SDAAFE recently responded to a media inquiry on why we are against AB1726.
Q: Why oppose the bill?
A: 1) Why Asian Americans only? With the memory still fresh that Asian American students were the “problems” in the UC/CSU enrollment that the SCA5 proponents sought to “solve”, why comes the new push to categorize Asian Americans in a fine mesh of dozens of ethnicities and nationalities. Why not categorize white as Irish, Italian, Polish, Huguenot, Islenos, Cuban, …, why not categorize Jews as Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Georgian, Teimanim, Romaniotes…., why not categorize Hispanics as Mexican, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Argentina, Bolivia, Uryguay…. Since when did Asian American become the “Chosen People” for finer classification when the same is not done to any other race? After all, Asian Americans are only 6% of the US population. If the government intends to provide such good service to finer categories of peoples, why would they left out the rest of the humanity?
2) Racial politics is despicable and divisive. America is a melting pot. We are one people, one nation under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for all. We oppose to any effort to favor or disfavor an individual based on his/her race, ethnicity, and nationality. If bills such as AB1726 and SCA5 are driven by the intense interest to help the needed, why not make the mesh so fine such that the granularity arrives at an individual level, such that each individual can be judged on his own merit and personal character strength as Dr. M.L. King would prefer? Race, ethnicity and national origins are protected category for good reasons. One of the principal reasons race is treated as a forbidden classification is that it demeans the dignity and worth of a person to be judged by ancestry instead of his or her own merit and essential qualities. Preferring members of any group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake. As Chief Justice Roberts succinctly put it “The way stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
3) The bill is fiscally irresponsible. Ostensibly for data gathering only, the predecessor bill by the same author, AB176, was already vetoed by Governor Brown in 2015 on the ground it is wasteful spending of tax payer’s money.
4) The author Bonta engaged in unethical behavior. AB1726 was passed by the Heath Committee on April 12th under a cloud of confusion that “hearing canceled at the request of author”, as posted on the official government website (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/) since April 5th. The confusion was such that even the Vice Chairman of the Health Committee did not know until Monday April 11th that the hearing would still occur on Tuesday, April 12th. All the while, Bonta mobilized his supporters online and bused them in to attend the hearing. A bill that can stand on its own merit does not need to employ such an under-the-belt, illegal tactic to hamper public access to a public hearing.
Q: What are its implications for the Asian-American Community? And why should they be more worried about it?
A: 1) Historical applications of racial preference laws and census data taught Asian Americans a painful lesson that we forget at our own peril. AB1726 sounds innocuous enough, isn’t it? What can be better to classify different ethnicity and nationalities such that the government can provide better service to them? How wonderful is the idea? If SCA5 is highway robbery, AB1726 is trickery. It is asking Asian American to dig a hole, put down a coffin, and jump into it. It is designed to drive a wedge between various Asian American subgroups such that the dissension can be used to bring back racial preference policies at a later time. It is to serve the larger interests of those not shown in this bill. If we look back in history, every time Asian Americans are singled out for special treatments, it had never been for the good, be it the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1882s (for which the 1890 census specifically introduced the new category of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to enforce Chinese exclusion), or the Japanese Interment Act of the 1940s (in which resentful local residents pushed to eliminate Japanese farming competition under the pretext of national security). So is that for other groups. When Jews were asked to announce themselves and put on the Star of David, it was not for the best of the intent. When the schools in the 1920s first hauled out the glamorous new idea of “diversity”, it was for the expressed purpose of imposing a Jewish quota of <15%. Jewish Americans did not achieve full equality in this country until they got rid of the census label, became merged into the broad census category of “white” in later part of the 20th century.
2) AB1726 and SCA5 are inseparably linked. SCA5 in 2014 sought to modify the California Constitution by removing “public education” from the constitution and remove “UC/Public School System” from the definition of “State”, such that the “State” can be allowed to discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public education, all under the disguise of “equality”. The bill’s author publicly declared in main-stream media that the intent is to solve “the Asian American problem” in the UC/CSU system. SCA5 passed California Senate in strict party-line vote, with 100% Democrat lawmakers voted yes, and 100% Republican lawmakers voted no. Under fierce opposition from the Asian American community, and with the FBI indictment of three California senators and hence the loss of the 2/3rd Super-majority to force the bill’s passage, SCA5 was aborted. This time around, racial preference supporters got smarter. It asked Asian American lawmakers to be in the lead to introduce AB1726 to compile statistics about Asian American in the arena of public education, without explicitly saying anything about what is the statistics is for. The intent is to drive a wedge among the Asian American sub-communities to justify the reintroduction of SCA5-like legislation as soon as a legislative Super-majority is achieved after the November election. At a national level, the Department of Education under the Obama administration also issued a directive to encourage and fund other states to adapt similar policy stance to the California approach. Does AB1726 still look like an isolated incident?