Reporter's Note: I really have a very hard time believing much of the press I’ve heard over the years about how often presidents exchange letters with members of the public. Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, I have been sending a letter a day to the White House and it’s no picnic. Still, I press on…
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Here’s the good news: I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court ruling on those Connecticut firefighters is not going to substantially hurt your nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Yes, they turned around her decision in the case like a Miata on a wet road, and they effectively said the white firefighters and the one Latino in the lawsuit were discriminated against. And yes she’ll be hit with that during confirmation. But it’s probably not a deal breaker. She’ll get one of those fancy robes, and the first judicial cornerstone of your legacy will be set.
That said, you should read this decision carefully, because I suspect it foreshadows many tough battles ahead over a basic question: Are anti-discrimination laws fundamentally aimed at helping make up for past injustices by helping minorities move forward, or at preventing new discrimination?
A lot of Americans, from all ethnic backgrounds, are highly in favor of just treating people equally…regardless of race. We all know about our past problems, and no reasonable soul wants to repeat those. But when the discussion shifts from equality to reparation; including job quotas, paybacks for past wrongs, preferential hiring based on race; a lot of citizens want off of the train.
Precisely because some people suffered in past years (and even now in some ways) by being born to groups that were unfairly discriminated against; many Americans, in my experience, are hell bent against letting it happen again. Which for them means that everything we do in our laws, in our hiring, in our promotions should be aimed at erasing race as a measuring stick; not using it to make up for past slights. In other words, let the job, the promotion, the silver cup at the race track, go to the best performer period; not the one who can claim the biggest share of victimization.
I know, that’s easy to say for the group that’s always been in the majority with the most political and economic power. And I know not everyone agrees with that view. But you can bet your house, clashes between those opposing perspectives will only get hotter, as we struggle to recover jobs, fix the economy, and deal with a changing but at the same time still largely the same, racial landscape.
Ha! Look at me prattling on. I’m getting way too serious in these letters some days. Speaking of ethnic diversity, I’ve taken up my study of Spanish again. Give me a call if you want to jump in on that; we can study together on weekends. Si?
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