In the wake of both the recent SCOTUS ruling on Affirmative Action and the Independence Day celebration of our nation’s founding, we now return to our current “times that try men’s souls.” The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling to end the practice of Affirmative Action in college admissions after 45 years has inevitably stirred up discussions of race relations in every modern public forum imaginable.
In the original Bakke ruling of 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that a university's use of racial "quotas" in its admissions process was unconstitutional, but a school's use of "affirmative action" to accept more minority applicants was constitutional in some circumstances. That ruling has been challenged several times in the intervening years, particularly in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. The Court upheld Affirmative Action in that case, but most notably, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in writing for the majority, expressed the expectation "that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today."
Since 1978, virtually every honest observer knew that with the good intentions of the Court, in offering a major assist to level the playing field in the wake of the civil rights legal triumphs, they were implicitly sanctioning another form of racial discrimination. Justice O’Connor was reminding us two decades ago that the practice had to have an expiration date. Last month the Supreme Court decided in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard that race-based affirmative action programs in college admissions processes violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case was brought by a group of otherwise qualified Asian American applicants who were rejected from Harvard. The case was inevitable since the Bakke decision. And the Court’s ruling, at some point, was inevitable as well.
It is not unreasonable to expect and see honest expressions of hurt and anger from minority Americans who feel the Court has abandoned them or ruled against them. Those are genuine human reactions. Many notable and unheard-of genuine policies and cases of discrimination since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, have been recounted in print, online and on the airwaves in the last week or so. Many are made by those who have been involved over the years, and know from what they speak. Despite the law, there have been horrible violations to the civil rights of minority Americans. There seem to be no more laws which could be enacted, and none of consequence have been proposed. Any evil which persists, resides in men’s minds and hearts. Should they act upon it, the victim has the remedy of the courts, as we see such cases reported over time in the media.
Initial public opinion polling in the wake of the Decision indicates a majority of Americans approve of the decision. The bridge had to be crossed, and the just aggrievement of those whom feel they have been wronged warrants respect from all. We’ve read or seen many expressions that the ruling indicates a bias, unfairness, or politicization of the Court. But we’ve also seen many minorities express satisfaction with the decision. They’ve recounted that they worked hard, mastered a field and have had successful careers, and they never wanted anyone thinking that they weren’t good enough and succeeded because of affirmative action rules. They despise that ‘qualifier’ to their careers and indeed, their lives. That is genuine lived experience as a result of the 1978 decision as well. Each of these public comments are our freedoms of speech, public discussion and association at work in a healthy manner.
The ideas, points of view, and passions aroused by such a Court decision could work their way through society and the body politic with reason, consideration and empathy. But, in recent years the aftermath of such charged incidents never seems to be absorbed that way, and this is a very corrosive development. Within hours, the President and leading members of Congress, yes the co-equal branches, stepped to the microphones to make disparaging and impertinent comments, even suggesting the fundamental reconfiguration of the Supreme Court. They didn’t even offer an appearance that they “considered” or assessed the decision, but instead in public, immediately proffered ways to circumvent the ruling. That behavior certainly brings to mind John Adams’ famous observation that, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Outside the central core of elected officials, we have any number of commentators and media influencers spewing everything from criticism of the ruling and the Court, to criticism of the United States, to virtual hatred of the country. We shouldn’t be, but too many Americans are getting used to hearing such ideas and internalizing them. And too many are repeating them in local forums and among friends. Because we know that America never was perfect, too many feel free to join the ‘blame America’ chorus.
Though not perfect, our founding ideals and principles were refined with the pinnacle of Enlightenment thinking and codified in the Declaration of Independence we just celebrated, and the Constitution finally ratified them some eleven years later. But clearly, the imperfections of men, as foreshadowed by Adams, have written some shameful chapters in our history.
But we must be aware of the dangers to the Republic such a broad-based and relentless criticism of our institutions and traditions pose. A major driver in the Crisis our country currently endures, is the exploitation of these shameful chapters by the organized American Left, working through academia, big-tech, media, the Democrat party and popular culture. There is an agenda at play, and the strategy employed here is “Critical Theory.” Born in the Frankfort School, and transplanted to America in mid
20th century, its tactics of ubiquitous societal agitation were codified by American Marxist, Saul Alinsky. In short, Critical Theory calls for the consistent, broad-based criticism of American institutions, icons, traditions, and mores. The most common tactic receiving exposure today is Critical Race Theory (CRT).
But the purpose of all branches of Critical Theory is that incessant criticism of the target institution or tradition, will bring about public erosion of faith and confidence in the institution, and ultimately, in toto the country. The Leftist strategy is that once the people lose confidence and belief in institutions and traditions, they will be ripe to accepting a new societal and political model. The history of the 20th century illustrates that the new model is always totalitarian, under which average people inevitably become impoverished and worse. Again, this “experiment” was run three times in the last hundred years, resulting in wars, starvation, and abject poverty for hundreds of millions of tortured souls, indeed the bloodiest century in history.
The history of the ancient republics, indicates they inevitably unravel from within into decline. To turn away from this fate, we Americans must look at the long arc of history, rather than the latest skirmish calling us in to join the blame-America chorus. In that long arc, literally tens of centuries, the history of the average man has been one of subjugation under kings, oligarchs, juntas, military dictators, and despots of all titles… until the birth of the United States of America. Yes, we were the “exception” to most everything that had come before us, certainly since the time of Christ – hence our moniker, ‘American Exceptionalism.’
The Constitution was designed to allow and withstand criticism of the country’s institutions and traditions – in fact, it guarantees our rights to do just that. But as we celebrate the country’s 247 th anniversary, could we take a pause, and not let ourselves be drawn in to every skirmish – let’s remain fixed on the big picture, and our beloved nation’s place in the long arc of history. Let’s resist being used by those endeavoring to exploit every fissure, every conflict, every exploitable event, and step back and refrain from taking another whack at a nation currently under siege by the organized Left. Do not take the bait of the agenda-setters.
Celebrate the greatest nation ever, with Ronald Reagan’s note of grace in mind – that America really is the “last best hope for mankind.”