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Politics

Please, Fuck Off: Edward Blum

The devil works hard but this guy works harder.

I expect very few people to be operating as if things are “business as usual” right now. Unless you are disgustingly rich, and also white, I expect everything to be having a general, if not substantial, effect on your ability to go about your day as if we were still living in January 2020. 

If you are disgustingly rich, and also white, but have a modicum of morality, I expect you to be at least mentally bothered by the world around you. Maybe, if you’re not too incapacitated by how bothered you are, you might even take action. (On second thought, maybe don’t do that.)

This cannot be said for Edward Blum, a litigious conservative asshat who has made it his life’s mission to validate the idea that there is systemic discrimination against white people on the basis of race. Despite the pandemic leaving millions of people unemployed and housing insecure, and highlighting the oppressive strength of racist, anti-Black policing, Blum has insisted that fighting racism against white people is of the utmost importance at this time. 

On Monday, Blum’s organization, Students for Fair Admissions, sued the University of Texas at Austin (which I graduated from in 2016) on behalf of two white people who say that the university “did not give them a fair opportunity to apply for admission because of their race,” as the Austin-American Statesman reported on Tuesday. From the Statesman:

The suit, filed Monday by the nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions, claims UT’s use of racial preferences in admissions violates the 14th Amendment, federal civil rights laws and Texas law. […]

According to the latest suit against UT, the group has “at least two members” who applied for and were denied undergraduate admission to UT in 2018 and 2019. The applicants matriculated elsewhere in Texas and are “ready and able to apply to transfer to UT Austin when it stops discriminating against applicants on the basis of race and ethnicity.” The lawsuit does not name the students.

This is Blum’s deal. As I mentioned, it has been his deal for his entire fucking life. To be clear, Blum is not a lawyer himself. He’s just an extremely litigious white man with an ax to grind. I’ve followed his tracks since 2016, when a federal judge ordered Harvard University to release its admissions data concerning a suit that Students for Fair Admissions filed against Harvard in 2014 which argued that the university was discriminating against Asian-American undergraduate applicants.

Last year, that same judge (who was also rejected from Harvard) ruled that the university “met the legal standard needed to ensure that it was not motivated by racial prejudice or stereotyping.” In February Blum’s organization appealed the ruling. Big fucking surprise.

This is just a snapshot of Blum’s work. Students for Fair Admissions claims its mission is to “support and participate in litigation that will restore the original principles of our nation’s civil rights movement,” adding, “A student’s race and ethnicity should not be factors that either harm or help that student to gain admission to a competitive university.” Lmfao. According to the Statesman, Students for Fair Admissions has a membership of 20,000 people, who pay a one-time fee of $10. (Blum also created the Project on Fair Representation, a legal defense program to bring cases regarding “racial and ethnic classifications and preferences” to trial.)

According to the Houston Chronicle’s online article archive, Blum was the chairman of something called the “Campaign for a Color-Blind America, Legal Defense and Educational Foundation” (fucking yikes). The organization’s website was www.equalrights.com (fuuuucking yikes jesus christ!!!). He’s also affiliated with the right-wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

Blum’s racist litigation history is extensive. The New York Times put it succinctly enough in a recent article, writing that Blum is “a longtime crusader against affirmative action who has raised millions of dollars from conservative groups to challenge voting rights laws and affirmative action policies, often successfully.” Early on in his crusade, he was a plaintiff in the 1996 Supreme Court case Bush v. Vera, a racial gerrymandering case which I’ll detail below, and he won. 

Nearly two decades later, Blum recruited the now-notorious white woman Abigail Fisher to be a plaintiff in two separate anti-affirmative action Supreme Court cases against UT Austin. (Blum and Fisher lost both times; I was also recently reminded, by watching Ziwe Fumudoh interview Rose McGowan, that white women have benefitted the most from affirmative action. Sigh.) He’s also had another case against UT Austin recently dismissed, has sued the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and appears to be attempting to bring litigation against the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (Blum sets up websites with URLs including harvardnotfair.org, uncnotfair.org, utnotfair.org and uwnotfair.org to attract university rejects to be his plaintiffs for his lawsuits.)

Blum has also been a longtime supporter of efforts to curb the right to vote. He first tried to get Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act repealed in 2009, with the case Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder. The section requires certain states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting laws. 

He lost that case, only to win a similar case, Shelby County v. Holder, in 2013 by convincing plaintiffs from Shelby County, Alabama, to sue the federal government. That’s turned out real swell for the people the law was supposed to protect; from the Intercept, emphasis mine:

In June of that year [2013], the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the law (Section 4b) that decided which municipalities would be subject to preclearance, saying it had “no logical relation to the present day.” They left the provision allowing preclearance (Section 5), but Congress would have to come up with a new formula of which municipalities would be subject. But seven years later (under Obama and now Trump), there is not yet one in place, meaning voters — especially Black and minority voters — are not protected against increasing local restrictions on their rights.

