To the editors:
I would like to respond to your recent article, "Whatever Happened to School Desegregation," by Steve Bogira [January 29].
First of all, I object to the term "desegregation"--I consider it intellectually dishonest. Frankly, it's uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell's "Newspeak," focusing all of our attention on what the writer wants us to move away from and diverting our attention away from the ramifications of what we're moving toward, which can be equally bad. Chicago has never had a dual-school system, so we're not talking about de segregation or "de" anything else. What we're really talking about is racial integration or amalgamation, the sometimes arbitrary, sometimes artificial mixing of various groups in society for its own sake. The problem with the professional integrationists is that they make a dogma out of togetherness--they almost seem obsessed with the idea--just as the pro-apartheid people in South Africa make a dogma out of separation. Enforced or coerced togetherness or even a dogmatic emphasis on togetherness can be just as harmful, just as destructive of individual freedom and group identity, as enforced apartness.
Mr. Bogira states in his article:
"He (Gary Orfield) thinks Chicago should push for the establishment of a voluntary interdistrict transfer program that would allow students in metropolitan Chicago to attend schools in districts other than their own, as long as their transfer enhanced integration." (Emphasis mine.)
Why that qualification, that condition? Why allow transfers solely to promote integration?
Has it ever occurred to anyone that this proposal, in its very essence, constitutes pure, unadulterated racial discrimination? Has it ever occurred to anyone that white parents might want to enroll their children in suburban schools also, that they, too, might obtain a better education? Why should the members of just one or two racial groups be able to exercise this option and not members of other racial or ethnic groups? Ah, yes: there's nothing like equal protection of the laws, which the 14th Amendment is supposed to guarantee to all Americans.
In any case, the necessity of travelling 10, 20, 30 or more miles every day just to get to school, then travelling the same distance back again, when there might be a school right around the corner, strikes me as being absurd. I believe the very distances involved unduly burden the students in their pursuit of an education. As an alternative to massive bussing, why can't a good faith effort be made by everyone, especially Government at all levels, to upgrade the quality of our inner-city schools, so that they are no longer short-changed, but put on a par with schools elsewhere? I believe that building up your own schools and your own community is far preferable to coveting what other people have.
James C. Rogers