Two events that took place this last week should be noted for their historic and contemporary significance in U.S. society. They should be especially noted by all those who rail against affirmative action and who think the good old boy system is dead. The two events I point to are the selection by the Lansing City Council of replacements for the Rev. Mike Murphy on the council and its selection of a replacement of the city clerk, and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committees confirmation hearing on ex-Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general.
The Lansing City Councils actions show explicitly why affirmative action is still much needed. There is no doubt there were minority candidates who were equally or better qualified for both positions, and one in particular who was exceptionally qualified to hold the city clerks position.
The electors of the 4th Ward had overwhelmingly elected a minority person three years ago. But, in both instances, who did the council members select as the replacements? White males who were no more qualified and perhaps even less so than the minority applicants.
The council even tried to carry this out by breaking the law and voting on secret ballots just to show how low it would stoop to avoid appointing exceptionally well-qualified minority candidates to the positions. This is the same thing that is done in government, industry, higher education and other sectors of the economy every day in the United States.
Similarly, in the face of Ashcrofts blatant racist actions against the nomination of a black judge for a federal judgeship, the highest good old boy club in the world - the U.S. Senate - and the majority on the judiciary committee have defended him, tried to color him as a nonracist. They will eventually confirm him to be attorney general, when it is obvious he is not qualified for the position.
After all, what has he done so badly? All he did was assassinate the character of a highly qualified black man. Besides, John Ashcroft is a God-fearing man, a solid citizen of upstanding character, a devout patriot who has held high positions in the government.
God bless America!
professor of urban affairs