Betsy Devos' Civil Rights Pick Holds Troubling Views | The Mary Sue
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Betsy Devos’ Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Complained About Anti-White Discrimination



Betsy Devos has appointed Candice E. Jackson, an attorney and author, as the acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, who was officially appointed as deputy assistant secretary, will only serve as acting head until Devos nominates an official assistant secretary, a role that requires Senate confirmation. However, Jackson’s views are still a troubling sign of Devos’ priorities.

Jackson is not particularly high-profile in the policy world, with limited experience in civil rights law (surprise, surprise). Her most recent high-profile action was bringing Bill Clinton’s accusers to a presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. However, ProPublica has recently published some of her quotes, and…she’s argued against both feminism and affirmative action, and called the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and harassment “fake victims.” Given that her office is entrusted with enforcing Title IX and civil rights law in educational institutions, these views are very troubling.

While an undergraduate at Stanford, Jackson wrote for the conservative Stanford Review, founded by Peter Thiel. After discovering that a section of her calculus class which “provided students with extra help on challenging problems” was reserved for minority students, she wrote, “I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs. We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming competence or incompetence based on race.”

(I could go on about the many ways that reverse racism doesn’t exist, but instead I’ll point you to this excellent resource at The Root, which sums it up succinctly.)

Jackson also wrote of affirmative action, “As with most liberal solutions to a problem, giving special assistance to minority students is a band-aid solution to a deep problem. No one, least of all the minority student, is well served by receiving special treatment based on race or ethnicity.”

On feminism, Jackson wrote in her senior year, “Women have the same opportunities as men to advance their careers, raise families, and pursue their personal goals. College women who insist on banding together by gender to fight for their rights are moving backwards, not forwards.”

In fairness to Jackson, she was quite young when she wrote these op-eds. It’s entirely possible that she’s matured since then, and no one deserves to be treated as if their teenage views are the bedrock of their lifelong political commitments. Since her university days, she has at least argued against over-criminalization over at Reason. She has also written a book about the women affected by Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual harassment and assault, Their Lives, and advocated for them. Jackson is herself a rape survivor, so these issues are certainly personal to her.

However, she has also doubled down on a lot of her conservative views. She worked for the conservative legal group Judicial Watch and praised a professor who called the 1964 Civil Rights Act “monstrous.” In that same 2005 book about Bill Clinton’s victims, she criticized existing sexual harassment laws for causing men to “self-censor themselves to avoid being accused of sexual harassment” and ignoring “the reality that unwanted sexual advances are difficult to define.” After a number of women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault, she wrote on Facebook that they were “frankly, fake victims” who lied for “political gain.” Given her vocal support for Bill Clinton’s accusers, this was a disturbing about-face.

I recommend you read the full ProPublica story for a look at all her views.

Commenting on Jackson’s appointment, Liliana Garces, who is a co-director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights at Pennsylvania State University, said, “I am deeply troubled that someone who has held an idea of reverse discrimination will be holding this role…Statements about reverse discrimination reflect a particular ideology that is detrimental to how we go about addressing racial inequality.”

Theodore Shaw, the director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said, “I hope that she’s not going to be an adversary to the civil rights community, and I hope that the administration is going to enforce civil rights laws and represent the best interests of those who are affected by civil rights issues.”

However, like the rest of us, he admits that this appointment “doesn’t leave me with a feeling of confidence with where the administration might be going.”

(Via Pro Publica, Buzzfeed, and NBC News; image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

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