Professor Gates, Officer Crowley, President Obama—And The New York Fire Department

stubborn individuals have done more than anyone to slow the
Obama political juggernaut over the last month–
Frank Ricci

James Crowley.

Ricci, of course, is the New Haven, CT
fireman whose June 29th Supreme Court victory, overturning
Sonia Sotomayor`s decision in favor of

cheating him
out of his hard-earned promotion, put the
damper on her Senate hearings. Her rebuke by the Supreme
Court in Ricci
transformed her hearings from a celebration of the first
Latina nominee into a dismal, hunkered-down exercise in

and damage control.

And Crowley is the Cambridge, MA policeman
who showed the character and courage that past targets of
Two Minute Hates like geneticist
James D. Watson
and Harvard President
Larry Summers
fatally lacked when

Henry Louis Gates Jr.,
the Harvard African-American
Studies impresario, threw an unprovoked temper tantrum and

falsely accused
Crowley of racism.


press conference
, Barack Obama, in a textbook example of
racial prejudice, essentially
prejudged the
Gates-Crowley confrontation based only on Gates` side of the
story–plus the President`s own abundant (but generally

personal resentments


white bigshot would have wilted under this double-barreled
attack. But Crowley simply stood his ground. On Friday,

blinked first

Interestingly, both Ricci and Crowley are not the kind of
folks the Republican Party has

focused upon representing
in the 21st Century. They are
civil servants
, and

union men
. Indeed, their

strong opposition to the

racial spoils system
and to racial blackmail has been
one of the keys to their

The Bush Administration systematically
worked to alienate men like Ricci and Crowley, who had
worked hard to pass
civil service exams.

For example, on May 21, 2007, the
Department of Justice filed suit in the name of Bush crony/Attorney
General Alberto R. Gonzales ch
arging the Fire Department
of New York (FDNY) with violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

“… the United States
alleges that defendant City of New York`s use of two written
examinations on a pass-fail basis, as well as its rank-order
processing of applicants, in the screening and selection of
applicants for appointment to the rank of entry-level
firefighter, has resulted in disparate impact upon black and
Hispanic applicants, is not "job related for the position in
question and consistent with business necessity" and does
not otherwise meet the requirements of Title VII
Offical complaint,


In other
words, blacks and Hispanics did worse than whites on the
blind-graded written tests about firefighting given in 1999
and 2002.

it. That`s the
extent of the Bush Administration`s evidence for
discrimination by the FDNY.

Now, it
is true that the
Fire Department of New York is mostly white. Judging from
their pictures,
I would estimate that ten African-American firemen died at
the World Trade Center on 9/11, along with perhaps twelve
Hispanics, zero Asians, and 321 white firemen. 

Recently, Peter Brimelow has been bugging me a lot about
updating my “Sailer Strategy” analysis of how the Republican
Party can cope with the worsening demographic balance caused
in large measure by the lax immigration policies favored by
GOP leaders such as Karl Rove and John McCain.

Well, Ricci and Crowley are part of the
answer. The release of the 2008 Census survey of voters
confirmed that Barack Obama motivated minorities to go to
the polls, but that, in contrast,

McCain turned off whites.
The Associated Press reported
on July 20, 2009:

“For all the
attention generated by President Obama`s candidacy, the
share of eligible voters who actually cast ballots in
November declined for the first time in a dozen years. The
reason: Older whites with little interest in backing either
Barack Obama or Republican Sen. John McCain stayed home. …
Ohio and Pennsylvania were among those showing declines in
white voters, helping Obama carry those battleground states.
vote rate dips in `08, older whites sit out

teaming up with Ted Kennedy to write the failed 2006 amnesty
bill, and his refusal to mention Obama`s obvious weak
points, such as his support for racial preferences and the
$53,770 he donated to Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. from
2005-2007, were disastrous.

write up my Grand Plan to keep America from turning into a
one-party Greater Chicago soon. (I promise!).

