Tuesday, 02 July 2019 21:26

Kamala Harris: Part 2

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Jim DiEugenio asks when Kamala Harris ever officially proposed busing programs during her political career.

Our mainstream media never fails to amaze this author. The day after Kamala Harris attacked Joe Biden at the Miami debate over the issue of busing, she was asked if she supported busing and said that she did. (Talking Points Memo, June 30th, story by Josh Marshall)

In that story, nobody asked her what kind of program she would support or propose in her busing plan.

No one asked her if she ever came up with such a plan as Attorney General of California. After all, she had six years to do so. Where was it?

No one asked her if she proposed such a plan while she was District Attorney in San Francisco. She had over six years to do so in that position. Could she show when and where she did put forth such a plan?

I believe the reason there is no evidence of her proposing these plans is fairly simple to figure out. If she had gone to any court, as either DA or AG, and done so, it would have been highly improbable the plan would have passed. But if it had, and if it had been comprehensive, Harris would have not been long for the political world. Court-ordered busing is not the equivalent of Harris’ policy of arresting the parents of students with chronic truancy problems. Those parents did not have strong constituencies behind them. So making those arrests was the moral and political equivalent of President Bill Clinton taking the advice of advisor Dick Morris and passing on welfare to the states in the form of block grants. Without Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King around, no one of any real stature was going to scream bloody murder. In fact, as I noted in the first part of this essay, since both men were dead and buried, Clinton could even invoke RFK’s name while he signed the bill.

The fact that no one asked these questions—and the likes of Josh Marshall actually praised her for her honesty on the issue—illustrates what is wrong not just with the MSM, but also with the so-called liberal blogosphere. Because what the questioners were seemingly unaware of was the fact that court-ordered busing is pretty much dead. Two decisions by the Supreme Court, both under George W. Bush, killed it. These were the Belk decision in 2002, and the Seattle School District case of 2007. Anyone can look those up and see for themselves. I would have liked to have asked Harris if she ever made any comments on those two cases as they were handed down. If so, could she produce them? If busing meant so much to her, then why didn’t she?

For anyone to report on this issue today, or comment on it, without recalling the history of court-ordered busing, is simply not leveling with the reader. This issue pretty much tore apart at least two cities: Boston and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles it led to the rise of politicians who attacked the issue like Roberta Weintraub and Bobbi Fielder. As Kevin Drum indicated in Mother Jones, court-ordered busing provoked one of the largest political backlashes in modern American history. When it was over, Ronald Reagan was president, and Reagonomics dominated the nation for the next forty years. Who did this benefit? The rich and powerful. Who did it hurt? Ethnic minorities. (Blog post of July 1st) Drum points out that the program Harris participated in had her transported all of three miles. Plus it was voluntary, not court-ordered. (LA Times, June 30, 2019) But even at that, the city of Berkeley deep-sixed it more than 20 years ago. And just about every major city dumped it in the eighties because of the enormous resistance to it.

One reason that there has been no real progress in integrating public schools is simple. It is a matter of geography, which itself was a reaction to busing. When court-ordered busing began to be enacted in a comprehensive way in the seventies, many white members of the community resisted it by moving to the suburbs and/or unincorporated areas. To cite one example: in Boston when the program began, over half the students in public schools were white. Today, it is less than 15 percent. In Pasadena, the results were similar. As a result of seventies court-ordered busing, over 82 percent of the students today are non-white So what is the point in bringing up the issue today? You simply cannot enact it because of the geographic facts, the brutal memories it evokes, and the potential of more backlash. And that is what makes it a perfect issue for a showboat like Harris.

There is no doubt that we need comprehensive reform to improve public schools. Students who are unfortunate enough to be born in a rundown neighborhood should not have to go to inferior schools because of that fact. But court-ordered busing is not the answer. And everyone, including Harris, knows it. One solution is something called open enrollment. This means that in a large school district, like say Los Angeles, one could divide up the district into three large sections. Students in each section could be allowed to go to any school in that area, and the district has to provide the transportation. If too many students desert a neighborhood school, then the district should have to go in and reform it until its reputation improved enough for students to want to go there. This is a serious, and feasible solution; yet Harris, to my knowledge, has never suggested it. Her plan, as I noted previously, is to arrest the parents of truant kids. Even if the kid had sickle cell anemia.

The fact that there is no evidence of her ever proposing anything comprehensive, that she never objected to the Supreme Court decisions, that there is no evidence that she proposed any kind of busing plan when she was in a position to do so—these all indicate that she brought the issue up for one reason: political expediency. As I showed in part one, this is a hallmark of her career. And it was the same reason the Clintons proposed their welfare program in the election year of 1996. As I said, if you want more of Clintonism and Barack Obama, Harris is your candidate. I don’t agree with that. In fact, a political opportunist is just what we don’t need right now.

Read the first part of this essay here.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 19:05
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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