U-M and across nation, this group takes aim at civil rights
BY TREVOR W. COLEMAN
What do William Shockley,
Arthur Jensen, Michael Levin and Linda
Gottfredson, academics who have espoused theories of race-based
inferiority, have in common with the Center for Individual Rights,
the conservative Washington, D.C., law firm that is suing to dismantle
the University of Michigan's affirmative-action policies?
The Pioneer Fund,
a notoriously racist and blatantly white-supremacist organization
that over the course of its 61-year history has been a leading
underwriter of research that purports to show the genetic inferiority
has accepted two grants from the fund, totaling $35,000, although
CIR executive director Michael Greve said Friday: "I do not agree
with their views nor does anyone else at CIR. Our acceptance of
their funds does not by any stretch of the imagination constitute
an endorsement of their views."
the Pioneer money, CIR joins the likes of Shockley and Jensen,
whose books published in the 1960s and 1970s raised questions
about the inherent intelligence of black Americans.
intellectual heirs are Pioneer beneficiaries Levin, a professor
of philosophy at the City University of New York, and Gottfredson,
a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware.
They have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pioneer
Fund to support their research into the intellectual inferiority
of black Americans. Both also are clients of the CIR.
Pioneer Fund and CIR have both been monitored for years by Dr.
Barry Mehler, an associate professor of history and director of
the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State
University in Big Rapids.
said that a close look at CIR and the type of "civil rights" cases
it pursues, and, most important, its link to the Pioneer Fund,
reveals a disturbing agenda.
very clear from the kind of cases they choose and issues they
address, that this is not an organization that is interested in
fighting for individual rights," he said. "The Center for Individual
Rights is fighting for the rights of certain individuals, i.e.
whites. The result of their civil rights work is that minorities
are denied opportunities."
of CIR's earliest legal battles was on behalf of Gottfredson,
a University of Delaware researcher who said that blacks were
intellectually inferior to whites and have diminished capabilities
in work and educational settings. The university rejected a $174,000
Pioneer grant toward her work, citing the fund's racist history.
Gottfredson sued, claiming she was a victim of political correctness,
and the school eventually backed down to avoid a protracted legal
also has represented Levin, the New York professor with a $120,000
Pioneer grant who has called for the repeal of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and all subsequent civil rights and anti-discrimination
laws, and a separate subway system for black males.
1993 case, CIR successfully argued that civil rights groups lacked
standing to use testers posing as job applicants to ferret out
reported discrimination at an employment firm. Later, the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld the use of testers.
CIR presents itself as a civil liberties or civil rights group
with this declaration of civil rights objectives: "CIR advocates
a limited application of civil rights laws that would preserve
private citizens'right to deal or not to deal with other private
legal scholars, this position is a throwback to 19th Century law,
when "separate but equal" was considered legal in this country.
CIR's most prominent case to date was a successful 1996 challenge
to affirmative-action admissions at the University of Texas Law
School, which resulted in a 50-percent drop in black and Hispanic
enrollment at the school.
that victory, the CIR went on to litigate successfully the challenge
to California's anti-affirmative-action Proposition 209, then
sued the University of Washington Law School over affirmative
action before taking on the University of Michigan.
cases cut across ideological lines," said CIR senior counsel Terry
Pell. "I don't think you can read a pattern into our free speech
cases. It's very difficult to connect our free speech cases with
our affirmative-action cases."
sure, CIR has a right to take on any clients or causes it sees
fit, and to accept money from whatever wallet is offering it.
It is also fair, however, to point out that the money comes from
an organization that openly avows racist policies and promotes
the most cursory review of CIR's "civil rights" cases indicate
a sophisticated strategy to oppose the enforcement of civil rights
regulations and oversight accountability.
they are doing is not challenging the laws so much as the enforcement
of those laws.
support of free speech for eugenicists, opposition to strong anti-discrimination
laws, suits against universities and acceptance of money from
an organization so racist that the Anti-Defamation League has
put out a warning on it, is fully consistent with its role as
the legal arm of a radical conservative effort to gut the civil
rid of affirmative-action policies at the University of Michigan
and elsewhere is only a first step in what promises to be a long
and bitter campaign -- with CIR at the forefront -- to turn back
the clock on decades of progress.
W. Coleman is a Free Press editorial writer. You can write him
at the Detroit Free Press, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit, Mich. 48226,
or via E-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coleman, Trevor W. "At U-M and across nation, this group takes aim at civil rights." Detroit Free Press. 29 Aug 1998 For fee$ http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=keyword&s_search_type=keyword&p_product=FP&p_theme=gannett&s_site=freep