "give priority to activities that are designed to encourage students from underrepresented groups to pursue scientific and technical careers."

This interpretation goes far beyond the fine points of "quotas," drawing a bright line against special attention to any minority institution. Policies including phrases such as "increase the participation" and "encourage ... underrepresented groups" are to be considered constitutionally flawed. These are the barest bones of any race sensitive policy, after which there is nothing left.

Which immensely pleases the anti-civil rights outfit that calls itself the American Civil Rights Institute. Spokesman Edward Blum had been worried about Bush's stand on race, but not anymore. "They were 50 percent right in the Michigan case," Blum told the Post, "but they are 100 percent right in this SAP. This is what colorblind policy calls for, and it goes beyond Michigan."

If Blum rates Bush 100 percent right, we can be assured that the White House is a 100 percent enemy.

Blum's American Civil Rights Institute and the equally fraudulent Center for Equal Opportunity play tag team in targeting programs that can be construed as giving minorities even a whiff of a break. The anti-affirmative hit teams convinced the Bush Department of Education to pressure universities to drop programs designed to help minority youth, according to an excellent Znet article posted by Sharon Smith:

At least 10 universities--including Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)--announced they will eliminate summer programs for Black and Latino teenagers after the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights began investigating whether they violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Accusing programs aimed at redressing decades of racial discrimination with violating the Civil Rights Act would once have been dismissed as an absurdity. But that absurdity has become reality in Bush's America, where organizations masquerading behind names such as the Center for Equal Opportunity and the American Civil Rights Institute dedicate themselves to fighting for the rights of whites only.

"If you're a member of the wrong race, you're not eligible for the program - period," huffed the Center's spokesman Roger Clegg in indignation at the idea of educational programs for Blacks and Latinos.

Smith notes that the Bush Administration's relentless attacks on minority education opportunities was the stimulus that brought tens of thousands of demonstrators to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, April 1 - most of them students. The March on the Supreme Court was organized by BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

BAMN calls for a New Civil Rights Movement, with young people in the lead:

April 1st was only the beginning. Youth all around the country now are waking up all across the country and beginning to recognize our own social power. To express this new power, our new movement must have more organization and more young leaders stepping up to the challenge and the opportunity that this turning point in history represents. We still have a window of opportunity to affect the outcome of the two University of Michigan affirmative action cases. Now is no time for idle waiting. There are concrete tasks that we can do now in order to win these pending cases.

BAMN's national conference is May 30 - June 1 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

No sympathy for the wicked

Justice Clarence Thomas is always found on the anti-civil rights side of the equation at the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet, writes Counterpunch contributor Elaine Cassell, Thomas is constantly reliving the painful rejections of his youth. Cassell has no sympathy for the man from Pin Point, Georgia.

He is an enemy of equal opportunity, an enemy of the 14th Amendment, an enemy of women's rights, and enemy of justice and fairness. He says there is no such thing as cruel and unusual punishment. His lust for the death penalty is reflected in an unseemly bloodthirstiness as he rails against any procedure that will delay a prisoner's execution.

Thomas got his breaks in life because others-from his grandfather, to the nuns in his Catholic high school, to the administrators at his college and Yale Law School, to John Danforth, to Bush the first-gave him a break.

He cannot give thanks or gratitude, he can only resent. Resent that his color, or so he says, kept him from all that he really wanted - a job in a Georgia law firm. Not being able to recognize what others gave to him, he has nothing to give to others - not from the bench, not from a podium.

Talking like folks

What a difference a venue makes. Seven of the nine Democratic presidential candidates answered to the leadership and delegates of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend. AFSCME President Gerald McEntee set the stage for the discussion: "Our job is to take back America from a President who coddles corporations. He's gotta go!"

With 1.4 million members, AFSCME is "the most politically powerful union in the American labor movement," in McEntee's words. Secretary-Treasurer Bill Lucy called his members "the backbone of America. Our work makes the country work." State and local public employees also learn quickly when the country is in trouble. "We are the first to see the already-vulnerable placed in even greater jeopardy," said Lucy.

The most refreshing aspect of the candidate forum was the absence of corporate distractions from the likes of ABC's George Stephanopoulos, whose only mission is to engage the "top tier" of candidates in debates over issues that the host's network believes are important. Health insurance co-payments are not deemed worthy of discussion. At the AFSCME forum, candidates were confronted on bread and butter questions of job security and, repeatedly, universal health care, issues that matter to most TV viewers, but are effectively censored by the millionaire hosts.

Two candidates were absent. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was otherwise engaged, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman begged off the Saturday affair on religious grounds.

Bill Lucy also heads the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), holding its 32nd Annual International Convention in San Francisco, this week. 1,400 delegates are expected to attend, representing Blacks in 50 different unions in all 50 states and Canada. The theme is "Advancing the Working Families Agenda."



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Issue Number 43
May 22, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
Permanent War and "The Color Line" - Iraq on the 100th anniversary of the Souls of Black Folk

The Morality Csar's New Clothes

Blair/NYT reader response... The dollar’s inevitable slide... Malcolm’s urgent message

The Blair Affair: A Punishing Bias by Pamela Newkirk, Guest Commentator

Fault Blair and The Times, Not Affirmative Action by Amos Jones, Guest Commentator

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Commentaries in Issue 42 May 15, 2003:

Cover Story
The Jayson Blair - New York Times Affair: Blaming affirmative action for white folks’ mistakes

Malcolm X
05/19/1925 - 02/21/65

Neighborhood Chemical WMD

How Much Money Does a Great White Virtue Magnate Need? Class, Race, and
Legalized Gambling in the Casino Society
by Paul Street

Sex less a factor in African AIDS... U.S. plots "regime change" in Haiti... Danny Glover targeted as MCI spokesman

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.