No resegregation

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public education. In unequivocal language, a unanimous court ruled that separate facilities for Black and white were inherently unequal: “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”

The decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka nullified school segregation laws in 21 states. The ruling was a blow to racism. Although few people thought the millennium had come, most hoped that segregated schools were history.

Forty-nine years later, segregation is, in fact, alive and well. Still worse, a new Harvard study shows that public schools are being resegregated at an alarming pace. While minority enrollment now approaches 40 percent nationwide, the average white student attends a public school that is 80 percent white. At the same time, the average African-American student attends a school that is nearly 100 percent nonwhite. These numbers reflect a serious reversal of progress made in the 1960s and 1970s.

Rather than opposing the resegregation of our public schools, the Bush administration has been aiding and abetting it. The administration’s briefs in the University of Michigan affirmative action case now before the Supreme Court praise so-called “race-blind” plans in several states that guarantee college admission to students based on purely academic indicators.

Bush and his allies would have us ignore the huge inequalities between predominantly white schools and predominantly Black and Latino schools in the U.S. today. They would have us acquiesce, in fact, to a new doctrine of “separate but equal,” reinforcing a deep legacy of bias against the racially oppressed under the guise of applying “equal standards.”

The best way to commemorate the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education is to build the broadest possible movement to defend affirmative action.

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Road map to peace

The terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia this week that killed at least 20 people including eight Americans contradict George W. Bush’s claim that his imperial policies of preemptive war, unilateralism, and destruction of civil liberties have “turned the tide” in the war on terrorism.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd commented, “Buried in the rubble of Riyadh are some of the Bush administration’s basic assumptions: that Al Qaeda was finished, that invading Iraq would bring regional stability and that a show of American superpower against Saddam would cow terrorists.”

But in fact, as many commentators are noting, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld policies promote rather than discourage terrorism.

Taking issue with Bush’s might-makes-right view of the world, former JFK speechwriter Theodore Sorenson warned American University graduates this week, “Our declared doctrine of preemptive strikes, without legal justification or evidence, is music to the ears of terrorist organizations that specialize in such strikes; but, if followed worldwide, it will create a lawless planet in which the law abiding will suffer the most.”

Or take the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis. While the Bush administration speaks words of peace, it has in fact encouraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s aggressive and lawless reign of terror against the legitimate national and democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people. The “road map” to peace touted by Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell imposes a double standard: while the Palestinian Authority is to be held responsible for stopping not only terrorist acts but any and all armed resistance, the Israeli occupation army and armed settler vigilantes are given free reign to commit crimes against humanity.

The peoples of the world want an end to terrorism, a world of peace and international cooperation in which national sovereignty and human rights are respected. The Bush administration is flouting those desires, spouting Hitler-like doublespeak where war means peace, occupation means freedom, and trashing the Bill of Rights means democracy.

Our Road Map to peace and ending terrorism: Send Bush and Co. out the door in 2004.