Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Ward Connerly, who is spearheading Civil Rights Initiatives around the country, spoke at the Goldwater Institute Thursday and was interviewed on Horizon. Connerly has been an outspoken opponent of racial preferences, beginning back in 1996 when he got Prop. 209 passed in California. Arizona's Civil Rights Initiative uses identical language to Prop. 209, and would ban racial and gender preferences in government, including government contracts, education admissions, and employment.
Horizon newscaster Larry Lemmons played a clip of Cloves Campbell first, a small business owner from Tucson speaking at a rally. Campbell is part of a very small opposition group calling themselves "Protect Arizona's Freedom to Discriminate in Government." Cloves' speech didn't really address any of the issues involved with affirmative action in government, he had a few tired old slogans like "Ward thinks there are equal opportunities for everyone in Arizona....it's an assault on civil rights in Arizona....Ward is paid well to say the things he does....I think Ward Connerly is a damn fool and I'm going to continue saying that....this is not an equal country.....Ward Connerly is completely wrong."
Campbell was a nice-looking well-dressed man in a suit, whose motivation appeared to be that he was going to lose some cushy contracts with the City of Tucson. That demonstrates part of the problem with the preferences - they're not helping the disadvantaged, they're helping guys like Campbell who are obviously well-off.
When Lemmons interviewed Connerly, Connerly explained that affirmative action has changed over the years. Initially, under JFK, it was set up to make sure there was no discrimination against minorities. Now, it has morphed into something completely different, a system of discrimination against whites and Asians, treating people differently. It's now this elaborate system of "what color of skin do we want for this particular job?"
Connerly discussed one of the most egregious examples of racial preferences in Arizona, the City of Tucson's discriminatory government contract bidding preference. Minority-owned or women-owned businesses receive a 7% advantage over everyone else when bidding on government contracts. So, for example, if a regular white guy bids $100k for a project, but a woman or minority bids $106,999 for the project, the women or minority will qualify as having the lower bid.
In response to criticism from guys like Campbell that he's ignoring that discrimination still exists, Connerly acknowledged that discrimination still exists, but said that nobody has a monopoly on discrimination. And some minority groups discriminate against others. In addition, the preference system is abused, men pretend that their wives are heading up their businesses.
Connerly ended saying the solution is really as easy as Chief Justice Roberts characterizes it, "The way to end discrimination is to stop discriminating."
Posted by Politico at Tuesday, February 12, 2008