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Review of Anthony S. Chen. The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972.  Princeton University Press, 2009. xxxii + 424 pp. $25.95.  Numbers in parentheses refer to pages in this book unless otherwise noted.

Chen writes what the academy wants to read. He wins academic prizes for his book.  The academic elite support affirma-tive action.  Why question it?  Yet to those like myself, Chen’s book is an example of the condescension of the elite and their spokespersons, an example of its igno-rance of and hostility toward poor and middle-class whites.  Moreover, his book is also an example of unquestioned but questionable presuppositions, combined with a trivialization of research. 

I provided the title of this previously untitled review.

Anthony Flood

April 16, 2011


Some Are More Equal Than Others: A Review of Anthony Chen's The Fifth Freedom

Hugh Murray


The long war on whites continues with Professor Chen’s award-winning work.  Several years ago, he and I skirmished in the pages of the Journal of American History (September 2006, 1006-1007).  Now, reviewing his new book, I stress how Chen’s ideology distorts his discussion of civil rights and employment.

Chen asserts that “few pieces of legislation enjoy more widespread approval than the Civil Rights Act [CRA] of 1964.” (173)  Yet, he understands that employment was not the issue that propelled the nation to enact the law.  Civil rights had not been one of President Kennedy’s urgent priorities.  As pressure mounted in the early 1960s with the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides, however, President Kennedy was pushed to move on the issue.  On 28 February 1963 in his special message to Congress on civil rights, Kennedy stressed that the American Constitution is color blind. 

Nevertheless, neither Kennedy’s speech nor Black demands for more jobs would be the catalyst that would hurl civil rights legislation onto the Con-gressional agenda.  It was Birmingham, where television exposed police who blasted young Black protestors with fire hoses and terrorized others with fang-baring dogs.  And it was Birmingham where four young girls were bombed inside a church.  It was Birmingham that propelled most Americans to accept the need for a civil rights law. (180)

To promote that law, a massive march on Washington was mobilized for 28 August 1963, at which Martin Luther King’s speech struck the chord that rang the freedom bell.  That day it mesmerized many Americans; today, it’s memorized by many throughout the world.  It is the only speech one recalls from that event: the speech in which King dreamt that Blacks will “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This very spirit would be crystallized into the CRA of 1964.  The proposed law encountered unrelenting opposition from Southern Democrats, some 22 members of the Senate.  Most of the northern Democrats supported the bill, but could not muster 67 votes to end a filibuster.  So, Republican coopera-tion was essential for passage.  While a few, like Arizona’s Barry Goldwater, opposed it, most Republicans were willing to be swayed, if they were certain of the nature of the bill to be passed.

When Congress debated the proposed civil rights legislation, there were ominous trends.  In late 1963 Pitney-Bowes, a major manufacturer of postage equipment, announced it would give Negroes preferences in hiring. (Hugh Davis, The Civil Rights Era, 116)  Other major corporations were quietly hiring Blacks by quotas and providing them preferential treatment. (Davis, 105)  Moreover, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Training issued new guidelines that appeared to grant favoritism to Blacks and quotas in recruiting. (Davis, 114-15)

When the proposed civil rights act was before Congress, preferential hiring and quotas were clearly part of the debate.  Was the proposed civil rights act to become a quota law?  Opponents, mainly Democrats like Senator Sam Ervin (NC), contended that the law would inevitably result in quotas and preferences for Blacks.  Not so, assured the liberals.  A leading supporter of the legislation, Democrat Senator Hubert Humphrey (MN), responded to such fears by clarifying:

there is nothing in it [the bill] that will give any power to the Commission [EEOC] or to  any court to require hiring, firing, or promotion of employees in order to meet a racial “quota” or to achieve a racial balance. . . . In fact the very opposite is true. . . . Title VII is designed to encourage hiring on the basis of ability and qualifications, not race and religion. [Davis, 150]

(Interestingly, Chen refers to Humphrey’s explicit denial that “the law would require racial quotas or racial balancing” (88), but acknowledges this not when discussing the CRA of 1964, but when explicating the 1944-45 debate over New York State’s Fair Employment Policy law!  I suggest there is a reason for this “disconnect.”)

Furthermore, the floor managers in the Senate for Title VII [the employment section of the proposed law], Democrat Senator Joseph Clark (PA) and Republican Senator Clifford Case (NJ) issued a joint memorandum to answer opponents of the new law who complained that discrimination was not even defined. 

To discriminate means to make a distinction, to make a difference in treatment or favor . . . which is based on any five of the criteria: race, color, religion, sex, and national origin . . . . There is no requirement in title VII that an employer maintain a racial balance in his work force.  On the contrary, any deliberate attempt to maintain a racial balance would involve a violation of title VII because maintaining such a balance would require an employer to hire or refuse to hire on the basis of race.  It must be emphasized that discrimination is prohibited to any individual. (Davis, 150-51)

Another event would affect the debate in Congress. In the fall of 1963, a Black, high school dropout sought a job at Motorola.  Like all applicants, he was given a general ability test. He failed it.  He then complained to the Illinois Fair Employment Practice Commission alleging he was not hired because of his race.  The Illinois state commission appointed a Black to hear the case, and in January 1964 that examiner ruled that the test was unfair to culturally deprived groups and issued a cease and desist order.  Motorola was ordered to stop testing to hire the best qualified applicants. 

