Pondering Patterson [IV]: Why We Can`t Get Beyond Race


Pondering Patterson Series [I ], [ II ], [ III], [ IV], [V] [VI]

Orlando
Patterson`s article
claiming that whites shouldn`t have to
worry about losing their majority because 48% of
Hispanics are supposedly white, tendentious and
misleading as it was, does reflect a valid concern with
the government`s current racial and “ethnic”
classifications.

How individuals define their group is something politicians can
manipulate to some degree. So it behooves us to pay attention to this
intricate subject.

Conservatives increasingly believe that if we could simply rewrite how
the Census Bureau defines people by race and ethnicity,
we could hamstring the affirmative action scam. Ward
Connerly, no doubt frustrated by years of
Mississippi-style “massive resistance” by
bureaucrats to his successful 1996 Proposition 209
initiative outlawing racial preferences in California,
is now trying to strike at the racial classifications that
are the lifeblood of quotas. His upcoming “Racial
Privacy Initiative
” will say, “The
state shall not classify any individual by race,
ethnicity, color or national origin in the operation of
public education, public contracting or public
employment.”

By counting people by race and “Hispanic ethnicity,” the
government makes possible the current system of legally
privileging members of some hereditary groups and –
because affirmative action programs are essentially a
zero sum game – discriminating against members of
disfavored groups.

Why is counting crucial to running the modern American affirmative
action system? Most job quotas are
not imposed by the government directly, but by employers as defensive
measures to prevent being sued by the government. The
government uses a simple-minded statistical test in
determining whom to sue. The EEOC and the Justice
Department simply assume – despite infinite evidence to
the contrary – that in the absence of irrational
discrimination each “protected” group would be
hired at least in proportion to its share of the work
force. The government then puts the burden of proof on
the employer to show that it is not discriminating. The
employer must demonstrate that groups actually differ on
average in skills
and
that there is enough “business necessity” to
justify caring about those skills that cause
“disparate impact.”

Not surprisingly, faced with this assumption of guilt, many firms just
impose quotas upon themselves to prevent endless
litigation.

In theory, therefore, it`s true that undermining current federal
government demographic categories could bring down the
superstructure of quotas. But keep in mind that we are
playing against professionals. Getting the government
out of the race racket is for the vast majority of us
merely a patriotic pastime. For our opponents, though,
manipulating these bureaucratic guidelines for power and
profit is what they do for a living.

They`ve outsmarted us before. Consider the fate of the Multiracial
category in the 2000 Census. Many conservatives were
quietly pleased that the Census for the first time
allowed individuals to identify themselves as belonging
to more than one race because the NAACP and other race
racketeers were aghast that the size of their quotas
might be diminished. Well,
the last laugh was on us
. Clinton`s Office of
Management & Budget quietly announced,
“Responses that combine one minority race and white
are [to be] allocated to the minority race.” In
other words, the notorious “One Drop Rule” was
re-instituted and even extended to races like the
American Indian where it had not previously applied.

So, allowing multiracial responses actually made quotas larger.

The problem with getting rid of racial categories is that some (although
not all) of these labels describe fairly coherent human
lineages, which differ in important ways. Connerly`s
Racial Privacy Initiative, for example, exempts a
variety of uses of racial classifications.
The use of racial classifications in government
funded medical research would be allowed: “The
classifying of medical research subjects shall be
exempt.” This is highly prudent because scientists are
increasingly discovering racial differences in responses
to medicine. The Food & Drug Administration, for
instance, recently issued a “letter of
approvability” for a new heart medicine intended to
be prescribed only to blacks. The
Financial
Times
reported
,
“Human trials of BiDil showed the drug reduced
mortality in 66 per cent of African Americans, but
proved of little benefit to whites.”

Further, when a skeleton is found in the woods, police forensic
anthropologists would still be allowed to fill in the
Big Four categories of forensic science: race, sex, age,
and height: “Nothing in this section shall prevent
law enforcement officers, while carrying out their law
enforcement duties, from describing particular persons
in otherwise lawful ways.”

Penitentiary wardens could still segregate prisoners by race to halt
race riots and police lieutenants wouldn`t have to be
colorblind in assigning undercover cops to infiltrate
racially-based gangs: “Otherwise lawful assignment
of prisoners and undercover law enforcement officers
shall be exempt from this section.”

These may, or may not be, minor exceptions to Connerly`s admirable
vision. But they do show that – for at least some
purposes – race actually is a highly useful and
reasonable classification. While “official
colorblindness” may very often be the best tactical
response to racial diversity, it still is a form of
blindness, a self-imposed denial of potentially relevant
information.

I don`t want to come out against the Racial Privacy Initiative, but I do
want to point out that race is such an important fact of
human life that it does have legitimate uses.

Why is race so important? In the next two columns I`m going to look at
the genetic data that helps explain why the seemingly
crude “black” and “white”
classifications, which are still based on the old One
Drop of Blood criterion, still turn out to be relevant
to a host of issues.

NEXT: The Reality Of Race



[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.]

June 08,
2001