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Thursday, 17 August 2017 05:46

Supporting a White Nationalist Goal, DOJ Looks to End Affirmative Action

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dojemblemShould we rename the DOJ, the Department of White Nationalists? (Photo: DonkeyHotey)

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Before the abomination of Trump supporting a neo-Nazi race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, his Department of Justice signaled earlier this month that it was going to put a high priority on achieving a goal of white nationalists: ending affirmative action at colleges and universities.

Such a priority on the part of Department of Justice (DOJ) is consistent with creating a nation that guarantees more white privilege, according to New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb:

[The recent] leak of the Department of Justice memo announcing its plan to mount a legal challenge to affirmative action in university admissions … has the possibly intentional effect of reminding conservatives why they should defend Jeff Sessions from Trump’s attempts to replace him as Attorney General. But its significance extends beyond the factional G.O.P. infighting. The memo became public one day before Trump’s endorsement of a Senate bill that would curb legal immigration to the United States. (At a press briefing, Stephen Miller explained the move in terms that recalled the language of the racialist Immigration Act of 1924.) These two initiatives, along with the constant talk of building a border wall and the Administration’s fulminations about trade deficits, point to an over-all endeavor to create a kind of racial protectionism, to socially engineer a world in which whites -- the unheralded disadvantaged class in America -- once again have a deck stacked in their own favor.

The DOJ, according to The New York Times, is going to aggressively investigate and suppress affirmative action through a special unit devoted to the project. Earlier this month, the NYT reported:

The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The Times quotes a critic of the DOJ action:

Kristen Clarke, the president of the liberal Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, criticized the affirmative action project as “misaligned with the division’s longstanding priorities.” She noted that the civil rights division was “created and launched to deal with the unique problem of discrimination faced by our nation’s most oppressed minority groups,” performing work that often no one else has the resources or expertise to do.

“This is deeply disturbing,” she said. “It would be a dog whistle that could invite a lot of chaos and unnecessarily create hysteria among colleges and universities who may fear that the government may come down on them for their efforts to maintain diversity on their campuses.”

Commenting on the DOJ initiative, the NYT observes, "The project is another sign that the civil rights division is taking on a conservative tilt under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions." That is a tilt to the right that is consistent with white nationalists' belief that white privilege should be legally expanded. This is homage to the land of Robert E. Lee, where injustices toward people of color were not redressed. Affirmative action has for years been a symbolic flashpoint for the alleged white "grievance" that people of color are being given an unfair leg up by the government.

It appears that the DOJ also plans to challenge higher education affirmative action plans in court, hoping that the past narrowly interpreted pro-affirmative action decisions will be reconsidered in a 5-4 split court on the issue through different cases and perhaps a new more favorable Supreme Court justice confirmed during Trump's presidency.

ThinkProgress took note of the development:

But now the Justice Department is threatening to bring the full weight of the United States government down on universities that seek to diversify their campus. They are threatening to turn the department’s Civil Rights Division into a bizarro version of itself.

One of the primary obstacles to desegregation in the years following Brown v. Board of Education was that, when school districts refused to comply with Brown, a private party had to file a suit seeking an integration order. In no small part due to white supremacist terrorism against civil rights workers, the only organization that consistently sought out opportunities to file such suits was Thurgood Marshall’s NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and LDF could only do but so many things at once.

This problem was solved when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enabled the Justice Department to file desegregation suits in the name of the United States government, thus bringing the full resources of the Justice Department to bear against segregated schools.

Now, however, Sessions’ Justice Department wishes to use this awesome power to fight integration.

A key point to take away from this development is that Trump's administration is consistently taking specific actions to support white nationalists. It is not just engaged in an uproar over Trump's tweets and comments about neo-Nazis and white privilege advocates; it is actively carrying out an agenda that complements the iniquitous policies that they favor.