HOUSE Speaker Newt Gingrich at a recent news conference:
Q. Mr. Speaker, is it your belief that affirmative action programs discriminate against white males?
A. No. It's my belief that affirmative action programs, if done for individuals are good and if done by some group distinction are bad, because it is antithetical to the American dream to measure people by the genetic pattern of their great-grandmothers.
So, I'm very interested in re-writing the affirmative action programs so that they allow individuals to get help whether they are Appalachian white or American Indians from a reservation or blacks from Atlanta or Hispanics from L.A., I think -- or Asians from San Francisco.
But I think it ought to be based not on your belonging to a genetic pattern but on the fact that you individually have worked hard and are trying to rise and that you come out of a background of poverty and a background of cultural need.
Q. Supporters of these programs would argue that the beneficiaries have been subjected to discrimination -- systematic over centuries.
A. That's been true of virtually every American. The Anglo-Saxons were routinely discriminated against by the Normans, the Irish were discriminated against by the English -- you know, go down the list . . .
Well, I'm suggesting to you that every group in American society -- and I would say the Irish would tell you in terms of "Irish need not apply," and the kind of discrimination common in the 19th century -- that was very tough. And it was a very, very severe discrimination.
I think that Jews can give you pretty good argument that certainly the history of Auschwitz is one which is horrendous, and we have a Holocaust Museum to remind people of just how horrendous it is.
So, if you start with what happened to your great-great-great grandparents and who are you, if you believe in integration, and you actively believe in a society in which for example you may well have somebody whose background is Hispanic, African-American, European- American and Asian -- and that increasingly happens -- do you then sit down and say, now on my next job application I think I'll pick the genetic code that has the highest probability of being admitted? . . .