To many Americans, requiring companies to hire people who could not pass basic tests seemed unfair and a threat to merit hiring and an efficient work force.  Because of this threat, the proposed civil rights legislation was amended in Congress, as the Clark-Case memorandum explained:

There is nothing in Title VII that employers abandon bona fide qualification tests where, because of differences in background and education, members of some groups are able to perform better on these tests than members of other groups. (Davis, 151)

Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, Republican leader also had the legislation amended so that only intentional discrimination was barred.  In June 1964 the Senate voted 71-29 to end the filibuster against the legislation, and passed the bill 73-27.

This is the law that America wanted, Congress passed, and President Johnson signed in July 1964.  Indeed, I would contend that this is still what most Americans understand as the meaning of civil rights in general, and of fair employment practices in particular.

But how did a law meant to insure non-discri-mination, merit hiring, maintenance of testing, a law that forbade quotas and racial balance, come to mean the opposite?  How could the CRA be used to enforce quotas (using euphemisms of “goals and timetables” or more recently “diversity”)?  How could the law be used to forbid aptitude testing when some groups do poorly?  How could it be used to prevent an employer from inquiring of a prospective employee about high school grades, or high school diplomas, or criminal records (as such queries would certainly affect groups differently)? 

Today, in the name of equal opportunity, whites with far better records are rejected and Blacks, or later Browns, with far worse records are hired and promoted.  How could it be that a Chair of the Civil Rights Commission some years later would declare that civil rights laws did not apply to white people?  How could it be that the EEOC would be a major springboard for the attack on equal opportunity for all: the end of non-discrimination; the end of merit hiring and promotion; and the general decline of the American work force?  All this in the name of equal opportunity!  As Orwell might reply to those questions: all are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Over the next few years it became clear that liberals had pulled a classic con-job on the American people: bait and switch.  Enact a law to insure the civil rights of all Americans, non-discrimination, merit hiring, no racial balance, no quotas, and then use that very law as a basis to implement the opposite.  Unfortunately, one will find little information as to how this reversal of civil rights policy occurred in Chen’s Fifth Freedom.

And whom does Anthony Chen blame for this perversion of the civil rights laws?  Why it is the fault of the conservatives! (xiii, 22, 23, 26, 231, 233, 238)  They opposed the Fair Employment Practices (FEP) legislation on the state and national levels.  Conse-quently, they got affirmative action (AA) and “racially attentive” programs instead!  Notice, Chen prefers to use a politically correct phrase rather than “race preference” programs, or the more accurate, “anti-white-male discrimination programs.”  Before answering Chen’s thesis, I shall discuss some of his other points.

Beginning with the proposals for Fair Employment legislation in the 1940s, Chen makes a good argument that, outside the South, it was Republicans who usually opposed such laws.  Of course, the South in 1945 was overwhelmingly Democratic, legally segregated, and vigorously opposed to FEP laws.  However, outside Dixie, the Democrats usually received the northern Black vote and began to urge this type of legislation.  Furthermore, it would affect not only Blacks, but Jews, Italians, and some of the more recent immigrant Catholics, all of whom tended to vote Democrat.  Some labor unions, especially the CIO’s left-wing, also advocated FEP laws.  On the national scene, passing such a law through Congress where a 2/3s vote was necessary to end a Southern filibuster, derailed proposals for FEPC in 1945 and again in 1949.  Even after Truman’s surprise victory over Dewey in 1948, the victorious Democrats in 1949 could not overcome their Southern wing to pass FEPC.

Outside the South, on the state level there were no elected Southern Democrats.  So why did not the other states enact FEPC?  A few did so quickly.  The first major debate occurred in 1944-45 in New York.  Liberals gathered a multiracial, multi-religious coalition to support the proposed bill.  There had been a riot in Harlem in 1943, and in 1944 the New York legislature deliberated an FEP law.  Republicans held a 2/3s majority in both houses of the State House in Albany.  While liberals expected little opposition to the FEP proposal, upstate Representa-tive Frederic Bontecou organized others to halt passage of the bill.  (Prof. Chen calls him the “ringleader” of the opposition (88).  Would he refer to Sen. Hubert Humphrey as a “ringleader of those supporting civil rights legislation?) 

Chen notes even in this early debate that opponents maintained passage would lead to the end of free markets, the end of merit hiring, displacing merit with racial balancing and quotas (88) blackmail, hiring of undesirables, and intensified racial conflict. (100)  Opponents of the proposed New York law also alleged that it would create a commission that would search for discrimination where there was none, and then rule against the employer to justify the very existence of the commission. (102)  In short, many saw nothing “fair” about the so-called Fair Employment Practices (FEP) legislation.

While Chen notes that one of the Republican opponents was Frederic René Coudert Jr., he fails to add that Representative Coudert, along with State Assemblyman Hubert Rapp, had led the government’s effort to purge Communists from teaching in the state in wake of the 1939 pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  That pact, in effect, made allies of the two powerful dictatorships.  Because Communists had often taken the lead in anti-racist movements, it was natural that staunch anti-communists would be suspicious of the FEP proposal.

