Magazine article Insight on the News

Connerly Leads Fight to Establish Color-Blind Society. (Fair Comment)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Connerly Leads Fight to Establish Color-Blind Society. (Fair Comment)

Article excerpt

What color are you? Black? White? Brown? Yellow? None of my concern, you say? If so, why is your ethnicity the government's business?

Political activist Ward Connerly expects to ask California voters that very question. He has secured 980,283 petition signatures for his Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI)--309,467 more than required to qualify for the Nov. 5 ballot.

"I want to extricate the government from categorizing people" Connerly said on a recent visit to New York. RPI largely would prevent state agencies from asking about and acting upon the racial makeup of its residents. By denying ethnic bean counters their garbanzos, RPI would strike a mighty blow for color-neutrality.

Connerly, a University of California at Berkeley regent, wants to stop state-sponsored bias in college admissions. He says: "When we give a preference to a Latino applicant over an Asian to compensate for what a white student's ancestor did to a black applicant's ancestor, your head starts to spin"

The university's nosy admissions application is similarly dizzying. Candidates are asked to pigeonhole themselves into 14 ethnic boxes. The "Pacific Islander" category presumably excludes whites from Australia, the Pacific's biggest island. The "White/ Caucasian" identity "includes Middle Eastern." Of course, someone of Egyptian stock could be white by this definition, as well as "African-American/ Black" since Egypt is in Africa. Students from Bombay and Karachi must share an "East Indian-Pakistani" box--something sadly laughable these days.

The University of California at Berkeley also offers "restricted scholarship programs." While some target, say, potential agronomy students, others are limited to those within specific "ethnicity, national origin or religion" groups. Applicants are encouraged to seek discriminatory, government-administered grants for people matching 37 different descriptions, among them:

* "First-generation European immigrant";

* "Caucasian, not of Polynesian blood and residing in Hawaii";

* "Jewish orphan studying aeronautical engineering"; and

* "Student's ancestors from Pop Yup, China."

Private campuses have a First Amendment, free-association right to subsidize every Pop Yuppie, if they wish. But government schools may not do so since Americans legally are created equal.

Cal-Berkeley's liberal school paper recognized this when it endorsed the initiative. "The only thing state racial categorization does is perpetuate the mentality that race alone defines people" an unsigned editorial declared in the April 23 Daily Californian. …

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