So this is the real use of our “civil rights” laws, supposedlyrncharged with protecting the rights of the “oppressed”: as a bludgeonrnagainst a lowly waitress, who dared protest her humiliahonrnat the hands of rude customers.rnT he followers of Martin LutherrnKing, Jr., succeeded wherernLenin’s heirs failed.rnDenny’s management denied the claims of the complainants.rnSteve McManus, senior vice president of Flagstar,rnDenny’s parent companv, pointed out that the large size of thernparty was the key factor in the delay. The black agents, it turnedrnout, had taken their hme ordering. “It’s a service issue, not a discriminator)’rnissue,” McManus said. But in the surreal world ofrnour civil-rights laws, there is no way to tell the difference. AsrnGoldwater put it, this is “a matter of the heart,” and there is nornway to prove “discrimination” on any basis except by looking direcdyrninto someone’s heart—and that is not possible. Underrncurrent law, howeer, it is the option of judges and juries, asrnwell as government bureaucrats, and that is how we came to thernnightmarish end of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream —in whichrnthe facial expression of a waitress is used as “evidence” of “discrimination.”rnThe subjectivity of this whole area of law is apparent:rnA delay in getting an order of hamburgers and fries isrnthought, by the black agents, to be “a classic case of bias,” asrnagent Thompson put it—or, from the waitress’s viewpoint, arnclassic case of b.s. It is all a matter of perception, not fact, andrntherein lies the danger. Unless judges and juries are mind readers,rnthe behavior of an eve-rolling waitress must remain a msteryrnabout which we can onlv speculate: Was she a dyed-in-thewoolrnracist, or had it been a long dav, full of abusive customersrnwho had subjected her to more than the usual dose of humiliationrn isited on service employees? The lawyers and judges of todayrnpretend they can know, and so does the Justice Department,rnwhich thundered that the settlement reached in thernprevious case was only tentative and demanded an explanationrnfrom Denny’s management. The class-action lawsuit filed byrnthe six Secret Service agents was joined b- thousands all acrossrnthe nation, becoming the largest case in the history of public-accommodationsrnlaw.rnThe first impulse of Denny’s management was to fight back.rnFlagstar CEO Jerry Richardson defined the central issue whenrnhe asked, “If our African-American guests were mistreated, wasrnit because of racism? I can’t tell you. It’s impossible to knowrnwhat’s in a person’s heart.” But pressure began to build as thernvictimology brigade took up the cry of “racism!” and the costs ofrnfighting the battie mounted. Flagstar tried appeasement: Inrn1993, the company signed an agreement with the NAACPrnpledging to hire more minorifies, patronize minorit)’-ownedrnsuppliers, and set up a jointly operated customer complaint department.rnBut this only whetted the appetite of the shakedownrnartists, who preferred cash to goodwill gestures. The key issue,rnaccording to the NAACP, was redress for past discrimination onrnthe part of Denny’s. At this point, with the whole weight of thernJustice Department bearing down on it, pickets outside itsrnrestaurants, and editorialists hurling anathemas, Flagstar raisedrnthe white flag. As of December 1995, Dennv’s had been shakenrndown for $54 million paid out to some 295,000 plaintiffs andrntheir lawyers. Why did Flagstar surrender? “I had to considerrnthe cost of the litigation,” explained Richardson, “which wouldrnhave been astronomical even if we’d won every trial.” And thenrnthere was the public-relations aspect of a prolonged trial: “Litigatingrnwas going to take cars,” Richardson said, “and you can’trngo for years being at war with a percentage of ‘our customers.”rnFxhausted by the relentless assault of the professional victimologistsrnand their governmental co-conspirators, Flagstar got takenrnto the cleaners. It could have happened to any company inrnAmerica.rnThe Denny’s saga was only the most memorable in a longrnseries of recent court cases in which the charge of “racism”rnis enough to doom a company to years of litigation and demonizationrnin the liberal media, which is all too eager to provide arnplatform for any complaint of “discrimination.” It is almostrnworse than useless to fight such cases: Gien the cultural andrnpolitical ahnosphere, a legal ” ictor'” can, in the long run, windrnup costing a company more than a defeat.rnSocialism is widely thought to have been defeated, both intellectuallyrnand politically, while a wave of free-market libertarianismrnis supposedly sweeping the globe. But if we look at therneffectixeness of the ciil-rights revolution in the economicrnrealm, wc can see that the followers of Martin Luther King, Jr.,rnsucceeded where Lenin’s heirs failed. The 1964 Civil RightsrnAct, which forbade “discrimination” in housing, employment,rnand public accommodations, sounded the death knell of propertyrnrights in America and inaugurated the police state foreseenrnby Goldwater —an Orwellian enforcement apparatus geared towardrnthe extension of the “discrimination” concept to encompassrnthe importunate rolling of a eye.rn”Non-discrimination” inevitably grew to mean minorih’ preferencesrn— i.e., affirmative action —since there is no way to measurerna completelv subjective concept such as “discrimination”rnexcept b running the numbers. Since we cannot read thernmind of the accused and can onl)- infer his motives, the onlyrnmeasure of a white employer’s racial mindset comes fromrncounting his black employees. Do the numbers reflect the demographicsrnof the area in which the business is located? If not,rnthen —obviously-“discrimination” is at yvork. Such is the Jacobinrnlogic of civil-rights legislation, yvhich enforces homogeneityrnin the name of diversitv and elevates a whole class of humanrnbeings on the basis of their skin color—in the name ofrnracial “ecjualit}’.” In effect, civil-rights legislation, if consistentlyrnenforced, must mean quotas, yvhether openly acknowledgedrnor managed more discreetly.rnW/lien William F. Buckley, Jr., declaimed tliat it was time tornconcede on the issue of civil-rights laws, he said that he yvas unwillingrnto go to the barricades to defend the right of Lester Maddoxrnnot to serve a plate of pork chops to a Negro. But whatrnabout the rest of us, abandoned to the depredations of racebaitersrnand crusading victimologists? It was incredibly naive ofrnMr. Buckle- and his colleagues at National Review to havernimagined that the whole process yvould end with forcing thernLester Maddoxes of this world to mind their manners. In anyrncase, this occurred, ultimately’, not by force of law but becausernof the laws of the market.rnEveryone wanted to cash in on a very lucrative racket, andrnthe concept of “discrimination” was gradually extended to areasrnbeyond race, religion, and sex. It was inevitable that the aspir-rn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn