May 22, 2014

Racist Pomp and Hypocritical Circumstance

It’s that pomp-and-circumstance time of year when political correctness dominates commencements.

It’s commencement season – the pomp-and-circumstance time of year when the products of our education system as well as that system’s true politically correct, ideologically hostile colors come out for all to see.

Leading this year’s display was First Lady Michelle Obama, who told graduating high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, that many school districts across the country have “pulled back on efforts to integrate their schools,” adding that “by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech.” Her topic was timely as this year marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. And she was spot on in saying that the answer to racial and other challenges “can’t necessarily be found in our laws.” (Too bad no one shared this tidbit with her husband’s oft-used pen.)

While Mrs. Obama was denouncing the fact that “many young people in America are going to school largely with kids who look just like them,” Attorney General Eric Holder was giving the commencement address at just such a school. At Morgan State University, a state-run “historically black public research university,” 87% of the student body is black while less than 2% is white. The irony was lost on Holder as he spoke of the courageous fight for racial equality while bemoaning “vestiges of state-sanctioned discrimination” that “continue to reverberate across the country even today.”

Furthermore, as the American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord points out, while both Holder and Mrs. Obama waved the banner of Brown v. Board of Education, neither dared bring up its origins. The Court’s ruling in Brown overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, in which the Court forced a privately run railroad company in Louisiana to segregate railroad cars. Only, the Plessy case didn’t emerge in a vacuum. Post-Reconstruction-Era Democrat legislators in power in Louisiana passed a law in 1890 requiring – you guessed it – segregated railroad cars. Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black, refused to comply with the Democrats’ law, and the case went to court.

All this isn’t to say that colleges like Morgan State should not exist as long as nothing is coerced. But, as Lord notes, “[I]f in fact Morgan State is going to continue – to in fact be celebrated by the presence of the top law enforcement officer of the United States as a commencement speaker – then any other institution out there with an incidental predominance of one race over another cannot be considered to be guilty of institutional discrimination.”

Of course, institutionalized discrimination had nothing to do with the vitriolic protest against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s invitation to address graduating seniors at Rutgers University in New Jersey. No, institutionalized idiocy ruled the day. As satirist P.J. O'Rourke noted, 0.09% of the student body held a “sit-in” to protest Rice’s appearance. And as a result, the class of 2014 failed to hear “from a person who grew up poor in Jim Crow Alabama. Who lost a friend and playmate in 1963 when white supremacists bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Who became an accomplished concert pianist” and who became the first black female secretary of state.

So, to recap, Obama says schools aren’t integrating like they should, Holder enthusiastically keynotes commencement at a highly segregated state school, and a highly accomplished black woman is demonized out of headlining a liberal arts state school’s graduation ceremony. Welcome to commencement season.

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