The real casualties of the Trent Lott fiasco are the
Constitution`s First and Fourteenth Amendments, not the
senator himself and the Republican Party`s reputation.
America`s heralded First Amendment is fading fast.
Many universities have
restricted or eliminated all speech that might
possibly be interpreted as offensive to members of
victim groups. An organization exists, the
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education,
headed by two distinguished civil libertarians,
Harvey Silverglate and
Alan Charles Kors, whose primary function is to
defend students and
professors who are persecuted by university
exercising their constitutional right to free
The ability of privileged victim groups to censure
the speech of the majority is enhanced by various state
laws passed by white legislators and enforced by white
district attorneys. In
Michigan Janice Barton said in
private conversation to her mother that “I wish
these spics would learn to speak English.” Her words
were overheard by an off duty Hispanic deputy sheriff,
who followed her to her car and took down her license
Janice Barton was arrested and
spent time in jail for a hate crime.
Another recent case comes from Idaho, where a white
woman, Kim Rae, was
physically assaulted by a black male. The woman`s
screams brought her white husband to the scene. He was
naturally upset, and, in the heat of the moment, he
called the black man a “nigger.”
The black man was not arrested for assault, but the
white man was arrested for a
There have been two cases–David Howard, a
government employee in Washington, D.C., and
Stephanie Bell, a
schoolteacher in Delaware–where white people used
“niggardly” and found themselves fired or in hot
water simply because uneducated blacks mistook the fine
old word for a racial slur.
These were “warm-up” cases involving ordinary people
without powerful positions or a base of public support.
Senator Trent Lott, however, has a strong base in his
home state. He was well enough regarded by other U.S.
Senators to be Senate Majority Leader. He was
forced to resign that position because blacks choose
to be offended by their interpretation of his offhand
remark about states rights at a birthday party for Strom
As the Lott imbroglio unfolded, white people watched
with trepidation the dissolution of their First
Amendment rights and the onset of thought control. Many
knew instinctively that the difficulty in which Senator
Trent Lott found himself was not really about him, but
about the power of “preferred minorities” to censure
white people and
destroy their careers.
This power will be used, not only to curb hateful
speech but also to censor uncomfortable truths. The
result will be to establish deference by the majority to
the minority, just as under an aristocratic system.
Neither the Fourth Estate nor Academia will escape these
“Preferred minority” has become an official
government term. Nothing could be clearer than that the
U.S. Constitution allows for no such person or persons.
Yet, for 37 years we have watched the creation of a
class of preferred people, a new aristocracy. And now
they have been given the power to shut the rest of us
By delivering this power to Jesse Jackson and Al
Sharpton, President Bush, the Republican Party and the
gaggle of white neoconservative pundits have placed the
Supreme Court in an untenable position.
The Court has before it a
case on the constitutionality of racial quotas, that
is, unequal treatment of people on the basis of race.
Racial quotas are used by university administrators to
admit “preferred minorities” who cannot meet the
standards demanded of white applicants. It has become
commonplace for better qualified whites to be turned
away to create spaces for blacks.
(The same quota phenomenon characterizes
employment, promotion, and access to training programs.
Government contracts often go to the high bidder if the
high bidder is a “preferred minority.”)
If the Court upholds equality in law and overthrows
affirmative action, the Court will be denounced as
“resegregating higher education.”
Will the Court enforce the Constitution, or will it
bow to politics? Having been branded “Republican” by
racial minorities and Democrats for its ruling on the
Florida vote in the last Presidential election, the
Justices know the risks to their own credibility, and
that of the Republican Party, if they rule against
Just as the Court ruled in
1992 that Roe v. Wade had given women squatters`
rights in abortion, the Court will be sorely tempted to
argue that 37 years of minority privileges have given
preferred minorities squatters` rights in affirmative
The various Republican opportunists, who saw in
Senator Lott`s discomfiture a chance to move up in
leadership position, reach out to minorities, or to
replace Lott with someone more friendly to the
military-police state, could not see beyond their
immediate personal goals. Has their lack of wisdom cost
white Americans the protection of the First and
Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent
epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.