VIEWSrnThe Revolution in Civil Rights Lawrnby Jared TaylorrnI t has been nearly 30 years since the passage of the CivilrnRights Act of 1964. By banning discrimination in employmentrnand public accommodations the law was meant to minimizernthe role of race in the daily lives of Americans. Its resultrnhas been the opposite. The doctrine of “disparate impact” hasrnhad the astonishing effect of transforming laws that forbidrnracial discrimination into regulations that require it.rnThe shift from officially color-blind “equal opportunity” torna form of racial discrimination called “affirmative action” wasrnnot inevitable. What made this revolution in the laws possiblernwas a combination of factors: ignorance about the nature ofrnemployment markets, unchallenged assumptions about the inveteratern”racism” of whites, and—perhaps most important—rnthe almost complete failure of whites to defend their own interests.rnToday it is taken for granted that without civil rights lawsrnthere would be wholesale job discrimination against blacks. Isrnthat really true? Was it ever true? In his 1992 book ForbiddenrnGround: The Case Against Discrimination Laws, Richard Epsteinrnargues convincingly that antidiscrimination laws are notrnnecessary and that the employment provisions of the CivilrnRights Act of 1964 should be repealed. Professor Epstein’s thesisrncan be simply summarized: if some prejudiced employersrnrefuse to hire qualified blacks, the wage at which blacks arc willingrnto work will fall, irnprejudiccd employers will soon discoverrn]ared Taylor is the author of Paved With Good Intentions:rnThe Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary Americarn(1992).rnthis wage difference and hire blacks at less than the prevailingrnrates. But if competent blacks can be hired for lower wagesrnthan whites, this will bid up the price of black labor to somethingrnequal or very close to the price of white labor.rnIn Professor Epstein’s view, it was not the irrational prejudicesrnof whites that kept blacks out of certain jobs in the precivilrnrights South. Government interference kept them out. Itrnwas government that instituted inferior schooling for blacksrnand passed Jim Crow laws to ban them from professions. Indeed,rnthe erv existence of Jim Crow laws suggests they werernneccssars’. Blacks were kept out of professions by law becausernthat was the only way to keep them out. Even Southerners ofrn60 or 70 years ago could not be counted on to pass up a competentrncarpenter or bricklayer simply because he was black.rnThese laws reflected prevailing prejudices, but prejudices oftenrnhad to be forced upon emplo’ers. Even at the height of slavery,rnwhite tradesmen had to resort to legal means to keep freernblacks from taking away their work. An 1857 petition by whitesrnto the Atlanta city council says, “We refer to Negro mechanicsrn[who] . . . can afford to underbid the regular resident mechanics.rn… We most respectfully request [that the council] affordrnsuch protection to the resident mechanics.” Even in thernantebellum South, prejudice could not be counted on to keeprnprofessions white.rnThe 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson is infamous for havingrnenshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal” facilities forrnwhites and blacks. Long forgotten, however, is the fact that thernLouisiana railroad that asked Homer Plessy to ride in thernblacks-onlv car was forced against its will to do so by a state lawrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn