I was very happy to see this response from the newly-formed coalition at Berkeley to the stupid College Republican bake sale. As College Republican groups have been doing for years, the Berkeley group decided to sell cupcakes at different prices to people of different races to make some kind of facile point about affirmative action. The thing about the Republican stunt is that it’s stupid, and intentionally so, which makes it difficult to know how to respond. The coalition, as it turned out, had the right strategy – ignore the ten racist wankers with cupcakes, and organize a few hundreds students, mostly of color, in a striking demonstration of their visibility on Sproul Plaza. Don’t engage with the idiots, just show how pathetic and marginal they are.
I was happy to see this successful response, because the response from the University administration had been (predictably) useless, and the response from Student Government (perhaps not quite as predictably), also awful.
would provide guidelines for respectful conduct by campus organizations. Among other provisions, the bill “condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”
This is so wrongheaded I’m not sure where to start. To say that their bake sale is “discriminatory” is not a criticism, on the contrary, it accepts the premise of their faux-naïf argument. Racist former UC Regent Ward Connerly, who showed up to support the bake sale, made this clear:
“This bake sale is racist,” he said. “It’s only the way to call attention to the problem [of affirmative action].”
By complaining about the formal discrimination at the bake sale, the ASUC gives the College Republicans the opportunity to nod solemnly and say, “but don’t you see, isn’t affirmative action even more discriminatory?” Worse, the ASUC ‘s bill commits them to agreeing with this, and condemns the ASUC’s own event in support of affirmative action because, of course, affirmative action is formally discriminatory; what justifies this formal discrimination is the context it takes place in. The problem with the bake sale isn’t that it discriminates on the basis of race (who really cares about 50 cents difference in the price of a cupcake?). The problem is that the attempt to present this trivial discrimination as in any way relevant to affirmative action, which attempts to redress a long history of the most appalling discrimination. To think the two are in any way comparable is incredibly stupid; to pretend to be that stupid for publicity is racist.
In other news, Wendy Brown decided to adopt a lulz-based anti-racist strategy, of which I also approve:
The College Republicans started selling baked goods at 10am PT this morning. Their first customer was UC Berkeley Professor of Political Science Wendy Brown, who tried to buy all the baked goods but wasn’t allowed. “I thought the Republicans were free enterprise, but they won’t let me buy all the cupcakes.”