The winds of political change are shifting and the smell is distinctly malodorous. "Political correctness" itself is now politically incorrect.
Take affirmative action as a prime example. Gov. Pete Wilson and the new state Legislature seem intent on wiping out affirmative action, minority and women business enterprise programs and any other programs that they deem to be examples of "reverse discrimination." Unbelievably, they are calling it the "California civil rights initiative," giving the impression that this will put an end to race and gender discrimination in public employment, education and contracting. This initiative has about as much chance of ending world hunger as it does of ending discrimination--which is to say, none.
In a perfect world, we wouldn't be judged by our gender or the color of our skin but on our capabilities and qualifications to perform a job, pay back a loan or pay the rent. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 recognized these inequities and made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race; later, gender gained the same protection. Affirmative-action programs were born out of a need to remedy situations in which historical evidence of discrimination exists.
It is now politically advantageous to dismiss affirmative action and minority and women enterprise programs as ideas that have served their intended purpose and no longer seem necessary. The so-called civil rights initiative will garner much voter support because it sounds good in theory and continues to look for convenient scapegoats to blame for the bad economy. But the statistics don't lie: 30 years after the Civil Rights Act, women are still paid substantially less than men to perform the same job, minorities are grossly underrepresented in the upper levels of management, African Americans are far more likely to be denied a mortgage loan and minority-owned businesses have a far smaller share of the public contracting procurement dollar then their availability indicates.