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Columbia Missourian FRIDAY & SATURDAY, January 22-23, 2010 — Page 5A

Write.
Reflect.
Respond.

TODAY’S QUESTION
What do you think Scott Brown’s victory means for
health care legislation? What are your hopes for health
care reform?

O
n Tuesday, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Mar-
tha Coakley in a bid for the Massachusetts Senate seat. This
victory could affect the success of President Obama’s health
care legislation now that Democrats have lost their 60-seat
majority in the Senate, and therefore, the ability to overcome Republi-
can filibusters.
Brown will fill the seat held for nearly 50 years by Democratic Sen.
Edward M. Kennedy, a vocal supporter of health reform. Brown has
vowed to oppose the bill, leaving Democrats in Congress concerned.
Brown’s state is unique in that it is unlikely to see many benefits from
the national legislation because of Republican former Gov. Mitt Rom-
ney’s role in passing a law that led to near-universal health coverage
in the state.
The remaining options for the survival of the health care bill after
Brown’s victory are for the House to pass the same bill that the Senate
just passed or for the bill to be reconciled before Brown is sworn in.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that the Senate will not
move forward to pass a final version of the bill until Brown takes his
seat.
­— Kourtney Geers

Tell us what you think


E-mail your comments to letters@ColumbiaMissourian.com
Or mail them to: Idea of the Day, P.O. Box 917, Columbia, MO 65205

For many, identifying


as one race is unfair
W
hat does an American
look like? This is the
third time I am asking
this question. This is
daughter, who can claim Scottish,
Irish, German, Cherokee, Hawaiian
and Guamanian backgrounds, with
some Jewish mixed in somewhere?
Optimism, not reality,
defines Nixon speech
also a near impossible question to The president is not “black,” but
answer, but our government keeps of mixed race and mixed heritage:
trying. Indonesian, Hawaiian and Middle
This commentary is a continua- American. Is he black because of
tion of two earlier discussions. The his skin pigmentation? Does his

