Da Roof, Da Roof, Da Roof is on Fiyah!

Da Roof, Da Roof, Da Roof is on Fiyah

I am usually on the side of affirmative action but a case that is going to be heard by the Supreme Court raises all sorts of thorny questions. The case involves a group of New Haven, CT firemen who took an exam (part written, part oral) to qualify for a promotion. When none of the black applicants and only one Hispanic passed the exam, the exam was summarily thrown out and no one received promotions, neither white nor black.

Many fire departments in this country are notorious for their “family business” orientation. Many firemen come from long lines of firemen before them. In some cities, this involves a predominantly Irish and in particular white fire fighting population in which blacks have traditionally found it difficult to rise to leadership positions. The administration of a fair exam to even the playing field is exactly the right way to go. The sticky situation arises when the exam is tossed because of the demographic outcome of the scores. I’d have a less queasy feeling in my stomach if some objective party had looked at the exam and pointed out questions that were somehow biased, independent of how the applicants actually performed. The problem here is that it appears that the exam was deemed unfair ipso facto because blacks did not pass it. The cause effect connection here is not entirely compelling. Making things all the more murky is that the exam has been sealed by the court so the public can’t get a look at the offending questions.

To make matters worse, it was suggested on MSNBC’s “Hardball” tonight by a black advocate of the decision to toss the exam that it was the multiple choice part of the exam that appeared biased. Now I could understand if the oral interviews were being called into question. There we have the subjective assessment of what I assume are white interviewers questioning black applicants. While not conclusive, there is room there to charge bias. But on a multiple choice exam? This one escapes me. What magic questions could be so Caucasian-oriented that blacks just could not answer them? What’s more, these are not questions about haute cuisine or polo matches or Elizabethan poetry, all subjects that might put the average black fireman at a disadvantage (LOL and the average white one for that matter). These I assume are questions about firefighting. Questions that measure preparedness and leadership. What possible advantage could a qualified white fireman have at answering these questions that a qualified black fireman would not?

This case is such ripe fodder for anti-affirmative-action activists. The argument goes that affirmative action is an insult to the black man. A supreme condescension of a guilty liberal society toward fully capable blacks who are being treated like ne’er do wells who need a special dispensation. I am NOT ready to throw affirmative action out with the bathwater. As long as racism exists in this country, there must be methods used to combat it, to even the playing field. But when those methods involve looking at the result of a seemingly objective process and then based on that result alone declaring the process racially biased, then I have cause for concern. The cold hard fact is that it is just as likely that the black applicants in this case may simply have not taken the exam as seriously as their counterparts. It is very possible that they simply did not study for it to the degree of their white counterparts. It is a much more troubling conclusion that there was something inherent in their blackness that prevented their success at this exam. That is indeed an insult to the black applicants.

What is perhaps most interesting about this case is that a black man did not get chosen over a white man based solely on race. On the contrary, for the sake of political correctness and racial equality, all the applicants got screwed over and no one got their promotion. This was a lose-lose decision.

This is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to make an important differentiation about affirmative action. Every effort should be made to give an equal playing field to qualified blacks. Being qualified means passing the exam. When you flunk, you flunk. Case closed.


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17 thoughts on “Da Roof, Da Roof, Da Roof is on Fiyah!

  1. Well the original is Bloodhound Gang, I was going to dock you cool points if you cited Coal Chamber, who was sued by the gang for quite blatantly ripping of their chorus line and for general being a worse song than the Gang’s. If you’re into early rap a la, Beastie Boys, Sugarhill Gang, Run DMC, etc, in that style, then I recommend the song.

    And there is your pop culture lesson for the day.

  2. This kind of stuff happens so much more then is reported. For example, thousands of whites have been denied their due and proper for acceptance in the University of Michigan.

    I see affirmative action much like I see the ban on gay marriage. Eventually, both are ultimately doomed, constitutionally.

  3. Well the original is Bloodhound Gang

    Marc, I beg to differ with you. The Bloodhound Gang formed in 1992. “The Roof is on Fire” by Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three charted at number 5 on the dance charts in 1985.

    The phrase and it’s general rhythm have been sampled and re-used by many artists including Bloodhound Gang and Coal Chamber.

    Sadly another case of white folks co-opting black music and getting the credit for it. 😉

  4. Obama looked like a proud Rooster today, introducing a 42,000 grand tax cheat who will now bust other tax cheats.

    Dead Rabbit
    May 8th, 1984

  5. I bet i have gagged on more chitlins then Rutherford has…..

    Last time I tried to eat some I literally gagged out loud. And I’m famous for happily eating almost anything.

