August 16, 1999, - 9:07 am
Dear President Ford:
I’m sorry to hear that you don’t believe in the merit system on which our great country was founded and is based. It’s disturbing that you don’t believe in due process and equal protection under the law. And, worst of all, It’s frightening that you believe in the worst kind of racism our country is now experiencing. I’m referring to your recent, ridiculous New York Times defense of affirmative action at our mutual alma mater, The University of Michigan.
As you know, recent lawsuits against both Michigan’s law school and its undergraduate programs may soon result in the elimination of sanctioned reverse racism at those taxpayer-funded institutions, especially in this era, where the end of affirmative action regularly enjoys more popularity in the polls than any other conservative issue position. That’s why, at the behest of your liberal friends in the academic business–like Michigan president Lee Bollinger–you wrote your weak, sophistic column. But, Mr. Ford, you’ve been spending too much time skiing with your limousine leftist buddies in Aspen. You’re completely out of touch.
I can see how you you’d identify with affirmative action. After all, you became President of the United States via your own version of affirmative action. You were never elected in your own right to any national office. You were swiftly promoted to the ranks of Vice President and President through the misfortune and resignations of others. But when it came time for you to earn it on your own merits–even as a sitting President–you couldn’t make the grade, losing the election to–of all people–Jimmy Carter. You never made it on your own merits, and now, you don’t think minorities should have to, either.
You write of our pursuit of racial justice as the most inspiring American triumph in the past century, referring to such racially just milestones as Harry Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s use of federal troops to integrate Little Rock’s Central High. But how can the discrimination against white males ever constitute racial justice? How can you invoke the military–where, today, minorities like Colin Powell regularly climb to the highest rungs on the ladder, on a merit basis, not a racial one? What hypocrisy you display in praising desegregation of high school education, when your whole column promotes racial discrimination at the collegiate level.
I had to laugh when you cited your experience as a Michigan football player, Class of ’35, as the basis of your support for this awful, racist policy. Because a Black football player chose of his own volition not to play in a game against Georgia Tech, all of America needs to suffer from reverse discrimination?! You are as qualified to speak about the need for affirmative action on today’s college campuses as Alexander Graham Bell is to speak about the Internet. This is the end of the ’90s, and you’re still talking about the ’30s?! By the way, did you know that Adolph Hitler is dead and World War II ended? Ever hear of a few people named Jordan, Winfrey, and Cosby?
I’m much more qualified to talk about the merits of affirmative action at the university level. I graduated from Michigan less than ten years ago, not 65 years ago. And, unlike you, I didn’t attend high school in lily-white western Michigan, either. I graduated from a majority Black school, Southfield Senior High, two miles from the Detroit border and solidly in the ‘hood. You say we need “tolerance . . .beyond our neighborhoods.” Well, Mr. Ford, welcome to my neighborhood.
I watched my Black classmates, who got the same education and opportunities and came from the same upper middle class background as I did, get into Michigan with appalling grades and test scores, while many less fortunate white students with impressive academic credentials got rejected. Do you think this helped end racism? No, it bred racism.
I watched brilliant Black students, like my friend Deidre–a scholar, model, and basketball star–saddened by the fact that their legitimately-earned admission to Michigan would never mean anything–knowing that because of affirmative action, no-one would ever believe they really deserved to get in on the merits. She now has an MBA and runs the vast business operations and investment vehicles for basketball star Isiah Thomas. She didn’t want or need your affirmative action.
Your apparent elitist, racist philosophy that Blacks can’t do well on their own, so we Whites have to help them up is belied by the views and ultimate successes of many of my Black classmates. An article I wrote in my high school newspaper captured their feelings. “I wouldn’t want to walk into a corporation and move ahead quickly to the top because I’m Black,” said my classmate Ken Browner, an unwed father and Army ROTC member. “It’s just not fair . . . . I want to earn my way up, not just be given a free ride.” Spencer Overton, now a Harvard Law School graduate, said he, too, felt race-based affirmative action was unfair.
