DOUGLAS OLSON — "Critical mass" in Mississippi

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"Critical mass"
in Mississippi



How much responsibility does Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor bear for the July 8 shooting at a Lockheed Martin plant in Mississippi, in which six people were killed and nine wounded? Perhaps more than meets the eye.

According to the authorities, shooter Doug Williams had a troubled history at the plant, where he was an assembly-line worker. He was angry, they say, because he had been passed over for promotions during his 19-year career. He was a 48-year-old white man who felt that black people had an advantage over him in society. Once, following an anger-counseling session, Williams stated: "One of these days, they're going to [bleep] me off and I'm going to come here and shoot some people."

Enter Justice O'Connor, who provided the swing vote in Grutter v. Bollinger. The "brethren" handed down their decision just 15 days before Williams opened fire. In that case, O'Connor and four other justices declared that it was perfectly legal and even admirable for colleges (and, by extension, other entities, including workplaces) to discriminate against whites in order to achieve a "critical mass" of certain minorities — not all minorities, mind you, just blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians. (Asians, apparently, can take care of themselves.) In essence, O'Connor and her colleagues validated Williams's feeling that he was a second-class citizen, now officially subordinated by the government because he was white.

Actions have consequences, and that's never more true than when judges attempt to engineer society under the guise of interpreting the Constitution. Not only was the sociology in the Grutter decision utterly bogus, but also the law on the matter was virtually nonexistent.

Seizing on a single word by Justice Lewis Powell in the 1978 Bakke case — "diversity" — O'Connor and her cohorts created a pitifully nonsensical and transparent excuse to make anti-white discrimination the official policy of the country. Somehow, in focusing on that word, she and her majority managed to miss Powell's vastly more relevant and important statement in the Bakke decision that "constitutional limitations protecting individual rights may not be disregarded" and his further admonition that "the guarantee of equal protection [of the Fourteenth Amendment] cannot mean one thing when applied to one individual and something else when applied to a person of another color. If both are not accorded the same protection, then it is not equal." The intellectual dishonesty of O'Connor and company — picking the inane and ignoring the profound from Powell — is little short of obscene.

The new decision is even more odious on its face than the notorious "separate but equal." O'Connor's majority has chosen to make "together and unequal" the new standard in American race relations. In so doing, those judges have effectively painted over the "Equal Justice Under Law" motto above the door to the Supreme Court, and replaced it with George Orwell's dictum that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

One suspects that the majority of the animals, whose ancestors created and built the United States, didn't much care for being downgraded in that underhanded and plainly unconstitutional manner. But with their usual sheeplike respect for "authority," the masses accepted their degrading dispossession with barely a murmur.

A few of the animals, such as Doug Williams, were less content to let themselves and their progeny be stripped of their manhood and their rights. "You could see something in his face. He snapped," said a man who had worked with Williams for 15 years. How much responsibility do Justices O'Connor, Breyer, Ginsberg, Stevens, and Souter have for provoking that last desperate act of Doug Williams? Unfortunately, we will never know for sure, but anyone who dismisses any such possibility is only fooling himself.

October 28, 2003

© 2003 Douglas Olson. All rights reserved.

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