Willfully obnoxious…and some advice

Apparently the College Republicans are at it again: scoring cheap publicity points by doing something obnoxious.

The CRs at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI have decided to create a “whites-only” scholarship. According to them, it’s a move to protest affirmative action.

Some of the requirements: an essay on “why you are proud of your white heritage” and a recent picture to “confirm whiteness.” The application also says that “evidence of bleaching will disqualify applicants.”

According to their president, Jason Mattera, 20, they’re only parodying minority scholarships. “White kids are at a handicap,” he told the Providence Journal. “Handing out scholarships based on someone’s color is absurd.”

But check this out: Mattera is of Puerto-Rican descent, and he’s the recipient of a $5,000 scholarship available only for minorities–one that, at last report, he’d yet to give up. How hypocritical is that?

Not at all, according to Mattera. “No matter what my ethnicity is, I’m making a statement that scholarships should be given out based on merit and need,” he said.

Okay, I can see his point. So why is he not targeting scholarships aimed at legacies (the relatives of alumni)? According to his logic, they’re just as objectionable.

Two reasons come to mind.

First, it’s not shocking (and, from a PR standpoint, newsworthy) to oppose legacy awards.

Second, probably because there’s a very real, and very nasty streak of racism that runs through this stunt. One that’s borne of a despicable tradition (unfortunately) among many CR clubs.*

Think about it. Look at the questions, especially the dig about bleaching. And, finally, remember, it’s February–Black History Month. How twisted is that?

It’s especially tragic that it’s a Puerto Rican doing this. Mattera may think he’s white. Fine–that’s his prerogative. But it’s really pathetic that he’s trying to play both sides.

If it really bothers him that he got five grand for being Puerto Rican, then give up the money–or pay it back. And if he’s so embarrassed to be from Puerto Rico, then he might want to think about not mentioning the fact.

What really takes the cake is this: Puerto Ricans have the lowest rate of college attendance of any ethnic group. The last thing we need is for one of our own to work at reducing our opportunities for self-improvement.

On a larger picture…why do CR clubs (and associated conservative groups, like The Dartmouth Review and the Young Americans for Freedom) continually do stuff like this?

There’s much to recommend conservative philosophy, particularly its libertarian variant. But every time a group like this pulls a stunt like this, it only provides people with ammunition that Republicans are reflexively racist.

Look, GOP fans, and listen hard:

Whites will no longer be in the majority. Trying to appeal, through crude racial imagery, to whites and whites alone, in a bid to win votes, will backfire on you. It’s as simple as that..

You have an ideology that could, conceivably, appeal to wide numbers of minorities–particularly Latinos, the largest and fastest growing minority in America.

But you’ve decided, for some reason, to do the exact opposite, for years.

Look, if you want to paint yourselves in a corner as a permanent minority party, feel free. It will only make it easier for us liberals to gain political power.

But you have a chance–a golden chance–to mend fences and become a true majority. If you’re truly serious about being a formidable political force, the first thing you’ll do is get on TV, denounce the RWU College Republicans as idiots, and try to mend fences.

But that’s just me.

*I used to be a College Republican. Trust me, I know just how racist they can get–one of the reasons I left was because of my group’s overwhelming disdain (to be really kind) towards minority.

Why did it bother me so? Because I’m Puerto Rican. My dad was the first person in his family to finish high school, let alone go to college (he ended up getting a Ph.D.), and I’m willing to wager that Mattera’s the first person in his family to go to college. Bother is probably a bit understated–I’m actually pretty angry about this. It’s really pathetic that he’s forgotten how much some people have probably sacrificed for him to get him there.

Someday, perhaps soon, I’ll post about how hard Puerto Ricans have it in the U.S.

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2 responses to “Willfully obnoxious…and some advice

  1. I think Ed Gillispe’s made the same calculation you boldface. He distanced the GOP from these kids right away.

    I’m sure they’ll be bigwigs in the movement twenty years from now, though. Such enterprise. Such cheek.

    One’s even Puerto Rican! Put him on stage!

  2. I agree that these kids will either be the big time pundits 10-20 years from now, or the leaders of the conservative movement.