Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003 / 19 Shevat, 5763

Dan Abrams

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What was Powell thinking?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Last week, the Justice Department filed a brief supporting three white students who were alleging the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy is unconstitutional.

This weekend, Powell went public saying he disagreed with the administration's position. Look, there's no question Michigan's system is unfair to non-minorities, but on balance, I think it's necessary for our country to look at my past columns on this for my exact position and why.

But regardless, right now, I am more concerned about our military than any other issue - a military that is 20 percent black and almost 35 percent minorities. This is not the time to be potentially alienating large portions of our armed forces. The administration did not have to take any position on this case, and the position they did take was so nuanced, so fact specific, so limited to the particulars of the University of Michigan system that it really made only a slight contribution to the court anyway.

Secretary Powell is not just the administration's highest-ranking African American Cabinet member, but the highest-ranking African American to ever lead America's military. For him to go public with his views on this case tells you how deeply he feels about it, and I'll bet many of the minorities preparing to fight for our nation feel just as passionately as he does.

Right now I'm far more concerned about their morale than about three white applicants who'll have to go to a different university.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.

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