A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Which do you prefer?
I-200: a system that promotes one to the detriment of another
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Editor, The Times:
The Times rightly calls for the state Legislature to reverse I-200 (“Time to rethink, reverse I-200,” Times editorial, Dec. 23). Like most beneficiaries of affirmative action, I am a white woman. When I was admitted to the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1982, it was made clear to us that we were being admitted only because of this policy; as a group, our grades and test scores were not as high as male applicants.
I now understand that my admission profoundly changed the life of an anonymous white man who therefore did not become a doctor. Put simply, for some to be included, others must be excluded — the number of seats available remains the same.
Proponents of affirmative action need to understand that there is a cost; opponents need to consider the benefits.
Next time you request a woman doctor, know that she is there (most likely) because of affirmative-action policies.
— Sue Taylor, M.D., Seattle
The Times argues that “everywhere” except “in this state,” affirmative action is legal, and that Washington’s I-200 is unique in banning race and gender preferences. But other states ban affirmative action, too.
I-200 was simply a clone of Prop. 209, a ballot initiative banning affirmative action passed by California voters in 1996 and upheld by both the federal appeals court and the California Supreme Court. Louisiana also has a constitution that bans race-based affirmative action.
The Times worries that racial progress might be undermined by I-200. But the same California voters who banned affirmative action have repeatedly elected minorities and women to statewide offices, including the California Supreme Court, whose seven members include four racial minorities and three women. The same Washington voters who voted for I-200 have elected two women as their U.S. senators, and both an Asian and a woman governor (Gary Locke, Dixy Lee Ray).
Taxpayers of all races benefit when government contracts are given to the lowest bidder, rather than giving preference to a particular race or gender. The voters showed common sense, not meanness of spirit, in voting for I-200.
— Lars Bader, Tuckahoe, N.Y.
Last legislative session, state Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, D-Seattle, and I sponsored bills in the House and Senate to amend the I-200 statutes for higher-education admissions.
Our bipartisan, governor-requested legislation sought to refine I-200 to reflect the June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court opinion holding that diversity in student bodies is a compelling state interest and that applicants deserve individualized consideration. The Senate bill died after it was reported out of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Race, color, ethnicity, and national origin are individual background considerations, as are athletic ability, musical talent and veteran status. The latter are allowable under I-200 while the former are not. Our legislation would permit including race as one element among others when evaluating applicants.
Refining I-200 would allow colleges and universities to consider all facets of applicants’ backgrounds, but not allow quotas, predetermined numerical value, or set-asides, thus preserving the overall intent of the law.
Rep. Kenney and I are introducing similar legislation in January. With a growing groundswell of community support, led by the NAACP Alaska/Oregon/Washington State Conference, we look forward to its passage.
— Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, 36th Legislative District, Seattle
People at the top
The Times’ “Time to rethink, reverse I-200” said, “The courts have spoken… ”
Well, I have news for you! The people have spoken and approve of I-200!
The Legislature had better have the sense to stay away from this one. Discrimination in any form is abhorrent, contrary to our republic’s dire need for unity; and, of course, makes a mockery of our nation’s founding documents.
— Jon Lyon, Issaquah
I-200 may have its flaws and not be particularly well-drafted, but it is anything but “a barrier blocking women and minorities from the aspirations most of us take for granted.” And it does not “undo racial progress in Washington state” (Times editorial, Dec. 23).
The intent and effect of the law is to prohibit discrimination based on race or gender. No citizen of this country should ever have to fear that he or she is not the “right” color or gender in the area of economic or educational opportunity, and the law reinforces this.
It would be a travesty to rely on a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in turn relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s tortured 5-4 decision on racial preferences, to justify overturn of a law that prohibits racial discrimination. Even the Supreme Court hedged its decision by throwing in requirements that racial-preference programs have some form of sunset clause and encouraging race-neutral selection criteria.
The universities of Washington and California, as well as other institutions, have been able to reverse their initial declines of minority attendance by focusing on intelligent, fair, race-neutral measures; these measures are what we should be focusing our resources and efforts on. The Times should also realize there is much more to diversity than skin color and gender.
— James Paden, Blaine
Origin of the species
Derek Clayton Einhaus argues that intelligent design could claim credibility only before the development of DNA sequencing (“Scopes reveal link,” Northwest Voices, Dec. 25). The irony is that DNA investigation is actually having the opposite effect.
For several weeks, there has been quite a buzz in academic circles about the recent conversion of Anthony Flew, the renowned British philosopher, to faith in a creator, based upon DNA research. As reported by The Associated Press on Dec. 9, after decades of championing atheism, Flew now says that DNA investigation “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.”
When Einhaus blithely cites success in genome research as evidence for naturalistic evolution, he begs the question. Where did all of that complex information come from? There is no known natural process capable of producing information.
— Norman J. Lund, director, Oxford Tutorials, Kenmore
A familiar phase
We offer some advice for state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance and all supporters of Dino Rossi’s candidacy for the governorship (“It’s Gregoire by 130; is it over?” Local News, Dec. 24).
Take seriously the thoughtful counsel Republicans offered Democrats subsequent to the United States Supreme Court decision that gave George W. Bush the presidential win in 2000; to wit: “Just get over it.”
— Loren and June Arnett, Lake Forest Park
Render unto ceasing
With the election finally (?) decided, it’s rewarding to know that once again, Washington has the best governor that money can buy!
— Jack Ellison, Seattle
The barefoot contestant
Gosh, is this one of those “shoe is on the other foot” things?
Or did they only want the loser to concede as long as it wasn’t Dino Rossi?
— Cheryl Fontaine, Lake Stevens
Live to fight another dame
Big choice for Dino Rossi: contest the governor’s election at the chance of alienating Washingtonians, or graciously concede so he can run against Maria Cantwell for the U.S. Senate in 2006.
— David Richardson, Shoreline