I am continually amazed at the cluelessness of the Republican Party. This is evidenced by Jackson Baker's recent column noting that they were courting our congressman, Harold Ford, in the hopes that he would convert and (hopefully) bring his support with him. Wrong, on both counts. One, for his voting record, which I wish more matched his father's, he is still to the left of ANYBODY in the Republican Party, even Arlen Specter or Susan Collins. Two, and most importantly, until the Republican Party does a 180 on race and affirmative action, most African-Americans will treat the GOP like the plague. I suspect much of the GOP base will like that just fine. This might well explain the action of the Bush administration's decision to oppose the University of Michigan's affirmative action program, even after the the Trent Lott fiasco. Simply put, such actions reaffirm their reputation as the party of Jefferson Davis. On its face, the GOP seems to be telling minorities that "we want you in our party, so long as you support policies that work against your best interests." As usual, and despite what he tells the American public at large, Bush has decided that his base is more important than any other constituency. We know what that is: conservative to reactionary middle-aged white males. And, of course, those can be found in large quantities right here in the South. What the GOP either has not realized, or, more likely doesn't care, is that affirmative action, while not perfect, is the best way to redress prior grievances in matters of race. Translated, why are white males upset that so many "unqualified" minorities are hired or admitted, given that lots of "unqualified" people were hired or admitted for years for no other reason than that they were white? Since 1968 and Nixon's Southern Strategy, this has been the stock-in-trade of the Republican Party. This is why the "Rockefeller" wing of the party was all but run out of the GOP on a rail. It's just too bad that the so-called "liberal" media let them get away with murder on this, and other issues. BACKTALK TO BACKTALK: To Steve Steffens: How is affirmative action in the best interest of minorities? Is it possible to believe minorities should not receive anything based solely on their race and not be called a racist? If a minority thinks I should not receive a job solely on my race (white) is the minority a racist? RonP@LewisSupply.com

AND STEFFENS REPLIES: Well, that didn't take long.... It depends a lot on how you define racism. Personally, I don't define racism as having an innate dislike of other races, I believe that racism is an inate preference of one's own race. The only way you overcome that is by actively trying to overcome that. Affirmative action helps remedy that situation, especially in academic situations, by bringing people of different races and cultures together. It forces you to learn about other people; the best year of my life was my 9th grade year at Geeter Junior High School, where I was a minority for the first time, and it gives you a new perspective. If the playing field were level, then we would not need affirmative action. However, it's not, and I don't know how long it will take, but, we have to go there. Remember, the only people who don't truly understand the advantage of being white in this society ARE white.

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