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Opinion

Rights groups aren’t really after diversity

Issac J. Bailey Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News

With two Supreme Court openings, it is a good time to expose a couple of falsehoods.

First: Not every group touting racial and gender diversity is really after racial and gender diversity.

Most civil rights organizations that want to protect affirmative action would oppose anyone who has different ideas about that and other policies, no matter the nominee’s race.

That’s why People for the American Way and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a stinging analysis of Judge Janice Rogers Brown when she was nominated for the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown was appointed after the Senate compromise.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see those of like minds appointed to high places and speaking against those hostile to your interests. Every constituency in the country has that right and should use it.

But it’s disingenuous to say “in the name of diversity” when you mean “anyone who thinks like me.”

Second: It’s time to put to rest this tired, cliched argument against race-based affirmative action: “All things being equal, the best person should get the job.”

All things are seldom equal. Plenty of people get jobs based on connections, not talent, and in most cases, there is more than one qualified candidate. I’m certain there are at least nine highly qualified white men in this country who could serve admirably as Supreme Court justices … and at least nine black men and white women and black women and Hispanic men and Hispanic women.

The debate surrounding affirmative action is often couched as a zero-sum game, as though every nonwhite man nominated is taking the place of a more qualified white man and that only white men ascend to such positions based solely on merit. Do you think Michael Brown was the best person to head FEMA even though he had more experience with horse judges than emergency response during natural disasters?

Affirmative action doesn’t have to mean diluting quality, and not every affirmative action opponent is pro discrimination.

One last thing: We don’t have to appoint jurists who strictly adhere to the Founding Fathers’ intent.

Those men were wise, brave and provided a strong foundation for this country, but they weren’t all-knowing, they never lived in 21st century America and many of them didn’t intend for Americans of all colors to be full participants in this democracy.

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