Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Connerly Raising a "Ruckus" Over Affirmative Action


I have been pretty caught up in this past week’s political excitement. Barack Obama won South Carolina! And Kwame Kilpatrick… well, Mr. Mayor was his ever-scandalous self. It all made for high drama. But, I wasn’t THAT caught up. Nope, I haven’t forgotten about Ward “anti-affirmative action” Connerly.

Connerly lead the purposefully ambiguous “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative” (Proposition 2) in 2006. “Prop 2” passed in Michigan with a 58% vote. This means that the measures the state of Michigan had in place to ensure that women and minorities get their foot in the door in a variety of public institutions (e.g., government, education, employment) are no more. He has already lead successful campaigns in the states of California and Washington on this point.

Next week--Super Tuesday-- Connerly is hoping to get his anti-affirmative action Civil Rights Initiative on five more states’ ballots. These states are: Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The best predictors say that Connerly will be successful.

I am afraid. As a result of these measures, it is becoming harder to document discrimination against women and minorities in public institutions.

I am nervous. As Ms. magazine explained succinctly: “Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) campaigns use purposefully deceptive language to confuse some voters into repudiating policies they might otherwise support. Virtually all his campaigns purport to ban ‘discrimination and preference’ on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Even those who read the language of his initiatives with caution will not necessarily recognize a ban on discrimination or preference as a vote to end affirmative action.” As such, I hope voters truly understand what is on their ballots.

I am angry. Connerly fails to understand how diversity is tied to experiential, intellectual, and cultural heterogeneity. He fails to understand how such heterogeneity is good for institutions—competing voices, ideas, and attitudes lead to a smarter, more informed citizenry.

(Image source: BlackatMichigan.com)

2 comments:

Chetly Zarko said...

How is prohibiting preference ambiguous?

Why does prohibiting preference preclude heterogenity? If you seek to eliminate homogenity of ideas, why would selecting people on the assumption that their race has something to do with their ideas (that is the implication of the preferences = diversity argument) not increase homogenity of ideas?

If "experiential" diversity is important, why not select students based on different EXPERIENCES, not different races? If there is "disparity," why not use income as a measure rather than giving preference to Colin Powell and Oprah Winfrey's grandchildren?

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with chetly zarko. He like many of other people have a misunderstanding of what Affirmative Action really is. Affirmative Action has nothing to do with preference, but in fact deals entirely with providing an opportunity to those that have historically been denied equal access.

His example of Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell are perfect examples of what can happen when minorities are provided an "equal" opportunity.