One of the highlights in the New York debate occurred when Representative Frederic H. Bontecou read to the House a letter from Park Commissioner Robert Moses opposing the FEP bill.  Moses asserted that if FEP passed, the logic of proportionalism in the workplace would result in quotas.  His letter then recounted the oppression that Jews had experienced in Europe from medieval times to the 20th century because of quotas.  Indeed, a right-wing newspaper columnist summarized Moses’ argument against FEP with the phrase, the “Hitlerian rule of quotas.” (110)  Chen simply dismisses this objection when he writes: “It did not matter to Moses that Ives-Quinn [the New York FEP bill] mandated non-discrimination.” (108)  Professor Chen might be reminded that the wording of the 1964 CRA explicitly forbade quotas and implicitly forbade racial balancing, but after passage, the US was burdened with both. 

Moreover, Chen seems oblivious as to why Moses would invoke the fear of quotas.  As this debate was occurring, Europe was still ablaze with bombs, tanks, and concentration camps. In the 1930s in Europe the rising demand for quotas were often the first step in efforts to deny Jews equal opportunity, steps that led to further discrimination, incarceration, and even-tually extermination. (See my “AA and the Nazis”)

Furthermore, such quotas had restricted opportunities for Jews not only in Europe, but in elite American universities as well. (See Steven Farron’s, The AA Hoax, 2005; and Jerome Karabel’s The Chosen, 2005)  Chen does report that in 1945 controversy erupted because of racial and religious quotas proposed by the American Dental Association to increase the percentage of gentiles in the profession. (109)  Thus, for Chen to hand-wave concerns about quotas with “[the FEB bill] mandated non-discrimination” is to ignore that similar proposals had been and would be the first wave that culminated in tsunamis and floods of quotas, racial balance, and discrimination.

Chen’s bias is again evident when he writes of the debate in New York:

What the wartime confrontation over FEP reveals, however, is that there was nothing easy or straightforward about extending civil right to all Americans, even in the liberal, urban North” (89, my emphasis) 

Again, I remind Chen that Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the Civil Rights Commission, declared that “Civil rights laws were not passed to protect the rights of white men and do not apply to them." You would think Chen would want to take pains to distinguish his point of view from that of the Berrys of this world.

After the opposition to FEP swelled in New York, the counter attack began.  Liberals mobilized Blacks, Jews, liberal Protestants, Catholics ethnics, left-wing labor unions.  Nevertheless, two-thirds of the State House was Republican, many of them elected in districts impervious to the voters mobilized under the FEP umbrella.  Yet, undermining the Bontecou, Coudert, Moses position was the governor himself.  Republican Governor Thomas Dewey fully supported the FEP legislation, endorsing it (89) trying to “tamp down the unrest in his party, publicly throwing his full weight behind the bill.” (105)  New York thus became the first state to pass an FEP law.  When he ran for President in 1948, however, Republican Dewey lost the Black vote to President Truman by 2 to 1.  In 1948 the NAACP clarified its “non-partisan” position when Democratic President addressed its cheering con-vention.  To emphasize, the NAACP fired one of its founders, W. E. B. Du Bois, because he refused to support Truman and openly endorsed Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party.  With the purge of dissidents from the NAACP in 1948, the organization was fast becoming a Democratic Party front-group.

FEP was rarely placed on the ballot for a popular vote, but liberals in California felt confident enough to do so in 1946.  In the Senate election that year, Democrat Will Rogers, Jr. faced Republican William Knowland.  The off-year election was not a good one for Democrats, and Knowland won.  However, only half the Rogers electorate voted for FEPC (and half against), while Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it.  Overall, the FEP measure lost by a thumping 70% to 30%.  FEP legislation was not popular.  Chen inserts the liberals’ excuse: their opponents had used vicious propaganda.  One prominent Republican had linked the legislation to Communism. 

Of course, the Communists did support it.  Indeed, Communists had been among the staunchest proponents of civil rights programs in the 1930s.  Though Chen does not mention it, there had even been a Communist-led March on Washington of some 3,000 in May 1933 demanding, among other things, equal rights for jobs.  However, because Chen generally begins his book with the introduction of FEP activities in the 1940s, this oversight is under-standable.  But the link between Communists and integration was clear throughout the 1930s, and in the South, into the 1940s with the development of the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC, collo-quially pronounced “snick,” a precursor of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee or SNCC, founded in 1960), as well as the Civil Rights Congress, the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, and of course the Progressive Party campaign of 1948. 

The Henry Wallace Progressive Party efforts against the Democrat Truman and Dixiecrat, Strom Thurmond, was a 1940s civil rights campaign, in which even the Progressive’s VP candidate, Idaho Senator Glen Taylor was arrested in Birmingham by Bull Connor’s police for entering the wrong segregated entrance to address a gathering of SNYC.  The links among the Progressives, Communists, subversion, integration were deemed so close that in the 1940s and ‘50s, when Truman was firing Communists from government, one test used by the FBI to determine if someone were a security risk was to investigate if they had friends of a different race.

So when FEP was on the ballot in 1946, and Republican Representative Jack Tenney broadcast to the state that FEP was linked to Communist totalitarianism, it was not a far-fetched allegation.  Liberal Democrat Helen G. Douglass blamed the loss of the FEP referendum on such “vicious” propaganda.(162-63)  She would have a greater opportunity to counter the charge in 1950 when she herself ran for the Senate against a young Republican Con-gressman, Richard Nixon.  The pro-FEP lady lost to Nixon (168) decisively, 59 to 41%.  California would not enact FEP legislation until 1959 (118), but this time it lacked many enforcement powers, and was not placed on the ballot for a popular vote.  (In 1996 AA was placed on the California ballot, to the dismay of the elites in both major parties.  The proposition banning AA passed 54.5% to 45.5%.  However liberal judges and university bureaucrats were fast at work to defy the people’s will by reinstituting racial preferences behind closed doors.)

Much of Chen’s book is devoted to the states that debated FEP legislation from 1945 until passage of the national CRA of 1964.  Because the issues were much the same in each state, Chen’s chapters become repetitious and tedious.  Worse, though he includes many charts and tables (some almost incomprehensible), he fails to include one that would have greatly simplified matters: a map of the US indicating (1) states that did not enact FEP law, (2) states that passed FEP laws that were more voluntary and educational, and (3) states that passed FEP legislation that included enforcement through cease-and-desist provisions.  He could also have included the years each state passed such laws within the states’ boundaries on the map.

What are some of the major points in Chen’s book?  The Democrats failed to pass FEP nationally because of the high hurdle of getting 67 Senators to vote to end a filibuster of the Southern Democrats. Because of the difficulties on the national level, liberals hoped to pass FEP laws in the states.  Once many states had done so, proving the effectiveness of the legislation, liberals hoped that would enhance chances of passing a national FEP.

Outside the South, the Republicans were often opposed to FEP laws.  Exceptions might be those who sought state-wide or national office, but most of the Republican state assemblymen were elected from rural districts with few Blacks, Jews, or even Catholic ethnics.  The voters of those districts often distrusted FEP proposals. If Republicans controlled the state government, FEP was less likely to pass. [An exceptions: New York.)  Even if the Democrats con-trolled the governor and one state representative body, FEP laws might still be defeated or delayed.  Chen describes “veto points,” in one of the assem-blies, or in committee, or reconciliation committees, wherein Republican opponents might derail or delay such laws.  If pressure for FEP grew sufficient, then to prevent passage, Republicans might propose an alternative measure that would call for voluntary compliance, rather than the mandatory “cease and desist” orders written into the Democratic proposals.

Chen’s view is summarized when he writes: would the states be laboratories of democracy (by passing FEP) “or would they instead serve as steam valves of reform or incubators of reaction?  The fate of the campaign for the fifth freedom hung in the balance.”(114) Nevertheless, by 1964, 27 states had enacted some form of FEB legislation, though five of the most populous states had chosen the non-enforceable type. (117)

Because the GOP was less supportive of FEP and civil rights legislation, Chen sees no great discontinuity in the party when it nominated Senator Barry Goldwater for President in 1964.  Goldwater had voted against the CRA earlier that year, but Chen makes a sound argument that many northern Republicans were less enthusiastic about such legislation anyway. (150)  Nevertheless, in Congress in 1964, Goldwater was in the minority of his own party, for a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act—although to discern this fact in Chen’s book, one might have to spend much time analyzing his charts.

Chen also stresses the opposition of the business community to FEP.  Businesses generally opposed any additional governmental regulations and consequently opposed FEP.  Because it would be bad for an individual firm to “stick its neck out,” so to speak, by leading opposition to FEP (for that would make it a likely target of boycott), the business community usually presented its view through the many Chambers of Commerce.  Such Chambers often had sufficient clout to defeat or delay FEP in many states. (Chen, 74, 100, 133)

By the time of the 1948 election, only four states had passed FEP: New York, New Jersey, Massa-chusetts, and Connecticut. Each of these states had Republican Governors.  Not one state with a Demo-crat had enacted FEP by 1948.  Nevertheless, the 1948 Republican ticket of New York Governor Tom Dewey and California Governor Earl Warren received far less of the Black vote in the North than did Missouri Democrat Harry Truman and Kentuckian Alben Barkley. 

(On the ‘net I could only find guestimates of the Black vote nationally for 1948, and that was restricted to the two major parties.  However, in some Black wards, the Henry Wallace Progressives garnered up to 15% of the vote.  Of the two parties, Truman received 67-70%, Dewey 30-33%.  I suspect that this was not true in the South, where the Democrats openly championed segregation.  Fewer people—white or Black—voted in the South.  If I am not mistaken, the Republicans won the Black vote in most Southern areas in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1960.  It is worth noting that until late in the campaign of 1960, the father of Martin Luther King, Jr., had endorsed Republican Nixon over Democrat Kennedy.  Only when a Kennedy telephoned Coretta King about her jailed husband, did the elder King lead his congregation to the Democratic fold.  Yet, the small Black vote in the South was not decisive.)   

