Roger Clegg, National Review Online, August 31, 2006
Apparently Senator Allen has decided — perhaps after consulting with Senator Lott — to make up for his macaca moment by doing some serious race-pandering, according to a news account of a speech he gave today at Hampton University. The pandering had three parts, all troubling.
First, he bragged about a silly bill he has written that would provide more federal money for science and technology infrastructure at universities — but not if the schools have too many white students at them. That is, eligibility for money hinges on the school having a high enough percentage of nonwhite students.
Second, he bragged about his support for another bill that, says the article, “would offer scholarships to minority students.” Now, if the bill offers money to all students, including minority students, then there’s no problem, but it seems likely that the bill either limits eligibility to minority students or gives them a preference, in which case there certainly is a problem.
Finally, Allen says, “My opponent [i.e., James Webb] has made some outrageous statements about affirmative action.” Webb initially — that is, before doing some pandering of his own in the Virginia’s Democratic primary — opposed all racial preferences (right); now he has modified that position to oppose racial preferences to anyone except African Americans (wrong), but to support help for the poor of all colors (fine). Now, Webb is wrong to have backed off from his categorical opposition to racial preferences, but even his current position is less “outrageous” than Allen’s, if Allen thinks that African Americans AND Latinos AND Native Americans are all entitled to preferences (as his science infrastructure bill suggests).
Hampton — Sen. George Allen told a gathering at Hampton University on Tuesday that America was declining in the technical world. One of the reasons, he said, is that minorities and women aren’t participating.
Speaking during his “listening tour” almost five months after kicking off his re-election bid at the school, Allen pointed to Senate legislation he has authored that would provide more infrastructure for science and technology in historically minority-serving colleges. Another bill that he supported would offer scholarships to minority students interested in those fields.
“A lot of kids figure their way out of poverty in this country is through sports,” he said to about 40 HU staff members that included William Harvey, the university president. Harvey is an Allen campaign financial supporter who invited the senator to speak about $5.3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation that were announced a week ago.
In 2003 and 2005, Allen sponsored the Minority-Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act. In each case, it passed the Senate — the last time by 97-0.
It hasn’t been passed by the House of Representatives.
But Allen offered statistics showing that high-paying jobs in the sector were going to workers from overseas, in part because of a lack of enough Americans to fill them. And, he said, just 6 percent of the graduates of U.S. engineering schools are African American, and only 6 percent are Latino. Only 15 percent are women.
At HU, he offered a difference between himself and James Webb, his Democratic challenger.
“My opponent has made some outrageous statements about affirmative action,” Allen said.
Webb has said affirmative action should be limited to black people. He said affirmative action had its genesis in the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery.
“The original intent of affirmative action was under the 13th Amendment … and on the Civil Rights Act of 1866,” Webb said Tuesday during a visit to the Daily Press. “With diversity, it grew and grew and grew until it included everybody who was not Caucasian. And now you have a situation which actually hurts blacks who needed the program and poor whites.
“My view is that African Americans are the only group in this country that suffered from generations of deliberate conduct by the government, and as a result, this should be a program for them.”
Allen said he disagreed that affirmative action should be limited to black people, and he further disagreed with Webb’s comments about its history.
“They’re not only inaccurate, they’re historically wrong, as well,” he said. “Every single American — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs — should have that opportunity to compete and succeed on a level playing field.”