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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Fighting for a Fair Shake

by Paul Jacob

Ben Vargas wasn't trying to be the odd man out when he chose to fight for what was right. That's just how it happened. And he got clobbered for it.

Several years ago, Lieutenant Vargas was the only Hispanic among eighteen mostly white plaintiffs in a reverse discrimination case, Ricci v. DeStefano, just decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2003, 56 members of a New Haven, Connecticut, fire department passed a test for promotion. Fifteen of them were black or Hispanic. When city officials learned that only two of the 15 would be immediately eligible for promotion based on those scores, they threw out the results.

New Haven officials didn't initially claim the test was unfair. They admitted fearing a lawsuit. But one should think twice — thrice, a thousand times — about acting unjustly in hopes of heading off injustice by others.

After Vargas — one of the two minority test-takers who scored very well — joined a lawsuit against the city, he was shunned by many colleagues. Once even got punched in the face. But he tells the New York Times he has no regrets, considering the kind of world he wants his children to grow up in.

Ben Vargas says, “I want them to have a fair shake, to get a job on their merits and not because they're Hispanic or they fill a quota.”

Funny, isn't that what good parents, of all races and ethnicities, want for their children?

Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Citizens in Charge Foundation. Their website can be visited at

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