Self-Exclusion Not a Good AnswerPosted: June 16, 2017
Self-Exclusion Not a Good Answer
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
You don’t have to be a doddering senior citizen to remember the explosive period known as the Civil Rights Movement. If you’ve not yet reached six decades of age, you should be able to recall the not-unreasonable demands for equal treatment among America’s blacks. They wanted to be included; they wanted to be looked upon as full citizens; they wanted to be judged by themselves, not by the color of their skin.
In many cases, their reasonable desires were taken over by militants seeking to tear the nation apart. Cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many more were torched. The victims were almost always the very people supposedly being helped. Subversive planning behind much of the chaos wasn’t supposed to be shown, even suggested. But it was the correctly identified spark leading to those fiery and frequently bloody days.
Some said the destruction and death were necessary. There had to be an end to treating one class of people differently. “Integration” was one leading cry of protesters. But radical bomb throwers who wanted more turmoil, not less, seemed to be almost everywhere. “Burn baby burn” was heard from coast to coast.
Then, the politicians and educators took some of these issues to the legislative halls and the courts. One result was forced busing where grade and high school kids were being put on buses and transported all over the area to satisfy some arbitrary quota based on race. At this point, black mothers joined with white mothers to protest the use of their children as pawns in an increasingly dangerous game. Did busing bring the various ethnic groups together? Not at all. In most instances, it made matters much worse. Some of the scars, mostly mental, still exist.
Race relations that were improving 50 years ago are still improving. But now, a new and upgraded form of race consciousness has set in. Recently, one of the more prominent places to find it was at Harvard University during graduation week. There, black graduate students – obviously with university permission – staged a graduation ceremony for themselves. They didn’t get their diplomas at this event – they would be passed out later with all the graduates – but they sought to make a point and it wasn’t built around cries for diversity. No whites, yellows, or Hispanics were invited to participate. And none of these highly educated and high IQ possessors carried a placard calling for an end to judging fellow man by skin color.
Ward Connerly is the President of the America Civil Rights Institute. As a former University of California Regent, he campaigned against racial preference in admissions to college. A man of mixed racial ethnicity, his skin is black, and he is considered to be “black” by others. About separate black commencement ceremonies, he told the New York Times that showed a photo of the black Harvard grads parading in caps and gowns in their separate and unequal ceremony:
College is the place where we should be teaching and preaching the view that you’re an individual, and [you should] choose your associates based on other factors rather than skin color. Think about it. These kids went to Harvard and they less than anyone in our society should worry about feeling unwelcome and finding comfort zones. They don’t need that.
In other words, Connerly doesn’t like the idea of separating people by color. Nor, as shown by his years of crusading against affirmative action, does he have a good word for judging people by gender. So it’s safe to say that he’s an opponent of this whole idea of alternative graduation ceremonies with their unofficial diplomas and awards. The Times didn’t ask him, but it’s likely he opposes similar alternative ceremonies for LGBT grads springing up throughout the nation.
America became a better place when race consciousness and separating people started fading. Let’s keep it fading, not finding new ways to perpetuate all of it.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.