Thursday, February 7, 2008

Obama's Race Trap, Affirmative Action and the UFT

A fascinating piece (thanks to David B for finding it) in The Nation blog by Richard Kim on Obama's tightrope walk on race. Albert Shanker biographer Richard Kahlenberg surfaces in this Richard Kim piece in "The Nation" blog piece calling for Obama to come out for an end to affirmative action as part of "Tough Liberalism." Kahlenberg has been all over the place, promoted (and funded) by some of the foundations supporting BloomKlein on education (ie. Broad). And of course, the UFT has also celebrated the Kahlenberg bio. So where does the UFT leadership today stand on affirmative action?

Tough Liberal = neo-liberal = 75% of the way to neo-con.

[I]n yesterday's Slate the ersatz liberal Richard Kahlenberg made an appeal to Obama to win the working-class white vote by selling out blacks and Latinos on affirmative action. As Bill Clinton ended welfare as we know it, could an Obama presidency end affirmative action? Kahlenberg practically salivates at the possibility. It's a move, he argues, that would befit the "tough liberalism" of RFK--who took a "colorblind approach," opposed "racial preferences" and "called for a crackdown on violent crime." By ending race-based affirmative action in favor of class-based affirmative action, Obama could not only demonstrate that he is, once again, "forcefully reject[ing] identity politics" but also win over that key Hillary contingency--the white, working class.

As a matter of strategy, who knows if Kahlenberg is right; he's clearly masking an ideological agenda as merely savvy tactics. But it's not hard to imagine a scenario where President Obama is confronted with such choices. Already on the ballots this year are five state initiatives (in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma), to ban affirmative action.

You can read Kim's piece in full here:
Read the Kahlenberg article here: http://www.slate.com/id/2183591

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