Odom was never charged with a criminal offense, because investigators ruled that while the accident was caused by sheer stupidity, it was not of the malicious sort. Odom was forced to surrender his license, and in 1998 he told a reporter that he regretted no longer making the “good money.”
Following the accident, there were whispers that Odom had been an affirmative-action hire. But with all of the involved parties clamming up in the face of mounting litigation, that was never confirmed. What we can say is that the accident happened just two years after President H.W. Bush signed the “landmark” 1991 Civil Rights Act, which was intended to address discriminatory practices in employment. The bill was one of the finest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people. Bush, and both parties in Congress, assured Americans that it was not a “racial quota” bill. And indeed it wasn’t. The bill barely addressed hiring at all. Rather, the bill made it incredibly difficult to fire a nonwhite. See what those lovable rapscallions did there? Great misdirection! In 2003, The Atlantic reported that the Act had actually had a negative effect on minority hiring, because employers, knowing how potentially costly the law had made it to fire a nonwhite, had started hiring less of them.
So we can’t say whether Odom was an affirmative-action hire, but we can say that, in 1993, an employer would have been very hesitant to get rid of an incompetent black employee (the Act had made it so that even if you could prove you would have fired someone regardless of their race, that was not defense enough to beat a discrimination charge).
Back then, the left was trying to achieve “diversity” through government mandate. But the past 25 years have not been kind to affirmative action. Supreme Court rulings have gutted it, and even commie California outlawed its use in academia. So now the left, aided by its salivating media lapdogs, is pursuing “diversity” the same way it’s waging its war against free speech: not through legislation, but via fear, coercion, and good old-fashioned bullying. No law can have the same impact as waking up with a horse’s head under your sheets. Forcing a brilliant white male rocket scientist to tearily beg for forgiveness on live TV for wearing a “sexist” shirt, getting white software guys fired for writing a “sexist” memo or making a “sexist” joke, destroying the careers of distinguished academics because of “sexist” comments—make no mistake, these were warnings delivered by the Luca Brasis of the left.
Nowadays, Willie Odom’s bosses wouldn’t need a law to force them to keep him on staff. They’d have refused to fire him out of fear of being Twitter-shamed and boycotted.
There may, in fact, be absolutely no connection between the tragic end of Diversity Bridge and the miscalculations of any incompetent “diversity hire.” But because of the left’s unmerciful and inflexible “diversity or die” crusade, Florida International University and Munilla Construction Management felt the need to present the bridge as the product of “diversity.” They couldn’t just say, “Hey, look at this cool bridge we built.” They had to add, “And diversity dunnit.”
Because, to the left, that’s all that matters. Not the quality of the work, but the gender and color of the workers. And if the rubble of Diversity Bridge is to hold any significance at all (beyond its upcoming role as evidence in a bunch of costly civil suits), let it be this: Let’s dial back the “diversity in STEM” fanaticism just a tad. Let’s get back to focusing on the quality of the work, and not whether our engineering classrooms and construction companies resemble a 1970s Coke commercial.