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T HU T I X A S server MARCH 24, 1995 VOLUME 87, No. 6 FEATURES Highway for the Hub Lubbock Moves a Railroad By Darvyn Spagnolly 7 DEPARTMENTS Editorial After Affirmative Action? 3 Observations Did You Say Reading? Up or Our Philippic By Ronnie Dugger 5 Legislative Observer High-Dollar Representation By Robert Bryce 11 Business Seeks Consumer Protection By Jo Clifton 12 Molly Ivins `Fixing’ the Courts 13 Jim Hightower: Gutting the 4th; Disney Spies; Military Music; Super Briefs 14 Potomac Observer Dimwits vs. Reptiles, 1996 By James McCarty Yeager 15 Las Americas Mexican Soap Opera By Barbara Belejack 16 Books and the Culture Literary Valedictorian By Steven G. Kellman 17 Rethinking Camelot World Orders Old and New Book reviews by Michael King 18 Making the Timeless Timely Book review by Char Miller 20 To Live; Roommates Movie reviews by Steven G. Kellman 21 Afterword Patricia Highsmith: An Appreciation By Holly Hildebrand 23 Political Intelligence 24 Cover photo by John Spragens Jr. affirmative action, Senator David Sibley at least got the black, Hispanic and progressive white legislative caucuses to unifyin opposition to him. But the Waco Republican’s achievement was inadvertent as he has set out to prohibit the programs that are designed to help minority Texans get a crack at government jobs, contracts and placement in university classrooms after centuries of official discrimination and worse. As the Republican Party takes its exploitation of the civil rights backlash to a kinder, gentler generation, the odds are slim that Sibley and his GOP will join an honest discussion of race and class in Texas. In his announcement of the initiative, Sibley stated that “a new form of discrimination is being practiced today. Selected minority groups that have been treated unfairly in the past now are given special advantages based solely on their minority status.” Although he generally is considered politically astute and relatively moderate for a Republican, Sibley appeared surprised by the vehement reaction to his proposed constitutional amendment. After black, Hispanic and progressive white Democrats appeared at a news conference to denounce his proposaland Representative Ron Wilson, a black Houston Democrat, appeared in Ku Klux Klan-style hood and robes that he joked he found in Sibley’s closetSibley said he had acted out of conscience because of his objection to racial discrimination in any form. That is the sort of statement that resonates among middle-class white men, who deny that they are motivated by racism but feel put upon by the competition with minorities who a generation ago had no hope of attending the University of Texas or getting a managerial position or competing for a lucrative state contract. White men played a significant role in sweeping Republicans into power this past November and GOP strategist William Kristol, in remarks to the Dallas Morning News, welcomed President Clinton’s call for a review of affirmative action programs, because Kristol noted that Clinton cannot afford to divide his core constituents of minorities, women and liberal and working-class whites. “Any debate on affirmative action may blow it \(the tol said, hopefully. Although the support of white men was crucial to Governor George W. Bush’s vic tory over Ann Richards this past November, he was cautious about embracing Sibley’s proposal. U.S. Senator Phil Gramm is perhaps the most prominent Texan who clearly hopes to ride the opposition to affirmative action and white middle-class frustration over diminishing opportunities into the White House. While his main rival, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, has called for a re-evaluation of affirmative action, Gramm has said one of his executive orders if elected President would be to get rid of affirmative action programs. FOR ALL THE STORIES of whites being shunted aside to make way for lesser-qualified black and Hispanic applicants, there is little evidence that affirmative action has put whites at a serious disadvantage in college admissions, job placement or government contracts. “This whole argument against affirmative action is controlled by anecdotes rather than data, but for every anecdote of a white man who doesn’t get a job because of an affirmative action program I can come up with 10 anecdotes of a minority who encountered bias in selection for college or a job,” said Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Center in Los Angeles, which studies public policies that affect Mexican Americans. Pachon noted that black and Hispanic Texans occupied managerial and professional jobs at half the rates of whites. Where 28.86 percent of white Texans had managerial or professional jobs, according to 1990 census statistics, only 13.75 percent of native-born Mexican Americans and 14.53 percent of blacks held those sorts of jobs. The Census Bureau recently reported that median household income for U.S. blacks, when adjusted for inflation declined in 1993 to $21,542 from $22,253 in 1980. The median income for Hispanic households nationwide declined to $23,654 from $25,838. In that same period the median income for whites rose to $39,300, from $38,458. Black unemployment remains twice as high as that of whites and blacks earn about one-fourth less than whites. But many whites still complain that blacks get advantages in hiring and promotion. Sibley singled out for criticism the law that requires state agencies to make a “good faith” effort to award 30 percent of state contracts to “historically underutilized EDITORIAL Affirming Action THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3