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Rep. Grothman Should Apologize To State Hispanics

February 12, 2007

Perhaps it is because James is a professor of both Spanish and French, and has cultural friendships, which allows for more sensitivity in our home.  Perhaps it is that he strives to inculcate in his students an appreciation of Spanish/Latino culture, as much as the language in the classroom. Perhaps it is that I feel strongly about the role our larger community (government) should play in the lives of individuals.  Or perhaps it is that I find bigotry unconscionable.  Whatever the reason, I was taken aback by the words of Republican State Assemblyman Glenn Grothman last week when he uttered his thoughts on the UW policy, which now will include race as a factor in freshman admissions. 

Grothman gave an interview after the Board of Regents made their decision, which will now affect all state campuses.  He said, “I think our society is used to giving preference to African Americans. But why in the world would we give preferences to Hispanics, who’ve just come here? Perhaps we could remove preferences for those people.”

WHAT!! EARTH TO GLENN…EARTH TO GLENN!  Might I suggest that Grothman’s legislative aides better counsel him before he gets in front of a live microphone! Failing that Red Green reminds us that duct tape works wonders.

White privilege has been a mainstay in our educational system, but as the state demographics change so must the state college admission policies.  Far too long admissions policies have favored white students, and that fact is demonstrated every time you attend a lecture, or stroll through a campus.  Legacy admissions and other types of privileges have helped to maintain a lack of diversity in our colleges.  I am sure even conservative Republican Grothman understands that our colleges do not reflect our state demographics.  (And they should!) I am hopeful that the new UW policy will help to bridge the diversity gap that now exists between Main Street and the large lecture halls on college campuses.

So when Grothman talked about Hispanics as if they just all arrived in our state a week ago, and wanted a college education, I was outraged.  His feeble attempt at political populism fell flat.  There may be misunderstandings about immigration in the state, but the bigotry that Grothman exhibited goes way beyond what true Wisconsinites feel.

A friend of ours from Mexico has lived in Madison for nearly two decades, owns his house, and has created a business.  He works and pays taxes; perhaps some of the taxes paid salaries for Republican staffers at the Statehouse to work on illegal partisan projects. Last June he saw his child graduate from high school and has every right to send his child to a state college.  For the college to take into account this child’s race as one of many factors is not wrong.  For Grothman to suggest otherwise is a slap to a most industrious man who fled Mexico with a dream.  It also is a backhand to a most intelligent child.  I wonder if Grothman would have the ability to leave his homeland, find a new country, create a business, learn a new language, and succeed like so many from Mexico have done in America?  For Grothman to slam those who have dared to improve their lives is an insult that deserves an apology.

Perhaps the problem is that Grothman has no cultural diversity in his own life so to better understand the real world.  His record in the State Legislature has not been kind to those with skin pigmentation different than his own.  Seems this unenlightened legislator thought making Martin Luther King’s birthday a standard workday was such a grand idea he actually authored a bill to make the change.

There is nothing more unseemly and disgusting than racial bigotry, and no matter how Grothman tries to spin his remarks from last week, that is what they are.  Pure bigotry!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2007 4:06 PM

    Whew… with Glenn it’s always something. If it’s not the Butler’s Garter snake debacle, it’s a failure to understand the usefulness of programmes to make life in Wisconsin better for everyone. Even the Republicans in our district (many of whom actually do believe he’s a lunkhead) refuse to withdraw support. They’ll trade civil liberties (and civil behaviour) for a sure vote to cut taxes.

    The basic is idea is pretty simple, however: admission to college should not depend solely on whether your high school was properly funded. From there, the rest of it follows pretty clearly.

    If you’re opposed to the kind of thinking Glenn embodies, you live Washington County, and you’d like to do something about it, contact me. You’re not the only one who’s irritable. The Democrats in Washington County are back in the saddle.


  2. James permalink
    February 16, 2007 12:55 PM

    I don’t understand why legislators like Glenn Grothman can’t understand that the census is a useful tool in making policy. If the state’s population is changing, so should the policies we enact so that we may “rasie all ships” not “keep some ships stuck firmly in the mud and help keep others on the crest of waves”.

    In this, I understand what Kerr Mudgeon is saying about the logic behing affirmative action, but am not sure that it should be limited to those seeking redress from past eveils of the society–why can’t we use it to fix problems we are only now creating also?

    The university of Wisconsin is a STATE funded school–everyone pays the same taxes to the system, regardless of skin color–why can’t we expect then that the admissions policies help to create an atmosphere where everyone has a fair chance. Why should we allow “legacy admissions” for white kids who were lucky enough to have a parent wealthy enough to go to school, rather than insisting the kids be qualified. Why if the state has almost 6% of its population as African American can’t we insist that at least 6% of an entering class be African American? The same for the full 5% being hispanic.

  3. February 12, 2007 2:00 PM

    The policy foundation of affirmative action has always been to provide redress to members of ethnic communities who have historically suffered systematic oppression and discrimination in our country from our gov’t and people. As long as we practice affirmative action, African Americans and Native Americans will have an unassailable claim.

    However, Asians, emigre blacks from Africa, and other such persons are not eligible for AA. Recently arrived Latinos fall into that group. It is no insult to them or their hard work to base their admission to higher education on achievement rather than preferences based on past racial oppression.

  4. Saucy Princess permalink
    February 12, 2007 10:47 AM

    Many people think we should ignore race as a factor for any step in life. That would be AWESOME. BUT first we need to address the educational inequalities that already exsist with ethnic and economic division lines. As a renter, I am blessed to be able to have an apartment in an area with one of the best schools in my city. Paying a higher rent to live in an area with a better school is a choice my family made. It means we have to cut out some extras other families enjoy (example: we use the library not the theatre or blockbuster, rarely go out to eat and take the bus or bike instead of the car when possible) but in the long term it will be worth it for our kids. Most people know purchasing a house is financially MUCH better than renting. Unfortunately, if my family were to buy a house we would NOT be able to afford one in this school’s neighborhoods. So we, like many families, are already boxed into choices in education based on income even though we use a public school. Which would you choose…better education for your children (great school) or more financial stability/freedom for your family (homeownership)? Income is a dimension I know firsthand. Ethnic differences in educational opportunities exsist profoundly as well. Have you noticed cities often are divided geographically into groups of people with similar economic or ethnic backgrounds? We don’t live in eutopia. That’s why we still need some sort of affirmative action.

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