Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama Administration to Self Government: "Screw You."

In June of 2011, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the town of New Berlin Wisconsin, accusing them of housing discrimination. What egregious act of discrimination were they accused of committing? Did the local government in any way prevent any non-white individuals or families from purchasing or renting property within the town? No. Were any individual acts of discrimination conducted by private individuals or firms? No. The sole accusation is that due to public pressure, allegedly motivated by racism, the local government dropped plans to construct affordable housing. Town officials denied that race was a factor in the rejection of the project, instead presenting a list of 10 objections, centering on infrastructure, parking and fiscal concerns. Facing the prospect of a long and costly battle with the federal government, the town relented and agreed to move forward with the project.

While arguments can be made on the merits of promoting affordable housing; zoning and urban planning issues clearly should be decided by local communities. Some of the residents may be motivated by racism, but choosing to not pursue policies that will increase diversity or affordable housing is not tantamount to housing discrimination or racism. And while I personally would never choose to live in an ethnically homogeneous town or neighborhood, it is the right of others to do so, as long as they are not actively barring the entry of other individuals. So, by every measure, Attorney General Eric Holder and the federal government are greatly overstepping their constitutional boundaries.

It is particularly ironic that in 2009 Mr. Holder complained that America is a "nation of cowards," when it comes to discussing issues of race, because in no way was he seeking an open dialogue. Had a resident of New Berlin presented him with the concern that the growth of public housing is tied in with an increase in crime, it is doubtful that Mr. Holder would have engaged her in a free and honest discussion. And it is even less likely that Mr. Holder reviewed the research of Professor Phyllis Betts, that addresses this very question, to determine if the resident's concerns may be valid. Nay, in the era of political correctness, ideology always trumps fact and the power of the central government always trumps the rights of states and communities to practice self government.

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