Which Crayola is the color ‘Despicable?’
On this November’s ballot in Arizona is the following initiative: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
AP reported this morning (July 28) that Senator John McCain, in a reversal of an earlier position that asserted such attempts were “divisive,” announced in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he now supports the ballot proposal. McCain defended his support of the measure by claiming “I do not believe in quotas, I’ve always opposed quotas.” (In 1998, before an Hispanic business group, McCain said, “Rather than engage in divisive ballot initiatives, we must have a dialog and cooperation and mutual efforts together to provide ever child in America to fulfill their expectations.”)
It must be noted that such affirmative measures have not for years involved “quotas,” because, for years, the courts have struck every quota-oriented measure down. Thus, using the ploy, opposition to “quotas,” in arguments against efforts that are intended to redress existing unfair racially- or gender- or other-based differences in opportunities for access to education, employment and contracts, etc. can only be construed as disingenuous, deceptive code; white-sheet cover intended to appeal to a “conservative” (also known as “bigoted”) base.
As important an inquiry into McCain’s campaign motives as that may be, this arrow is aimed elsewhere, to an equally ugly facet of McCain’s characteristics.
By his own words (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yIhVAim_P0), in his “Service to America” tour, before his private prep school alma mater, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, Senator McCain was “straight-talking” sure enough when he admitted that, with a barely “B” average, he had not been “a particularly good student.”
Regardless of overall GPA, regardless that his extracurricular activities were hardly as expansive as are required of almost every other applicant, John McCain was admitted to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. As was the case with our current president, whose high school record was also considerably below that which is typically necessary for admission to a prestigious university, something else considerably beyond merit was at work. In both cases, McCain’s and George Bush’s, that something else was legacy, parents and grandparents who were alumni — important alumni, with important connections. For John McCain it was a father and a grandfather, both of whom, following graduation from Annapolis, had risen to full admiral status in the Navy.
Questions abound. Which policy is the more egregious, which is the more unfair, and which serves the interests of our country and society least: affirmative action programs, the sole objectives of which are to compensate extant differences that are the product of racially and gender based discrimination, or programs that facilitate access to opportunities that ignore completely the first reference to an individual’s merit?
Remember, my assault here isn’t concerned, one way or the other, on the respective pro and con points of either affirmative action programs or ballot initiatives that would eliminate affirmative action programs. That debate can be had another day. This assault is aimed directly at a presidential candidate who, having taken full advantage of programs and opportunities he did nothing whatsoever to earn, programs and opportunities not available to others with similar (or even, superior) aptitudes and personal records, would now deny even a hint of assistance to entire populations.
But then, none of this should surprise anyone. It was Senator McCain who, recently before the NAACP convention, admitted that his nearly two decades’ strenuous opposition to a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was “a mistake.” Admitting that, during a presidential campaign, to a gathering of African-Americans . . . And before announcing his support of an anti-affirmative action initiative . . . Convenient? Or, just coincidental?
A decent, and honorable, and “straight-talking” person, when presented with a question that concerned the Arizona ballot measure would have replied, something along the lines, “Look, the American taxpayers paid the complete costs of my education at a very prestigious institution of higher education, an institution, by the way, I had no right entering, if my previous academic record was of any consideration. So I’m not going to stand in the way of others, less advantaged than was I . . .” I said, a decent, and honorable, and “straight-talking” person. But then, George Stephanopoulos’ query was addressed to John McCain.
And I repeat my question: Which Crayola is the color ‘Despicable’? I ask that because that is the crayon that should be used to color John McCain.
Thousand Oaks, CA
Of course I welcome responses, those that disagree as well as those that agree. But I’ve got to insist that only those retaining the courage of their convictions to include their real name and the city where they reside, exactly as they would for any letter to the editor, will be read or responded to. Now is the time for all of us to live up to the words and sentiments in our National Anthem.