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America’s Most Influential Thinker on Race

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s insights are reshaping law and policy for the better.

    By JUAN WILLIAMS

    [rquoter]
    In his office hangs a copy of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in America. When his critics, and he has many, call him names, he likes to point to it and shout out, “I’m a free man!” This black history month is an opportunity to celebrate the most influential thinker on racial issues in America today—Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas .

    Justice Thomas, who has been on the court nearly a quarter-century, remains a polarizing figure—loved by conservatives and loathed by liberals. But his “free”-thinking legal opinions are opening new roads for the American political debate on racial justice.

    His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment—guaranteeing equal rights for all—cannot mean different things for different people. As he wrote in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013), he is opposed to “perpetual racial tinkering” by judges to fix racial imbalance and inequality at schools and the workplace. Yet he never contends racism has gone away. The fact that a 2001 article in Time magazine about him was headlined “Uncle Tom Justice” reminds us that racism stubbornly persists.

    His only current rival in the race debate is President Obama. At moments of racial controversy the nation’s first black president has used his national pulpit to give voice to black fear that racial stereotyping led to tragedy. But that is as far as he is willing to go. His attorney general, Eric Holder , has gone further by calling Americans “cowards” when it comes to discussing race. And some critics have chastised him even for that.

    Justice Thomas, meanwhile, is reshaping the law and government policy on race by virtue of the power of his opinions from the bench. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court, stood up as a voice insisting on rights for black people. Justice Thomas, the second black man on the court, takes a different tack. He stands up for individual rights as a sure blanket of legal protection for everyone, including minorities.

    In his dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, a case that preserved the affirmative-action policies of the University of Michigan Law School, he quoted an 1865 speech by Frederick Douglass : “‘What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice.’ . . . Like Douglass, I believe blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators.”

    The principal point Justice Thomas has made in a variety of cases is that black people deserve to be treated as independent, competent, self-sufficient citizens. He rejects the idea that 21st-century government and the courts should continue to view blacks as victims of a history of slavery and racism.

    Instead, in an era with a rising number of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and immigrants, he cheers personal responsibility as the basis of equal rights. In his concurring opinion in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena (1995), he made the case against government set-asides for minority businesses by arguing that “racial paternalism and its unintended consequences can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination.” The Constitution, he said, bans discrimination by “those who wish to oppress a race or by those who have a sincere desire to help.”

    In the same vein he contends that people who insist on racial diversity as a worthy principle are hiding assumptions of black inferiority. “After all, if separation itself is a harm, and if integration therefore is the only way that blacks can receive a proper education, then there must be something inferior about blacks,” he wrote in his concurring opinion in Missouri v. Jenkins (1995). “Under this theory, segregation injures blacks because blacks, when left on their own, cannot achieve. To my way of thinking that conclusion is the result of a jurisprudence based upon a theory of black inferiority.”

    Justice Thomas holds that quality education should be the focus of educators for children of all races and argues there is no proof that integration necessarily improves education. Black leaders, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Thurgood Marshall, he has noted, were educated at black schools.

    He also makes the case that diversity in school admissions has never been proven to raise black achievement to the level of people admitted with no special consideration. “Racial imbalance is not segregation,” he wrote in a 2007 case ending Seattle and Louisville plans to reverse racial segregation in schools, “and the mere incantation of terms like re-segregation and remediation cannot make up the difference.” Federal judges, he said, are “not social engineers” charged with creating plans to achieve racial equality.

    As he wrote in his concurring opinion in Fisher, even if schools have the best intentions and justify lower standards for blacks seeking college admission in the name of reparations for past injury, “racial discrimination is never benign. . . . There can be no doubt that the University’s discrimination injures white and Asian applicants who are denied admission because of their race.”

    This line of thinking has helped to rein in ambitious diversity and desegregation plans in K-12 schools as well as at universities. It has also made Justice Thomas the target of liberal derision. Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson once said he simply “doesn’t like black people” or “being black.” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid once dismissed him as one of “five white men” on the high court. Paradoxically, these bitter attacks are still more evidence that Clarence Thomas is now leading the national debate on race.

    Mr. Williams is a political analyst for Fox News and a columnist for the Hill. He is the author of “Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary” (Times Books, Random House, 1998).[/rquoter]

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/juan-williams-americas-most-influential-thinker-on-race-1424476527
     
  2. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Justice and equal rights for all. Love it.

    Thomas is one of the good guys.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Major

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    This makes the fundamentally wrong assumption that "blacks are left on the own" in our society. The reality is that they are, not necessarily intentionally, discriminated at every step of the way - from the classroom to jobs to promotions to housing and mortgages and on. That's all statistically proven. The vast majority of decision makers in this country are white, which is logical in a white-majority society. The "diversity" concept is only partly about integrating black people into white society. It's also about exposing white society to black people. And I would argue that the fact that each generation is less racist than the previous one suggests that it might be working, though there are other factors involved too ad we can't prove causation.
     
  4. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    So he's down with gay marriage.

    That's great!
     
  5. AroundTheWorld

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    Why does it not bother you that in the Muslim world, not only they are against gay marriage, in many countries they kill them for being gay?

    But in domestic politics, you demonize those who are against gay marriage.

    It's very inconsistent.
     
  6. trustme

    trustme Member

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    LOL once again ATW brings Islam/Muslims into a thread that has nothing to do with it. Do you not see your obsession??? See a doctor.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. what

    what Member

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    fixed


    No rights are ever equal, by the way.
     
  8. False

    False Member

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    http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/

    I would put Ta-Nehisi Coates into the hat for America's most influential thinker on race. Clarence Thomas is certainly influential in that he is on the highest court therefore his views matter more than basically anyone beyond President Obama and Justice Roberts, but through power of insight on this specific issue he doesn't compare.
     
  9. txtony

    txtony Member

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  10. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine
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    Integration is about black inferiority? Jesus. Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King just threw up.
     
  11. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    I am merely pointing out mc mark's hypocrisy when it comes to gay rights.
     
  12. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    single-track mind.

    I thought you might find this enlightening, we can discuss in another thread if you'd like:

     
    #12 Northside Storm, Feb 21, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  13. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    First of all, he's very wrong on the first point.

    New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement
    Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain, Steven G. Rivkin
    NBER Working Paper No. 8741
    Issued in January 2002
    NBER Program(s): CH PE ED

    Second of all, texxx, you crow about equality before the law but how comfortable are you with "seperate but equal"?
     
  14. NewRoxFan

    NewRoxFan Contributing Member

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    At one point, this was also one of the most influential thinkers on race:

    [​IMG]

    Fortunately time, and better judgement, overcame such influential thought. As will time and better judgement overcome Thomas' thinking...
     
  15. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member
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    America's most influential thinker on race who has issued the fewest opinions of any justice and hasn't uttered a single word in oral argument this decade?

    Maybe if you have very low bar for influence.

    He actually might be the least influential per capita SCJ in contemporary times due to sheer lack of output.
     
  16. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Simplistic logic. Unpack the impact of economics and race for me.
     
  17. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Activity does not always equal progress. Poor supporting evidence from you. Poor logic.
     
  18. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    The NBER working paper that I cited above did a pretty good job of that actually. You should read it.

    Again:

    New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement
    Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain, Steven G. Rivkin
    NBER Working Paper No. 8741
    Issued in January 2002
    NBER Program(s): CH PE ED

     
  19. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    not completely

    and you need something fresher than 1 study from 13 years ago

    not convincing
     
  20. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    What are your points of contention?

    The number of studies?

    The above studies referenced a lot of the work that was done to win Brown v. Board and some post-psychological studies such as Crain and Mahard (1978). There are more than enough studies there to leaf through.

    Recency?

    Do you think that things have changed significantly in the last 13 years? Do you think it jibes well with this statement? "There is no proof that integration necessarily improves education."

    Would you rather prefer this 2013 study?

    http://www.epi.org/publication/unfinished-march-public-school-segregation/

    I'm impressed you can read a paper in less than eight minutes. Maybe you should apply those skills a bit further.
     

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