FEP had been placed on the ballot in California in 1946, and decisively defeated.  While Chen is skeptical of the motives of the Republicans who supported FEP (they were interested in seeking state-wide or national office and needed possible Black voters), he fails to impugn the motives of Democrats.  So in 1948 Truman bested Dewey and Wallace in Black precincts throughout the North.

Incidentally, what were some of Truman’s views on race?  After Truman had served his terms as President, and no longer sought Black votes, he continued to speak out.  Author Merle Miller interviewed Truman for a biography and was surprised how the elder statesman usually referred to Blacks as n*****s. (Miller, Plain Speaking, 183)  When sit-ins at lunch-counters began, Truman asserted in March 1960, “If anybody came to my store and tried to stop business, I’d throw him out.” (New York Times, 25 March 1960) Truman also opposed the Freedom Rides and the 1963 March on Washington. (New York Times, 4 June 1961, 24 August 1963)   And his views on the Reverend Martin Luther King were hardly politically correct, as they included referring to King as a “troublemaker,” “rabble-rouser,” and “damn fool.” (New York Times, 13 April 1965, 14 April 1965, ibid.)

Chen’s discussion of Republicans and civil rights, as with so much else in this volume, is distorted.  Some believed that FEP laws would result in quotas, racial balance, and discrimination against whites.  The CRA of 1964, with all the assurances that words could muster to the contrary, did lead to quotas, racial balance, and discrimination against whites.

Yet, Republicans were often as guilty—if not more so—of initiating the anti-white policies.  For example, the Philadelphia Plan—with its quotas camouflaged by the phrase “goals and timetables”—in the final year of the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  With the defeat of Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968, the Philadelphia quota plan was scrapped.  But not for long.  Newly elected Republican President Richard Nixon revived the Philadelphia Plan, and then extended the quota policy throughout the entire government in its contracts and employment. (Department of Labor, 970, Revised Order #4 [221])  Nixon also broadened the quota program to include women and other minorities. (Davis, 409)

Even earlier, one might consider how Republican President Eisenhower handled the school crisis in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Ike sent in troops to prevent violence and maintain order.  Contrast his action with Democratic President Kennedy’s.  When James Meredith appeared for classes at Ole Miss, there were behind-the-scenes negotiations between Kennedy’s office and that of the Democrat Governor of Mississippi Ross Barnett.  Force was delayed.  The result was rioting, for only too late did Kennedy send troops.  There were two deaths and over 200 injured.

Much of the Executive branch’s use of quotas and racial balance hinges on Executive Order #10925 issued by President Kennedy.  When Republican President Reagan was elected in 1980, some requested that he rescind that Executive Order, and thereby halt AA with its anti-white preferences. He did not. Moreover, under President Reagan, civil service examinations were administered to job applicants, but their scores were “race normed,” in effect hiding the true scores and revealing only the “normed” results, thereby providing a huge advantage in scoring to Blacks and Hispanics. 

President George Herbert Walker Bush cam-paigned for the Presidency on the slogan: “Read my lips—no new taxes.”  He also vetoed a new civil rights bill, which he rightly deemed a quota bill.  Later in his term, he raised taxes and signed the CRA of 1991 (the quota bill).  Bush was deservedly defeated in the election of 1992.  In addition it should be stressed, there would be no AA had not Republican Presidents nominated to the Supreme Court Justices like Earl Warren, William Brennan, Warren Burger, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, et al.  Their votes were crucial for developing and maintaining race preferences, quotas, AA and other programs that denied equal rights to whites.

Many Republican voters were more conservative on racial issues than many Northern Democrats in the 1930s and beyond (though the reverse was probably true in the South until the 1970s.  (I recall a 1964 full-page ad in a New Orleans newspaper urging voters to remember that Lyndon Johnson is a Southerner who understands “our way of life,” whereas Goldwater’s Arizona had an FEP law, and the best way to keep segregation was to vote for LBJ).  The Republican voters may have been more conservative on racial issues, but the Republican elite, may have been just as or even more liberal than the Democrats.

Overlapping with Republicans as a source of opposition to FEP, Chen stresses the role of business.  I shall use the spotlight in reverse.  When AA reached the US Supreme Court in 2003 in a major case concerning admission policies at a Michigan university, there were numerous friends-of-the-court briefs filed by a roster of major American corporations: Pepsi, Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, General Motors, etc., all in support of AA.  Joining them was a brief submitted by major military officials.  It was clear that the military-industrial complex supported AA.  When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the majority opinion upholding AA, the “academedia complex” applauded.  Yet, Prof. Chen is so far to the Left, that he views O’Connor as part of the conservative anti-AA nucleus on the Supreme Court! (251)

Chen recognizes that by the time of passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1972, business was in support of the package of racial and gender preferences that is AA.  Businesses may have continued to oppose granting cease-and-desist powers to the EEOC, but accepted the idea of racial balance and racial preference to achieve it, either through negotiations or under court order. (195-201)

I would suggest that large corporations were either implementing quotas or moving in that direction by the early 1960s.  Note my quotes from Davis earlier in this review, and Chen also writes how large corporations were pledging to implement racial preferences even before passage of the Civil Rights Act.  Global business may well have quietly endorsed and begun hiring and promoting minorities using preferences at the same time smaller companies continued to oppose FEB, quotas, and preferences.  The interests of large corporations may have diverged from that of small businesses on this crucial issue.  Indeed, corporate America could more easily afford to hire some illiterates, junkies, and violent bullies, than could a small enterprise. And if labor relations grew so tense because of the lower quality of workers in America, global corporations could more easily move their factories to third-world countries.  The small business person was stuck here and stuck with the problems created by AA.

