Monday, May 07, 2007

Good Thing They're Colorblind

The conservative view of race, we're told, is color-blind. They don't look at race. They don't examine race. And this, we are told, is the way by which to foster in a new era of racial equality--a world where race doesn't matter.

Interesting, then, that as this conservative administration has (color-blindedly, of course) restaffed the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, they've failed to hire a single Black attorney since 2003. Not one. And because of that, there are but 2 African-American attorneys in this part of the DOJ out of 50--the same number as in 1978, when the department was half its current size.

Now, you might say that this was the tragic result of Republicans merely looking to hire the "most qualified." African-Americans, I'm to believe, simply are inferior attorneys compared to their White peers (but this does not in any way implicate a racist mentality among the evaluators--no sir). Whatever--when the skew is this blatant, the meritocracy objection is facially ridiculous. But regardless, the department actually seems relatively unconcerned with merit: filling its spaces with partisan hacks is the top concern.

I've written previously about how political considerations create a particular cognitive dissonance for conservative adherents to the color-blind philosophy. Aside from the empirical observation that "color-blind" policies miraculously seem to replicate the same distributional outcomes as their white supremacist ancestors, the big problem is that conservatives are willing to jettison merit--and even color-blindness itself--upon the altar of the political interests of a largely White male party. I have no doubt that if Bush's DOJ saw a Black applicant who was willing to carry water for their racially regressive policies in the Civil Rights Division, they'd jump at the opportunity, because he would be the ultimate in political and racial expediency. That's color-consciousness too, but of a perverted and twisted kind--it recognizes identity politics only to the extent they can exploit them.

It's wrong, and hopefully a new, Democratic DOJ will be able to restore and rebuild the department from the decimation it is receiving at the hands of Bush and his lackeys.

1 comment:

PG said...

To be frank, it's also weird not to have hired any African Americans for the civil rights division because, well, in my observation people of color -- especially African Americans -- are disproportionately interested in civil rights. ("Disproportionate" in the sense that I see a greater percentage of the African Americans in law schools going into such work than I do graduates of other races.) While it's a bad idea to *assume* any individual black person would be interested in such work -- Clarence Thomas has been rather bitter about this -- in the aggregate it starts looking strange. On the other hand, perhaps the sort of African American who is attracted to civil rights work is unlikely to be sympathetic to Bush's position on it. Certainly Bush has had African Americans in some high profile positions; they just tend to be jobs where race is unlikely to come into play.