Friday, July 28, 2006

Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm Says Blacks And Latinos Are Underperforming

Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm (pictured at left, courtesy of is under fire for comments in a recent speech and in his new book that Hispanics remain an "underclass" in America because their culture is "not success-producing." Full story in the Rocky Mountain News. The most pertinent parts are reproduced below.

Lamm made the statements during a speech Monday in Vail hosted by the Vail Symposium, a nonprofit group that hosts educational and cultural programs. He addressed about 120 people, only a handful of whom were Hispanic or black, said Vail Symposium Executive Director Fraidy Aber. At that event, Lamm also sold about 25 copies of his new book, Two Wands, One Nation, Aber said.

In the 80-page paperback published in January, Lamm argues that Hispanics and blacks need to take responsibility for their "underperformance" and should adopt the values of the Japanese and Jews. "Let me offer you, metaphorically, two magic wands that have sweeping powers to change society. With one wand you could wipe out all racism and discrimination from the hearts and minds of white America. The other wand you could wave across the ghettos and barrios of America and infuse the inhabitants with Japanese or Jewish values, respect for learning and ambition," Lamm wrote. "I suggest that the best wand for society and for those who live in the ghettos and barrios would be the second wand."

Lamm is a longtime critic of mass immigration and most recently served as a leader of Defend Colorado Now, a group that wants to stop illegal immigrants from receiving government services. Public concern about illegal immigration - which often focuses on Mexican immigrants - led to a special session of the state legislature earlier this month that included heated debates and accusations of racism. In the end, lawmakers passed a package of bills aimed at curbing illegal immigration that are considered among the toughest in the country.

In his book, excerpts of which the News carried in its Commentary section on Feb. 18, Lamm stresses that Hispanics and blacks blame white racism too much for their problems and that it is time to have an honest discussion about how to help them succeed. "Racism and discrimination clearly still exist, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that the problem of minority underperformance is much broader and more nuanced than can be explained by the impact of racism alone," he wrote. "When two-thirds of black births are out-of-wedlock births, it is hard to write a happy or prosperous future for black America. When close to 50 percent of Hispanic students don't graduate from high school, it is hard to see Hispanics following the typical American route to prosperity."

Local Hispanic and black leaders say Lamm's viewpoints fuel stereotypes and extremism instead of helpful dialogue. "I was quite offended," said state Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, who is black. "I think there's room to have conversations about personal responsibility and we should. But we can have that conversation without demonizing. It's sad that someone as intelligent as Governor Lamm can't see how these types of comments really don't do anything to further legitimate debate."

Fidel "Butch" Montoya, former Denver manager of safety and a leader of Confianza, a Hispanic clergy group, said he's "outraged" by Lamm's comments. "I couldn't believe that in this day and age that someone would be so open with a sense of bigotry and extremism," Montoya said.

Cody Wertz, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, said that Lamm is wrong.

"You don't have to go any farther than Senator Salazar's parents, Henry and Emma, and the values they instilled in their eight children to realize how wrong Dick Lamm is," Wertz said. "Henry and Emma instilled an ethic of hard work and love of education in their children so all eight graduated from college and have been great examples for all Coloradans, both Hispanic and non- Hispanic."

Lamm said even if people are offended, the issue of cultural connection to educational and economic success still needs to be discussed. "I don't think that Jews are smarter. I don't think Hispanics are dumber," he said. "You've got to look at why one group succeeds disproportionately and the other group fails disproportionately." He said he's not surprised by the anger his remarks have evoked.

"All great truths begin as heresies," he added.

Lamm's book grew out of a 2003 essay he wrote and tried to publish in a newsletter at the University of Denver, where he teaches public policy. For the last three years, Lamm has lambasted the university for not publishing his essay. In the foreword of his book, Lamm addresses the university: "May you come to understand that on a college campus, 'too controversial' is not the answer to anything, ever."

DU vigorously disputes Lamm's accusations. The school contends it did not publish the essay in 2003 because the newsletter didn't take unsolicited work and had changed its format. Spokesman Jim Berscheidt said the school offered Lamm other ways to publish his essay, which he did not take. "We never censor free speech," Berscheidt said.

Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, agreed that Lamm's book does not present new arguments. But they are still dangerous, he said. Lamm's comments "can lead to greater prejudice rather than to greater understanding," he said.

Analysis: Richard Lamm not only understands the issue, but articulates it and refuses to be deterred by petty sniping and flaming. He brushes charges of "racism" aside just as casually as he brushes a mosquito off his arm. We need more of this type of courage from the white community. Minority lawmakers like Terrance Carroll and religious leaders like Fidel "Butch" Montoya are exactly the type of people who Juan Williams takes issue with in his book. The grotesque overreaction of these two race pimps is completely over the top. It's also about power and control. If blacks and Latinos do become more competitive and self-reliant, the power of Terrance Carroll might be reduced, and he might even lose an election. Getting a politician away from the public trough is about as easy as prying Bill Clinton off an intern, or taking a bone away from a pit bull.

And despite the fact that Lamm specifically praised the Jewish community, that wasn't good enough for the ADL representative in attendance. DeBoskey still complained about the remarks being dangerous. What more proof do you need that there is absolutely nothing you can do to satisfy these Jewish supremacists? It is utterly ludicrous to try. They are the Pharisees and Sadducees of our time. Or, as Jesus Christ described them, hypocrites and vipers, of their father the devil. But we must remember to distinguish between predatory Jewish supremacists and the larger majority of ordinary Jews who generally avoid this sort of behavior. There's a world of difference between the ADL, which is the premier hate group in America, vs. JPFO, who are staunch defenders of the Second Amendment. You would think the ADL would be smart enough to save their hate for the people who are actually firing rockets into Haifa, but their hatred of America and, in particular, white Americans, is greater than their love for Israel. In addition, the more ghosts they invent and chase, the more they fatten their coffers.

Richard Lamm stirred up some controversy in 1984 when he was misquoted as saying "the elderly have a duty to die". He actually said "we have a duty to die", and was discussing it within the context of society's financial obligation. Would society have the obligation to maintain life for someone in a persistent vegetative state at public expense? What about someone who gets terminal lung cancer from smoking, or someone who gets terminal AIDS from unprotected gay sex? Would we owe them heroic measures (a new set of lungs for the smoker or expensive AIDS drugs for the queer) at public expense at the risk of national bankruptcy, or would our public obligation be limited more sensibly to simply providing them the necessary pain medication to minimize physical suffering and facilitate a more dignified exit from mortality? Lamm foresaw the potential expense of huge numbers of baby boomers entering the Medicare phase of their lives and simply wanted to start an intelligent discussion.

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