The proposed rule, disclosed last month by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan at the NAACP’s convention in Florida, has been entered into the Federal Register.
But it can’t become a regulation that carries the weight of law until after a 60-day public comment period. Should it get that far, it could be used to manipulate and manage the makeup of neighborhoods.
We see nothing wrong with diversity among neighbors. Racial, ethnic, religious, educational and economic mixtures can be enriching. People from different backgrounds and experiences can learn from each other and meld together as one.
But humans, not just Americans, often make housing choices that don’t advance the government’s definition of diversity. Is it the government’s job to deny those choices and impose its idea of appropriate diversity?
Affirmatively furthering “fair housing,” as HUD is eager to do, requires government to act with magisterial powers. That’s not the role of the state in a free society. Overseeing neighborhood makeup isn’t a function of a legitimate government, but of an oppressive one.
It makes us nervous to know government might be compiling demographic data from every neighborhood in the country, especially when that information will be used by Washington to, as the rule states, “assess fair housing issues, identify the primary determinants that account for those issues, and set forth fair housing priorities and goals.”
Studies have found that black and white Americans tend to stay within their racial groups when they move to a new neighborhood. But, says one researcher, self-segregation itself “is not necessarily a problem.”
The issue, University of Washington sociologist Kyle Crowder told livescience.com, is a matter of “school quality, crime and access to health care and those sorts of things.”
These are legitimate concerns. But they’re not ones resolved by rules, regulation, bureaucracy, government decree, public housing, welfare programs or a community organizer.
In fact, those are impediments to more Americans having access to the benefits of living in good neighborhoods. All drain rather than boost the economy. Each chokes rather than increases opportunities. Every one of them is an instrument of harm.
There’s nothing Donovan and his department can do to promote access to “good schools, safe streets, jobs, grocery stores” for those in disadvantaged neighborhoods — except get out of the way.
Americans are not children who need teachers to enforce seating arrangements in classrooms.
They’re not helpless creatures in need of a nanny to make sure they behave in a civil fashion.
Neither are they subjects to be ordered about like pawns.
But this administration thinks they are.
When we first wrote about this rule just last month, we pointed out that Donovan had a “scheme to map ‘racist’ suburbs for targeting by diversity cops” and is willing to take on a project that “could degrade the lifestyles of tens of millions of Americans — including hard-working middle-class minorities — who moved to the suburbs to get away from crime and bad schools.”
That may not be tyranny in most people’s understanding of the word. But it sure moves us a step closer to it.