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August 02, 2003

Connerly vs Wood

There is a split in the coalition that brought you Proposition 209. Thomas E. Wood has authored a very detailed accounting of the contradictions between himself and Ward Connerly vis a vis Connerly's latest efforts in California. The Racial Privacy Initiative designated Proposition 54 which will be on the October 7th ballot seeks to get rid of all racial checkboxes in the public and private sector. Wood, who was a co-author of 209 sees how getting rid of racial checkboxes undermines all racial discrimination law enforcement, not the least of which is Prop 209 itself. He has brought this up to Connerly, who would rather get rid of the checkboxes.

Colorblindness as a racial ideology has now begun to show the chinks in its armor within the California Republican Party. Wood's apt tracing of libertarian thought on the matter provides a good guide to how positions may be staked out in the future, but at the center of this entire matter is the personality and thinking of Ward Connerly himself. Connerly's racial identity has been problematic from the beginning. He may soon find himself to be a crusader without intellectual backing. Wood incisively observes:

However one might feel about libertarian or quasi-libertarian objections to racial data collection and private sector enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, intellectual clarity and honesty require a clear acknowledgment that the choice between these principles and meaningful enforcement of anti-discrimination laws is very stark. If one favors laws prohibiting discrimination based on race and ethnicity in the public sector, one must acknowledge that such data is needed to enforce those laws. Similarly, if one favors laws prohibiting racial discrimination in the private sector, one must acknowledge the need for racial data in the private sector to enforce those laws.

Wood is clearly against RPI in defense of 209. I gather that the majority of conservatives are unsatisfied with evasions of 209 and for this matter will support RPI. It will put them in a logical bind, and Wood may yet come to see how great a factor racial resentment was in the passing of his own bill. Though Wood gives a credible arugment in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 he himself makes a damning distinction with regards to conservative and libertarian support. To take colorblindness to the extremes of Prop 54 will do so in direct contradiction to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What I have been arguing in this paper is that the RPI is best seen as a move within the conservative movement to redefine the nations position on race. I have suggested that the bulk of the RPIs support among conservatives comes from those who have strong libertarian leanings and also from those who do not self-identify with libertarians but who continue to believe, as Goldwaterites believed in the 1960s and 1970s, that government should not recognize race or be engaged in racial issues at allexcept perhaps to the extent of having laws prohibiting racial discrimination that are nevertheless so weak as to be virtually unenforceable. If I am right about this, then it is surely a matter of concern, not so much for the opponents of the initiative, but for those Republicans who are concerned about the marginalization of the GOP in California politics. The GOP is already on the defensive in California on the issue of race. The last thing it needs is to be identified with a movement to overthrow the civil rights paradigm of the 1960s, as embodied above all in the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The gauntlet is thrown.

Posted by mbowen at August 2, 2003 09:22 AM

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No on 54 from Vision Circle
you will find at the bottom of reasoning for everyone who wants to be recognized that there is a need for service where there was no service before. Where people are outside of the mainstream of America and they know one of the reasons is race or ethni... [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2003 10:49 AM