But may
I suggest, though, that as a tiny first step in forming a
potentially winning coalition, Republicans stop and rethink
whether their President should have attacked the Fire
Department of New York as racist?

Sure, these firemen are

highly paid
civil servants with a pushy

, and they`re New Yorkers to boot. But …

of them
gave their lives on 9/11.

Last Wednesday, July 22, Judge Nicholas G.
Garaufis, a

Clinton appointee,
gave Bush a belated going-away
present by swallowing the Gonzales Department of Justice
allegations wholesale and deeming FDNY`s 1999 and 2002
paper-and-pencil employment exams discriminatory against
minorities solely on the grounds of

Disparate Impact.


is an amusing compendium of the

that comprise the conventional wisdom of

Disparate Impact legal theories

The judge found the tests discriminatory
despite being unable to find
any evidence of
actual discrimination. Even John Coombs, the head of the
plaintiff, the black firefighter`s

Vulcan Society,
couldn`t identify specific problems.
Newsday reported:

“Asked to point out questions he considered discriminatory
on the exam, Coombs said, `I`m not going to answer that.
It`s irrelevant.` He added, `It`s a bad exam when the exam
gives you …

that are abysmal for diversity.`

judge calls FDNY recruiting exams discriminatory,

Michael Frazier, July 25, 2009]

Judge Garaufis allowed Coombs` Vulcans to
join the case midway through. Yet, he banned the main union,

Uniformed Firefighters Association
, from participating
even though they argued that New York`s Bloomberg
Administration was too politically ambivalent to adequately
defend firemen`s interests.

Stephen Cassidy, head of the UFA,

pointed out:

“Basic intelligence is an important asset for firefighters, and ignoring
that fact will imperil the safety of the firefighting force.
… T
job requires not only physical strength, but also an alert
and keen mind. … Firefighters are now extensively trained to
deal with hazardous materials, possible terrorism and
environmental issues unknown years ago. …There is no doubt
that intelligence and ability to read and understand are
important traits for firefighters.”

The predictive validity of written tests
for performance on jobs much like firefighting has been
documented by many decades of study by the
. But the Judge mentions none of this
overwhelming evidence.

Garaufis`s decision in
Vulcan may seem bizarre in the wake of Ricci. But as I`ve
pointed out, it`s much easier for the government to
discriminate against whites

before they have been hired

and get union and civil service protections.

The Bush Administration`s

that the test
“is not job related
for the position in question”
was laughable. Each
question is flagrantly job related. (You can see the 1999
and 2002 tests


Diane Cardwell of the
New York Times reported on July 23 in

Judge Finds Racial Bias in Fire Dept. Recruiting

“New York City used
tests that discriminated against black and Hispanic
applicants to the Fire Department and had little relation to
firefighting, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on

Yet, Cardwell`s accompanying feature
article in the same issue of the

Racial Bias in Fire Exams Can Lurk in the Details
included numerous complaints that the problem with the FDNY
test was that it had too
much relation to

firefighter entrance exams have tended to favor applicants
already steeped in the ways of the job, like `people whose
dads and uncles are firefighters,` said
Richard Primus,

]a professor
of constitutional law at the
University of Michigan.
… Besides, Professor Primus
added, some of that knowledge is not needed to become a good
firefighter. “… some of it tends to be knowledge that
“firefighting junkies have, even though it is not really
necessary for fighting fires.`”

Those darn fire
studying in their spare time how to

save our lives.

It`s discriminatory!

Cardwell`s explanation in the
NYT of what`s wrong with the test can most charitably be read as
heavy sarcasm:

exam consists of 85 multiple-choice questions about
firefighting practices: the order in which a firefighter
should don gear in an alarm; what the rear of a building
would look like, based on its facade; the

right situations i
n which to say `mayday` rather than
`urgent` over the walkie-talkie.

