Lost in the Labyrinth of Race (much more at the link)
One of the unexpected results of the Sotomayor nomination is a refocusing on the politics of racial identity and the fossilized institutions of affirmative action-or the belief that the U.S. government should use its vast power to ensure an equality of result rather than a fairness of opportunity.
In the last fifty years, United States has evolved into a complex multiracial state. Race no longer is necessarily an indicator of income or material success-as the record of, say, Japanese-Americans or, indeed Asians in general, attests.
And what criterion constitutes race itself nowadays, when almost every family has someone who is half-Hispanic, a quarter-Asian, one-half black, or part Pakistani? What percentage of one’s lineage ensures purity of race, or qualifies for minority status? Are California Hispanics minorities, or so-called whites that are now a smaller percentage of the state population?
And what constitutes racial authenticity? Lack of income? An absence of success in the American rat race? Is the fourth generation upper-class Cuban an “Hispanic” who should qualify for affirmative action because his name is Hillario Gonzalez? Does the one-quarter aristocratic Jamaican qualify for American redress on account of his partial blackness?
And how does affirmative action-or even the fuzzy notion of “diversity”- adjudicate all this without mirror-imaging the statisticians of the Old Confederacy who could precisely calibrate the 1/16 drop of black blood? The university where I taught was full of South Americans and Europeans with Spanish surnames that allowed their various departments to be considered “ethnically diverse,” while others, having Russian émigrés, or the foreign born from New Delhi, Israel, and Egypt, struggled to satisfy the dictates of diversity czars.
In other words, affirmative action, and the racial identity politics that fuel it, are swamped by their inherent racialist contradictions-and made irrelevant by the dynamism of popular culture of the last three decades in which intermarriage, assimilation, and integration have challenged the notion of racial fides itself.
So begins an article from Victor Davis Hanson on the state of race in the USA, including affirmative action, “diversity,” racial preferences, racial identity, the nature of privilege in modern USA, the whole nine yards in the current race discussion and its political and social implications. It’s all worth reading and difficult to summarize, a sign of pithy, concise writing. Suffice to say that it highlights all the inner contradictions of the race conscious, and the futility of policies that were designed to redress grievances and correct imbalances, but cannot even identify who should qualify in any rational way.
Here is what’s clear to me: the election of a president of African ancestry has done nothing to satisfy the Left. It has not convinced the Left that America is no longer significantly racist in its average viewpoint. Instead, it appears simply to have placed the Left in the driver’s seat for every race-based preference and accommodation that it can construct.
We’re a long, long way from the “content of his character” vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., and getting farther away every day.