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Front Page News....April 24 - May 7, 1995

Republicans Replace Affirmative Action With "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Federally-mandated cultural ignorance to end racial discrimination

Triumphant Republicans voted Monday to replace affirmative action with a daring new policy that promises to forever banish issues of race and gender from the workplace. Trumpeted as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the measure strictly prohibits employers from asking their workers uncomfortable personal questions such as "Are you black?" or "Have you ever felt like a woman?" "The simple fact of the matter is that for most white Americans, ignorance is bliss," House Speaker Newt Gingrich proclaimed. "As long as we don't have to know what color you are, hell, we'll be happy to be your friend."

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" bill reasons that by keeping their race and sex secret, employees will effortlessly stymie workplace racists and cads. Unable to identify female and minority colleagues, perplexed bigots will stop grabbing ass or telling offensive jokes and reluctantly return to work. Productivity will rise, without costing employers or the federal government any money.

The basis for the legislation lies in a series of studies conducted by the University of Alabama which show that most bigots are provoked not by the color of one's skin, but by the rich ethnic heritage of immigrant peoples. By refraining from engaging in overtly cultural behaviors, such as eating spicy foods, worshipping a different God, or exchanging secret handshakes, most minorities can easily avoid the wrath of the white male oligarchy. "Discrimination is merely the symptom -- taking stock of co- workers' different racial traits and sex organs is the real disease," House Speaker Newt Gingrich stated. "We expect this bill to prevent that once and for all."

According to bill sponsor Senator Jesse Helms ( R-N.C.), the same principles of racial hatred apply to gender discrimination as well. "Most men simply don't even notice that someone is a woman, until she starts crying or gossiping or something" Helms claimed, adding that in many cases, the old practice of affirmative action actually promoted discrimination by drawing attention to an individual's sex. As proof he cited an experiment conducted by the University of Illinois Department of Psychology. According to the study, nine of ten men interrupted work to whistle and stare fixedly at a researcher's breasts as soon as they were informed that the reseacher was female. "And you can pretty much guess what was wrong with that tenth guy," Helms grumbled.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" also promises to end the pressure felt by many women and minorities to act more womanly or black simply because they've been singled out for special favor. Speaker Gingrich pointed to his own staff as an example. After hiring John Peabody, an African American, as an aide, Gingrich's white male employees were disappointed to learn that Peabody did not talk "jive" and arrived at work garbed not in colorful African dress, but in nondescript gray suits instead. "My staffers stated calling him 'Urkle' until I ordered them to stop," explained the diminutive Georgia Republican. "Had it not been for affirmative action, John's feelings would never have been hurt."

The new policy is not without its critics, however, who quickly pointed out that devious employees could deduce their colleagues' race and gender through sly observation. An employee entering a washroom door marked "Women" could be labeled female. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) suggested that a friendly but dimwitted mail carrier might spy a co- worker and shout, "Hello there, Carol." Instantly all male employees within earshot will realize 'Carol' is a woman, Kennedy warned, and conspire to bed her.

Republicans also rejected complaints that the bill will turn America's workers into sexless, androgynous drones. According to supporters, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" only requires employees to discard their racial and sexual identity while they're on the clock. Once their shift is over, workers are heartily encouraged to jam in the house or discuss the merits of their favorite Oprah episode.

"People's race or gender is their own business--as long as they keep it behind closed doors," Gingrich noted "I, for example, am of European descent. But here on the House floor, I've learned to put aside my heritage, and haven't heard one ethnic slur since. Why can't everyone else do the same?"

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