Last week, four members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging her to investigate Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law after multiple professors — including the school’s interim dean — confessed to being “racist.” One of them confessed to being a “gatekeeper of white supremacy.” While the staff likely went through this woke “anti-racist” rite of confession as an exercise meant to prop up the idea of “institutional racism,” accusations of racism at a federally-funded university are serious.
“We write to express our concern regarding the admitted racism of several employees at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law,” four members of the 8-member civil rights commission wrote in a letter exclusively provided to PJ Media. The commission members made sure to clarify that they wrote “as four members” of the commission and “not on behalf of the Commission as a whole.”
“During a recent online town-hall meeting, several employees publicly admitted that they are racists, and one even admitted to acting as a ‘gatekeeper of white supremacy,'” the commissioners noted. “Included in this number of admitted racists was James B. Speta, the law school’s Interim Dean and the Elizabeth Froehling Horner Professor of Law.”
Indeed, Speta and others confessed their racism during the online event. Emily Mullin, executive director of major gifts at the law school, confessed, “I am a racist and a gatekeeper of white supremacy.” Author Rod Dreher noted that a reader claimed Speta was “forced to say” that is a racist, even though he is not.
Northwestern U. law school had a town hall meeting online recently. Everybody began w/ a ritual denunciation of themselves as racist. Reader: "Prof. Speta is not a racist. He is a wonderful man universally loved by students. It makes me sad that he is forced to say otherwise." pic.twitter.com/O45UX8ver2
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) September 1, 2020
The civil rights commissioners noted that “the Pritzker School of Law participates in Title IV federal financial-aid programs, and thus must abide by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,… which provides that ‘[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.'”
“Based on these facts, we ask that you consider conducting an investigation into the Pritzker School of Law’s potentially discriminatory practices—similar to your investigation into Princeton University’s potentially discriminatory practices—and that you take any additional action that you deem appropriate,” the commissioners added.
Last month, Betsy DeVos called the bluff of Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber. Eisgruber had participated in the same woke rite of confession, publishing a letter confessing to the ongoing racism at his university under his leadership. It seems the president aimed to use this confession as a rhetorical weapon to push Marxist critical race theory.
Yet DeVos responded by launching an investigation into the university. If Princeton really is racist, the Department of Education reasoned, its policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Therefore, it should lose federal funding.
“Based on [Princeton’s] admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false,” the DOE letter to Princeton reads. Therefore, the DOE opened an investigation.
The “anti-racist” movement argues that America is drenched in “institutional racism” and that people must essentially brainwash themselves to escape their racist assumptions. In his book Stamped From the Beginning, scholar Ibram X. Kendi explains the basic logic of “anti-racism”: People of all races are inherently equal, but some races have more money/prominence than others, therefore the society must be racist.
Kendi attacks two different groups of people: outright racists and “assimilationists.” He argues that most Americans still harbor racist ideas, and he claims that any explanation for racial disparities besides “structural racism” is inherently racist because it blames the victim.
America’s long and successful struggle to ban outright racial discrimination in the law does not matter to the “anti-racist” movement. It does not matter that black people tend to dominate sports like basketball and football due to their individual training and success. It does not matter that a wide variety of factors explains why police tend to regard young black men with more suspicion, most notably crime rates.
Black people are more likely to face stigma and they are more likely to be seen as representatives of the black community, rather than being seen as individuals. This is a double-edged sword: it means black people are unjustly regarded with suspicion but it also means that there is a bias in favor of black people in some schools, jobs, and professions.
Yet reformers have worked hard to excise racial discrimination from American law. Attorney General Bill Barr recently explained why he believes there is no such thing as “systemic racism.”
“To me the word ‘systemic’ means that it’s built into the institution and I don’t think that’s true,” the AG said. “I think our institutions have been reformed in the past 60 years, and if anything is built-in, it’s a bias to nondiscrimination and safeguards against [racism.]”
Eisgruber, like Speta, did not intend to confess to violating federal discrimination law. He meant to signal his virtue and convince people that America is institutionally racist in order to further his own political and ideological goals. That makes the Department of Education’s response brilliant — perhaps even hilarious.
Accusations and confessions of racism are serious, or at least, they used to be. Thanks to the logic of “anti-racism,” a completely colorblind policy — one that judges people not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” in Martin Luther King Jr.’s words — would still be considered “racist” because the free actions of free individuals result in racially disproportionate outcomes.
Federal law rightly prohibits many kinds of racial discrimination, but it prohibits discrimination on an individual level. Federal law does not require schools like Princeton to admit exactly 73.09 percent white students, 16.42 Asian students, and 5.78 percent black students, so that the student body represents the population of Princeton, N.J. In fact, by these measures, Princeton University is “racist” in favor of black people (9 percent of the undergraduate population) and Asians (25 percent of undergraduates, even higher percentages in post-grad classes).
The “anti-racist” measurement is actually more racist. The government arguably has a role in preventing racial discrimination when it comes to opportunities, but it has no business ensuring exact racial representation in outcomes. That would be absurd.
If America adopts the “anti-racist” definition of “racism,” the government cannot prevent racial discrimination when it comes to opportunities and individuals. At that point, preventing racial discrimination must mean achieving proportionate outcomes.
This broader definition of racism justifies both brainwashing and an unguided, destructive revolution. Riots across America have arguably oppressed black people far more than the U.S. supposedly does. The riots have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 26 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
The Department of Education was right to call Princeton’s bluff here, and it would be right to call Northwestern Law School’s bluff as well. Words have meaning, and the “anti-racist” revolution must be stopped.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.