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Integration Betrayed

Readers might remember that I reviewed on this website the memoirs, From the Cast-Iron Shore, of my colleague, Professor Francis Oakley, an historian of the medieval era who served for some years as President of Williams College, America’s pre-eminent liberal arts college whose graduates were snapped up by Ivy League graduate programs.

I wrote two essays about Oakley’s memoirs.  In the second essay I noted that the reward to Oakley and his well-meaning colleagues, who had sacrificed Williams’ traditions and some alumni support to recruit black students unqualified to attend Williams, was for the integrated black students to demand segregated housing.  Now we have Harvard University’s black graduates given the segregated graduation that they demand.  From all appearances, they don’t want to be integrated

I grew up in the South. Our schools were segregated, but not our homes. Negroes were ever present. These were the years before household appliances.  Wives who were mothers found running the household a big job and a lot of work.  Negro women found help for their household budgets by helping out white families. White and black worked side by side. There were meals to be prepared without pre-prepared microwave meals.  There were clothes to be washed and dried without washing machines and dryers. There was ironing to be done.  There were houses to be cleaned with brooms and dust pans, mops, and dust cloths. Furniture to be polished.  The household help was part of the family. Carrie ate at the table with us. She was part of the conversation. When mother wasn’t there, she was the boss.  There was zero animosity, no condescending treatment.  This was my experience and what I witnessed elsewhere.

Schools were segregated because they were neighborhood schools.  Neighborhoods were segregated by income class. Middle class schools were in middle class neighborhoods. Upper class schools were in upper class neighborhoods. Lower class schools were in lower class neighborhoods. It was class segregation, not racial segregation.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited racial preferences or quotas, but Alfred W. Blumrosen at the EEOC stood the law on its head and imposed racial preferences for blacks, knowing that the federal courts would defer to the regulatory agency.

Blumrosen’s racial preferences had unintended consequences. The preferences gave blacks the idea–after all, they were a “preferred minority”– that they had special privileges that removed from them from the American obligation to be integrated into society. They were special and could demand separateness, which is what we see today.  Blumrosen succeeded in defeating his own ends.  Today we have racial animosities that I never witnessed growing up in the South. Integration is a forgotten liberal dream.  We now have “diversity,” “multiculturalism,” “multi genders,” and no unity.

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