The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, charges McIlheran, is accusing the Wisconsin Department of Transportation of engaging in "a sinister racist plot."
Well, no. The ACLU isn't. Nor does it even need to.
If McIlheran had actually taken a few moments to read the ACLU's complaint (.pdf; 14 pgs.), he might have noticed (no guarantees!) that its claims are based on the WisDoT's failure to conform its actions with federal law in its capacity as a receiver of federal funds.
To wit, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d:
No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.The complaint doesn't allege that the WisDoT took affirmative steps — i.e., "plotted" — to ensure discrimination. The only reference to intent contained in the complaint refers to the WisDoT's allegedly intentional disregard for the requirements of federal law.
That is a fundamental and profound distinction, which has evidently completely evaded Patrick McIlheran's reportorial faculties.
More specifically, the WisDoT's disregard for federal administrative law promulgated in furtherance of the above federal statute:
A recipient [of federal funds] ... may not, directly or through contractual or other arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting persons to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin, or have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program with respect to individuals of a particular race, color, or national origin.As a very special added bonus, McIlheran unwittingly and to unintentionally comedic effect (ironic, also) confirms the foregoing when he remarks sarcastically:
Letting people go somewhere is the same as making them go somewhere.Likewise, discriminatory impact is not the same as discriminatory intent, nor is the latter required to prove the former. And, to top it all off, McIlheran can't even spell Atty. Karyn Rotker's name right.
UPDATE: And to really top it all off, check out this reader comment below McIlheran's blog post:
WOW, this isn't racist, it's just another attempt by the ACLU to be relevant. Using the word "racist" supposedly adds some sort of sting to it. ... I think if anything, the plan is insensitive to the needs of people.Except it was Patrick McIlheran who invoked the term "racist," and it's the ACLU complaint that addresses "the needs of people." This comment perfectly demonstrates precisely the effect McIlheran's misleading and ill-informed commentary has. What a McShame.
McIlheran serves his Journal-Sentinel employers, those who rely on the credibility of their various scribes, very poorly indeed.