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Ward Connerly: Affirmative Action Over November 28, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in affirmative action, African Americans, anti-affirmative action, Blacks, California, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Michigan, reverse racism, Whites.

The days of the much-criticized affirmative action policy are numbered, the program’s biggest critic says.

“I think the end is at hand for affirmative action as we know it,” former University of California regent Ward Connolly told the Los Angeles Times, noting that an “anti-affirmative action wave washing over America” will bring to an end the race-based preferences used for decades to help African-Americans, Latinos and other disadvantaged ethnic groups. No one in America, he said, should receive preference in education, jobs or government contracts because of their skin color or sex.

Encouraged by his victory in Michigan, where a ballot measure banning racial preferences in public education and hiring won handily, Connerly said he is considering sponsoring similar ballot measures in one or more states, including Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri or South Dakota.

“We don’t have to go to every state if we can get a critical mass of seven or eight states,” he said, adding that the overwhelming victory in Michigan at the same time the state voted largely Democratic in other contests was a sign that anti-affirmative action measures could prevail anywhere in the country.

Connerly was appointed to the University of California Board of Regents by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in 1993. According to the Times, he helped lead the campaign for Proposition 209 in California, which eliminated affirmative action in public education, hiring and contracts in 1996. He backed a similar ballot measure that was approved by voters in Washington state in 1998. Florida, facing the threat of a similar initiative, changed its college admissions policies in 2000.

After his 12-year term on the UC Board of Regents expired early last year, Connerly said he was tired and needed a break. But following knee-replacement and prostate cancer surgeries, Connerly, 67, came back as eager as ever to tackle what he sees as the inequity of affirmative action.

“I won’t retire until my toes curl up,” he told the Times.

In Michigan, the Times recalled, Connerly sponsored Proposal 2 with Jennifer Gratz, a former student who sued the University of Michigan in 1997 over its use of racial preferences in admission but lost when a narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court sided with the school.

Faced with opposition from Democratic and Republican leaders, labor unions, the Catholic Church, major media outlets, the University of Michigan and former Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Connerly came out swinging.

“It was a battle royal,” Connerly told the Times. “The opposition pulled out all the stops,” but in the end Michigan voters easily approved Proposal 2 on Nov. 7 by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.

Some African-American leaders see Connerly as a sellout acting at the behest of his conservative sponsors, the Times reported, noting that they maintain that affirmative action, which began in the 1960s, is an essential step in helping blacks, Latinos and American Indians overcome generations of discrimination that have left them at a disadvantage in obtaining an education or a job.

He responds that that he is his own man and passionately argues that affirmative action is a misguided program that is fundamentally unfair and stigmatizes successful blacks who can succeed without it. And the role of public universities, he says, is not to provide opportunities for students but to produce a skilled workforce.

Connerly says he is optimistic that the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2003 affirmed limited consideration of race in admissions, will ban affirmative action in the next five or six years.

According to the Times, two cases that could provide an opportunity for the court to rule on racial preferences are scheduled for a hearing in December.

“If I were a regent or a college administrator and I saw the anti-affirmative action wave washing over America, I would have to take notice and say, ‘We better do something about our policies,'” he said. “More than I have ever felt, we are witnessing the end of an era.”

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Newsmax.com

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