Two recent victories for the principles of non-racialism and equal treatment – in California courtrooms, no less – are warming the hearts of conservatives, and the vast majority of Americans who believe in fairness and the goal of a colorblind society. These victories, however, cannot obscure the fact that, increasingly, for the left, discrimination is no longer the enemy. It is, in fact, a moral imperative, and more and more progressives believe that only (reverse) discrimination can cure “systemic racism” in our country, and that those who refuse to discriminate should be ground underfoot.
On March 30, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Jay Ford III ruled that UCLA accounting professor George Klein could proceed with a lawsuit against the university, which had suspended and denounced him for refusing to grant black students special accommodations in his classes in the wake of the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Klein argued that, legally and ethically, it would be wrong to single out students of a certain race for differential treatment, and, in any case, a student’s skin color, in itself, would not necessarily determine the degree of trauma they experienced due to Floyd’s death and the subsequent unrest. UCLA had asked that the suit be dismissed, but Judge Ford decided instead that Klein had provided sufficient evidence to support his claims. Klein asserts that his suspension was wrongful and that his reputation and private business interests were harmed.
Two days later, on April 1, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry Green struck down that state’s so-called corporate diversity law, which mandated that corporations based in the Golden State had to include on their corporate boards a specified percentage of people from “underrepresented communities,” including people of color and those who identify as LGBT. Hefty fines were prescribed for corporations in violation of the law. Although Judge Green’s ruling was short on specifics, he suggested that “mandating” quotas for the “underrepresented” was a bridge too far.
Taken together, these victories in Los Angeles County courtrooms indicate that, even in the People’s Republic of California, where the catechism of wokeness is deeply entrenched in the political and legal fabric of society, judges sometimes have the courage to stand against fashionable forms of discrimination. This is tremendously encouraging and may indicate that leftists will find it difficult to ignore the clear language of local, state and federal laws, which in almost all cases prohibit differential treatment based on race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Much as progressives would like to carve out exceptions for discrimination practiced by “the good guys,” i.e. them, our legal system recognizes no such distinctions – and, hopefully, when such distinctions are inserted into the law by leftist legislators, they will fall afoul of other, more fundamental legal and constitutional principles, like equal treatment. With any luck, in fact, the Supreme Court will soon find all racial and sex- and gender-based preferences unconstitutional, putting an end to this debate once and for all.
Legal victories, however, no matter how high up the judicial food chain they may extend, will not alter the fact that, morally and culturally, discrimination has already been normalized, even valorized, for a significant portion of the U.S. population – namely, for virtually anyone and everyone who calls himself or herself a Democrat or a progressive. The (re)popularization of discrimination as a tool to promote positive social change and the “equitable” redistribution of society’s rewards is an extremely disturbing trend and one legal sanctions alone will not succeed in stamping out.
What should be done? Among other measures, conservatives must resolutely refuse to play the woke game of measuring social progress and “equity” by mathematical means, and of pretending that the achievement of greater representation for people of color, women and members of the LGBT community in itself makes our institutions, or our country as a whole, better.
On the contrary, only the fostering of an ethic of nondiscrimination and a consistent commitment to judge each and every American according to his or her individual merits, as most Americans clearly prefer, will allow us to fulfill the promise of America for everyone, while at the same time avoiding the acrimony and mistrust that are the bitter fruit of identity politics.
To quote Chief Justice John Roberts, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” It’s about time that we lived up to our ideals as a nation and followed this excellent advice.
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