Rep. Stark's Comments About Louis Sullivan

The Times has made the enlightened observation that otherwise "good" liberal Democrats can harbor traces of the racist thinking that they regularly decry ("Stark's Idea Is Basically a Racist One," editorial, Aug. 4). Rep. Pete Stark (D-Oakland) showed us a glimpse of that hypocrisy when he suggested that Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan should hold certain political views (i.e., Stark's) because of his race. The Times countered with the sensible and unchallengeable dictum that "the notion that skin color, religion, ethnic origin or sex obliges a person to hold particular ideas is as hurtful as any other racist idea."

But could The Times be displaying some of that same hypocrisy? In the editorial immediately above the one about Stark The Times implies that Latino and black voters should hold certain corporate political views ("Only the Supervisors Had No Case").

The Times buys into the dangerous belief that Los Angeles County supervisorial districts are "discriminatory" because they "dilute" Latino voting strength. How can one speak of an ethnic group's "voting strength" without presuming that all members of that group share the same political views? Indeed, how can The Times (and others) speak of the need for a Latino supervisor without adopting the belief that a Latino supervisor (and only a Latino supervisor) will vote in a way acceptable to the "Latino community"? Such thinking leads to frightening conclusions, such as the necessity of only white elected officials in predominantly white districts.

The case for redistricting on the basis of ethnicity rests atop the same swamp of insidious racism that has seeped into Stark's rhetoric. How can The Times possibly denounce one while endorsing the other? The Times (and everyone else) should try to reconcile these positions.


Santa Barbara

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