By Seth Richardson
In New Haven, Conn., firefighters of all races are required to test for promotion. But when New Haven officials realized that no black firefighters would be promoted after one testing session, they threw out the test results, thereby denying high-scoring white firefighters promotions.
The United States Supreme Court is now considering the question of whether minorities are due special consideration in competitive testing or whether such racial considerations are discriminatory against whites. New Haven lawyer Christopher Meade told the Court, “There is no entitlement to be promoted based on a flawed test.” This is true, but the essential question is whether the test is “flawed” merely because no blacks passed it, or whether it’s “flawed” because it was deliberately designed to discriminate against blacks.
Only in the latter case does New Haven have any justification for throwing out the results. But Meade told the court that having an “adverse impact” on minorities was a sufficient flaw to justify tossing out the results and thereby discriminating against better-qualified applicants merely because it was a difficult test to pass.
This sort of dumbing-down of competitive testing has been spreading like a cancer throughout our society. It’s another manifestation of socialist playing-field leveling attempts by statists and liberals who believe that competition itself is indicative of unfairness and must be disallowed. The process of removing competition is seen most clearly in our schools and athletic programs, where children in many schools are not even given a “pass/fail” grade, much less a letter grade or class ranking. In athletics, many youth soccer teams no longer even keep score out of fear of bruising some poor little kid’s psyche by making them feel bad about losing.
But competition is the only thing that drives people to overcome their faults and improve their performance. Without the negative consequences of losing a game, or missing the mark on a competitive examination for promotion, not only is the loser denied a rational and necessary assessment of his relative strengths and weaknesses, from which he can seek to improve himself, the entire system loses its motivation for excellence and the employees sink into mediocrity.
While this may be acceptable to socialists, whose entire social agenda depends on enforced mediocrity, when it comes to liberty-loving Americans who still value excellence and are willing to face challenges and overcome them in order to better themselves, such mediocrity is anathema.
And when it comes to firefighters, whose very lives depend on the integrity, judgment and knowledge of their fellow firefighters and particularly their commanders, mediocrity is an unpardonable sin and a clear and present danger to everyone, firefighters and citizens alike.
The Supreme Court’s duty in this matter is to determine only if the test itself was deliberately constructed to prevent minorities from obtaining passing scores. It’s hard to see how this could be possible unless some blatantly discriminatory criteria that excludes minorities exists in the testing system, which would be illegal in any case. It’s the same test New Haven has been using for years, it’s just that this time no blacks had the requisite knowledge and skill to pass it. That may be an indication that some individuals need to apply themselves and learn what they need to know to score highly on the test, but it’s no reason to deny the citizens of New Haven the very best commanders available.
If the test involves only detailed knowledge of firefighting and administration, then those who score highest deserve promotion, irrespective of the race of the applicants. Anything less is unreasonable, unfair, discriminatory and endangers the public by fostering mediocrity.
© 2009 Altnews