This is also why so many people are pushing for the reinstatement of Section 5, especially in light of Georgia Rep. John Lewis’ death.

Ultimately you come to question how a man such as Blum became a white crusader in the first place. Well, here’s a fun story from his Wikipedia entry (I know, but the story is all true, I checked it) where he is classified as a “litigant” — though he was once classified as an “activist” (I know):

In 1990, he realized that the Democratic incumbent in his congressional district, Craig Anthony Washington, was running unopposed, so decided to run against him for the Republican Party. During that campaign, Blum and his wife Lark went door-knocking and realized that the boundaries of their district erratically divided streets based on ethnicity, with the suspected purpose to gerrymander a majority African-American district. Blum eventually lost the congressional race. But he and others filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, claiming that the racially gerrymandered districts violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The case, Bush v. Vera, went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Blum’s favor.

Yes, you read that correctly. Leave it to this white guy to make racist Republican gerrymandering all about himself!!!! If you have any doubts, please read this excerpt from a Chronicle article that Blum co-wrote with Marc Levin, the then-executive director of that “Color-Blind America” group, in 2000. (The article is behind a thick paywall, unfortunately, so I can’t link to it.) It’s about the future redistricting of Texas after the decennial census. From the Chronicle, emphasis mine:

This time Texans deserve compact, neighborhood- and community-based voting districts that unite us as Americans regardless of our skin color. Common neighborhood issues such as schools, crime, roads and job opportunities are much more important than race. Indeed, the Supreme Court noted, “Those common concerns do more to unite people who live close to one another than their race can do to separate them.”

The racial gerrymandering that pervaded the last plan should not be allowed to infect the new plan, regardless of how cleverly it may be disguised. We should not have seats drawn to ensure the election of a person with a specific skin color or ethnic heritage, any more than we should have districts drawn to ensure the defeat of a person because of his race or ethnicity. […]

Advocates of race-based redistricting claim that a person can only be represented by someone of like skin color, an assumption belied by the fact that most blacks support Ted Kennedy but oppose Alan Keyes. It is also far from clear that minorities are best served by a system in which they solely determine a few legislators and congressmen but have virtually no influence over the others.

Damn bitch, tell me how you really feel!!!! Really, what a rose-colored view of the world, one that’s clearly been challenged and invalidated countless times in the two decades since he wrote such self-important, offensive drivel.

But I look back on his entire body of work and understand why there is no resting for Blum. His racist passion for protecting whiteness burns so bright that no potential disruption of the day-to-day could get in his way. It’s no wonder he wouldn’t stop to even consider his agenda and racist beliefs within the context of this nationwide reckoning, and perhaps how he’s contributed to it. Even while Black justice gets violently denied, white justice waits for no one. 

Blum makes me so fucking sick. I can barely bring myself to really wax upon the evil that is using the concept of racism against Asian people as a defendant of white supremacy, and of arguing the existence of anti-white discrimination while Black people are being mourned by their loved ones and in their communities, and thousands more people across the country are recovering from being assaulted by police just for protesting police murders, because it’s so fucking sick. 

And what’s worse is that he knows what he’s doing. Blum knows that getting people like me upset about his racist bullshit is good for his endgame — that filing a lawsuit claiming white discrimination via college admissions at a predominantly white institution, while Black people are simply asking, yet again, to stop being killed by state violence, will bring about a media shitstorm so virulent that national outlets won’t be able to resist tapping him for an interview. 

Because this isn’t life or death, to Blum. This is all but a game of strategy.

I also want to be extremely, unquestionably clear — I couldn’t care less that he’s filing a suit against the university I graduated from. The University of Texas at Austin is one of, if not the most, racist universities in Texas, and I’m sure it would rank high among racist universities in the nation. This was clear to me early on as a student and has remained clear in the years after my graduation, even as the university attempts to clean up its image and rename buildings and football fields, and build statues honoring former Black students and faculty and staff. Shame on them regardless of this bullshit that Blum’s trying to play once again.

I know I’m not the most tired of all this. I am not the one who is the most exhausted by this man and his many plots to destroy minority protections and affirmative action because I am sure that there are people who’ve attended the universities that Blum has sued, or who’ve suffered voter discrimination as a result of Blum’s crusades, who feel far more invalidated than I do. People who even called his bullshit years ago and refused to be pawns in his racist games. But I will gratefully take this opportunity to use my platform to tell Edward Blum, for the love of god, please, just fuck off. Just fuck you, and fuck the fuck off, you fucking racist asshole.

Photo via Edward Blum/Facebook; Remix by Samantha Grasso