Civil Rights Rethought
For the use of the membership only.
HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT, we’re going to talk about race. What would you think if your city council started all over on civil rights, dismantled its “equity” mechanisms and agencies, erased all references from the municipal code and operations?
Before you answer, know that we have reached a point where we don’t have a classless society but rather two classes at each other’s throats. The one is made up of the assorted, ever-expanding, intersectional and overlapping groups claiming victim status and demanding a special deal. The other is cisgender, able-bodied, fully employed white males with their supposed privileges.
That’s not going to work. A system of social justice makes no sense that has ratcheted full circle to again allow individuals of one race to be treated as secondary or inferior.
But would we be returning to 1964 and the days of Jim Crow?
Many, many people have been taught that would be the case. Peter Wood of Boston College laments that this generation seems to have accepted “the terrible falsehood” that racism is and always was the dominant ideology here. If that stands, Wood warns, the American experiment “will hang by a thread and we would have no Lincoln to save it.”
Still, everyone in this foundation would vigorously oppose any change if they thought that Jim Crow or even separate-but-equal would be the result. Could we agree, though, on some policy going forward that would avoid the divisions now being sown?
Otherwise, we end up with social-justice system tied in knots. The civil rights bureaucracy cannot handle situations where there is a hitch in its simplistic black-white indices. Richard Samuelson, professor of government at Hillsdale College, in his essay “The Great Unwokening,” outlines some problems with that:
- “What if, say, a black trans-lesbian brings a lawsuit against a disabled Polynesian immigrant?” Samuelson asks. “Without a reliable means of determining who is the ‘up’ and who is the ‘down’ group, the whole system, run by legions of enforcement bureaucrats, activists, and lawyers, hits tilt.”
- “At Harvard, an Asian-American student must score 450 points higher on the SAT to have the same chance of admission as a black student with otherwise the same qualifications.”
- “Twenty-seven percent of black students on elite campuses come from the immigrant community rather than descendants of American slaves. Black students at top schools are thus increasingly less likely to be descendants of the people whom legislators in 1964 had specifically in mind.”
- “The great-grandson of an S.S. officer who fled to Argentina, and whose grandchildren moved to the U.S., would be listed as ‘Hispanic’ and benefit from affirmative action. But the great-granddaughter of a Jew he had killed would not.”
In addition, there is the question of where exactly in an individual’s ancestral makeup does one race begin and another end. And are German indentured servants here owed some sort of reparation? How far do we go back — to the Norse enslavement of the Irish, to the Muslim enslavement of the Slavs, to Native American enslavement of other Native Americans, to the Roman and Greek enslavement of almost everybody? Candace Owens, author of “Blackout,” cites a time when slavery was the primary commerce involving an estimated one-third of the world’s population. Are we going to need mandatory DNA testing to officially determine whom is more historically deserving than whom?
Samuelson has another idea — from before Jim Crow, from before 1619 even. He shares Founder James Madison’s admiration for London’s Royal Exchange of 1571. There, Christians, Jews and Muslims interacted as equals in a sphere of commercial exchange. It is argued that the positive experiences and associations stemming from that free exchange eventually led England to be the first nation to ban slavery. Madison’s idea was to expand that sphere in the United States to include not just commercial contact but all social contact. Discrimination was to carry its own penalty in lost associations, lost opportunities and lost profits, just as the economist Thomas Sowell has shown that it in fact does.
So again, after these last years of social experimentation and engineering, why not dismantle the “equity” mechanisms and agencies, erasing all references to race in your city’s municipal code and operations? Who’s for a reset?
Don’t everybody raise your hands at once. — tcl