Many whites and non-minorities have a shared favorite past time—telling folks of color what is best for them. As readers may be aware the EEOC, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), recently developed guidelines limiting employment discrimination based on race. Below is a list of their findings.
"An employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The Guidance focuses on employment discrimination based on race and national origin. The Introduction provides information about criminal records, employer practices, and Title VII. A violation may occur when an employer treats criminal history information differently for different applicants or employees, based on their race or national origin (disparate treatment liability). Title VII prohibits “not only decisions driven by racial [or ethnic] animosity, but also decisions infected by stereotyped thinking . . .”
-EEOC website, April 2012
Basically, the guideline says that Blacks, the poor, and groups of color were being discriminated against through criminal background checks. In a recent edition of the Washington Examiner, Hans A. von Spakovsky, (I will refer to him as “von” for the remainder of this article), took it upon himself to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing…or, to put it more accurately: a racist in freedom fighter’s clothing.
According to him, “what makes it difficult for felons—Black or white—to find work is not racial discrimination, but their own past decisions to commit crimes that carry the risks of detection and punishment.” I wonder how he reconciles this statement with the fact that Devan Pager (Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University) did a study which revealed that a Black man with no criminal history has the same likelihood of getting a job as a white man with a felony. His findings showed that in some cases, the white man with a felony charge actually had a BETTER chance of getting hired when both candidates had the same credentials. Pager makes a chilling statement: “Being Black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job.”
Furthermore, von makes a series of unwarranted claims. He vaguely mentions “studies” without citing specific empirical data. His main beef with this guideline seems to be that it is somehow unjust. He poses as an advocate for minorities when in reality he has no real concern for the well-being of people of color. He has miraculously failed to include even one person of color who has been negatively affected by the guideline. So why is he so passionate about this?
von is a Heritage Foundation Fellow.
Our beloved former president George Bush nominated von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Committee on my birthday in 2005. In an attempt to actually do something right, the Senate Democrats successfully opposed the nomination, forcing him to withdraw. Their reasoning? He had numerous “oversights” regarding voter laws and a strong record of disenfranchising the poor and people of color. He has historically and consistently lied about data to “prove” his inherently oppressive ideology (which is likely the cornerstone of a Heritage Foundation Fellowship).
Professor Justin Levitt at Loyola Law School gave the best explanation of von Spakrovsky’s pattern of fallacy in a 2011 piece by Ryan J. Reilly:
“Mr. von Spakovsky supports voter ID restrictions. I oppose them. Mr. von Spakovsky has no facial hair. I have facial hair. But certainly opposition to voter ID doesn’t cause facial hair.”
Unfortunately for readers of the free Washington Examiner, von Spakovsky is a damn good professional liar. His career of distorting evidence has been strengthened by the Heritage Foundation, where he is a fellow. William Coors (yes, from Coors Light) fought against the Civil Rights Act. He publically told an audience that Black don’t succeed because apparently, we “lack intellectual capacity”. (Rocky Mountain News, 1984). But don’t worry, they like to spread the racist around. Coors also helped the Reagan Administration destabilize Nicaragua in attempt to disenfranchise Latinos.
Heritage’s rise to prominence has paralleled the rise to power of conservative political thought. Having survived seven administrations, the think tank’s goals have remained the same since its inception: “to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”
-Pam Chamberlain, 2010
The Heritage Foundation is basically a conservative think tank unjustifiably injecting themselves into academia. They built a legacy of evidence distortion. If one we re to look closely into their assertions, it would become clear that they change the wording of information to fit a desired outcome—especially when the research disproves their original thesis. Former executive member Burton Pines described the company’s goals as such: “We’re not here to be some kind of Ph.D. committee…Our role is to provide conservative public-policy makers with arguments to bolster our side.”
One example is the way von describes people with criminal records as “murderers and burglars”. In actuality, the majority of incarcerated individuals are non-violent drug offenders. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 about 57% of federal prisoners were held for drug law violations. This is a country that has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population. I think it’s safe to say that people like von value increasing that number for the benefit of free enterprise over anti-discrimination policies.
Later in his angry rant, he brings to question the EEOC’s creditability:
In issuing this “guidance”, the EEOC males two leaps of faith. First, it assumes the criminal justice system’s handling of violent and non-violent offenses is itself discriminatory—even though there is no evidence of racial bias.
What?? He can’t possibly be serious! Let’s quickly review some statistics about the criminal justice system in the United States:
- “African Americans are frequently illegally excluded from criminal jury service according to a June 2010 study released by the Equal Justice Initiative. For example in Houston County, Alabama, 8 out of 10 African Americans qualified for jury service have been struck by prosecutors from serving on death penalty cases.” –From Bill Quigley, Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights:
- Huffington Post 2010: While African Americans comprise 13% of the US population and 14% of monthly drug users they are 37% of the people arrested for drug offenses – according to 2009 Congressional testimony by Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project.
- ACLU found blacks are three times more likely to be stopped than whites.
- Since 1970, drug arrests have skyrocketed rising from 320,000 to close to 1.6 million according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice.
- African Americans are arrested for drug offenses at rates up to 11 times higher than whites (may 2009 report by the Human Rights Watch
Ultimately, if poor folks and people of color can get a job with a criminal record, they won’t have to continue breaking the law to survive. This may not be a cure-all, but the EEOC is headed in the right direction with this guideline. The prison industrial complex grew substantially as drug laws became harsher and started spilling over into post-rehabilitation. Down the road, this guideline means that private prisons will experience economic fail. There will be more restorative solutions to community problems. Recidivism will drop and that’s not something the bourgeoisie are prepared to take laying down.
The only question I have for von is this: when is the last time you were Black, poor, and unemployed in the U.S?