And unions?  In New York in 1944-45, the Railroad Brotherhoods were among the major opponents of FEP. (101)  But the Progressive, left-wing unions supported FEP.  So did major labor leaders like A. Philip Randolph of the Black Sleeping Car Workers, and Walter Reuther of the Auto Workers.  By the time of Brian Weber, the corporation and the union colluded to deny the poor white worker the same rights as a Black.

Brian Weber began work at Kaiser Aluminum in 1968 and several years later applied for an on-the-job skilled training program.  He did not get it.  He discovered that Blacks with less seniority than he had won the posts.  The corporation and his union had made a “voluntary” agreement whereby to achieve a racial balance they would promote Blacks until they held 39% of the skilled positions, to reflect the 39% of Blacks in the workforce in that Louisiana community.  Until that time, half of the enrollees of the craft training would have to be Black. The agreement was “voluntarily,” but Kaiser was aware if it did not have a quota like policy, it would be sued by the federal government for discrimination!  It was voluntary as a shot-gun wedding.

A poor white worker has little to rely upon except his seniority, and when Blacks with lesser seniority received the posts, Weber believed he was discriminated against.  He read the CRA of 1964, and decided to act.  In the lower courts, Weber was successful in proving discrimination.  But in 1979 in the US Supreme Court, Justice Brennan ignored the wording of the law and the history of the debate over the law to present his interpretation of what the law should have said.  Brennan wrote for the majority on the high court.  The result, because of a law that banned quotas, quotas were declared legal.  One might conclude that the real problem occurred when Mr. Weber read the law as written.  Perhaps, in future, poor whites should not be encouraged to read.  And with public school quality declining due to diversity, poor whites in future may well lack the ability to do so.

In this suit, worker Weber had sued, not the federal government, but his union, the United Steelworkers of America.  The union, like Kaiser Aluminum, was hoping to avoid a discrimination suit filed by the federal government on behalf of Blacks.  So the union made an agreement with Kaiser to discriminate against its white members.  In the case of Dredd Scott, Chief Justice Taney ruled in 1857 that Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  With the Weber case, the US Supreme Court in 1979 affirmed that white workers have no rights which the liberal elite was bound to respect.

The alliance of the unions with the Democratic Party has been detrimental to the white workers in many ways.  It became most evident in the 1990s when Tyson Foods, Inc., according to the Wikipedia article on Tyson:

was charged with conspiracy to smuggle undo-cumented workers to work on its production lines. Tyson plant managers arranged for de-livery of illegal workers with undercover im-migration officials. Prosecutors alleged that the conspiracy to import workers dates back to 1994 when plant managers began to find it difficult to fill positions with legal workers. Of the six managers who were indicted, two ac-cepted plea bargain deals, and one committed suicide one month after being charged. In March 2003, a federal jury acquitted Tyson of having knowingly hired illegal immigrants. In May 2006, Tyson suspended operations at nine plants during a nationwide day of immigration demonstrations citing expected lack of workers. In October 2006, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by Tyson employees who allege that Tyson's practice of hiring illegal immigrants depresses wages 10–30%. The suit further contends that the com-pany violated federal racketeering laws by con-spiring with National Council of La Raza and League of United Latin American Countries not to question the employment applications of anyone with a Hispanic surname.

When news of the scandal rose, the unions did not demand deportation of the illegals, and their replace-ment by American workers.  Instead, the unions simply sought to unionize the illegals!  It was not the union, but individual workers who sued Tyson and also Mohawk Corporation for doing the same as Tyson.  As the Wiki article notes, the workers alleged that the importation of illegals had depressed wages by 10 to 30%.  Big unions, like big business, are thinking more about their global stakes than about the rights of its workers in America.  Also, unions are strongly allied with the Democratic Party, and will defend race preferences, rather than the rights of all its members.

Though Chen spends many repetitious pages on the debates in various states regarding FEP, he includes little on the history of those state agencies.  He fails to note that the leftward drift of the Illinois FEP would influence the debate on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  He also fails to report any reactions of the FEP commissioners when the national EEOC usurped their state FEP powers (safeguarded by the 1964 law) when the EEOC sent out questionnaires to employers demanding to know the racial composition of their employees.  (This was of course a first step to forcing racial balance, race preference hiring, and quotas. [Davis, 193-94]).  Did any state FEP com-missioner object when the national EEOC seized some of their powers?  And if they did not, does it not indicate that, had there been enacted a national FEP, it would have moved to AA just as did the EEOC?  Simply, as a history of FEP laws, or of the EEOC, or of the development of AA, Chen’s book is defective.

