Leon Worden

CCRI foes resort to race-baiting

Leon Worden · September 4, 1996

Labor Day is behind us, as are the national party conventions. You know what that means: For the next two months, we will be barraged with countless doses of unmitigated crap from all sides of a thousand different political fences.

High on the list of getting stuff thrown at it will be the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), Proposition 209 on your November 5 ballot. Some pundits say it is even more significant than the Dole-Clinton contest, and they may be right.

Fortunately, getting to the bottom of CCRI is very simple. If you think our state government should favor whites over blacks, vote no. If you think the government should favor blacks over whites, vote no. If you think the government should favor men over women or women over men, vote no. And if you think high-achieving Asians should still be barred from UC Berkeley just because some social-engineering bureaucrat decided there are too many of them on campus, then by all means vote no.

But if you believe in individual liberty, if you believe in awarding merit over happenstances of birth, if you believe the State of California's current practices of favoritism and preferences -- i.e., quotas -- should stop, then you have an opportunity to say so by voting "yes" on the one initiative on the California ballot that is sending shock waves through the halls of every government office in the nation.

Here is the unedited text of the operative part of the initiative:

"The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

If you think you've heard that language before, you probably have. It was taken practically word-for-word from the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and adapted to the areas of California government that are violating its spirit through a morally bankrupt system of programs that discriminate on the basis of race and gender.

Because the 1964 Act has stood up in court time and time again, Prop. 209 backers don't expect to run into the same kinds of roadblocks that judges sometimes lob at voter-approved ballot measures. More than just "sending a message," Prop. 209 says what it means and means exactly what it says.

So who would oppose such a thing? Well, a bevy of politicians who gain votes by catering to various special-interest groups will oppose it. And they won't be able to oppose it on its merits, because there are no two ways about it. No possible argument can justify the immorality of government-sanctioned discrimination.

So how will they fight it? Well, already they have resorted to deception, scare tactics and, most reprehensible of all, race-baiting.

State Senator Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) has personally attacked Ward Connerly, the member of the University of California Board of Regents who is chairing the Yes-On-209 committee.

"He's married to a white woman," Watson said about Connerly. "He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."

No, Ms. Watson, I'm sorry. You're wrong. I know Ward Connerly. Ward Connerly does not want a "colorless" society. He wants a "colorblind" society. He wants to be able to go to a cocktail party and not overhear someone gossiping about "that nice black man over there in the corner." He wants to be at peace with himself in the knowledge that he reached his position, or gained his university admission, or won his government contract -- how did Martin Luther King put it? -- not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

Ward Connerly -- and most people in these United States -- want what Hubert Humphrey promised more than 30 years ago. He wants a government which hires, fires, educates, expels and purchases services "on the basis of ability and qualifications, not by race or religion."

We Americans fought our one and only Civil War over the essence of California's Proposition 209. We shed blood in the streets of Selma, Alabama over its language.

We owe it to the fallen, and to ourselves, to win the battle this November.

* * *

Please don't wait until November to help. Yes-On-209 is a totally grass-roots campaign, and the anti-CCRI politicians are already building a huge war chest. If you can contribute money, organize a coffee klatch or help in any other way, please contact Yes-On-209 now or write to P.O. Box 67278, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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