11th January 2014
John Derbyshire, Patron Saint of Dyspepsia, in his weekly radio broadcast, turns over a rock.
Race news of the week: Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered American schoolteachers to practice racial profiling.
No kidding. The issue here is discipline in schools. Holder’s Justice Department, jointly with the federal Department of Education, carried out an investigation. Although black students made up 15 percent of students they investigated, they made up over a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.
Nothing very surprising there, if you have a realistic attitude towards race. Blacks commit far more crime than whites: seven times the per capita homicide rate, over thirty times the rate for some types of robbery. Black populations everywhere have high levels of crime and social dysfunction. In the Caribbean nation of Barbados, where Holder’s people come from, the homicide rate is ten per hundred thousand, more than twice the American rate — and Barbados is one of the more orderly black nations.
Behavior issues from personality, and all the dimensions of personality are heritable at around the fifty percent level, suggesting they are under genetic control. So population genetics is probably in play here.
Holder of course is having none of that. It’s not that he denies high levels of black misbehavior: he says it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the numbers for suspensions and other disciplinary measures come out equal.
Here is the relevant passage from the “Dear Colleague” letter sent out by the Justice and Education Departments January 8th. It’s on page 11 of the letter. Quote:
Schools also violate Federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.
End quote. Got that? You have a, quote, “facially neutral policy.” You implement it, quote, “evenhandedly.” You have no, quote, “intent to discriminate.” Yet if the numbers still come out wrong, you’ve broken the law! The instruction here is plain: You have to stop implementing that program evenhandedly. You have to practice racial profiling to make the numbers come out right.
You will recognize here the poisonous doctrine of Disparate Impact. If you give a written exam to a mixed-race group of firefighter applicants, and seventy percent of the whites pass the exam but only thirty percent of the blacks do, you have broken a law.
Same thing here. To stay out of trouble with the feds, schools must either go easy on misbehaving blacks or discipline more non-misbehaving whites and Asians. Gotta get the numbers right.
This is federal government policy in the present age. And while Eric Holder is certainly an exceptionally nasty piece of work, it wasn’t he who cooked up the evil and innumerate Disparate Impact doctrine. It’s been with us in one form or another for forty years, and been upheld by innumerable jurists. And one of the highest-profile uses of Disparate Impact against municipal firefighter exams was initiated by Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush’s Attorney General.
It’s a systemic problem, rooted in some simple logic. The logic is: We can’t face the realities of intractable race differences, so we must profile to get the numbers right. All Eric Holder has done is spell it out in print.