As a discussion of business opposition to FEP, it is interesting.  Yet, here too it fails to sufficiently analyze big business and its romance with quotas, preferences, and racial balance, even prior to the CRA of 1964.  As a discussion of Republicans, Chen’s book includes the jargon and spin-words so endemic to academia to prove his credentials as an anti-Republican.  Yet, he fails to include the role of Republicans in legalizing, expanding, and maintaining AA.  Even more, he omits how leading Republicans, like Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have fought to prevent AA from being subjected to a direct vote by the people.

And it is instructive to relate that in Michigan, home of the famous AA cases appealed to the US Supreme Court wherein AA was upheld in a 5-4 decision in 2003, Ward Connerly succeeded in having AA placed on the ballot.  As Proposition 2, the amendment would follow the wording of the CRA of 1964, guarantee non-discrimination, and forbid racial preferences.  The elite of both parties sought to defeat the measure.  The usual coalition of Black, Hispanic, feminist, and other minority interest groups, along with the liberal religious and ideological enemies of “white male privilege” mobilized for the November 2006 plebiscite.  In an Op-Ed debate for the 2 October 2006 issue of the Detroit Free Press, Chen presented the academic case against Prop. 2 and for continued race-preference programs.

In November 2006 the people of Michigan voted.  The anti-AA Prop. 2 passed, winning in 81 of Michigan’s 83 counties.  It lost only in counties containing Lansing and Detroit.  Prop. 2 passed with 57.9%, while the elite’s opposition garnered but 42.1%.  Most significantly: in the same election incumbent Governor Democrat Jennifer Granholm was re-elected with 56.3% over a Republican who received only 42.3%.  Clearly not all Democrats are fans of the anti-white male discrimination of AA.  And clearly, Chen’s arguments hold greater sway with the academics than with the people.

(It should be stressed that where voters have an opportunity to vote on AA and race preferences, most they usually vote to abolish them.  In California in 1996, AA was defeated with 54.5%; in Washington state in 1998, with 59%; in Michigan in 2006, by 57.9%; in Nebraska in 2008 with 58%; in Arizona in 2010 with 59.5%.  Only in Colorado in 2008, when Obama was also on the ballot, was AA spared by a slim margin of 51% to 49%.  Because AA is so unpopular with the American people, the elite do everything possible to prevent a referendum on this issue.  Republican Jeb Bush of Florida blocked an AA initiative in his state; and in 2008, liberals had it stricken from the Missouri ballot.)

Like immigration AA is a political issue wherein the elite are in opposition to the American people.  The elite, with support of the military-industrial complex, and the “academedia” complex, continue to try to convince Americans that all are equal, but some are more equal than others. Chen’s prize-winning volume, The Fifth Freedom, should be viewed in that light.

If one wants to learn more about the destruction of the “fifth freedom” for white male workers, I suggest they read Hugh Graham Davis’s The Civil Rights Era, or my articles, “White Male Privilege” (in the Journal of Libertarian Studies), “AA and the Elite War against White Males,” and “AA and the Nazis,” available on line.


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Why have I spent so much time reviewing a book I find so deficient in objectivity and shoddy in scholarship?  In part because it is all too typical of the research concerning race produced in the social science departments of America’s universities.  The book is published by Princeton University Press.  It is co-winner of the 2010 Gladys M. Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association (APSA); co-winner of the 2010 H. David Greenstone Award in Politics and History section by the APSA; winner of 2010 Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity and Politics section by the APSA, winner of the 2008 President’s Book Award of the Social Science History Association, Chen received his doctorate from the University of California Berkeley, and has taught the University of Michigan and Northwestern University in Chicago.  For three years he was supported by a fellowship from a Soros foundation.  Chen is a rising star, repre-sentative of the academic elite.  He coats a veneer of scholarship onto leftist notions of fair employment to bolster policies aimed at discriminating against poor and middle-class whites.

One of the intriguing assertions in this volume is that conservatives are responsible for AA.  This appears to be against common sense.  I find it so unlikely as almost to be absurd.  Had there been no conservative opposition to FEP legislation, and a national FEP board similar to that of the National Labor Relations Board been established, with cease and desist powers, Chen argues that it would have imposed non-discriminatory policies. 

That may have been the case in 1949, but would it have been the case by 1969?   Even in the early 1960s, the NAACP’s Herbert Hill was promoting racial balance in the work force, not non-discrimination, because non-discrimination often meant that whites got the better jobs.  These liberals wanted pre-ferences for Blacks.  They wanted to end testing.  They wanted quotas.  The process was beginning under FEP.  This was the importance of the Motorola case before the Illinois FEP.  Indeed , the FEP under-mining of a non-discriminatory practice (testing) thrust the issue before the nation, and the Congress included amendments to guaranty the continuance of tests where the unqualified would be rejected—even if the proportion of Black rejectees was high. 

On objective tests, on objective credentials, on criminal background checks, Blacks, as a group, were far less qualified than their white competitors.  Non-discrimination meant white men got the jobs.  This is not the outcome promised by the Left and desired by the elite. The Left, and the elite, then sought to destroy objective approaches, destroy merit in hiring, and replace it by enforcing racial balance through quotas.  Along with this, they would lower standards so much to refute any charge that they were hiring unqualified minorities.  By making exams so simple that almost anyone could pass them, they could maintain that they were hiring only qualified applicants.  Yet they were hiding that they were hiring less qualified, and often much less qualified applicants, than the white men whom they were NOT hiring because they were white men. 

