Letters to the Editor

Orange County Register RPI

Date: Monday, April 08, 2002 2:36 PM
From: Jennifer Hatges
Subject: Orange County Register RPI

A powerful editorial rallying the troops as RPI enters its final stage of qualification….

(Also, this is a reminder about this Sunday's CBS Evening News piece on RPI. Please check your local listings. The camera crew got footage of Charlton Heston signing an RPI petition at David Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club, so let's see if they dare cut out Moses.)


Friday, April 5, 2002
Undermining identity politics

Ward Connerly, University of California Regent and businessman, was his usual eloquent self at a lunch meeting in Los Angeles Wednesday, where he offered an update on the progress of his Racial Privacy Initiative. But the initiative, which offers a bold way to move beyond the sterility of racial and ethnic politics, might be in trouble if it doesn't get some volunteer help in the next week or so. The initiative is simplicity itself. It declares that "The state shall not classify any individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin in the operation of public education, public contracting or public employment." The elimination of the invidious (if sometimes well-intentioned) practice of sorting people by race could do a great deal to move Americans to thinking of people as individuals, a much healthier basis for a free society. The initiative does contain common-sense exceptions such as law enforcement descriptions, medical research projects, prisoner assignments and action taken to comply with federal law. It would not affect marketing or social science research. But its purpose is to reduce the inherently divisive practice of having government sort people into racial categories. In his speech to the Wednesday Morning Club, however, Mr. Connerly noted that time is short. The deadline for collecting signatures is April 19, and the campaign (at www.acrc1.org) is still 150,000 signatures short. Mr. Connerly estimated the campaign still needs $600,000 in donations to succeed. As he mentioned in the speech and in his book, "Creating Equal," Mr. Connerly (like so many Californians) is a prime example of the absurdity of racial classification. His heritage includes Irish, African and Choctaw native American ancestors. His wife is Irish. His son married a Vietnamese girl. "But when people find out my grandchildren are Ward Connerly's grandchildren, they often say, 'Oh, you're black,'" he told the audience. "This initiative is for the growing population of kids who don't know what box to check – and shouldn't have to decide. Please give them freedom from race and let them just be Americans." Mr. Connerly sponsored Prop. 209, which prohibits government from discriminating or granting preferences based on race. Despite opposition or distancing from both major parties, the voters approved it by a 55-45 margin in November 1996. Preventing government from classifying people by race is the next logical step, and an important key to implementing Prop. 209. It would also save taxpayers millions of dollars. You don't have to look very far around the world to see examples of ethnic Balkanization that lead not just to sterile politics but to hatred and bloodshed. Those who want to spare California this agony would do well to help Ward Connerly's latest crusade.

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