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Martha Montelongo is a political commentator and radio talk show host on KION in Monterey, Calif. [Montelongo website] [Montelongo index]

Prop 54 An Affirmation for Self-Identity
But the "experts" don't think so...
[Martha Montelongo] 10/5/03

A recent poll commissioned by four education and nonprofit ethnic-identity organizations found that more "minorities" (Latinos, African- and Asian-Americans) were in favor of Proposition 54 than not.

Democratic pollster Sergio Bendixen said, "It's counter to what experts might have predicted." How outrageous! He, an "expert," was surprised that Latinos would indicate that they oppose the government's racist practice of classifying us by ethnicity or race, herding us into groups -- as if one part of our ancestry was more determinant then another, as if the box we checked said something inherently defining about who we are as a group.

Instead, could it be that we see ourselves as more complex, as citizens, individuals, equal before the law? Might we see those boxes we are asked to check by the government as inherently suspect? And could it be that we think it is none of the government's business to ask?

Not according to the "experts." Their existence is contingent on our being counted as part of their groups. Their concerns, they insist, are our concerns, and they propound our victimhood, claiming that we suffer because of our ethnicity and race -- and then they cast themselves as our self-proclaimed protectors.

Who are these people? Well, they are the same "experts" who sued California to stop the recall on our behalf, arguing that we are too stupid to know how to vote with a punch-card ballot-and so they had to protect us from ourselves. Hmm, let's see: We can figure out how to get to this country, how to get a job and keep a job, raise our kids, and even register to vote, but we must be protected from our own stupidity over and over again in the voting booth -- and so we become nothing more than part of an ethnic identity group and remain the helpless victims for whom they speak.

Yes, the "experts" must really believe we're stupid. Participants in the Racial Privacy Initiative poll were read the actual initiative twice, in English or Spanish, and then read three supporting and three opposing arguments before being asked, "now that you have more information about Proposition 54, do you support or oppose Proposition 54?" In response, 46 percent of Latinos still favored the initiative, with only 33 percent opposing -- but the "experts" insist it's because we didn't understand what we were talking about.

How could the poll results be so wrong, from the perspective of our self-appointed protectors? Well, according to the "experts," we simply hadn't been educated enough about the question. Sergio Bendixen concluded, "The case against Prop 54 has not been made, and if Prop 54 is going to be defeated, it's opponents need to find a way to turn these ethnic minorities around."

They think they have. They lie and distort the truth. They hire more "experts" like C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General who curiously dressed in a naval-like looking costume for no reason known to the public, and Jocelyn Elders, another Surgeon General who was pressured to resign because the public didn't quite agree with her insistence that it was vital to teach our children how to masturbate in kindergarten.

They hire these "experts" to tell the voters that the initiative is tricky. It might sound clear and direct and say specifically that "lawful classification of medical research subjects and patients shall be exempt," and that "nothing in this section shall prevent law enforcement officers, while carrying out their law enforcement duties, from describing particular persons in otherwise lawful ways." In other words, medical studies, research and police procedures are clearly exempt from the initiative's mandate!

But the "experts" target us "minorities" and tell us that our health and safety are at risk anyway if we support Proposition 54. Why do they resort to such treacherous tactics? Because, in truth, it's their own existence that is at risk. We don't need them if we're not chronic victims. And so, in desperation, the "experts" are willing to say whatever it takes to turn us pesky minorities around -- all so that they can continue to "protect" us from our own good sense.






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