F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
October 15, 2000
A Land of Opportunity For All Races

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"Rather than binding up our racial wounds [affirmative action] made them deeper, uglier, and more likely to become septic."

"My fight against race preferences has sharpened my appreciation for the principles that are at the core of the American experiment," confides Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute. "I feel more fully a citizen now -- more a part of this nation -- than ever before in my life." Connerly reflects on "the frantic search for utopia that characterized some members of the radical movement of the sixties, a search that led them on a twisting path to exotic Third World dictatorships and corrupt authoritarian systems. The irony was that utopia was right under their feet all along -- a limited and incomplete utopia to be sure," he concedes, "but as close as we are likely to get to that ideal in this imperfect world."

In his new book, Creating Equal, Connerly marvels at how recently "the systematic and bureaucratized inequality erroneously referred to as affirmative action was entrenched not only in the University of California, but in institutions at every level of state government. To question it was to be dismissed as quixotic," he recalls, "and to actually challenge it was to risk being stigmatized as a racist. The stronghold of affirmative action," Connerly emphasizes, "seemed impregnable those few short years ago. We didn't know then that it was actually a house of cards waiting for a gust of wind to blow it down. That wind, which I know is the wind of freedom, is blowing strongly now," he declares, "in the electoral and legal arenas, and most of all in the court of public opinion."

Connerly predicts that "one day soon we as a nation will shake our heads incredulously and wonder how we ever allowed this malignant structure to arise in the heart of our wonderful country in the first place. What was it that ever made us think that by encouraging government to disadvantage some we would liberate others?" he demands. "How could we have ever believed that the recipients of such condescending help would actually profit from it and not internalize the message it conveyed about their inferiority and incompetence? How," Connerly asks, "did we ever convince ourselves that such a policy was consistent with the promise at the heart of American life?"

Denounce affirmative action for the pious fraud that it is -- a paternalistic program of favoritism, a demagogic engine of extortion -- and you'll discover for yourself, as Connerly did, what it feels like to be savaged unjustly and unmercifully. Denounce it as a black man and you'll get to savor the added insult of being called a traitor to your race, an "Uncle Tom." But who are the real Uncle Toms? Are they men like Connerly who insist that people of color are fully capable of fending for themselves? Or, are they men like Jesse Jackson who keep their own people in mental bondage by pandering to petty or imagined grievances in order to cultivate influence for themselves? Answer that question honestly and you'll have begun the never-ending process of "creating equal."

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