Education Letter to the Editor

Race-Based Remedies And Social Disasters

January 03, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

Regarding your Dec. 14, 2005, article “High Court Won’t Hear Race Appeal”:

One can sympathize with the reasoning of school boards in Massachusetts, Washington state, and Kentucky, along with supporting appellate courts, in their pursuit of race-based school assignments. But they are engaged in a dangerous business. Any objective look back at the era of wide-scale forced busing for racial balance would suggest as much. Many American cities were emptied of their middle-class populations during those years.

The elites of that era—judicial, academic, media—had no qualms about the use of force to pursue utopian ideals in ways that ran counter to the will of parents. Why the embrace of transparent folly? Perhaps the poet T.S. Eliot said it best: “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

The use of race in K-12 school assignments since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding race-conscious college admissions does not amount to much. So far. But we have a new generation of elites. They too want to feel important. They will be drawn, as moths to a flame, toward grand, coercive projects.

They and we would do well to heed the words of the economist Thomas Sowell, who wrote recently: “The fact that people sort themselves out in many ways is not usually a big problem—except to those people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. Government programs to unsort people who have sorted themselves out have produced one social disaster after another.”

Tom Shuford

Lenoir, N.C.