Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Gerald Reynolds to Head the U.S. Civil Rights Commission

Talk about putting a fox to guard the chicken coop. That's what the Bush administration always does with all the laws they don't like: they appoint someone to enforce the laws who hates them even more. The Commission on Civil Rights is turning into a real joke, and not really because Mary Frances Berry, the outgoing head of the commission, is refusing to leave on the date Bush has decided:

President Bush set up a confrontation with a U.S. civil-rights watchdog on Monday by announcing a replacement for the agency's combative head, who had criticized his record last week and contends she still has six more weeks to serve.
Bush announced in a statement that Gerald Reynolds of Missouri was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and will be chairman with the concurrence of a majority of commission members.
He is to succeed Mary Frances Berry, whose term the White House said expired on Sunday.
Berry and vice chair Cruz Reynoso are Bill Clinton appointees who believe their terms last until Jan. 21.
A current commissioner, Abigail Thernstrom, will be elevated to vice chair.

So what are Gerald Reynolds' opinions on civil rights? This is what the Media Matters for America wrote about him earlier:

Reynolds, who is simultaneously the top regulatory attorney for Kansas City Power and Light Co., "doesn't just oppose affirmative action; he abhors it:" Reynolds has written that:
"...affirmative action is "the Big Lie." It is, he writes, "a corrupt system of preferences, set-asides and quotas ... a concept invented by regulators and reinvented by political interest groups seeking money and power." Furthermore, "many of the problems devastating low income black communities are the result of a spiritual decay." Mr. Reynolds would remedy that through school choice programs, faith based institutions, "replacing self-defeating values with middle class values," urban economic development and "opposing the use of racial preferences in education and the workplace."

"Spiritual decay"! I wonder how the commission is going to fight against that one.

The new vice-chair, Abigail Thernstrom, is well-known for very similar ideas,as can be seen from this quote from an interview with her during the Linda Chavez "scandal":

That's our dear friend Clarence, whom we adore," Abigail Thernstrom said, proudly showing me the framed photograph of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that hangs above the fireplace in the office she shares with her husband, Harvard University historian Stephan Thernstrom. She added mischievously: "It's there to make reporters faint." Abigail Thernstrom, a fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute and one of America's most influential conservative intellectuals, had been talking to a lot of reporters that week, frantically "doing press" for another "dear friend"--Linda Chavez, whom George W. Bush had nominated to be his labor secretary. Just a few days before I arrived at the Thernstroms' red colonial house in Lexington, Massachusetts, Chavez had withdrawn her nomination, under fire for hiring an illegal immigrant in her home.
Abigail Thernstrom, who serves on the board of Chavez's Center for Equal Opportunity, an anti-affirmative action "research group" in Washington, was still fuming: "She did not employ that woman. She took in this--this was a battered woman! Linda is such a giving person--you can't imagine. She's always taking people in, people in trouble. I could never do what she does. Every summer, she hosts these Fresh Air Fund kids and pays for their Catholic-school tuition."

We are going to have a Civil Rights Commission led by individuals who believe that the problems of minorities and women are nothing to do with civil rights enforcement. Mr. Reynolds doesn't like Title IX which guarantees gender equity in education and Ms. Thernstrom believes that racism is no longer important. It's all really just one big joke. Unfortunately, this joke is on us.
Many of the links via this kosdiary.