Op Ed: Protecting Civil Rights Not a Partisan Pursuit


EisenhowerBy Duf Sundheim
Special to Calbuzz

First, I want to thank John Wildermuth for making my daily afternoon can of Diet Coke so unnecessary. His recent column at Fox and Hounds Daily provided me with one jolt after another.

I cannot hold John totally responsible for some of what he wrote.  In some circles you just are not taken seriously unless you compare Republicans to bent cops, imply they have a fourth grader’s ability to develop positions and that the positions they do develop are based upon “reasons lost in the fog of the past.”


But what really got me off my polo pony and in front of my computer was John’s statement that opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would have systematically reduced the number of Asian Americans in our California colleges (SCA5) was by “Asian American voters with a specific complaint very much in their own self interest. You know, just like all the other interest groups looking for something from the Legislature.”

Maybe it is just me, but I find it offensive to compare parents from a group that has experienced unthinkable discrimination in our state (see Internment Camps, World War Two) and who are concerned their children will not get a quality education because of their race to some business looking for a tax break.  And when Republicans stand up to support the civil rights of those people, we are “gleefully plotting how to use the kerfuffle” [kerfuffle!] “over UC admissions to pry them out the Democratic Party.”   Liberalism has come a long, long way.

Our history has sometimes been hijacked by the left.  That statement is too extreme you say?  To you, three questions:

0925littlerockBWho was the first president to use federal troops to support students who wanted to attend an all-white school? 

Kudos if you said Dwight Eisenhower, although totally understandable if you said John Kennedy.

True or false:  John Kennedy attempted to stop Martin Luther King from giving his “I Have a Dream” speech?

True.  Surprised?  You are not alone.

Who has deported more Latinos than all other presidents combined?

Of course, if the answer were a Republican we would have seen one documentary after another with dark, sinister music in the background.  But it’s Barack Obama.  I am still checking my TV listings.

So, as John challenges us, if SCA5 is not the answer to ensuring our black and Latino students get a quality education, what is our solution?  There are many, including many Democrats, who do a lot more on this issue than me. However, I spend a significant amount of time focusing on minority education issues in Santa ClaraCounty. And there are several things we can do in California that will have a lasting impact.

old-teacherFirst, we have to give schools the ability to get rid of poor teachers, especially those charged with sexually abusing our children. According to the Los AngelesSchool District’s own numbers, black students are 43% more likely to have a teacher who ranks in the bottom 5%, Latinos 68%. Yet under current law getting poor quality teachers out of the classroom is almost impossible

Then, many minority students who successfully survive the K-12 gauntlet are not admitted to California colleges. Often this is because our colleges accept students from outside California so they can charge more for them to attend.

If minority students are able to get into and graduate from college and then want to go back to their communities to teach, they are guaranteed they will be the first to be fired. This is because as a matter of state law the hiring of teachers is based on seniority, which disproportionately favors whites.

And we wonder why our children are failing.

Look, I don’t care who solves this problem.  If it’s Democrats, I will be the first to applaud them. And I am not saying every Republican has been a champion of civil rights or that there are not Democrats who have made tremendous sacrifices to get us where we are today.

lincolnmemorialWhat I am saying is that it is going to take more than insults and the perpetuation of tired political stereotypes to solve this problem.  It is going to require us to have as our No. 1 priority the interests of the children. It is going to require us to stand up to the real special interest that controls education in this state – the teachers’ union.

It is going to require us to write our laws based on empirical evidence, not raw political muscle. And finally, it is going to require us to listen to what each person has to say, even if they are Asian American and yes even if they are a Republican.

sundheimIf we do, we can ensure that each child, regardless of race, gets access to a quality education. I am not willing to even acknowledge there is an alternative.

When he’s not grooming his polo ponies, Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills is a principal at GPS Mediation and also Global Policy Strategies, APC.  He served as chairman of the California Republican Party 2003-2007, was active in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and campaigns for redistricting and the open primary.

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There are 6 comments for this post

  1. avatar sqrjn says:

    Let me get this right – (1) the Left has sometimes hijacked history, (2) if a Leftist writer is correct that considering race in college admissions will not ensure black and latino students get educated, (3) then getting rid of bad primary school teaches will ensure that black and latino students get educated.

    This was posted April 2nd right? This isn’t a joke left over from yesterday is it?

  2. avatar Hank Plante says:

    I like Duf Sundheim and I think he’s one of the good guys. But his characterization of Republicans being champions of civil rights is bizarre. The GOP has been the single biggest impediment to the civil rights battle of this generation: the rights of gay and lesbian Americans. Even Duf’s former sidekick, the “moderate” Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed gay marriage twice as Governor. No wonder Duf said in 2011 Republicans “as a brand” in California “are dead.”

  3. avatar prouduc84 says:

    The progressive have hijacked Affirmative Action. President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, that, “mandates that projects financed with federal funds “take affirmative action” to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias.”

    Notice there is no language about preference, quotas, targets, pertaining to race.

    Progressive use AA to justify all of these. AA is intended to remove racial bias, NOT to justify new forms of racial bias, what ever the intent.

    Race based preferences is not anti-racist, its buying into the logic of racism.

  4. avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

    I generally agree with what Duf Sundheim has to say, but he really needs to direct his comments at those members of his party, who continue to:

    (a) Attempt to delegitimize President Obama by alleging that he was not born in this country, and by characterizing his administration as a regime even though he was the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win over 50% of the popular vote in two consecutive presidential elections;

    (b) Impugn the patriotism of Democrats, by portraying them as weak on national security issues; and

    (c) Insist that using taxpayer monies to subsidize the wealthiest among us, at the expense of everyone else, will somehow balance the budget and create prosperity, when in fact the exact opposite has occurred in spades.

    Personally, I don’t like the withering rhetorical excess that emanates from either of the two major political parties. But I’m tired of being repeatedly tarred and feathered and called names by Republicans because I happened to hold an differing viewpoint.

    It wasn’t my party that thought it okay to bug their opposite number’s headquarters in June 1972. It wasn’t my party’s 1980 presidential nominee who chose to launch his fall campaign in Philadelphia, MS where three civil rights workers were brutally murdered by the Klan, and resurrect the antebellum notion of “state’s rights.” And it wasn’t my party that won a Senate seat by repeatedly insinuating in TV ads that the incumbent who lost three limbs serving his country in Vietnam was a secret ally of Osama Bin Laden and al Qa’eda.

    Mr. Sundheim, you need to work on reforming the vicious excesses of your own party, because until that occurs, I’m certainly not going to argue that Democrats should unilaterally disarm, particularly in the face of SCOTUS rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon.

    When we start seeing more reasonable and common-sense Republicans such as yourself in positions of real authority in the GOP, rather than watch incredulously as right-wing crackpots like Ted Cruz turn the Republican Party into a collective clown car, then we’ll talk.

  5. avatar panterazero says:

    Problem with “reasonable and common-sense Republicans…in positions of real authority in the GOP” is that moderate Republicans like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner – whom I hate to call a moderate, but in the contemporary GOP environment it’s true – are detested by the R* right wing and are about to be primaried to (political, at least,) death. The American right wing is feeling energized by the debacle of the Healthcare.gov rollout, and will not allow the party establishment to nominate “another Mitt Romney,” whoever that should turn out to be in the event.

  6. avatar prouduc84 says:

    And the retribution begins:


    They don’t like it when houseboy Hop Sing does not know his place. The uppiddy houseboy needs to be punished.

    So, who will be blamed for firing the first shot of the race war? Asians who stood up for their rights? Or others who want to push them back down?

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