|Obama’s Racialism Harms Heroic FDNY|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, October 04 2012
The Daily Caller story this week on then-candidate Barack Obama making racially charged statements in 2007 should not be seen as an anomaly. Not just in words but in policies, the Obama administration has often pushed a racially charged agenda, sometimes quite obviously in contravention of the Constitution and federal civil rights laws. A prime example of that agenda reached a head last week in New York City.
For years, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has backed black applicants to the Fire Department of New York – so famously heroic on 9/11 – in a suit claiming that too few blacks are hired as firefighters. Whether justified or not, the suit was fairly unexceptional: Even under President George W. Bush, DoJ’s Civil Rights Division was rife with “career” attorneys who favored “disparate impact” suits to cure perceived racial imbalances.
Under Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, however, the suit against FDNY took an ideologically hard-left turn. Despite consistent Supreme Court precedent making clear that explicitly proportional race-based remedies violate both the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act, the Obama-Holder DoJ began pushing quotas in the FDNY case known as United States v. City of New York. On September 30, 2010, DoJ asked the court to accept any of four proposed remedies that “involve selection based on ‘the minority ratio of the hiring pool,’” or what they otherwise described as “some variation of ‘proportional hiring.’”
To quote a 2011 Washington Times editorial, “On Feb. 28, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, submitted a proposed order for damages for rejected applicants who scored 25 or higher on the 85-question exams. New York’s taxpayers would be forced to pay compensation to the flunkies to make up for years of seniority supposedly lost when the city chose not to hire them. Minority rejects also would receive seniority over firemen who had been working all the while.”
Read that again: DoJ wanted applicants admitted and given seniority and back pay, even if they missed a whopping 60 out of 85 questions – in other words, 70 percent wrong – in order to meet a proportional hiring quota. Damn the interests of competence. Damn public safety. Just get the numbers right.
Some of the worst victims of DoJ’s work were themselves black. In throwing out the existing exam results, DoJ and the judge blocked careers of all those black applicants – 90 percent of them actually did pass the test – who worked hard, played by the rules, aced the exam and then were denied admittance to the fire academy, all to serve the interests of a quota-theory meant to benefit black applicants who flunked. Even the left-wing Village Voice did a cover story blasting the judge, championing the rights of those black applicants whose favorable results were thrown out and determining that nothing in the test seemed inherently racist.
Anyway, various aspects of the case lumbered on until September 28. Then it was that Judge Nicholas Garaufis finally approved a new exam – after having blocked FDNY from any new hires for an astonishing four years, ever since 2008. As the New York Post editorialized on October 1, “Frankly, it’s a wonder how the city managed since then.”
Garaufis wasn’t finished. He appointed a “special master” to oversee FDNY compliance for the next ten years. It gets worse: In what appears to be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, special master Mark Cohen “wants a crackdown on faxing and an ‘affirmative’ statement that the department opposes” the views of deputy fire chief Paul Mannix, who leads a group that has fought the judge and DoJ. In sum, a federal agent is saying that firefighters can’t even criticize these shenanigans. Free speech? What free speech?
And where is DoJ when these speech rights are threatened? Nowhere to be found – but by its silence, tacitly supporting the special master’s gag rule.
This is all quite abominable. But it’s par for the course for the Obama DoJ. This is the same outfit that told a black-majority town in North Carolina it could not hold non-partisan elections because the blacks themselves would not be able to elect their “candidates of choice” unless a candidate is identified as a Democrat. This is the outfit that refuses to enforce civil rights laws against black perpetrators . This is a cohort that harasses other fire departments along the same, spurious lines. And this DoJ is led by a black radical, Holder, who went on “strike” in solidarity with Black Panthers while in college and who opened his term as attorney general by saying Americans are “a nation of cowards” with regards to race.
Well, the FDNY is not comprised of cowards. And its heroes have vastly more moral authority than a racialist AG, no matter how lawless a regime he operates.
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