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August 20, 2007


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Before addressing the main content of Mr. Lessneberry's commentary, and his interview with Peter Schmidt, there ought to be a response to Mr. Lessenberry's gratuitous, irrelevant, and probably wrong-headed cheap shots aimed at Jennifer Gratz, and Jenna and Barbara Bush.

Jennifer Gratz, you may recall was vindicated by a 6-3 vote of the United States Supreme Court, which agreed that the undergraduate admissions policy to the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts violated the Constiution of the United States. Jennifer Gratz may not have been able to prove that 'her' place in an incoming freshman class had been takne by a minority student, but it is clear the process was unconstitutional and that she was correct in her claim. There of course was another named Plaintiff (Patrick Hamacher) and many, many more interested parties, but I presume that Mr. Lessneberry wished to single out Jennifer Gratz for his censure because Ms. Gratz was later active in the ballot-initiative campaign for Proposal 2 (The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative), which passed with the support of 58% of the Michigan electorate.

Then there are President Bush's daughters, Jenna and Barbara. Mr. Lessenberry snipes that they both "got into elite schools." I'm not sure, but it might also be noted that the daughter of President Clinton got into an elite school (Stanford). As did the daughter of President Carter (Brown - although Amy Carter left after her sophomore year for unstated reasons). Oh, and there were the sons and daughters of Presidents Kennedy and Roosevelt, etc., etc.

Jenna Bush attended the University of Texas at Austin; it is no doubt a fine school. It may not qualify as an 'elite' school, if one uses that term to equate with 'exclusionary', since Texas law, passed under Republican leadership, requires admission be extended to any student graduating in the top 10% of his or her Texas high school graduating class.

Barbara Bush went to Yale, a private school with every apparent intent to preserve an aggressive affirmative-action admissions policy, unfettered by any state regulations. That must make Mr. Lessenberry happy. Or maybe he doesn't care about such an elite private university in Connecticut. But then, why mention it at all?

By all accounts that I am aware of, Miss Barbara Bush handily qualified for admission (and Yale may very well place high importance on admissions of fifth-generation students, as Michigan sometimes has, under past admissions policies) and did well at Yale. As did her father, (President George W. Bush), her grandfather, (President George H.W. Bush), her Great-Grandfather, (Sen. Prescott Bush), and his grandfather, (James Smith Bush. Class of 1844). Does Yale have an admissions policy that offends Mr. Lessenberry? Would he care to have a particularized policy for students who are descendants of a Senator, two Presidents and five generations of graduates?

This may seem like a lot of words expended in adressing one minor cheap shot. Perhaps it illustrates that it ought to be incumbent upon persons in high-profile media positions associated with the University of Michgian to refrain from such cheap shots.

Jack loathes the lower middle class and their collective anti-affirmative action sentiment. He takes direct at at Jennifer Gratz and her police officer father and nurse mother. Jack is far too simplistic in his assertions. In a previous diatribe(prior to the Prop 2 vote) he was very skeptical of the outcome despite the polls. Almost 70% of voters turned a thumbs down-a massive repudiation. From afar-they should have seen it coming. Establish a means based admissions approach-that has an appeal that I think most voters can get behind. Afterall-most remember when family members were poor through no fault of their own(Great Depression) and there's a very healthy percentage of Michiganders that are still 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant families.

The other issue rarely discussed is the total lack of local leadership in the City of Detroit. Kwame Kilpatrick is under siege again with real unsavory allegations and the Council consists of Afro-centric clowns. When are the next rounds of indictments? When are the Zimbabwe type metrics of public health, incarceration and public schools going to change? Is it no wonder that Kroger doesn't want to expend capital inside the city limits? You have to wonder what progressive leaders like Obama and Hillary really think about Detroit. Do you think Conyers or Cheeks Kilpatrick are accorded any real respect? Detroit is New Orleans without Katrina.Privately-the powerbase in Lansing and Washington know this.Detroit is a demogogic hustle.

White suburbanite parents of all classes see this and they reject it.Prop 2 was real evidence of a broader disgust of the Lessenberry moral dry rot. Create a means based affirmative action approach-stick 12 constitutional lawyers in a room and come up with a proposal. Poor kids with talent, ambition and energy will attend the college of their choice. The only problem is that the aggrieved sore losers of Prop 2 don't like rubbing elbows with Mexicans, Serbians, Arabs,Ukranians, Poles or southwest Detroit West Virginians. I really think the demise of Prop 2 or anything like it was simply caused by the black community's unwillingness to address substantive issues that run the spectrum of how a people should conduct itself. Jack and his ilk don't understand the depth of disgust.

Well, I may have moral dry rot, but Mr. Santiago needs to be a bit more factual. Proposal 2 was approved by 58 percent of the vote, not 70 percent.

It also would seem that Mr. Anonymous is a touch too sensitive on the subject of the Bush twins' intellect, about which I in fact said nothing. Perhaps he suffers from the memory of their um, memorable appearance at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

58 percent it is.

I challenge you this. Go to 2 or 3 pretty good parochial schools in and around Detroit. Let's say Mercy High in Farmington, U of D High in Detroit and let's say Rennaissance High. Convene all the kids that gained admission at the University of Michigan and just compare metrics(i.e., SAT's, ACT's, honors classes, AP classes, GPA, sports, other activities, etc).

Then convene the kids who made applications and just got rejected.

Compare and contrast.

You see Jack the kids at these schools and countless others "know" that the admission process has been unfair. They've lived and breathed with all sorts of kids of four years and they know who the good students are and why(i.e., hard work and skill, pure skill, good test taking skills, etc). These kids know that the table has been leaning a little left for a long time. How do you explain the public policy behind this when there are kids who denied and those who gain admission and yet they know and there fellow students know that they just got a free pass. I dare you to talk to the kids one on one and ask if they think its fair.So what lasting stain on race and class relationships has this left as these good kids leave school? They know about social engineering masked as good admissions policy. Teachers of course are muzzled as are administrators. Parents are outraged and admisssions officers strain under the mental gymnastics that they must perform to justify the policy.

The whole Prop 2 affair and vote was bound to happen. White folks have had it. The day of collective populism as it relates to the the populace of Detroit is over. It's palpable in Lansing, Washington and the suburbs.

As for Langston Hughes and Jack's question-if it explodes that will be tragic but the blast effects will not be felt outside of Detroit. Higher taxes-probably, more stain on an already unremediable reputation-absolutely. Mayhem, civil disorder-yep. But after its all said and done Detroit will drift until honest introspective leadership presents itself.The suburbs will plod along and the best and brightest will leave for brighter pastures. It will simply reinforce what is already known-Detroit is a social mess beyond comprehension.

Jack needs to travel a little to other US cities and compare to Detroit. Try Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis, Houston and Pittsburgh. Check out the state of the public schools, mass transit,neighborhoods. He should stop defending Detroit and call it as it is before how he would like it to be. But that would require some journalistic cajones-by calling out the Mayor, Council or the black powerbase located in the churches and that vanguard of fairness-the NAACP.

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