Posted on September 21, 2012

The Real Reason Affirmative Action Wasn’t Banned in the 1990s

Paul Kersey, SBPDL, September 18, 2012

The 1990s were a time when Black-Run America (BRA) could have been defeated. But it is a little known story that was ensured the rolling-back of affirmative action programs never transpired. It is the machinations of former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer and his over-the-top recruitment of Black athletes at every position (both offense and defense) that inhibited affirmative action from being banned once the GOP took power in 1994.

You see, “The Contract with America” was nothing more than a contract to continue the unimpeded promotion of Black people to positions of power and adulation: former Oklahoma quarterback and – at the time – the next “Black Republican Hope” J.C. Watts would be the man who stopped the GOP from pursuing the ban on affirmative action.

The world we live in now could only have been spawned by the Opiate of America, which helped create positive memories of Watts amongst the almost entirely white alumni-base of Oklahoma that enabled him to get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the first place [THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE REPUBLICANS; More Black Candidates Find Places on Republican Ballots, by SAM HOWE VERHOVEK, October 07, 1994, New York Times]:

J. C. Watts Jr., who is running for Congress, is still remembered here as the quarterback who directed the Oklahoma Sooners down the field for a dramatic victory over Florida State in the waning seconds of the 1981 Orange Bowl.

But what really makes Mr. Watts stand out is that he is a black politician in a state that is overwhelmingly white, and a Republican amid a national black population that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Mr. Watts was the first black person elected to statewide office in Oklahoma when he won a spot on the utility-regulating Corporation Commission four years ago, and he is widely regarded as the favorite to win on Nov. 8 in the Fourth District in southwestern Oklahoma.

Mr. Watts, with 92 percent name recognition in one poll and known almost universally here as just J. C. (which stands for Julius Caesar), has shown a wide lead in some early polls in his race against the Democratic nominee, David Perryman, a white lawyer from Chickasha. Many people expect the race to tighten considerably and predict that some white voters who told pollsters they would vote for Mr. Watts would not.

But Frosty Troy, editor of the Oklahoma Observer, a bimonthly political newspaper, said that Mr. Watts’s conservative, Christian image was so firmly established that it could overcome the reluctance of many white conservatives to vote for a black man.
Perhaps even more tellingly, Mr. Troy added, Oklahomans seem to like their football stars this fall. Mr. Watts was a Sooners quarterback in his day, but so was the Democratic nominee for Governor, Lieut. Gov. Jack Mildren. A Republican nominee for Congress in Tulsa, Steve Largent, a former Seattle Seahawk, holds the National Football League record for career receptions. “Oklahoma,” Mr. Troy said, “seems to be a jockocracy this year.”

College football is a religion in America; thus, the athletes who represent the beloved alma mater of the University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of Georgia, Texas University, and the University of Oklahoma will come to be looked upon as Gods. Such was J.C. Watts, whose donning of the “OU” colors and proficient running of the ‘wish-bone’ offense was his ticket to public office.

With the GOP poised to push to end affirmative action, it was Watts who convinced the Republicans to hold-off on this move. As a way to get the Black vote [Watts Walks a Tightrope on Affirmative Action, By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post,May 12, 1998]:

It wasn’t until Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) read a Financial Times interview with Rep. J. C. Watts (R-Okla.) in August that he discovered where his colleague actually stood on affirmative action. Sitting on a plane, Clyburn tapped fellow Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and said, ” ‘Bennie, read this. We have not done right by J. C. Watts,’ ” Clyburn recalled. “When you read what he had to say, he was exactly where we were on the end result.”

After more than three years of decrying affirmative action – mandated preferences for minorities and women in jobs, education and other programs – while simultaneously refusing to abolish it, Watts has come to occupy a pivotal role in the House debate on the controversial issue. Even as Republican leaders have repeatedly given their blessing to measures aimed at rolling back such programs, the lone black Republican in the House has served as a bulwark against any dramatic change.This phenomenon was on full display last week, when 55 Republicans voted along with almost the entire Democratic caucus to defeat California Republican Frank Riggs’s amendment denying federal funds to public colleges and universities that rely on the policy in their admissions. The day before, Watts had joined liberal Democratic Rep. John Lewis (Ga.), also an African American, in circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging members to vote against the measure.

