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Ricci and the future of race in America

We're witnessing the beginning of the end of affirmative action.

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Discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, skin color, ethnicity, or national origin is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yet that fact seems to either go unnoticed or is considered irrelevant by many public officials.

For decades, public universities, police departments, fire departments, and other public institutions have been implementing, with reckless abandon, policies and practices that promote diversity. Essentially, the term "diversity" has become an acceptable excuse to discriminate.

The underlying rationale for such discrimination is that women and minorities are, almost by definition, disadvantaged and that white males are privileged in America by reason of their sex and color.

The extent of what some describe as reverse discrimination, particularly against those who are white and male, has been increasing for years, but the fear of being ridiculed or called a racist has deterred many from filing claims against their employers for such conduct.

Frank Ricci and his fellow firefighters have radically altered the dynamics of "reverse discrimination." Even if the Supreme Court's 5-to-4 decision last month in Ricci v. DeStefano does not change the law governing employment discrimination, it certainly changes the attitude of those who are white and male and happen to believe that they have been on the receiving end of differential treatment by their employer on the basis of their race.

Mr. Ricci is a white firefighter in New Haven, Conn. He and 19 other white and Hispanic firefighters had passed a promotion exam, only to have the results thrown out after it was determined that no black firefighters had passed the test at a sufficiently competitive level. Such action is not uncommon in universities and other public agencies that want their workforce to, as they often put it, "reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the community."

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