June 6, 2008

Isn't it ironic…

By: Sonny Bunch

Ezra points to an article in the American Prospect on socioeconomic (rather than race-based) affirmative action that I find annoying for several reasons.

1.) The subhed declares: “A bad Supreme Court decision overturning race-based integration programs in Louisville, KY, and Seattle, WA, has produced a positive result. A new initiative in Louisville does something even better for children — it integrates them by class.” Nowhere in Richard D. Kahlenberg’s piece is the decision handed down by the Roberts Court described as “bad,” or poorly reasoned, or hyper-partisan. The only person who considers it “bad” is the editor who penned the subhed. This is a trivial problem, but a revealing one.

2.) Kahlenberg writes: “In an ironic twist, it took a conservative U.S. Supreme Court striking down the naked use of race to move the Jefferson County school board to adopt a plan that included socioeconomic status. The Court, says Imhoff, ‘helped us do what we should have done all along.'” Just how, pray tell, is this ironic? Economics-based affirmative action (and “striking down the naked use of race”) has been a central tenet of conservative jurisprudence for decades!

3.) What Kahlenberg (and the author of that subhed) really means is this: “Holy s–t, the conservatives were right all along! Integrating by class achieves racial integration without discriminating by race (and thus violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution), and it’s probably better for the kids academically speaking to boot.”

You’re welcome. It only took what, 30 years to get you guys on board? Stick around awhile. We’re drinking Manhattans later. You’ll enjoy the party.

In all seriousness, there’s one thing I hope we’ll get out of the oncoming Obama presidency: a rejection of race-based affirmative action and an embracing of class-based hand ups. The sons of laid off coal miners in West Virginia scraping by don’t have it much worse (or better) than black kids in the inner city. There’s no reason to pretend that they do.