Unlike some of their mainstream media colleagues, editors at the Weekly Standard exhibit no angst about Ben Carson’s substantive changes at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Readers may draw their own conclusions about the merits or deficiencies of the [New York] Times story. In any case, it arises from a commonplace phenomenon that goes something like this: The new administration interprets its mission differently from the previous administration; bureaucrats accustomed to the former way of doing things take their complaints to the New York Times; the paper publishes a story about the new agency’s scandalous betrayal of its mission.

Fair enough, but forgive us if we fail to be outraged.

In this case, Obama-era HUD officials took an expansive view of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which outlawed race discrimination in housing. They considered it their duty not just to interdict clearly illegal discrimination, but to force local governments to take “proactive steps” to ensure racially integrated housing outcomes. The problem with that view, leaving aside the question of whether it’s a valid interpretation of the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act, is that people of the same race or ethnicity often prefer to live near one another. They do so because they would rather live near family and friends than near strangers. Bigotry may or may not play some part of their decision, but any fair-minded person can see that such cases admit of some ambiguity.

For the enlightened HUD of 2009-2017, however, people of the same race living in close proximity to each other is prima facie evidence of illegal race discrimination that must be countered by federal coercion. Any “segregated living pattern” is a “fair housing issue” and must be dealt with by force of law.