“This is not the time to eliminate the one tool we have – imperfect though it may be – to help level the playing field for many minority youth,” they wrote.The amendment, which lost 171 to 249, failed by an even greater margin than the measure offered last month aimed at eliminating racial preferences in awarding federal transportation contracts. While Republicans may bring up a similar amendment in the future, they acknowledge the Republican Conference is not ready to overturn affirmative action – partly because of Watts.

The true test on affirmative action came in early November, when the House Judiciary Committee met to mark up a bill sponsored by Rep. Charles T. Canady (R-Fla.) prohibiting the federal government from considering race or gender as a factor in federal hiring and contracting. House Republicans held an impassioned debate on the bill in a closed meeting, in which both Watts and Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.) objected strongly to the measure. Four Republicans then joined the panel’s Democrats in tabling the bill.

“It was his objection last fall that really convinced us to hold off on this and talk about it more,” said Rep. John Linder (Ga.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

But he also is unsparing in his assessment of GOP leaders, arguing that they cannot afford to abolish affirmative action without first taking substantive steps to reach out to blacks. Watts noted that while House leaders brought Riggs’s amendment to the floor, his bill aimed at revitalizing inner cities remained dormant.

“I would sure like to see them throw their support behind community renewal, and put the same kind of effort behind that effort that they put behind Riggs,” he said.Watts, who co-chaired Robert J. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and gave a major speech at the GOP convention, was also openly skeptical of the Republican National Committee’s outreach program.

“Look at the RNC, we probably have one black Republican at the RNC, one,” he said. “How do we defend that, that you have one African American in charge of outreach . . . [who] probably doesn’t have the authority to do outreach?”

Even though Watts’s opposition may block any effort in the House to kill affirmative actions programs, some Republicans are still willing to raise the subject to spark a public debate. One Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said GOP leaders are convinced a greater percentage of Americans are eager to abolish affirmative action than the current margin in Congress reflects.

Flash-foward to 2012: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal showed GOP candidate for president, Gov. Mitt Romney had zero percent support from the Black community. Following Mr. Watts advice sure did work out, didn’t it?

In 1989, Sports Illustrated would publish a cover story on OU head coach Barry Switzer that showed what would happen when you allowed a team of primarily Black athletes become the dominant culture on campus [You Reap What You Sow
Oklahoma has paid the price for the anything-goes attitude that coach Barry Switzer has allowed to take root, by Rick Telander and Robert Sullivan, February 27, 1989]:

An important element in Switzer’s success as a coach and recruiter is that he has always gotten along well with blacks. “My black players look at me as honest and open,” he has said. “They’re not suspicious of me. I’m their friend.”

Barry Switzer’s career can largely be defined by this article from Sports Illustrated:

An important element in Switzer’s success as a coach and recruiter is that he has always gotten along well with blacks. “My black players look at me as honest and open,” he has said. “They’re not suspicious of me. I’m their friend.”

The first of two sons of a mercurial, drunken bootlegger and his tormented, pill-popping wife, Switzer grew up in a house that had no electricity, phone or gas. He was such an outcast that even as a star high school athlete he had to have other boys pick up his dates and take them home. He was friends with the poor blacks who lived nearby and bought untaxed booze from his dad; his identification with them would eventually make him the greatest recruiter of black athletes in college football history.

By the 2007-2008 season, 71 percent of the Oklahoma Sooners football team was Black; less than two percent of the undergraduates at OU were Black males.

In his autobiography, Bootlegger’s Boy, Switzer would write:

I’m not a licensed physiologist, but for more than forty years I have played and coached football, lived with athletes every day, competed with them, competed against them, watched them in action, seen them get beat up, exhorted them, inspired them, made them angry, seen them perform under extreme pressure.

But all I needed to know about physiology, I learn in the eighth grade.

I’m going to anticipate something here since unless I precede what I am about to say with the point that I am one of the country’s foremost “experts” on the subjects, I believe there are a lot of “knee-jerk” liberal types out there who are going to try to label me a racist. I am, in fact, the world’s leading nonracist. Ask any of my black friends or players.

I have seen all of the perform, and my recognition that, in general, blacks were better athletes than whites, particularly in certain areas, led me to be one of the leaders of integration in intercollegiate athletics.

I believe, then, what I say in this area is indisputable, and those who would dispute me simply haven’t been looking at athletics for the last thirty years or so.

In general there is no question but that the black athlete has superior physical skills in all games that involve running and jumping and catching. In fact, I personally believe that it was probably the black athlete who drove the whites into inventing the weight room and also into taking steroids.

The black athlete is usually a much more efficient machine physiologically than his white competition.