When I went to Michigan–and it’s no different, today–at least two-thirds of the football and basketball teams were Black. Funny, I don’t hear you advocating affirmative action for Whites who are overwhelmingly underrepresented on these teams. You write that affirmative action at Michigan creates “the finest educational environment for all students” and produces a “significant minority component” with “outstanding academic success.”
In reality, minority students got to take easier, remedial classes in the maths and sciences, and they were apocryphally recorded on their transcripts as the same tough courses that the rest of us were restricted to. It’s no surprise that many minority students dropped out, though–even with these absurd advantages–because when you admit the unqualified, the best of intentions won’t remedy the lack of qualifications.
What about my experiences interviewing for jobs and applying to graduate school? Was it fair that my friend Gail, the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, got into Columbia Law School with an LSAT score below the 70th percentile and a GPA just bordering a 3.0, all on the basis of skin color? Was it right that, at the University of Wisconsin Law School, my minority classmates got exclusive final exam reviews sessions, in which the exam questions were disclosed? Mr. Ford, how do these episodes constitute racial justice? Sure, it’s just anecdotal evidence. But that’s the problem with affirmative action–virtually everyone has a personal anecdote of how this reverse form of racism harmed them.
Mr. Ford, you write that the Michigan lawsuits are a “threat” to diversity and will result in “cultural and social impoverishment” of Whites. But affirmative action never benefits the poor, underclass Blacks it was meant to help. And where is the poor White underclass in all of this? Affirmative action benefits middle- and upper-class Blacks with plenty of advantages in life. A Black guy in a polo shirt is hardly diverse from or more culturally and socially enriching than a White guy in a polo shirt.
You describe your vote for the package of Civil Rights Act bills. But reverse racism was never the intent of these laws, which explicitly ban all racial discrimination, including affirmative action. Before they were passed by Congress, these bills’ floor manager, Senator Hubert Humphrey, told one of the bill’s opponents during Senate debate, “If the Senator can find in the bill any language which provides that an employer or other will have to hire or admit on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, I will start eating the pages, one after another, because, it is not there.”
You say that the lawsuits will scuttle Michigan’s admissions system, where you claim race is only one of many factors. Reality check: Michigan philosophy Professor Carl Cohen, a former ACLU board member, found the exact opposite. His FOIA request of devastating admissions data showed that race was usually the only factor in the admission of clearly less qualified minority candidates over far superior White ones.
Since the filing of the suits, Michigan’s new admissions policy, requiring 99 points for admission, gives an automatic 20 points for minority status, but only six points for a perfect 1600 SAT score. This, too, is clearly illegal, Unconstitutional, and a violation of Civil Rights laws. Even liberal Justice Lewis Powell’s landmark Bakke decision expressly forbids this. “Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake. This, the Constitution forbids.”
Mr. Ford, I’m glad you’re not President anymore, because as the Chief Executive enforcing our laws, you’d have a problem.
Luckily, people are fed up with reverse racism, and brave Americans, like Ward Connerly–the Black University of California regent–are fighting successfully to end affirmative action. His referendum banning affirmative action at the collegiate level in California won, despite a well-funded, Goliath-like campaign against it. And his American Civil Rights Institute is targeting other states.
In Michigan, a federal court jury recently awarded Patricia Steffes $2.6 million against Pepsi, after it discriminated against the White, 24-year employee, giving her promotion to a much less qualified Black man.
These are great Americans who care about freedom. They are fulfilling Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision where one day his kids would be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Mr. President, you, on the other hand, want to continue to take away freedom and opportunity from hundreds of thousands of Americans by preserving affirmative action. Your country just award you the Presidential Medal of Freedom. You believe in freedom, but apparently not in true equality.
And there will never be full freedom, as long as there are race, gender, and ethnic preferences in America.
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