It’s amazing what can come out of a pair of flabby jowls.
On Dec. 13, UC Regent Ward Connerly appeared on “Wolf Blitzer Reports” and issued a halfhearted defense for the comments made by Sen. Trent Lott during Strom Thurmond’s birthday party. With lightning speed, the UC Student Association waited until last Tuesday to demand an apology from Connerly for his comments.
Connerly, usually composed and levelheaded in the face of the media, slipped and told a reporter from ANG Newspapers that UCSA could “go to hell.” It remains unclear whether Connerly meant hell as a place of fire and brimstone or a UC Regent meeting.
Now, UCSA and Assemblyman Dario Frommer are demanding the regents to censure Connerly – even though the regents have no censure policy in place. The UCSA might as well ask the regents to feed Connerly to a fire-breathing dragon with plaid scales.
Connerly’s statements concerning Sen. Lott were both in poor taste and disrespectful. The United States has a long, ugly history when it comes to civil rights and the issue of segregation. It’s insulting to all those who fought, both physically and through legislation, to break down the racist segregation policies that gripped the U.S. less than 60 years ago. Connerly’s response to the UCSA’s demands was a remark made in the heat of the moment, but that doesn’t excuse him for what he said.
While regents are not elected officials -the governor appoints them for 12-year terms – they still stand as public figures and representatives of the university system in California. Connerly shares the same protection of free speech granted by the First Amendment; however, his position as a representative demands that he choose his words with more discretion.
Both the UCSA and Connerly are using this situation for their own political agendas. Connerly’s statements, while inflammatory, amount to nothing more than a weak fart in the wind. Sen. Lott is old news; he took responsibility for his comments and stepped down as Senate majority leader. The UCSA’s decision to begin another battle over Connerly’s month-old comments is started out of a long-standing grudge against the regent and nothing more.
Segregation has nothing to do with the UC system, and Connerly is using the uproar as a place from which to start his own political platform. He’s preparing to gather support for his racial privacy initiative, which would prevent any state or local government agency, including the UC system, from collecting racial data on employees and current or prospective students, eliminating the chance for any demographic work based on ethnicity.
Connerly’s new initiative is worth twice the attention afforded to his controversial comments, and if the UCSA didn’t have its head up its ass, it might realize this.
Both Ward and the UCSA stand guilty of trying to play petty political games on the wrong battlefield. They should both take a timeout to think about what they’ve done.