In the ’60s era civil rights struggles, progressives argued that no one should receive preferential employment based upon such immutable and inherited characteristics such as race. In the 21st century, some progressives are arguing that race ought to be preferentially considered, at least when it comes to selecting the professoriate for our most prestigious academic institution:
The first woman Dean of Harvard Law School had presided over an unprecedented expansion of the faculty — growing it by almost a half. She had hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members (non-clinical, non-practice). But when we sat down to review the actual record, we were frankly shocked. Not only were there shockingly few people of color, there were very few women. Where were the people of color? Where were the women? Of these 32 tenured and tenure-track academic hires, only one was a minority. Of these 32, only seven were women. All this in the 21st Century.
The authors of this Salon article?
We are, in John Adams formulation, a “nation of laws, not men. The iconic statue representing justice is a blindfolded female figure carrying an unsheathed sword in one hand and a set of scales in the other – the symbolism is obvious: The law is designed to apply to each of us equally regardless of our skin color or ethnic background. That it does not always do so is irrefutable, but it ought to in a perfect world. A world towards which progressives theoretically progress. But just as the Communist state had to use every tool of state oppression to keep the people cowed and shivering before the state itself could “fall away,” so too do modern progressives use the tools of racial discrimination to ensure a more colorblind society.
Salon’s fearsome foursome – three of whom have chosen to uniquely focus on race and racial representation, feign surprise that Kagan could not, in all her hiring, find the proper proportion of professors of color. If you see the world through the lens of race, hiring discrimination based on race seems eminently responsible. Conversely, Kagan is pilloried for failing to positively consider race. Ergo, perversely, Kagan – and not her race-obsessed critics – is the racist. Or at least is inauthentically progressive.
That appears to be Glenn Greenwald(s) complaint, and his contrast of Kagan’s reception to that given to Bush nominee Harriet Miers is delicious:
It’s ironic that the anti-Miers case was grounded in conservatives’ refusal to place too much faith and trust in their President’s judgment. Can anyone envision Democrats mounting a serious and sustained campaign against Obama’s Supreme Court nominee of the type mounted against Bush by conservatives, whom progressives like to accuse of blind leader/party loyalty?
Well, progressives like to accuse conservatives of all kinds of things that they themselves are guilty of: It’s called “projection.” Thus we have “tea baggers” unfairly labeled as racists while conservatives such as RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell are treated as race traitors and lampooned in ways that are objectively racist.
I’m no particular fan of Elena Kagan – her stand against military recruitment at Harvard seems strange: To the extent that the military is denied access to some of the nation’s finest legal minds the country is diminished, and in any case her argument should cut to Congress rather than the services: “Don’t ask/don’t tell” is federal law, not a military artifact. Her costless animosity to the military was considered “brave” in progressive circles, but in retrospect her courage could at least potentially be attributable to a prism of her own.
Or maybe not. When you’ve cut the one nation into sufficiently small and aggrieved interest group slices, all of them muscling around the public trough, it can be hard to keep track. But it’s certainly true that Kagan’s recent performance as Solicitor General has left much to be desired. Like Miers, Kagan has left behind a thin public record on important constitutional issues. What’s more, she has never served as an acting judge. As a SCOTUS nominee, and lacking evidence of actual (vice academic) jurisprudence, she is unimpressive. Perhaps, given the president’s own proclivities, this is the best that we can hope for.
That and a chance to see Glenn Greenwald impotently bang his spoon on the high chair.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” – Chief Justice John Roberts