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California politicians are calling for a repeal of anti-discrimination legislation in the name of equality. Wait… what?

Guy Birchall
Guy Birchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

California politicians are calling for a repeal of anti-discrimination legislation in the name of equality. Wait… what?
The Golden State’s legislature wants to remove the part of its constitution that stops discrimination based on “race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin”. This is a ridiculous backwards step.

California, it its infinite wisdom, has just decided to put discrimination back on the ballot. The legislature of arguably America’s most liberal state has voted in favour of putting a motion to the public asking if they would like to repeal Proposition 209. 

This proposition, enshrined in the Golden State’s constitution in 1996, decrees that California “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin”. Just two years ago, it made hairstyles a protected characteristic, so obviously it follows that race should be again legitimised as grounds for discrimination.

What are these people on? Anyone else starting to have doubts over whether legalizing weed in California was the best idea?

Support for repealing this commitment to not factoring in race when considering hiring a person or admitting them to university hasn't come from the much maligned “alt-right”, but rather from the increasingly ironically named “progressive left”. Why on Earth would a movement allegedly committed to equality want to repeal legislation that seemingly guarantees exactly what it is that they have been promoting for generations? 

Proposition 209 has been on the books in California since 1996 and was modelled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That federal act was initially proposed by President Kennedy, before he was assassinated, as a way to end segregation in the southern states of the USA.

It was widely regarded as a huge victory for the racial equality JFK and Martin Luther King Jr had fought for. So why would the state legislature of California now wish to obliterate the legacy of those two American heroes? 

The answer is that they aren’t against racial discrimination - the brand of identitarian leftism that has infected large swathes of the intelligentsia, media and the Democratic Party in America is openly and emphatically in favour of it. 

The argument behind repealing this proposition is that it prevents so called 'positive-discrimination' or 'affirmative action', which is a nice way of saying 'hiring, promoting or granting places to underqualified people on the basis of their race or gender'. Dress it up in any way you like, but that is what it boils down to. 

Proponents of the repeal point to statistics that show that the number of black and Latino students at California state universities decreased after this legislation was introduced in 1996. While this may be the case, surely that is more reflective of a failing school system or other socio-economic factors, than a racist university system. In fact, the very suggestion colleges in California are anything other than some of the most woke and liberal places on the planet seems palpably absurd.

Lowering standards doesn’t help anyone in the long term. The aim must be to help people attain the bar, rather than just lowering it for one or two groups of people. Surely regarding a group as less capable of something purely based on their skin colour or heritage is the very definition of racism? 

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What's more, it devalues the achievements of those from those communities who actually do make the grade. How can it be fair to have your peers suspecting you hadn’t genuinely earned your place but rather had got it thanks to some immutable characteristic? That seems like a sure-fire way to increase racism and bigotry rather than combat it.

Of course, the argument that supporters of positive discrimination will put forward is that the tests themselves are either racist or “white centric”, but these arguments don’t hold any water when one considers that Asian-Americans are overrepresented in top higher education institutions. 

One could hardly argue that the tests were biased in favour of this group, which includes Japanese-Americans who were actively interned in camps within living memory during the Second World War. If systemic white supremacy is supposed to be the problem, it’s not very good at its job if it is disproportionally granting places to groups that are not of European heritage, or are we considering Japanese, Chinese and Korean people white now?

And then there’s the striking, mystifying case of a subset of African Americans, those of recent Nigerian heritage. Nigerian immigrants have the highest levels of education in the nation, surpassing whites and even Asians, accordingto Census data. 

Although they make up a tiny portion of the US population, 37% of all Nigerians there have bachelor’s degrees, 17% a master's, and 4% a doctorate. To put those numbers in perspective, 8% of the white US population have master's. So Nigerian Americans seem to be prospering under the same system that apparently holds other African Americans back. Anybody want to explain that one? 

Bizarrely, this could all be meaningless anyway when it comes to admissions to the University of California, as earlier this year they unanimously voted to ditch standardized testing completely by 2024. They haven’t worked out what else they are going to use yet, but I guess this is what progress looks like these days, it being far more important to tear something down than thinking about what will replace it. 

After a centuries-long fight to eradicate racial discrimination in the legal system, “liberal” states in America are now intent on re-introducing it. A county in Oregon this week brought in a mask mandate for all citizens “except those who identify as a person of colour”, so that it amounts to “only white people have to cover their faces in public”. 

The arguments for this made no sense. Officials in Lincoln County, Oregon, said that they were exempting people of colour from the mask mandate over fears that they could be “racially profiled” for wearing a mask. 

How can a group be profiled for wearing a mask if everyone is wearing a mask? Surely forcing one race of people to wear a mask by law and letting another choose whether or not to, is in itself a form of racial profiling. It also makes the mask wearing rules, brought in to combat the spread of Covid-19, themselves look absurd, especially when one considers that there is a growing amount of evidence that suggests people of color are more susceptible to the disease anyway. 

You will be relieved to learn that Lincoln County has since reversed this decision and will no longer be exempting all those who are not white from wearing masks in public. However, this is not because it was a patently stupid decision to begin with; no, it is because of racism. Lincoln County leaders said: “The expressions of racism regarding the exception has created a ripple of fear throughout our communities of color. The very policy meant to protect them, is now making them a target for further discrimination and harassment.” 

What other bright ideas to make black people feel “safe” can we expect from these local government galaxy-brains? Perhaps their own schools and water fountains, so they don’t have to feel worried about being racially profiled? We actually saw this happen in the ill-fated CHAZ/CHOP experiment in Seattle that had a “blacks-only zone”. 

If these people want to relive the George Wallace-days of the 1960s, can’t they just listen to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix records rather than actually bring back segregation?

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The modern left claims to be about solidarity, but all evidence points towards it really being about division. Gone are the old-fashioned socialist values of “workers of the world unite”. It’s not even “wokers of the world unite”. It’s been replaced by intersectionality, an ideology that is explicitly divisive. 

Race, gender identity and sexual orientation have all trumped class in this baffling new hierarchy, which now views a black millionaire as more oppressed than a white drug addict.

It was bad enough when this nonsense was just taught by daft lecturers in universities, but now it is bleeding into wider society and we are reaping the rewards with widespread rioting and race relations deteriorating rapidly. This bill in California is a further roll along an ugly road to an unpleasant destination. If we want the West to survive, we need to turn this car around before the wheels completely fall off.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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