The real casualties of the Trent Lott fiasco are the Constitution's First and Fourteenth Amendments, not the senator himself and the Republican Party's reputation.
America's heralded First Amendment is fading fast. Many universities have restricted or eliminated all speech that might possibly be interpreted as offensive to members of victim groups. An organization exists, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, headed by two distinguished civil libertarians, Harvey Silverglate and Alan Charles Kors, whose primary function is to defend students and professors who are persecuted by university administrators for exercising their constitutional right to free speech.
The ability of privileged victim groups to censure the speech of the majority is enhanced by various state laws passed by white legislators and enforced by white district attorneys. In Michigan Janice Barton said in private conversation to her mother that "I wish these spics would learn to speak English." Her words were overheard by an off duty Hispanic deputy sheriff, who followed her to her car and took down her license number.
Janice Barton was arrested and spent time in jail for a hate crime.
Another recent case comes from Idaho, where a white woman, Kim Rae, was physically assaulted by a black male. The woman's screams brought her white husband to the scene. He was naturally upset, and, in the heat of the moment, he called the black man a "nigger."
The black man was not arrested for assault, but the white man was arrested for a hate crime.
There have been two cases—David Howard, a government employee in Washington, D.C., and Stephanie Bell, a schoolteacher in Delaware—where white people used the word "niggardly" and found themselves fired or in hot water simply because uneducated blacks mistook the fine old word for a racial slur.
These were "warm-up" cases involving ordinary people without powerful positions or a base of public support. Senator Trent Lott, however, has a strong base in his home state. He was well enough regarded by other U.S. Senators to be Senate Majority Leader. He was forced to resign that position because blacks choose to be offended by their interpretation of his offhand remark about states rights at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond.
As the Lott imbroglio unfolded, white people watched with trepidation the dissolution of their First Amendment rights and the onset of thought control. Many knew instinctively that the difficulty in which Senator Trent Lott found himself was not really about him, but about the power of "preferred minorities" to censure white people and destroy their careers.
This power will be used, not only to curb hateful speech but also to censor uncomfortable truths. The result will be to establish deference by the majority to the minority, just as under an aristocratic system. Neither the Fourth Estate nor Academia will escape these strictures.
"Preferred minority" has become an official government term. Nothing could be clearer than that the U.S. Constitution allows for no such person or persons. Yet, for 37 years we have watched the creation of a class of preferred people, a new aristocracy. And now they have been given the power to shut the rest of us up.
By delivering this power to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, President Bush, the Republican Party and the gaggle of white neoconservative pundits have placed the Supreme Court in an untenable position.
The Court has before it a case on the constitutionality of racial quotas, that is, unequal treatment of people on the basis of race. Racial quotas are used by university administrators to admit "preferred minorities" who cannot meet the standards demanded of white applicants. It has become commonplace for better qualified whites to be turned away to create spaces for blacks.
(The same quota phenomenon characterizes employment, promotion, and access to training programs. Government contracts often go to the high bidder if the high bidder is a "preferred minority.")
If the Court upholds equality in law and overthrows affirmative action, the Court will be denounced as racist for "resegregating higher education."
Will the Court enforce the Constitution, or will it bow to politics? Having been branded "Republican" by racial minorities and Democrats for its ruling on the Florida vote in the last Presidential election, the Justices know the risks to their own credibility, and that of the Republican Party, if they rule against minority privilege.
Just as the Court ruled in 1992 that Roe v. Wade had given women squatters' rights in abortion, the Court will be sorely tempted to argue that 37 years of minority privileges have given preferred minorities squatters' rights in affirmative action.
The various Republican opportunists, who saw in Senator Lott's discomfiture a chance to move up in leadership position, reach out to minorities, or to replace Lott with someone more friendly to the military-police state, could not see beyond their immediate personal goals. Has their lack of wisdom cost white Americans the protection of the First and Fourteenth Amendment?
Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
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