George Will`s Disappearing Problem

Should we worry
about the

Michigan Mess
– the Supreme Court`s incoherent
decision allowing the University of Michigan Law School
to continue discriminating by

race and ethnicity?

Or will interracial
marriage and the Latinization of America make this a
"disappearing problem," as Beltway conservative pundit

George F. Will
put it? (Subtext:

Republicans
can go back to sleep!) [Crude
Remedy for A Disappearing Problem,
By George F.
Will, June 24, 2003]

Answer: Worry.
There is nothing “disappearing” about this problem.
Otherwise why is

Brazil
, after 450 years of

interracial marriage
, now imitating

the U.S.
and adopting quotas?

Even before the
election of Brazil`s new left-wing President Lula, the
government was devising quota systems. The State
University of Rio de Janeiro just admitted its first
class under the quota system. Now more quotas are on the
way. According to Jon Jeter of the Washington Post:

"In May, Lula
appointed the first black Supreme Court judge, and his
government has put its full weight behind the Racial
Equality Statute, which, if passed by Congress, would
require quotas for

all levels of government
and even in the

casting of television programs
and commercials."

[Affirmative
Action Debate Forces Brazil To Take Look In The Mirror
,

June 16, 2003]

 

(Television?
Brazilian television is as

blonde bombshell-obsessed
as

Hispanic television
. Its biggest star is the
Scandinavian-descended

XuXa,
)

Brazil has no
official color line. But it has a distinct "color
continuum,
" with the darkest people at the bottom of
society and the lightest at the top.

Brazil is notorious
for its income

inequality
. With good reason. Back in 1978, before
Rio became a global by-word for violent crime, my father
and I naïvely took a peaceful early morning stroll
through the "favela"
above

Ipanema Beach
, a mountainside smear of tar-paper and
plywood shanties where, amidst staggering natural
beauty, the mostly black residents glared down upon the
nearby penthouses of

Brazil`s opulent white elite.
When we strolled back
to our beachfront hotel, the tour guide was frantic,
fearing we`d been seized by the slum dwellers and sold
for spare parts.

Yet, it`s important
to note that this inequality has two main causes – one
depressing, one hopeful. That`s unlike, say, a
prototypical Latin American country such as

Guatemala
, where all the news is

depressing.

The depressing
cause for Brazilian inequality is the old story: small
numbers of Iberian men arrived, took the land from the

Indians
, and

imported Africans
to work their plantations for them
in a

culture
that disdained all the bourgeois virtues.

Over the years, the
most talented and ambitious dark young men would climb
up the social ladder. But since they would normally use
their new social capital marry fairer-colored women,
their descendants would be whiter than they were.

This process
drained Brazil`s darker segments of its potential
leaders. In contrast, in the U.S., the one-drop rule of
defining race prevented talented mulattos like

Frederick Douglass,


Booker T. Washington
, and

W.E.B. Du Bois
from moving up in society, thus
inclining them to become leaders of the blacks.

Result: profound
social stratification.

The more hopeful
source of inequality: Brazil`s economy includes pockets
of dynamism and technological competence that are
unusual in Latin America. For example, Brazil`s Embraer
recently brought out a 100-seat passenger plane and is
now battling Canada`s Bombardier for the distinction of
being the

number three
maker of jetliners in the world.

But these pockets
are largely in the south – with its large numbers of
people of

German, Italian, and Japanese
origin.

Thus Brazil is
unequal not merely socially, but regionally. It ranges
from the impoverished Northeast, where the descendents
of slaves (not freed until

1888
) cut sugar cane, to the

prosperous South,
where the farms are as tidy and
organized as in Bavaria.

Quotas aren`t going
to do Brazil much good. Brazil is not a rich country and
needs to get the maximum return on its investment in
higher education by finding the students with the

best potential
. And federal quotas will just
exacerbate the resentment between the north and the
south – where there have already been mutterings about

secession
.

Of course, because
Brazil has had a color continuum rather than a color
line, cheating will probably mitigate some of the
inefficiencies that quotas impose. As the Washington
Post`s
Jeter reported:

"University
administrators say that 14 percent of applicants who
declared themselves `white` when they took the entrance
exam, declared themselves either black or pardo [mixed]
when they submitted their applications to the
university."

But this is the
last thing Brazil needs – another incentive toward

corruption
.

Ultimately, Brazil
shows that nobody has a magic answer for how to overcome
the problems caused by

racial differences
in

economic productivity
. There may be no answer.

The lesson for
America: don`t make the problems even worse by
needlessly importing more differences through
immigration policy.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]