I
first, “Language limits the means to name make him Middle Eastern?
equality,” appeared in the Missou- Harbarger’s report resulted in a
rian in June 2007, where the ques- second commentary. “Rid Ourselves ’ve never seen Jay Nixon ised that his “Put Missouri First”
tion was publicly of the Race Card,” published Jan. 5 as jolly as he looked on plan will bring new businesses to
proposed. The on my personal blog, again asked, television Wednesday the state, help those already here
column argued “What does an American look night. He was relentlessly GEORGE expand and provide job training,
that Americans
need to “stop
like?” speaking again to the use of
language, but focusing on the meth-
upbeat as he delivered his
State of the State address
KENNEDY especially for veterans.
Before the evening was over, of
identifying odology of determining race and and sketched his “long- course, those Republicans whom
people by race, ethnicity for the purpose of govern- term strategy to create a vibrant the governor had thanked for
religion, gender ment demographics. future” for a state he characterized their cooperation last year made
and creed.” Tom Gavin of the White House as clearly the best-managed, most
We can only hope Kinder clear that they have no intention of
David Commenters Office of Management and Budget forward-looking and prettiest in the isn’t as angry all the time cooperating this year on any such
were curious said the Interagency Committee for union. scheme. (I didn’t remember much
Rosman about my posi- the Review of the Racial and Ethnic OK, maybe I exaggerate a little,
as he appeared Wednesday. hands-across-the-aisle last session,
tion. Some Standards established the current but not much. He described him- but then politicians, like relief pitch-
argued that the language in 1997 after a four-year the books,” misled the electorate
self as “an optimist by nature” (as and conspired with Democrats in ers and placekickers, are required
use of race and ethnicity was neces- study. The committee included well as a lifelong fisherman and to have selective memories.)
sary to maintain affirmative action representatives of more than 30 Washington to pick taxpayers’ pock-
knowledgeable Cardinals fan). Then ets. It’s possible, even likely, that there
or for pride in race and heritage. federal agencies and included public he demonstrated the truth of that will be some legislative action this
Some argued that I was right, but comment and input. A review and He probably didn’t realize how
description by suggesting that, if much he sounded like a parody of spring to toughen drunk-driving
change would never come. re-evaluation of the language as only his fine Republican friends in enforcement and to limit payday
On Jan. 4, Missourian reporter used today will occur after the 2010 the classic line in the film “Casa-
the legislature will adopt his propos- blanca” when he declared himself lenders. Insurance companies
Molly Harbarger’s story, “Colum- census. als, we’ll find ourselves “leading the will probably be required to cover
bia school district starts multira- Demographic language needs “shocked” to learn the size of the
nation to recovery.” governor’s staff. autism.
cial identification,” concerned the to stop identifying race in terms He did mention that state rev- And ethics legislation of some sort
Columbia School District’s annual of skin color. In addition, with the While Gov. Nixon repeatedly
enues took their largest fall in his- appears almost inevitable. Whether
demographic report. Harbarger increasing number of mixed cultur- called for “bi-partisan” approaches,
tory in 2009, and he noted that he it will meet Gov. Nixon’s definition
wrote, “If a student’s family refuses al marriages through the centuries, his No. 2 — and likely opponent in
has cut or plans to cut 1,800 state of “meaningful” is less certain.
to complete the (demographic) especially in America, what per- 2012 — scorned the very idea. We
jobs. But if he said anything about Republican leaders have already
survey, the school asks the student centage of one’s background needs can only hope Mr. Kinder isn’t as
the $253 million in reductions, near- rejected his goal of limiting cam-
(about race and heritage). If that to be Spanish in origin to declare angry all the time as he appeared
ly half of it from Medicaid, that his paign contributions.
fails as well (the student refuses “Hispanic” ethnicity? The question Wednesday. That can’t be good for
actual budget proposes, I missed it. The governor introduced his
to give the information), a school systematically denies the existence his health.
Instead, my attention was glued to ethics proposals by pledging to
administrator chooses an identity of the other ethnicities and cultural Gov. Nixon, by contrast, was restore, or create, for Missourians
for the student based on observa- backgrounds that make up this our grinning governor and the two folksy as he confided that the Mis-
glowering Republicans behind him “state government as honest and
tion.” country. Remove the question of souri soldiers he visited on his straight-shooting as they are.”
The demographic choices are heritage. on the dais. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder trip to Iraq and Afghanistan asked
looked especially grim, I thought, as As I changed the channel back to
already determined, asking first if What does an American look like? two things: “How’s Pujols doing, basketball, I felt a twinge of worry
one is or is not of “Hispanic” heri- Unfortunately, the answer is not — though it pained him when protocol and will there be a job when I get
required that he stand or applaud. that despite his depiction of our
tage and then if one’s race is “white, pardon the pun — black and white. home?” virtues we may already have what
black, Asian or Native American/ America is a nation of immigrants, When it came time for Mr. Kinder He didn’t need to remind us that we deserve.
Pacific Islander.” This means if the itself of mixed race and heritage, to deliver the response to the gov- Albert Pujols did very well, winning
George Kennedy is a former managing
parents and child both refuse to yet we cannot deny pride of race ernor’s speech, he made clear that the league’s Most Valuable Player editor at the Missourian and professor
identify race or heritage, the school and heritage. Celebrations of ethnic, he was not only grim but angry. He award. The job prospects are a good emeritus at the Missouri School of
resorts to visual inspections, identi- religious and secular holidays can- snarled that Gov. Nixon had “cooked deal dicier, but the governor prom- Journalism.
fying race and heritage in terms of not and should not be eliminated.
skin color and surname. We can call ourselves anything we
This can and will result in incor- want. The government should not
rect identification of race and
ethnicity. Many of Latin American
and does not have that luxury.
These changes will not eliminate
DOONESBURY by GaRry Trudeau
and Spanish origins are multira- discrimination based on skin color,
cial, mixed European, African and heritage, religion, gender or any
original Central American race, as other reason in our imagination.
well as multicultural. Many “white” However, it is a start and one that
Americans are also of mixed race is morally correct for the United
and culture, though some would out- States.
right deny it. David Rosman is an award-winning
Examples are neither few nor far editor, writer, professional speaker and
between. How do you identify my college instructor in communications,
friend Roberta Sanchez, of Swedish ethics, business and politics. Read
his blog at InkandVoice.wordpress.
heritage, married to a Caribbean com. He welcomes your comments at
of African origins? Or my grand- ProfDave1011@netscape.net.

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the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service Columbia, MO 65205
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potterds@ warhovert@ abbottjm@ sherlockj@ 5744 OR CALL: 573-882-9951
missouri.edu missouri.edu missouri.edu missouri.edu Walter Williams, founding dean,
missouri school of journalism