WASHINGTON (Aug. 30)
Rep. Louis Stokes (D. Ohio), a leading spokesman in the Congressional Black Caucus and a top figure at the Black National Political Convention in Gary. Ind. last March, sharply denounced President Nixon and his Democratic challenger, Sen. George McGovern, today for their pledges to oppose quotas in federal programs for equal employment. Stokes also assailed the American Jewish Committee for having allegedly exacted those pledges from the presidential candidates “In return for Jewish votes.”
Stokes stated his views in a letter to Hyman Bookbinder, Washington representative of the AJCommittee, which he released today to the press. Philip E. Hoffman, AJCommittee president, wrote to Nixon and McGovern on Aug. 4 to express the organization’s “grave concern” over “widespread efforts and promises to achieve ‘proportional representation’ in our society by providing opportunities in employment, in education, in governmental appointments and civil service…on the basis of race, sex or ethnic affiliation.”
In their separate replies to Hoffman, Nixon and McGovern each expressed opposition to quotas and affirmed their support for the merit system. Stokes said in his letter that he found it “distressing indeed that these three men (Nixon, McGovern and Hoffman) have attained common ground without even consulting the group which will undoubtedly bear the brunt of this mutual accord.”
GERMAN, U.S. QUOTAS DIFFERENT
Continuing, Stokes wrote: “It seems highhanded at best and racist at worst that these three individuals can flatly state that no matter who wins the election in 1972, minority Americans will have fewer guarantees of the rights of equal opportunity than they have had in the past.”
The views expressed by Nixon and McGovern in their replies to Hoffman were applauded by AJCommittee executive vice-president Bertram Gold who acknowledged the need for American society “to rectify historical injustices” suffered by Blacks and other minority groups but observed that “the American system, which is an open society, is based on individual rights, not group rights.”
In a letter to Robert Hampton, chairman of the Civil Service Commission, made public yesterday. Bookbinder cautioned the Commission not to slow down or abandon the federal government’s program to assure equal employment opportunities because of federal policies against quotas.
Stokes noted in his letter that “There is a fundamental distinction to be drawn between the quotas that were applied in pre-war Germany which put a ceiling on the number of Jews in any given area and the quotas which minority Americans are demanding in federal programs which would serve only as a floor.
HIGH PRICE EXPECTED
He pointed out that as of May 31,1971, minorities represented only 2.7 percent of the federal employes at top civil service levels and 8.6 percent of those in middle levels. He estimated that minority groups comprise about 15 percent of the population. Stokes maintained that “guidelines must be established by which minorities are recruited and hired proportionate to a particular group’s percentage of the population.”
Stokes concluded, “I am sorry that Mr. Hoffman sees fit to exact such a high price from the presidential candidates in return for Jewish votes. I am sorrier still that the two presidential candidates place such a low value on 30 million Americans who happen to be members of minority groups.”