Phi Beta Cons

In the Year of Our Ford

From my article on Michigan and the future of racial preferences, in the brand-new NR:

Gerald Ford had been dead for just a day when the University of Michigan issued its official statement of mourning. President Mary Sue Coleman used the occasion not only to lament the loss of the man who is her school’s best-known alumnus, but also to score an ideological point: “In recent years, and perhaps most importantly, President Ford was outspoken in his support for our diversity programs through our defense of affirmative action to the Supreme Court.”
Perhaps most importantly?
The University of Michigan is home to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. But, in the mind of Coleman, these permanent presences pale in comparison with Ford’s endorsement of racial preferences. Or perhaps she simply wanted to exploit the news of Ford’s death to continue fighting what suddenly has become a losing battle for Ann Arbor’s bean counters.
The university’s defeat, coming at the hands of voters who overwhelmingly approved the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in November, represents an astonishing victory for conservatives. It’s a success story that upends the conventional wisdom of just three years ago, when it looked like racial preferences would survive far into the future. Today they are in jeopardy as never before.

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John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.