It’s natural for people to assume that whatever they are doing is right, and whatever their opponents are doing is wrong. But even the most ardent advocate of situational ethics will admit that this can’t always be true. Sometimes, people who think they are on the side of goodness and light are… are… “the baddies.”
In the past week, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Department of Justice might as well have been going about with skull images on their caps, because they, too, have been the baddies. The SPLC is suing to prevent any poor children from escaping failing Alabama public schools because, under current policy, not every poor child is able to do so.… Yes, really. This has prompted countless commentators to observe, in the SPLC’s “defense,” that nothing in the organization’s name says that it is against southern poverty.
Meanwhile, the U.S. DOJ has just filed suit to stop poor children in Louisiana from escaping academically failing public schools because, it claims, those failing schools are becoming less racially integrated (by, it seems, less than 1 percent). This suit is possible because of the erroneous precedent of equating incidental (“de facto”) and legally compelled (“de jure”) segregation. But its unwisdom is easy to see without legal analysis: the DOJ is telling the mostly black families who choose to use Louisiana’s school vouchers that their actions are not good for blacks. This is hubris on an epic scale.
The top people at the DOJ and the SPLC need to get together around a table, watch the video clip above, and summon the circumspection to grasp that they are, at the moment, the baddies–brutally stomping on the very goals and ideals that they presumably hold dear.