It is a mistake to think of the fundamental division of American politics as pitting “whites” versus “people of color.”
Appreciate the article but believe it ignores the importance that destroying America's foundational principles will have on the future.
Was there past discrimination and injustice under the current system? Yes, but that same system was instrumental in self-correcting.
In 2040, America's culture likely will NOT be based on those norms or principles. No one will be able to rely on an impartial mechanism of self-correction. It's being stripped away because it's considered a relic of white supremacy. It is being dismantled for what? We're told something much more inclusive and diverse. A system that won't oppress people, especially historically marginalized people and those of color. The majority will be the "victim" class in an arrayed hierarchy.
Yea, Right. Such a system will be 100 times worse than what we have today because its culture (and its laws) will intentionally be the polar opposite of what we have today. It will be an embedded cast system all in the name of rectifying past injustices.
We need to keep in mind that the US is far larger and far more racially diverse than any nation on earth. It's not simply a large European nation, so such comparisons are truly meaningless.
Let's just pray we can hold some semblance of normalcy. But I'm not optimistic given so much tribalism developing.
correct. The idea that all these Hispanic and Asian people would be politically anti white is white leftist fantasy.
The "people of color" trope always existed mostly for the rhetorical convenience of the militant black nationalists who've been ascendant the last ten years. It's a way for them to cling to an outdated, false binary, and inflate their numbers when convenient. POCs who fall out of line get punished with "white adjacent" labeling. The BIPOC neologism was necessary to remind them who is boss.
If we are going to continue to exist as a viable society in the US, we must get away from the classification of people into all these boxes of "oppressed" people. Let's be realistic, the founding of this country was based on the ideas of white, elite, predominately British/European males. However, the principles on which this country was founded have continued to carry us through from the Revolution, a horrific Civil War and the post-war aftermath, the Jim Crow era, a Depression, two World Wars, and the Civil Rights Era. Each step in our country, we have had groups of people treated badly, even horrifically: Indentured servants, Black slaves, Irish and Asian immigrants, later Poles, Italians and Jews, and Latinos. However, the framing of the constitution and the amendments thereof have continued to shift us back to the initial proposition that all men were created equal, and should be treated equally under the laws of this country. To veer away from any of those principles is to destroy the original principles of this country and its experiment in a constitutional representative Republic ( much as Mr. Israel says below).
I would also like to point out that many of the ills of the Black community, particularly those in the inner cities, are blamed on the ongoing evil of "systemic racism". But, if one compares rates of poverty, disease and drug use in the urban Black community with that of Appalachia (which is mostly White) one sees many parallels. Is that racism or classism? What about the fact that most of the inner cities have been under supposedly Liberal/Progressive Democrat administrations, or even had Black or minority mayors? Are these administrations systemically racist? I see in the middle class neighborhood behind my house a roughly 10% Black population with some Hispanic and Asian Indians thrown in. There are no drugs or crime issues, and no police killings in that neighborhood. How does this support rampant racism?
And really, what is a person of color? Is it based on a person's appearance, their genetics, their ancestral makeup, how they identify? Are Asian Indians people of color? They certainly rank one of the highest on the socioeconomic status, as do Black African immigrants, which I suppose would certainly be people of color.
What about the so-called LGBT community? I really don't think all those people agree totally on being identified as such.
We first need to bring into school teaching the principles of the foundation of this country and recognize them for the ideas of rich White Europeans, yet these principles held this country together through the painful spasms of mistreatment of others, whether it be race or class, and the spasms of World Wars and external strife. We need to emphasize that while imperfect, this is still one of the most open, free and prosperous countries in the world. We need to focus on the fact that ALL of us are Americans, and want the best for our country and its citizens, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. If we don't do this, I agree with Mr. Israel's assessment, we are in for perilous times, and may not survive.
Two quick comments and a grump:
(1) This is a very well articulated argument about the problem of even defining racial, ethnic or (implicitly) and other human groups. I am of Italian heritage, and my immigrant grandparents told me about the inter-Italian prejudices in the small Pennsylvania town they lived in: The Romans were uppity, the Calabrians were poor and dirty (that's us!), the Northern Italians too rich and, well, everyone knows about the Sicilians... All such groupings include some cultural similarities and some pretty strongly held differences, and all group individuals remain at some level individual. How much of the modern push to understand and hopefully predict behavior is a product of our desire to manage politics, with good public ends the surrogate for that? At the very least, the best we could do is make better guesses, I suppose, but as long as liberty is our starting point, human variety is always going to confound the best of political science.
(2) You mention the founders, but leave out one of the most important fundamentals of their thinking, which wasn't really clarified for about a century. In Federalist 10, Madison defines "factions" as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." The racial, ethnic and the other groupings we are so accustomed to in modern politics fall well within this definition. The specifically racial component of this was addressed explicitly in the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, but most important here is the guarantee of equal protection of the laws, the slow progress of which grew to include an enlarged concept of the equality that was the premise of Madison's thinking about managing the effects of factions. This remains the best defense against the demographic factions of our time. If a segment of white citizens is concerned about the possibility of a "majority-minority" country, they have the most aggressive stake in making sure equal protection of the laws remains a cornerstone of our protected rights; that's how they make make sure Black, Hispanic and Asian-Americans don't gang up on them. There is none among us who is not in some kind of minority, now or in some future grouping of citizens. All of us have an interest in making sure laws are not drafted to disadvantage anyone or any group based on whatever that cell of our personal matrix happens to be.
The Grump: You refer to "the increasingly multiethnic culture of metropoles from Houston to New York City. Seriously? You begin with Houston on the West? As a lifelong Californian, and a long-time fan of Yascha, I am speechless.
I was wondering if readers can give an example of a country that is a role model for racial/ethnic relations. Or one that has been more successful than the United States in integrating differences.
I read David Reich's book on ancient DNA several years ago, and one of its big lessons to me was the fact that the planet was peopled through often vicious replacements, war, colonization, genocides....and sometimes peaceful mixing.
As a note, Spanish is my first language and I have very light colored skin, so white.
Someday, maybe, we'll learn to see people as human beings, each one worthy of respect and judged by their deeds. That's not fashionable, but it seems to me it would solve at least some of our troubles. Just as we should not assume people of a certain race will vote a certain way, we should not be in the business of saying that all members of one race, or gender, are good or evil. Goodness doesn't correlate to skin color and never has. Nor does it correlate to gender. Lots of specious thinking afoot these days. This kind of thoughtful, outside-the-box piece is why I subscribe to Persuasion.
Your critique of census data bias fits my family situation. My family background was mixed ethnicity, but not mixed race. My wife was raised in all white Newport Beach CA. My grandfather was an immigrant from Mexico, white & 6 foot 5 inches tall. I was called a Mexican in High School & in college was part of an all white fraternity. At the college where I taught for 36 years the HR Dept. listed me as a person of color. All of my children look European & one has blond hair. The labels are often misleading & political. I love this country as crazy as it is.
The article's main point is well taken. However, I would like Mr. Mounk to educate us skeptics on "the racial injustices which continue to characterize contemporary America." This is a frequent move of his, criticizing mistaken lefty arguments while signaling he's really one of them. Well I'm not one of them, Mr. Mounk, and neither I suspect are many of your subscribers. So again, instead of taking us for granted, educate us. If there's a valid argument to be made, you're well suited to make it.
*Fine* article. Thank You.
You mentioned Richard Alba. Here's what he and a couple other professors said in another good article: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/myth-majority-minority-america/619190/