MAKING RACE GO AWAY….Jeanne d’Arc brings to my attention something about the Gray Davis recall that I heard in passing yesterday but didn’t quite absorb:

The recall won’t be the only thing on the ballot. Ward Connerly’s suspiciously financed anti-affirmative action “racial privacy initiative” qualified last year to go on the ballot in the March 2004 primary. The initiative would stop state and local agencies from collecting racial statistics, except for medical research.

However, since we now have an election scheduled for October, the Connerly initiative has been moved up.

As Jeanne points out, although the initiative sounds superficially appealing, its actual result is to make racism disappear as if by magic ? regardless of whether it’s really gone or not. Racial profiling? Gone! Pay discrimination? Never happened! Driving while black? Prove it! Like Winston Smith attempting to change reality simply by altering records, Connerly apparently thinks that race problems can be made to go away simply by forbidding the government to talk about them.

Jeanne also wonders about the effect of this initiative on the recall itself: “Will the threat to affirmative action bring out progressives who won’t rush to the polls only to support Davis?” That’s one possibility, but another is that it might bring out the angry white males who hate Davis in even larger numbers.

In any case, it certainly changes the political calculus of the election.

POSTSCRIPT: There are some things the initiative won’t do. The LAPD, for example, tracks race every time it stops someone as part of a federal consent decree designed to reduce its history of racial profiling. Since that’s a federal agreement, it would not be affected by the initiative.