FEATURES Whitewashing Affirmative Action By Bill Adler 4 A Tale of Two Islands: Freeport in Indonesia and Texas By Michael King 8 DEPARTMENTS Dialogue 2 Editorial The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Resegregates UT Molly Ivins Legal Tomfoolery 10 Jim Hightower Speaking Dolefully 10 James Galbraith The End of an Error 11 Las Americas PEMEXS. Private Parts 12 BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Nothing Can Be Taken Away Poetry by Isabel Nathaniel 14 Demolition Derby of Dance Dance review by Ann Daly 15 Environmental Gymnastics Book review by Pete A. 1′. Gunter 16 Olajuwon Above the Rim Book review by Peter LaSalle 18 George Wallace at Odds Book review by Todd Basch 20 SXSW Hits the Big Time Music review by Louis Dubose 22 AFTERWORD Cinema Ex-Paradiso By Michael King 23 Political Intelligence 24 Cover photo courtesy of Austin American-Statesman b THE TEXAS server BY JAMES C. HARRINGTON IN THE NOT too distant past, the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans helped lead the South and Texas through the painful process of peaceful desegregation. The court’s ruling this month against the University of Texas law school’s affirmative action program \(Hopwood v. however, shows how far it has strayed from that noble goal and, in fact, is setting the stage for the re-segregation of our schools, colleges, and work places. The U.T. decision basically disallows any consideration of race or ethnic status in admissions policies, no matter how pervasive and long-standing the apartheid, racism, and discrimination that has infected our society and its institutions for three hundred years. At U.T.-Austin, for example, only in the early 1980s did federal government orders break down official segregation and its aftermath. Somehow, three appellate judges, sitting comfortably in their secluded life-tenured jobs, could gaze out their windows and no longer see a society plagued by the sins of the last three centuries. As University of Texas President Robert Berdahl put it, the result of the judges’ logic may be re-segregation of higher learning in Texas. U.T. Law School Dean Michael Sharlot said it more starkly: a return to the lily-white law school. Our society requires greater opportunity and diversity if we are to tear down the “Berlin Wall” that divides us by race and ethnic origin. For all its problems, affirmative action has helped bring more equal opportunity to work and educational settings. Rather than jettisoning affirmative action because some programs are poorly created or administered, we should make them more effective. Otherwise, our society will end up even further polarized, and more severely divided. The U.T. decision puts the lie to Republican campaign chatter about appointing non-activist federal judges. The three judges who wrote Hopwood were far more disrespectful of prior federal cases, and even of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, than judges criticized in the Republican agenda; yet they were appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan or George Bush. Not that political party should make a difference. After all, President Dwight Eisen James C. Harrington is the legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. hower appointed most of the appellate judges who desegregated the South. But too many judges chosen by Reagan and Bush \(about sixty percent of the total judiagenda, which includes reversing court rulings favoring integration. Hopwood is the culmination of the Court of Appeals’ recent history of decisions that block the road to racial justice. Over the last ten years, the court’s decisions have steadily undercut protections against employment discrimination, even reversing verdicts of juries that had ruled in favor of aggrieved workers. Some of its opinions omit facts that favor employees, and create pro-employer scenarios that did not exist in reality. The standard rejoinder is that employment discrimination will fall away, like the scales from Paul’s eyes, when minority groups have better education. However, Hopwood, in turn, means less educational opportunity: a Catch-22. Then comes the argument that standardized tests are the fairest admissions tests. That would be true if elementary and secondary educational opportunities were essentially equal. However, with its campaign to abolish busing, the Fifth Circuit has undermined that effort as well. Love it or not, busing was one of the few tools that helped equalize education opportunities. Eliminating busing as a remedy for historical discriminationand there’s still plenty of this yet alive in Texasmeant the virtual re-segregation of our schools. There’s not much doubt about the racial and ethnic make-up of Texas schools that have fancy computers, advanced education “enrichment” and university preparation courses, and college-like campuses. Nor is there much doubt about the color and race of students in run-down facilities, poorly-staffed schools, and inadequately supplied classrooms. Thus, the circle is complete. Very little or no relief for employment discrimination; no affirmative action in the workplace. No chance to get ahead on the job with a good college education because of the preliminary lack of solid educational support leading up to college. College admissions programs were an at tempt to compensate for this self-perpetuat ing discrimination; but pursuing its own po litical agenda with predictably harsh results, the Court of Appeals imposed a roadblock. The U.T. ruling throws great confusion into the country’s college and university ad missions processes, which had come into workable and acceptable shape over the last twenty years. Even worse, it sows the seeds of racial conflict and division in our society. The ruling is unworthy of a judiciary committed to equality under the law. GUEST EDITORIAL Fifth Circuit Closes All the Doors THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3 -00000.10110.000iirausiossomiliavourrmolOmmilL
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