  6. thousands of whites have been denied their due

    DR, this is a pretty grand statement that I could not sign up for without understanding the specific examples. The only reason I addressed this situation in my blog is that the facts of this specific case point to affirmative action gone awry, in my opinion.

    The fact is that according to Harvard University, they can fill a freshman class twice over with equally talented people. 16,000 people compete for 1600 seats.At least 3200 are “acceptable” and then other factors kick in to get that number down by half. Lots of folks get rejected and one has to question whether or not it was their “due”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of good or bad luck. I’ve always felt that my admission to Harvard was 20% – 30% qualification and 70% – 80% luck. At some point, especially with large universities, it becomes a lot like Lotto.

  7. Bad luck? Jamal has lower test scores then Jerry. Everything else is equal. Jamal gets in and Jerry doesn’t. Dude, you can frame it any way that makes you feel good about yourself, but it still aint right.

    I even get the whole diversification thing and can understand why people would deem it important on a campus. But its not important enough to screw people over.

    Read about Grutter v. Bollinger.

  8. DR, before I break out my law books to read about Grutter v Bollinger, the key clause in your statement is “everything else is equal”. That’s always a bit hard to prove. If it can be proven, then I’d have a hard time disagreeing with you. Lower test scores should disqualify you, Jamal or not.

    The question is, as an admissions officer how do you break a tie? Let’s get race out of it for a moment. Two white guys with near identical records and you can only accept one. Do you take the guy whose Daddy contributed to the school? Do you take the guy whose Daddy is the mayor of the town the school is located in? Wouldn’t you agree that whenever we get into this “everything else is equal” scenario, the tie breaker is always unfair to the loser?

    And finally, and I’ve said this before on this blog, why do college rejects immediately go looking for the black guy that got a break? For a white guy to get his pants in a knot over a college rejection and go after a less qualified black guy implies to me that this guy thinks he’s the dumbest white guy who applied. Otherwise, why isn’t he going after the dumber white guys to see why they got an advantage (like rich Daddy, etc.)?

  9. I agree with most of what your saying, actually. There has always been a certain lack of egalitarianism when getting in college. Subjective standards no doubt. So what have we done? Taken the one objective standard there is (even GPA isn’t remotely objective) and derailed it. But you are probably right, the super rich sneak past a ton of the objectives.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, I know your Mom told you that.

    Don’t you see the irony here? If affirmative action pisses off lower middle class whites, isn’t it only merely prolonging the racial divide?

    Racism is wrong. You need to stop defending it in the comments section. (In fact, you seem to often blog one thing then negate your principals in the comments section)

    I’m off to play about 8 games of softball today.

  10. I always wondered if I didn’t have bit of the darker side in me “R”. You know all those egregious ethnic jokes about fried chicken and watermelon?

    As a white boy, I always thought that was two of the best foods around…Get me a salt shaker a huge chunk of watermelon, a few tomatoes, three or four pieces of friend chicken and I’m in heaven. 😉

  11. In fact, you seem to often blog one thing then negate your principals in the comments section

    DR, no, actually I don’t. One of my many issues with conservatives is their seeming inability to argue matters on a case by case basis. One instance of poorly applied affirmative action does not make the entire concept invalid. My article dealt with ONE case which I felt did affirmative action a disservice. I made it clear in the article that I was not ready to toss the whole idea of affirmative action out the window.

    Hope you had fun with the softball. I spent the day watching my daughter do gymnastics and ride her bike with the other kids in the neighborhood. Watching kids at play sometimes gives one hope that we won’t be fighting these battles forever … but then again.

  12. I always wondered if I didn’t have bit of the darker side in me “R”

    While I appreciate the humor, your comment of course highlights the whole absurdity of the thing. I don’t recall Tex whether or not you grew up in the South but as far as I know, fried chicken and watermelon are much more Southern than they are strictly black. But be that as it may, good food is good food.

    Tex, your absence of comment on this subject is noticeable. Are you assuming that I can guess your take on this or do you not dare to confess some understanding for the need for affirmative action?

  13. Tex, your absence of comment on this subject is noticeable. Are you assuming that I can guess your take on this or do you not dare to confess some understanding for the need for affirmative action?

    I would have thought my response not required. 😉

    Affirmation Action = Reverse Racism

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