* President Bush yesterday came out against the University of Michigan’s admissions process, calling it a quota system because it takes race into account. What a crock. Obviously quotas are bad, but the U-M system doesn’t employ them, and Bush knows it. He has just concluded that playing the race card two years before the election cannot hurt him with minority voters (not big constituents except some Hispanics anyway) because by then they’ll have forgotten all about it, but might help him among closet racists in the white community. In actual fact, admissions are very complex. People also get extra points for being out of state and for being from states that don’t send many students to Michigan. They get points for all sorts of things–evidence of artistic creativity that SAT scores don’t measure, etc., etc. Michigan has an extremely regressive set of taxes, with a 6 cents on a dollar sales tax that hurts the poor. What Bush is saying is that poor African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities in Michigan should contribute part of their income to a university to which they can’t hope to gain admission because the culture of testing is skewed toward the skills of the white middle and upper classes. Minority representation at the University of Texas Law School plummeted and has never recovered after they were forbidden to take race into account. Few African-American lawyers means few judges and little social power, thus exclusion from the ability to shape US law and practice. That is what this entire campaign against the Michigan admissions process boils down to. It is an attempt by rich white kids to make sure that they remain on top in this society. The alternative that Texas, Florida and California have adopted, of admitting the top ten percent of each high school, only produces undergraduate diversity because this country still has de facto racial segregation, so that school neighborhoods are often dominated by one race or another. It is an unsatisfactory system, because instead of giving us the brightest and most creative students, it gives us those who did best in their particular school settings (it is not difficult to excel in some schools). And, this remedy does not work at the level of professional schools. Now that Clarence Thomas has spoken out against cross burning, maybe he will speak out against its educational equivalent, which is what Bush just engaged in.
* Pakistani physician Ahmad Javad Khwaja is under arrest in Pakistan for allegedly having given refuge to senior al-Qaeda figures at his villa near Lahore. Four other members of his family have also been detained.
* It was reported that the Bush administration may go to war against Iraq without a Security Council resolution authorizing such a step. The current resolution insists on weapons inspections but stops short of stipulating military action in case they are unsatisfactory. Britain came out in favor of trying for a UNSC resolution. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have already said that their degree of cooperation with a US war effort will depend on a United Nations resolution. Even the foreign minister of Kuwait was talking like that last fall. I suspect this report is a trial balloon, to see what the domestic and international reaction would be. Let me be clear. I have said publicly that a war against Iraq might be justified under some circumstances and might even have some beneficial effects (getting rid of the fascist Baath that has committed virtual genocide against Shiites and Kurds is one). But if the Bush administration declines to go back to the Security Council for authorization, it will put the US in breach of the United Nations Charter and I will be out marching in the street against such an illegal war.