View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, March 28, 2004

State Senate Re-affirms Discrimination 

The Colorado State Senate has voted 18-17 to kill a bill that would have eliminated racial preferences in state hiring and college admissions. This goes to show that having a majority isn't the same thing as having control - Republican Lew Entz from Hooper defected, claiming that his largely Hispanic district would have opposed to the bill. The bill was sponsored by a black man, Ed Jones of Colorado Springs. Maybe the party should give Mr. Entz a taste of what he supports, and find a conservative Hispanic to run against him in the next primary. Reportedly Tom Tancredo enjoys some significant support from the hispanic sections of the state, so maybe Mr. Entz is misreading, or underestimating, his constituency.

Jones, who grew up in racially segregated Mississippi in the 1940s and 1950s, said he introduced the bill because he believed preferential treatment to be "demeaning to people of color."

"I don't deny that racism and discrimination still exist," Jones told his colleagues. "But we do not solve discrimination by more discrimination. All this does is take race off the table so government just judges us on our hearts and minds and things that really matter."

Then, there's State Senator Peter Groff:

Groff, his voice choked with emotion, talked about his hopes for the future of his two daughters. He said his father, former Sen. Regis Groff, had been forced to sit in a black-only section of a movie theater while growing up.


"Not one school in this state admits you based on your race," Groff said. He noted that from 1999 to 2003, students of color increased by only 0.7 percent, "all of whom were qualified to be on those campuses."


[Sen. Abel] Tapia (D-Pueblo) told of growing up in Pueblo and being the first in his family to go to college. At one time, he aspired to be a foreman in a steel firm like his dad wanted to be, a promotion his father never got. Instead, Tapia became an engineer.

"We've come a long way, but we're not done," said Tapia, who earned his engineering degree at Colorado State University. "This legislation will take us two steps back."

Mr. Groff, I don't care. There are no segregated theatres, and there haven't been for 40 years. Two generations of Americans have been born and raised and are now voting and they know more about segregation than any other aspect of American history, not because any of them actually had to live through it, but because it's been relentlessly pounded in their heads that it was their original sin. What's that, you say? Jews are always bringing up the Holocaust? Tell you what. I'll make you a deal. I will never bring up the Holocaust again, unless it involves an actual threat to the existence of whole swaths of the Jewish people. You never bring up Selma and separate water fountains and movie theaters, unless someone actually tries to reinstitute segregation, massive resistance, and literacy tests. Deal? No? I didn't think so.

Mr. Tapia, you outdid even your goals of outdoing your father.

This is no longer a rational discussion, this is church. There is no evidence, no data, no attitude, no number of well-attended civil rights marches and memorials, no standard of achievement capable of convincing these people that maybe, just maybe, racial preferences long ago passed the point of diminishing returns, and are now alienating many more people than they're helping.

First of all, I have no idea what increased by 0.7%. Percentage of minority students? Number of minority students? Weren't the race-based policies already in place, so how much of an increase would you expect? Secondly, Mr. Groff, unless he's spent way more times in the dark cloisters of college admissions offices, has absolutely no way of knowing who was qualified and who wasn't. He also has no way of knowing what happened to the people of pallor who didn't get in, in order to make way for someone less qualified.

And it shouldn't matter.

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