Ward Connerly writes back
I assume that Michele Landis doesn’t like my book, “Creating Equal.” Moreover, I guess she doesn’t like me much either. That is certainly her right. I wish, however, that she had not let her knack for ridicule and her anger get the better of her obligation to be fair and accurate.
First, I do not want to “end all affirmative action,” nor have I supported efforts that resulted in “slamming the doors of opportunity in the faces of millions of ‘people of color’ in the nation’s most populous state.” To the contrary, I have been a leading force in California, even according to some of my critics, in promoting the expansion of need-based outreach programs that are designed to benefit low-income students of all “races” in California’s underperfoming elementary, middle, and high schools.
Second, I was not “panic-stricken” upon discovering that “Creating Equal” was not readily accessible in B. Dalton’s Bookstore when I visited that store a few weeks ago. I quietly asked a sales clerk whether the book was in stock.
Third, “Creating Equal” was not placed in the African American Interest section because of its “topic,” namely race, as Ms. Landis states. My book is about treating all people with dignity and respect as equals. How is this a “topic” of unique interest to “African Americans?” No! “Creating Equal” was placed in the African American Interest section because of the color of my skin, because of the “one drop of blood” rule, and because B. Dalton Bookstore presumed that only “African Americans” would have an interest in my book.
Fourth, why is it necessary to demean, ridicule, and call those with whom we disagree names? I always try to avoid doing so, even when the provocation from those such as Ms. Landis clearly warrants such retaliation.
Finally, I will let the readers decide whether “Creating Equal” has any merit. If they conclude that it does not, I will still sleep well at night knowing that I gave it my best shot in trying to reach other Americans to share my perspective on what we can do to get beyond this scar of race in our nation.
Michele Landis responds:
I never doubted for a minute that Ward Connerly sleeps well at night. Not so, I am certain, for the black and Latino parents in California and elsewhere whose children are now, thanks to Connerly, unable to get into college.
In the first year after Connerly tanked the University of California’s affirmative action program, the flagship Berkeley campus’s Boalt Law School admitted exactly one black student. Actually, it admitted zero black students — the one enrolled black student had been admitted the prior year and had deferred his admission. He was widely quoted as saying that had he known that he would be all alone he would have gone elsewhere. The following year, the African American Law and Policy Report, one of only three black law reviews in the country, was forced to fold despite its staff’s heroic efforts to keep it afloat.
Sure, improving elementary and secondary education is a great idea. But yanking the rug out from under an entire generation of minority college students before the first tiny improvement in public schools occurs is not only morally bankrupt, it will deprive the black and Latino communities of the professional class that is politically necessary to sustain any meaningful change in public education. Thus, Connerly has not only slammed the door on these young adults, he has boarded it up and padlocked it so that even their children and grandchildren will not be able to squeeze through.
But these grim facts are of no concern to Connerly, for whom the real issue has always been his own bruised ego. Ward Connerly perfectly exemplifies what is wrong with the recent buzz for “civility” in public discourse. He ran a ruthless campaign that inflicted irreparable injury on thousands of people, then grandly complains that other people aren’t being very nice to him. In his moral economy, it is worse to be called an Uncle Tom than to be denied the chance to go to college or get a decent job.
More from Ward Connerly
One thing that I have learned about some of those who endorse race preferences is that lying or not feeling the need to make an effort to substantiate their reckless claims seems to go with the territory. Such is the case with this young woman whose sole claim to fame seems to be a total disregard for civility. I actually don’t care whether she rejoices in being rude and misbehaved — apparently, nothing can change that. What concerns me is the apparent willingness of MoJo to provide fledgling “writers” such as her with a forum to propagate misinformation.
Once again, not one applicant who would have been eligible for admission to the University of California prior to the elimination of race preferences was denied admission after the elimination of race preferences. This fact is available for the world to see, so why can’t this woman get it right? The reason is that she doesn’t want to.
Fourteen black students were admitted to Boalt Hall after preferences were banned. None enrolled from this pool, but one enrolled from a prior year’s admission pool. Those students admitted, but who did not enroll, elected to go to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, UCLA and other law schools that offered better financial packages. If she can’t be trusted to get this simple fact right, MoJo, aren’t you the least bit concerned about the integrity of everything else she writes for you?
No “rug was yanked” from under a generation of black and Latino students denying them the “opportunity to go to college.” We have 106 community colleges in California, 23 state universities, and eight UC campuses. Anyone who wants to go to college has ample opportunity to do so, as is fully documented in “Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences.” Yet, she has the gall to say that the children and grandchildren of this generation will be “denied the opportunity to get an education.” Such a reckless claim is indicative of 95 percent of what she has written.
This issue revolves around the question of whether black and Latino students should be given the right of first refusal to attend Berkeley and UCLA. Should they be given extra points and have lower academic requirements applied to them as compared to Asian and white students? I and the overwhelming majority of Americans believe the answer is no.
Finally, my “bruised ego” has endured far more substantial punches than this doctoral fellow is able to deliver. As Lincoln once said, “It is difficult to make a man miserable when he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the Great God who made him.”
Reader backs Connerly
When whites are allowed benefits based on their racial profile, it is called racism, yet the reverse is “affirmative action.” The Constitution makes no exception for skin color. There can be exceptions based on economic opportunity, which Connerly suggests, but the left wing ignores this possibility. Affirmative action suggests that black people are too stupid to achieve anything on their own. The current enrollment at the University of California at Berkeley suggests affirmative action is not needed, only an equal playing field.
Dean La Chapelle
MoJo: sitting ducks?
Why is Ward Connerly “whining,” when less than a year ago, MoJo ran an article that put forth apparently reasonable/legitimate objections by “some notable black authors” to the very same book-segregation activities that Connerly is objecting to?
I think MoJo better get its ducks in a row!
All this and vitriol too
This article, aside from its overreliance on vitriol, is short on at least two important points.
First, Ms. Landis describes Mr. Connerly as “black.” If American society turns back the clock to the time of the invidious “one-drop rule,” perhaps Mr. Connerly is black. But if Ms. Landis had read his book more closely, she would learn that Mr. Connerly considers himself equal parts French Canadian, Choctaw, Irish, and African. In other words, about as “black” as Tiger Woods.
Second, and more important, Mr. Connerly is not a foe of affirmative action, and did not “end all affirmative action programs in (California) state university admissions.” Rather, he introduced to the University of California Board of Regents measures to end race and ethnic preference in UC admissions, which that multi-ethnic group passed by vote. In 1996 Mr. Connerly chaired the committee for Proposition 209, which also eliminated race, gender, and ethnic preferences in hiring, school admissions, and contracting in the public sector.
The NAACP understood this race-neutral concept much more clearly than did Ms. Landis when it offered this mission statement at the time of its 1909 founding: “To enjoy equal employment opportunities based on individual merit without regard to race, color, or national origin.”
Name-calling and mud-slinging
Your report on Connerly’s latest book amounted to nothing more than name-calling and mud-slinging. Such smug, one-sided reporting weakens your magazine’s legitimacy, and leaves me as a reader in search of other, more balanced opinions. Your magazine, once recommended to me by a college professor as a balanced left-of-center magazine, is now viewed by me with much skepticism. I am disappointed.
Thanks for the dirt on Connerly
I found your point of view on Ward Connerly fascinating. I don’t know much about Mr. Connerly, but so far he impresses me as a man who has his and doesn’t care how anyone else gets theirs — or even if they do.
J. Ronald Reed