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Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2003 / 24 Adar I, 5763

Walter Williams

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Consumer Reports

Affirmative action bake sale | Not all college students support racial preferences, and some UCLA students made their feelings known in a highly innovative way.

In early February, Bruin Republicans organized a campus cookie sale -- but not your ordinary cookie sale. They offered cookies at different prices depending on the customer's race and sex. Black, Latino and American Indian females were charged 25 cents for a cookie, while their male counterparts were charged 50 cents. White females were charged a dollar. White males were charged two dollars. Asian males and females also were charged two dollars a cookie.

Students selling the cookies assigned themselves nametags. Some of the name tags read "Uncle Tom," "The White Oppressor" and "Self-Hating Hispanic Race Traitor." Chris Riha, third-year business economics student participating in the Affirmative Action Bake Sale, said that the students decided to one-up their detractors by assigning the names themselves. That's what minorities who disagree with racial preferences are either called, or thought to be: an "Uncle Tom" or self-hating black or Hispanic.

Chairman of the California Democratic Party Art Torres voiced his disapproval, saying, "I am deeply saddened and disheartened at the activities of the Bruin Republicans." He accused them of having been emboldened by Sen. Trent Lott's remarks that led to his ouster as the Senate majority leader. Torres' condemnation was joined by many of UCLA's racial preferences supporters.

Here's my question for those who condemned the event. Why be offended by a money version of racial preferences? After all, it's identical in principle to admission practices sanctioned by university communities across America. In fact, that's what the University of Michigan case before the U.S. Supreme Court is all about -- treating people differently by race.

Some might ask: "Why are Asians charged two dollars? They're a minority." You'd be right. According to the 2000 Census, residents who reported as Asian, or in combination with one or more other races, totaled 11.9 million -- or 4percent -- of our population. In my book that makes Asians a minority and eligible for the cookie affirmative action discount. Instead of being charged two dollars for a cookie, Asian females and Asian males are rightful claimants to the racially discounted price of 25 cents and 50 cents, respectively.

If you see things that way, and think Asian-Americans are eligible for preferential treatment, it simply means that you haven't kept abreast with modern racial enlightenment. A minority group is not a minority if, as a group, it is successful. Asian median family is $55,525, the highest of any other racial group in America. More than 44 percent of Asians age 25 and over have bachelor degrees; the rate for all other Americans was 26 percent. Other indicators of group success would include low crime rate and high family stability. Case closed -- Asians are not a minority.

Being a UCLA alumnus (doctorate 1972), I can sympathize with critics of the Affirmative Action Bake Sale. Were I still a student, I'd walk up to these people and tell them that selling cookies on campus is OK, but it's a despicable, mean practice to treat people differently just because they're members of one race or sex or another.

I'd take a principled stand -- that's where I differ from other critics of the Affirmative Action Bake Sale. They take a situational stand on racial preferences. For them, whether racial preferences are wrong or right depends upon whom it's practiced against.

I'd like to ask my fellow critics just one question: If racial preferences, highlighted by the cookie, are wrong and offensive, why wouldn't it also be wrong and offensive in the university's admissions practices? After all, the Affirmative Action Bake Sale was promoting diversity in cookie ownership.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate