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E-Letter To Black Press and George Curry Re: The Conservative Reaction To The Adarand Case

I could not agree more with the theme and thrust of your recent op-ed, "Supreme Court Examines A Weak Affirmative Action Program" As you may know, earlier this year I took a considerable amount of time to address the Adarand Case as well as the Bush administration's legal brief filed in defense of the Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) program. The Bush arguments were absolutely magnificent, just about seamless in my opinion. How ironic it must seem to Black Democrats that the Bush defense of the DBE program would be authored in part by Ted Olson, the Solicitor General who was one of the lead lawyers in Bush v. Gore.

The reason why I appreciate and agree with your assessment that in truth many conservatives don't want Blacks to have any redress for slavery and its legacy is because of the conservative reaction that you and I both have witnessed in reference to the Adarand case and more importantly, the Bush lawyers' defense of the DBE program involved in the controversial case.

What was most striking to me in the conservative reaction was the lack of intellectual honesty. In not one of the commentaries, op-eds and articles lambasting the Bush administration and affirmative action that I read did I see any conservative writer deal in a credible way with the contents of the Bush briefing in defense of the program. I even personally wrote a few of the writers asking them to show exactly where the Bush administration was wrong in its arguments. I even referred them to the several thousand words that we devoted to the subject. I found no takers. To this day I cannot get any of my conservative associates, Black or White, to deal with the Adarand case on its merits. The best I can generate from them is a philosophical articulation of how affirmative action is bad for the Black psyche and promotes victimization. The most vocal conservatives were not making a reasoned statement about the Adarand Case in their opposition, rather, they were using the case as an opportunity to launch their heated and tired diatribes against affirmative action, multiculturalism and "bleeding-heart liberalism". They had no stomach for what we were bringing to the table and they certainly have no use for your position(s). I take it that most conservatives did not expect that we would call their bluff and challenge them to an "intellectual discussion" and not a rhetorical liberal-conservative debate (which solves nothing) on this case.

I hope that you will continue to write on the case and directly tie the negative reaction of conservatives to the Adarand Case and affirmative reaction in general to their denial over slavery, the legacy of discrimination that outlived it, and the legitimate need for "repair" among the Black electorate. Getting to the heart of exactly how the past has impacted the present is essential to appropriately dissolving the racial divide and establishing repair. At that stage there will be no need for affirmative action.


Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

Thursday, November 1, 2001

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