Getting AFFH wrong

When President Trump revoked President Obama’s oppressive AFFH rule, we all knew that Democrats and lefty media hacks like Eugene Robinson would accuse him of racism. But I didn’t expect conservative bloggers to support that claim. And I certainly didn’t expect anyone at Hot Air, my favorite conservative blog, to do so.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey has been great on the AFFH issue. However, his colleague Allahpundit gets it wrong in this post.

In defense of criticism that Trump’s AFFH revocation and his tweets on the subject (none of which mention race) are racist, Allahpundit notes that “the rule on low-income housing that Trump’s HUD is rescinding is a desegregation measure. . .promulgated under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which was designed to end racial discrimination in housing.” But it would be a non-sequitur to argue that opposing any “desegregation” rule promulgated under civil rights legislation amounts to racism.

A rule interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as mandating quota hiring in all jobs could be characterized as a desegregation measure promulgated under civil rights law. But it wouldn’t be racist to oppose employment quotas, as conservatives have done consistently for 50 years.

The civil rights legislation of the 1960s doesn’t mandate government intervention to end all racial disparities. In fact, Hubert Humphrey and other proponents of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act had to swear up and down that the legislation did not mandate such quotas. Without such assurances, the 1964 Act never would have passed.

The same is true of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It mandates non-discrimination in housing decisions. It does not mandate moving people from neighborhood to neighborhood in order to satisfy some bureaucrat’s vision of racially fair communities. Had it called for this sort of social engineering, the Act never would have been enacted.

Stanley Kurtz has demonstrated that the AFFH rule has no basis in the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In doing so, he cited an account of the Fair Housing Act by Charles M. Lamb, author of a 2005 book on federal housing policy. Lamb was a fair housing specialist with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and has taught constitutional law and civil liberties. More importantly, he is an enthusiastic advocate of precisely the kind of housing policy mandated by AFFH. However, in his book, based on extensive archival study of the intentions behind the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Lamb made it clear that a housing rule of the AFFH variety goes well beyond the FHA itself.

Lamb stated:

[N]othing in the Fair Housing Act expressly requires the federal government to encourage suburban racial integration through the use of subsidized housing. Nor does the Fair Housing Act forbid economic discrimination of any kind or require government to promote suburban economic integration in any way. The act certainly prohibits various forms of discrimination based on race and provides that the secretary of HUD shall affirmatively promote the goal of fair housing. Still, the Secretary’s stated duties do not include promoting suburban racial or economic integration by linking HUD funding to a requirement that low-income suburban housing also be built.

Allahpundit goes on to assert that Trump’s revocation of AFFH is at odds with his “populism” because “downscale whites” stand to benefit from Obama’s rule. But AFFH’s focus is on racial imbalances. The beneficiaries — assuming anyone benefits from this sort of social engineering — will mostly be Blacks, just as it is Blacks who benefit primarily from racial quotas in employment, college admissions, school discipline, etc.

That’s the basis for claims by Democrats and their backers in the media that revoking the rule is racist. They are right that AFFH is about race, but they are wrong to assert that it’s racist to oppose preferences and quotas for Blacks.

To understand the race-centric nature of AFFH and, indeed, the likelihood that low income Whites will be disadvantaged, consider what happened in Dubuque, Iowa. The Obama Department of HUD pressured that city to direct its limited low-income “Section 8” housing resources, not to its own needy citizens, but to voucher-holders from Chicago.

Dubuque had many more Section 8 applicants than it could house. It therefore instituted a low-income housing point system granting preference to Dubuque residents, county residents, state residents, and out-of-state residents, in that order. But because most of the Dubuque applicants were white, HUD deemed the city’s point system discriminatory. It then required Dubuque to offer scarce housing units to residents of Chicago, some 200 miles away. Why? Because Chicago was where HUD could find Blacks to favor.

Low-income whites in Dubuque paid the price.

HUD’s behavior towards Dubuque meets Allahpundit’s test. HUD purported to act pursuant to the Fair Housing Act, and the effect of its orders was racially integrated housing.

But HUD’s treatment of Dubuque should disgust any non-leftist, “populist” or otherwise. President Trump’s efforts to end this sort of high-handed social engineering is entirely consistent with populism — as well as federalism and conservatism generally.

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