Blacks' success best revenge on critics

September 21, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

YOU COULD CALL Lino Graglia a loose cannon. Or you could call him a man dedicated to saying what he believes to be the truth. But if his critics get their way, you'll be calling him fired.

For those of you who haven't heard of Graglia, some background is in order. He is a University of Texas Law School professor who had the effrontery to say that blacks and Mexican-Americans couldn't compete with whites in higher education. Pulling no punches, Graglia went on to say that blacks and Mexican-Americans "have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement."

Enter the liberal wing of the Thought Police, who in their vehemence make Josef Stalin look like a mere amateur by comparison. Fire the bum, the Thought Police said of Graglia. Can't do it, university officials countered. He's tenured.

Now if Graglia weren't tenured, it would be something different. Apparently freedom of speech only pertains to tenured professors at the University of Texas. Those untenured drones had best learn to keep their mouths shut.

Even Graglia seems to have been intimidated. I called his office last week. A woman who answered said Graglia had no comment on his statement.

"Don't chump out on me now, Lino," I said after I hung up. Later, Graglia issued a statement that read, in part, that his comment was "carelessly put, and I regret it," according to Sun reporter Sandy Banisky.

Graglia's remarks came in the wake of a change in the University of Texas' affirmative action policy. Adhering to a court order, the school chucked racial preferences, but only in its professional schools. This year, 27 fewer black students and 16 fewer Mexican-American students chose to attend the university's law school.

(Notice that the university hasn't applied this standard to its undergraduate school, where its football players attend. Applying this stringent academic criteria to the undergraduate school might affect the recruiting of football players of all races. Officials at the University of Texas aren't crazy, for heaven's sake.)

Graglia, according to news reports, has long challenged racial preferences in law school admissions to promote "diversity." No doubt Graglia looked at the diversity argument and decided it reeked of bat guano. (Taken to its logical conclusion, the diversity argument means there shouldn't be a historically black college or university in America.) Sooner or later, his feelings about the academic competitiveness -- or lack thereof -- of black and Mexican-American students had to come out.

But apparently there are some things that can't be said publicly in America. It might offend some folks and hurt their little feelings. But truth often hurts and offends. And in the uproar surrounding Graglia's remarks, no one has bothered to ask if he was telling the truth.

The black principal of a high school almost equally divided between black and white students agrees with Graglia. I can't give his name. He wanted his remarks strictly off the record. So concerned am I about guarding his identity, I won't even name the state, much less the county, in which he works.

But he said the test scores of black students bring down the overall test scores of his school. Black students tell him repeatedly that academic achievement is definitely not on their agenda. When there's a discipline problem in school, more often than not black students are involved. This man is not alone. Other black educators have said the same thing.

The principal spoke off the record because he didn't want the repercussions from the National Negro Thought Police that would surely follow his remarks. In the Zeitgeist that afflicts 1990s Afro-Americana, lack of black academic achievement must be the fault of white racism. Anyone opposing affirmative action must be motivated by white racism.

Thus we saw Jesse Jackson take the first thing smoking into Austin, Texas -- home to the University of Texas -- to tell a crowd of students that Graglia "represents a national disgrace." This from a guy who confessed that a group of black guys walking behind him would scare him out of his wits. Why is Graglia's comment considered racist and Jackson's comment considered just Jesse being silly?

Blacks upset about Graglia's remarks can get revenge by proving him wrong. But that would involve dedicating ourselves to the gargantuan task of altering the values of an entire generation of black youth. Why do that when crucifying Graglia is so much easier?

Pub Date: 9/21/97

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