Some of you may be shocked to hear it, but it is a fact that today one of the common jokes that is used totally in fun by athletes, both black and white, is a comical reference to “white boy’s disease.” If a white or black kid is made to look silly by some of the better black or white athletes, the comment is often that that athlete suffers from white boy’s disease – which simply recognizes that white boys (generally) can’t do it the way black boys can. And our black kids would use that phrase as a jab to their other black friends whom they may have blasted on a particular play. “Hey, man! You’ve got white boy’s disease!” Just think about it. How many great college or pro running backs and receivers in the last twenty-five years or so have been white? A few. But just a very few. (46 – 48)

Well, let’s just forget that Black males mature faster than white males do [(Meat) Market Failure
Recruiting, Genetics, and the White Athlete, Paul Kersey, Alternative Right] and trust a “mentally unbalanced” coach whose mother committed suicide after he wouldn’t give her a kiss.

It is later in Switzer’s autobiography that we get to the heart of the cultural change that integrated football helped bring to America:

I worry about what is going on with college athletics now and what has bee in the process in Oklahoma and in the NCAA as a whole. I am particularly sensitive to the race-related aspects of it, since I was in the forefront of the emphasis upon the recruitment of talented black athletes. I was playing blacks at any position, depending totally upon their individual abilities, before other team would even recruit them.

But a lot of you folks out there do not realize something very critical about the process of athlete recruitment and the state of racial integration in this country. By law, there is equal opportunity for every child in the country, all schools are to be integrated, and every kid (black, white, yellow, or red) is supposed to have his shot at being president. But that’s not the reality.

In truth, there are lots of different classes out there – different economic levels, different levels of intellectual ability, and, just as important, different life-styles. What has happened nationwide in athletic programs that have mixed all of the races together to achieve success is that you have a mix of color, values, and life-styles. The problem with that is that all of these kids are viewed and judged by the same standard – that of the press and college administrators, both of which  professions are dominated by well-educated white men raised in middle or upper-class homes that had both a mother and a father. To some extent that’s okay. these kids, who are trying to use the college experience as a way out of the slums and the ghettos and to obtain a little bit of the “good life,” need to learn that they are often going to be judged by the white man’s standards, values, and standardized tests. (p. 336-337)

There you have it: Barry Switzer was the man responsible for creating the cult-like status that enabled J.C. Watts to get elected to the House of Representatives and ultimately stymie an affirmative action ban.

The Opiate of America was strong-enough to stop the banning of affirmative action. But, the story does have a happy ending — “A deal for the producer of “The Blind Side” to make a movie based on former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer’s book “Bootlegger’s Boy” could be completed as soon as next week, Switzer said on Wednesday.”:

After speaking in Fayetteville to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club, so many people lined up with copies of “Bootlegger’s Boy” to have them signed that he decided to tell them about the planned film, Switzer told the Tulsa World.

“In the next couple of weeks, I want my lawyer to look over things and get back with me, but I’m ready to do something, and they are, too,” Switzer said of the filmmakers, including Molly Smith, an executive producer of “The Blind Side.”

The best-selling 1990 book chronicled Switzer’s career as coach of the Sooners in the 1970s and 1980s, from winning national championships to scandals that led to his resignation.

But it’s the book’s story of him being raised in Arkansas in the 1940s and 1950s, the son of a bootlegger who during a time of segregation became friends with black people who were like members of his family, that the film will focus on, Switzer said.
“If you saw ‘The Blind Side,’ you know that wasn’t a football movie, but a human-interest story,” he said. “That’s the way that we see ‘Bootlegger’s Boy.’ ”

Switzer said that Smith – the daughter of Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx – contacted him after reading the book on the recommendation of her father. She didn’t want to make a football movie, Switzer said, “and neither did I. That’s the only way I would do the movie.”

“It’s more about how I was raised in a time when integration and civil rights wasn’t a thought for many people there, in the world of the rural south, and being white and having a life connected to my daddy being a bootlegger, and these people were in my home all the time,” Switzer said of the multiple black families working for his father’s business.

One of only two coaches to win a national championship in college football (three at OU) and a Super Bowl (with the Dallas Cowboys), Switzer said he had been approached about making a movie based on the book several times since it was published 22 years ago.

But suitors had little interest in focusing on “a story of what it was like to be raised in the Mississippi River delta and how that can impact a person’s life,” said the coach who revolutionized the recruiting of black athletes into formerly all-white college athletics.