So “fair employment practices” hiring would have meant the same as “equal employment” hiring—hide the fact that one was hiring lesser qualified applicants because of their race, and denying employment to better qualified poor and middle-class white men.  This is what liberals call “fair” and “equal.”  To think that any FEP regulations about non-discrimination would stop the liberals determined march to deprive white men of equal rights is foolish.  The CRA of 1964 also guaranteed non-discrimination. What was that guarantee worth?

With all the safeguards in the CRA of 1964 to prevent race preferences, the EEOC—established to enforce that law—became a center of the conspiracy to subvert that law.  Does Chen really think that a national FEP board to enforce a non-discriminatory FEP law would have been any different?

Had there been enacted a national FEP in 1949, the result might not have been called AA, but it would have resulted in AA in reality, just as the code words for the process of not hiring better and best qualified white men were later be euphemized into “goals and timetables” and more recently “diversity.”  We are assured that “diversity is our strength,” but how does hiring and promoting lesser qualified and simply unqualified people make us strong?  Especially when those who are better and best qualified are not hired and not even considered because they may be white men? 

The thrust of the elites in both parties—in big business, big military, big unions, big universities, big media—was the same: elevate women and minorities even when they are:

1) physically weaker (lower the standards so women could pass the physicals for firefighters and police, etc.); or

2) culturally or intellectually deprived (lower the standard so that authorities could pretend that many minorities were qualified); or

3) criminally suspect (again, lower the standards to pretend that more minorities are qualified.)  The result has been massive discrimination against whites in general and white men in particular, and a lowering of the quality of the American work force.

When Ward Connerly sought to end such hypocrisy and discrimination by having voters decide to continue AA or end it, the elites in both major parties tried to prevent him from getting the proposition on the ballot.  The elite does not even want to debate the issue, for the evidence of anti-white discrimination usually is revealed, despite the shills of the establishment who write Op-Eds favoring continuance of the present unfair policy. 

Thus, when President Clinton announced his dialogue on race, it was clear with his appointment of people like John Hope Franklin that he really wanted a monologue.  He wanted to tell Americans why AA was just and must continue.  There was no dialogue.  When Connerly got his proposition on the ballot in California, which used words from the CRA of 1964 to require non-discrimination and an end to race preferences, the elites were furious. 

Worse, when those who favored the proposition sponsored an ad using footage of Reverend King giving his “Dream” speech about judging people by their character and not by the color of their skins, the King family sued to prevent use of news footage of the speech, claiming copyright infringement!.  (King may have favored race-preferences later in his life, but he did not convey that in 1963.  In order to help pass a civil rights bill, King enunciated the color-blind ideal.)

Chen is correct to write that AA is not an orderly, unitary approach directed from one agency, but a hodgepodge of court decisions and bureaucratic rulings.  That may be so.  But the effects are unitary throughout the nation.  It may not be as simple as if the US had enacted a national FEP in 1949.  But I maintain the content is the same, even if the forms are multitudinous and varied.  A national FEP board would have confronted the same problem as the EEOC.  Non-discriminatory high standards favored white men.  To raise the rate of hiring of women and minorities, the elites joined the Left in constantly lowering standards and using race balancing, racial favoritism, quotas, to hire lesser qualified applicants above better qualified poor and middle-class white men.

The elite have long used the statistics provided by the academics to justify such discrimination.  Women are underrepresented in this job category; Blacks, in another; Hispanics, in yet another; etc.  My point is simple: even if every CEO in the United States were a white man, that is no reason to discriminate against a poor or middle-class white boy in school activities, university admissions, scholarships, jobs, promo-tions, etc.  Yet the elite and their intellectual servants will go to extremes to justify just such discrimination.

A quotation illustrates the chasm between myself and Professor Chen.  He quotes Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz in a 1964 speech to business leaders on why special efforts were required to aid Blacks (preferences without calling them preferences). (216) Wirtz had seen a study of those who were rejected by the draft, many of whom were minorities.  He shocked his elite audience: “Over 80% of them are the sons of fathers who did not finish high school,” he noted “a great many of them . . . come from broken families.”  So Wirtz explained to the business elite why Blacks had to have special consideration. 

On a personal note, my mother finished school at the eighth grade.  My dad would fib, saying he completed fifth grade when he only finished third.  Of course, my parents remained together.  So, to the liberal elite, I should be discriminated against because my parents were married and, of course also, because I am a white male.

Professor Chen, recipient of a Soros fellowship for three years, is oblivious to the racism he quotes and spews.  At the university, no one would see anything wrong with such statements.  In the academy, they all share the anti-poor white bias.  Chen writes what the academy wants to read.  He wins academic prizes for his book.  The academic elite support AA.  Why question it? 

Yet to those like myself, Chen’s book is an example of the condescension of the elite and their spokespersons, an example of its ignorance of and hostility toward poor and middle-class whites.  Moreover, his book is also an example of unquestioned but questionable presuppositions, combined with a trivialization of research.  No wonder his volume won so many award in today’s academy. 

It is a sad commentary on the academy.  And some are more equal than others.


Hugh Murray page