This statement was issued by the National Board of the Communist Party USA after hearing a report on affirmative action at its Jan. 30 meeting
The Communist Party joins with a broad array of people and organizations in expressing our strongest opposition to the current legal challenge to the University of Michigan’s admissions policy. Arguments for and against this policy, which considers race as one – among many other – factors in the admissions process, are to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in early April.
A decision in favor of the university’s policy will constitute a major setback for right-wing extremists in our country whose deepest desire is to reintroduce a system of education in the nation’s schools, akin to apartheid.
On the other hand, a court decision in favor of the plaintiffs would be a body blow against affirmative action, already reeling from unfavorable court decisions in Texas and California.
To no one’s surprise, the Bush administration – an administration that speaks for the most reactionary and racist groupings of big business – has thrown its weight behind this obscene assault. In an act of racist treachery, White House lawyers not only filed a “friend of the court” brief opposing the University of Michigan admissions policy, but also cynically called it a “quota” policy, even though they knew full well that this isn’t the case.
In doing this, the Bush gang made it unmistakably clear that, while it may have distanced itself from the racist rhetoric of former Republican Senate leader Trent Lott, it has not dumped his crude ideas and racist policies.
As much as Bush and other Republicans – and more than a few Democrats – would like to remove the subject of race from our nation’s discourse, it cannot be simply filed away as an historical artifact from a benighted and bygone era that ended with the modern civil rights revolution of the 1960s.
While court rulings and legislation did strike down the most egregious forms of legal discrimination three decades ago, racism continues to affect in multiple, massive, and negative ways the life chances of whole groups of people, namely African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American Indian peoples, and plagues our entire country.
It also damages the political and economic interests of working people of all races and nationalities.
Affirmative action, contrary to what right-wing ideologues claim, is not “reverse” discrimination, but rather is a practical remedy that addresses present as well as past discrimination. It brings racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to our schools and universities – not to mention other institutions in our society. It enlarges opportunities in the workplace, including apprenticeship programs, to women as well as Black, Brown and white workers. It is a cornerstone of a just, moral, and democratic society.
That such a legal challenge would surface at this moment comes as no surprise. It is part of a larger offensive by the most reactionary circles of our ruling class whose aim is to roll back a broad all people’s coalition challenging Bush’s reactionary agenda at home and worldwide.
Indeed, the same small political grouping that is seeking to eliminate affirmative action is behind the re-nomination of right-wing judges to the federal courts, the illegal roundup of immigrants, the steady hollowing out of abortion rights, trillion dollar tax cuts to the richest people and corporations, spending reductions in people’s programs, and, above all, the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Thus the fight to defend affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan is part of and essential to a broader struggle to reverse the many-sided, anti-working class, anti-people assault of the Bush administration and its war drive.
It would be understandable if the American people stood paralyzed by the sheer scope of the right-wing offensive. But that isn’t happening. Instead, millions of people of peace and goodwill are joining hands to transform our country into a society that is just and at peace with the world.
We will join with others in Washington D.C. to march for affirmative action and equality on April 1, when oral arguments to the Supreme Court are scheduled to be heard..
We urge elected officials at the national, state, and city level as well as leaders from all walks of life to publicly express support for the University of Michigan’s admissions policy. We join with the many democratic organizations like the AFL-CIO, NAACP, National Organization for Women (NOW) and National Council of La Raza, to name a few, which have condemned the Bush administration’s stance on affirmative action. We call on people of conscience across our land to join this democratic and just struggle.
For more information about the Communist Party go to www.cpusa.org or call (212) 989-4994.