I noticed Berkeley College Republicans’ recent attempt at a satirical “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” kind of blew up in their collective face. If the goal was to merely create attention for their cause, then bravo, but the decision to create a “satire” challenging SB 185, which seeks to make affirmative action-type policies legal again, was a let-down. As the Daily Cal’s satirically minded columnist, I found execution of the idea to be, frankly, only half-hearted. So for today, I am deciding to forego purely satirical commentary in hope of examining what went wrong.
I mean really, BCR? You promised a “satirical bake sale,” but instead delivered a product that was well under-cooked. As the Facebook response to your event shows, the masses were upset. But I venture to say their discontent is not because you forgot to include food stamps as a valid method of payment, or other considerate initiatives that might reveal a social conscience. No, while one small part of the uproar likely was the potential UC Berkeley student worried that her achievement might become tarnished or that her less-qualified younger brother won’t be able to waltz into Berkeley, most of the uproar stems from the fact that instead of delivering satire, you delivered a mean-spirited joke.
It might be easy to write the backlash off as clueless libtards automatically hating anything the BCR does, but that would be too easy, and since Republicans are known for self-reflection and the thoughtful consideration of nuance recently, these should come quite naturally. The rigid pursuit of ideology is noble and all that, but as learned from the Tea Party, instead of inflexible conviction for an issue, it is the careful examination of the ramifications of policy that is important — like the braintrust’s pragmatic decision to flirt with national default for the naive sake of ideology. Thank god Republicans didn’t hold hostage our credit rating or anything, AA+ is for the Belgians!
But before I confuse the issue with my personal disdain for certain political positions both right and left, I should clarify that in encouraging some thoughtful consideration of nuance, BCR, I do not mean that you should reconsider your stance on SB 185. It is much more urgent to consider the satire you apparently tried to create.
The bake sale you posthumously labeled as “satirical” was satirical mostly in title, not in content. It was just lackluster. It seemed a hastily made decision to offer us your satire-glazed brownies without bothering to check the recipe. And it’s not like these affirmative action bake sales are an ingenious new idea that you haven’t yet had the time to perfect — they have been going on for decades.
I realize humor is not job one for card-carrying Republicans and Democrats — that is firmly supplanted by the goal to be re-elected at all costs and the erosion of personal freedoms in the name of national security — but for such an old idea, your execution of the satirical bake sale was staggeringly half-assed.
To avoid any future malapropos if your group does decide to use satire again, you should listen up. Besides your dispassionate employment of satire in general, the first paragraph of the Facebook event made little sense, and the capitalization of “DIVERSITY” was odd and sort of hateful. But the main problem with the “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” is of course, the pricing structure.
While the higher cost of cookies for whites is analogous to the higher standards of admission whites might face if increasing racial diversity becomes a factor in university admissions, you failed to consider the hypersensitivity of modern day America on the issue of racism.
Like it or not, an analogy like yours could be sensible enough, but when cheaper pricing is associated with minorities and women, the readily offensible P.C. crowd hones in on the link created between cheaper prices and a group’s general economic status. This was not the intention, but the fact is that people have always been sensitive to their income level, and today there is less shyness in pointing out anything that could potentially come across as racist. That said, the final line of your post — “If you don’t come you’re a racist!” — seems to acknowledge the tendency of people to play the race card. Your decision to move forward with the pricing structure was curious because your satire confirms a certain awareness of social sensitivity to the issue. Oh well, hypocrisy never left the building — enjoying socialized medicine while denouncing it is proof of that.
But enough with the critical analysis, instead of the pricing scheme, you could have implemented a queue system. For every two black students, or Asians etc., a certain number of whites are admitted to the bake sale. Think how fun it could be to make the queue snake through a bureaucratic maze of diversity-accounting measures.
Or do a TSA style bake sale: Native Americans breeze through security without a second glance, blacks, Latinos and Asians receive increasingly higher scrutiny, and whites get the strip show and pat down. Instead of body language agents, you could implement racial identity experts posing as admissions officers, whose job it is to expedite customers to the appropriate racial security station instead of examining their academic credentials before granting access to the bake sale.
It could be fun and educational — just keep it light and mildly offensive.