“Nevertheless, a closer look shows that the exams also
required applicants to read
and understand
often containing
terms, and then answer
questions about



“One question, for
instance, follows a 250-word description of the use and
maintenance of portable power saws …”

I`m sorry, but

portable power saws
, especially the hellacious ones
used by firemen to cut through steel and concrete, come with
massive instruction manuals much longer than 250 words
(owing to

of product

liability lawsuits,
as the judge should know).

Why? Because

portable power saws
can be
. When a relative of mine was a teenager, for
example, his chainsaw hit a nail buried in a tree and bucked
back into his face.

If an
applicant can`t make sense of a 250-word text about power
saw maintenance, he might well wind up on lifetime

 Let me explain how
the FDNY hiring process worked in 1999 and 2002. (For 2007,
even before the Bush Administration sued, the written test

dumbed down
to increase diversity.)

A lengthy, intensive system produced
quality firefighters with high
esprit de corps.
(John Derbyshire once told me that in his
Long Island neighborhood,
blue-collar women consider
FDNY guys the most desirable catches as husbands; they tend
to be more stable than the

similarly well-paid NYPD

applicants took the intensive 50+ page written test. (Study
guides were provided beforehand.)

start with a written test? They provide a cheap and fair way
for the city to drop the deadwood early in the hiring
process. Also, rank-order hiring based on test scores speeds
up the training of the smart guys who would make good
supervisors later in their careers.

applicants of middling intelligence, those who study
firefighting hardest do best. This weeds out those who are
either lazy or not committed to firefighting as a career.
Moreover, encouraging applicants to study on their own
before taking the test gets the winners through the
expensive Fire Academy faster.

Everybody who attained the passing score
(which was a large majority of test-takers) was invited back
for a more expensive physical performance test (sort of like
the one that Kevin James
failed in his attempt
to become a New Jersey state
trooper in the opening scene of last winter`s hit movie

Paul Blart, Mall Cop

Scores on the written and physical tests
were then averaged and the best performers were called in
for medical, psychological, and background checks. The
survivors were invited to enroll in rank order at New York
City`s 27-acre

Fire Academy
on Randall`s Island.

In 1999, 90 percent of whites, 77 percent
of Hispanics, and 60 percent of blacks scored high enough on
the written test to qualify for the physical test. If you
Excel`s Normdist function,
you`ll see that the
white-black gap is a (very standard) one standard deviation.
The pseudonymous statistical analysis
La Griffe du
has dubbed this one standard deviation white-black
gap the
Fundamental Constant of Sociology
. The white-Hispanic
gap was 0.54 standard deviations, which is about normal,

In 2002,
the passing score was lowered from 85% to 70%, presumably to
get around the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission`s
notoriously innumerate Four-Fifths Rule. This says that
burden of proof is on the employer to disprove illegal
discrimination if the lowest scoring group doesn`t pass at a
rate at least 80 percent as good as the highest group. That
incentivizes employers to lower standards.

Sure enough, the white passing rate to 97
percent, the Hispanic rate to 93 percent, and the black rate
to 85 percent. (Hey, EEOC, 85 percent divided by 97 percent
is over
) Yet the racial gaps in standard deviations
were only a little narrower (white-black 0.85 and
white-Hispanic 0.45).

Obviously, a test that only three percent
of whites flunked is not a very hard test. Still, the good
news about the FDNY was that it continued to hire in rank
order, so that it got the cream of the crop. In contrast,
Chicago, in its efforts to avoid being charged with
Disparate Impact, has made the

fireman`s hiring test so easy
96 percent of whites pass
; and then hiring is done by
lottery. (Or, as cynics have suggested, hiring might be done
in order of the applicant`s number of dead relatives who

voted for Mayor Daley in the last election

Disparate Impact theory is a cover story for corruption,
incompetence, and innocent people burning to death.

wonder the Bush Administration was for it.

wonder there`s not a

McCain Administration

President Obama`s press conference should have stimulated
the Republicans into waking up to a winning issue.

judging by their history with the FDNY, they`ll likely blow
it again.

[Steve Sailer (email
him) is

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The American Conservative

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