An article on the John W. Pope Center website dealing with Title IX by William L. Anderson begins with these passages:
When Congress passed the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, the new law included Title IX, which reads:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
The law was not controversial at first. Female college enrollment grew (today, the female-male undergraduate ratio is 57 percent to 43) and women’s collegiate sports were just catching on. Title IX helped increase female participation in college sports, which became the law’s main focus for more than 30 years.
I was on the University of Tennessee men’s track team in the early 1970s, which received substantially more support than the women’s program. We stayed in nice facilities on road trips, while the women piled numerous athletes into one room. Those not lucky enough to have a bed slept on the floor.
According to Anderson, Title IX, which required that equal opportunities be created for women in higher education, was a “good idea,” indeed one that Anderson goes out of his way to defend. But alas this “good idea” turned quickly into “higher education’s worst nightmare.” Anderson painstakingly provides the details of this nightmare, showing how public administration has become entangled in every aspect of athletic, social and educational arrangements on American campuses. The government in the name of non-discrimination has created a stranglehold on what universities and colleges are allowed to do and offer, and this situation continues to grow worse.
Yet we’re supposed to believe this “nightmare” started with noble intentions when the government undertook to fight the scourge of gender discrimination, a move that, according to Anderson, may have been long overdue. Perhaps without this federal intervention, woman athletes at Anderson’s alma mater, University of Tennessee, would still be “piled into one room” during road trips, while the guys enjoyed “nice facilities.”
Allow me, however, to pose two non-prescribed questions as a member of the non-moderate Right. If, as Anderson indicates, women’s sports were taking off in the 1960s and 1970s, as women teams were winning soccer and basketball events, why was it necessary for federal administrators to dictate how universities should deal with female athletes and closely oversee the institutions affected? Apparently the relative neglect of female athletes would have been solved without the heavy hand of government bureaucrats and the accompanying threats of suits.
Even more relevant, why are we supposed to think that public administrators once put in charge of eliminating “discrimination” would not behave as they invariably do? There is absolutely no reason to ascribe noble intentions to a continuing power grab by the feds that has been going on for at least a century. Should I be surprised that within two years of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC was already putting pressure on commercial and educational enterprises to hire more women and blacks, lest they give even the impression of engaging in “discrimination”? This is no more shocking or disappointing than the fact that a crocodile would swallow me for dinner if I stand too close to where it’s looking for food.
Finally I would note that Anderson’s statements about a “good idea” going awry tell us a great deal about how the conservative establishment approaches opponents on the left. These respectable types do not dare suggest that the Left’s eagerness to use government to engage in social engineering is reprehensible. Rather what Sam Francis used to call “the harmless persuasion” prefers a sort of middle ground, arguing that leftist ideas are marvelous but that the government just carried them a bit too far. Never do we hear from these “moderate conservatives” that the Pandora’s Box that has been pried open allows public administrators to solve “problems of discrimination,” through continuing meddling.
In any case the response by the “harmless persuasion” has been far from devastating. For instance, there are “equity feminists” like Christina Hof Sommers, who are financed by AEI and Heritage, battling “gender feminists,” who wish to carry feminism a few steps further. Or else we are dealing with those who favor the civil rights movement minus Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or “Black Lives Matter” opposing those who favor the same stuff plus more affirmative action and stricter speech codes. I’ve stopped taking seriously the noise generated by these battles. The partisans on each side represent the earlier and later phases of a process of government expansion that has been going on since the 1960s; and the major difference between them consists of favoring differing degrees of government control over our lives in the name of fighting “discrimination.” My own position has never wavered. I for one would like to rescind unconditionally all antidiscrimination laws at every level of government, starting of course with those efforts at behavioral modification undertaken by our pesky ruling class in Washington. Government bullying rarely starts with good intentions. It starts with bureaucrats and judges being given a pretext to push us around.