Everyone has an opinion about the affirmative action bake sale. The Republicans claim their event was meant to inspire discussion and debate over the topic and based on what I’ve seen and heard regarding this issue, I do not want to doubt their intentions. I’d like to believe they wanted their opinions on the subject to be known and that they whole heartedly believe that affirmative action is a sort of “reverse discrimination” and they feel that they are not bigots for holding this view. I’d like to believe it. However, there is a problem with this way of interpreting the bake sale. I’m placing too much emphasis on what the Republicans “intended” for the event and do not want to refer to viewpoints with which I disagree as “bigoted.” From what I have heard among friends and collogues, this stance is the norm. However, by interpreting the affirmative action used in education and employment to the purchasing of baked goods, the College Republicans have made a gross mistranslation of how the system works in reality. We know what they intended the bake sale to mean, but what does it actually say? Via the bake sale, the Republicans are suggesting that jobs and positions in colleges are being given to minorities for less than they are to white men. This is not saying that these minorities have the same credentials as whites and are chosen above them – this is implying that whites, who are qualified and deserving, are losing their positions to minorities that are unqualified and undeserving. On its simplest level, the Republicans are saying that inferior blacks, Latinos and other minorities are stealing from superior white males. This is the definition of a racist attitude. The Republicans are advocating racism and bigotry, even if it is not intended.My concern is that words, statements, actions, etc. all have meanings and their value has little to do with the intent with which they are used. In this regard, Professor Johnson is correct in his letter and explanation printed in the Campus Times and arrives at the central issue of the bake sale. It matters little what the Republicans intended this episode to represent – we must look at the actual effects of the event and what their actions mean. Claiming or feigning ignorance can only carry someone so far and is not an applicable excuse in a court of law. If Johnson points out how the event could be interpreted as expressing bigotry and attempts to call them on their actions and methods, the Republicans have an obligation, if the bake sale was meant to be a starting point for discussion, to defend themselves. However, they responded to this accusation by complaining of name-calling and discrimination. If you recall, “discrimination” is what started this whole “debate.”For the record, the bake sale had nothing to do with free speech or the First Amendment. There is no one who will advocate that certain people do not have a right to express their opinions – that is ridiculous. Discussing the bake sale within the context of free speech is a cop-out. This only allows President Jackson to avoid the issues and make no commitment to one side or the other. His stance is cowardly and pathetic and we students should recognize this. Leaving any discussion of the bake sale within this context is wrong because it misses the point entirely. The College Democrats, Amnesty International and Students for Liberty are just as guilty as Jackson, but their reasons for making this an issue of free speech are quite different from his. Jackson has an agenda through changing the topic to free speech – the others are merely ignorant and imagine that the topic is free speech.Essentially, the College Republicans and the affirmative action bake sale have failed. If these students were attempting to facilitate debate around affirmative action, all they have managed to accomplish is limiting discussion to nothing but the event itself. But this is the nature of the bake sale – to stifle discourse. The Republicans came into this believing they were victims of reverse discrimination – they leave still believing they are victims, this time from the oppression of the politically correct crowd. The bake sale did not create debate. It polarized the campus into two opposing sides, only one of which has reacted. It seems the Republicans wanted this to happen and feel vindicated because it has. It allows them to carry the mantle of “victim” and feel good about it because they are proven “correct.”The irony of all this is that the same persons they believe are persecuting them want to begin the debate on affirmative action, not only with the “intent” of having a dialogue, but actually creating a dialogue. This depresses me. The only reason the Republicans have been so “successful” with their campaign is due to the number of students and faculty that have reacted to it. The only proper action would have been inaction. The community here should have ignored them, instead of getting caught up in all this nonsense, which is where I now find myself. If there had been a debate over this issue, questioning the legitimate concerns regarding affirmative action, none of this controversy would have occurred. Instead, they decided to hold a bake sale, an event which expressed nothing but a racist attitude, deliberately or not. I wish more students at this university could recognize the tactics of the College Republicans and make them accountable for their actions, not their supposed intentions.Battenhausen can be reached at dbattenhausen@campustimes.org.

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