The Issue of the Future: Ethnic Equality: Hispanics, Jews, Affirmative Action, And The Emerging Issue of Ethnic Equality

As Peter Brimelow and Edwin S. Rubenstein pointed out in their 1997 National Review cover story Electing a New People, the demographic changes ushered in by the 1965 Immigration Act and the simultaneous collapse of immigration controls portend major trouble for the Republican Party (if anyone cares) and, more seriously, for America.

I will be writing a number of VDARE.COM columns on this fundamental topic in coming weeks.

First, though, Republicans/ Americans need to grasp that the conventional wisdom that they must never speak out on demography—race and ethnicity—was invented by their enemies to defeat them.

John McCain, for instance, followed the Main Stream Media's advice on these topics slavishly. How'd that work out for him?

Conversely, the decline in Barack Obama's political fortunes over the last three months has been the result of the President's reflexive reactions undermining David Axelrod's carefully-constructed campaign image of him as the post-racial transcender. (I deconstructed this myth in my America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story Of Race And Inheritance.") 

Obama chose to interject race back into politics—first by his nomination of Affirmative Action beneficiary Sonia Sotomayor of Ricci case notoriety; then by his obviously heartfelt but disastrous intervention in the ludicrous Skip Gates affair, and finally by his announcement in Guadalajara of his timetable for illegal immigrant amnesty.

Obama shot himself in the foot by raising the fundamental question of all politics—Whose side are you on?—just as he was asking voters to trust him on the infinitely complex health bill.

Moral: a key for the Republicans is to get Obama, and the Democrats in general, talking about race and ethnicity at every opportunity.

Like we do at VDARE.COM!

 Let me suggest a fairly novel policy for halting the Hispanic ethnic political juggernaut that we hear so much about: a national campaign for Ethnic Equality.

Although we are constantly instructed in the teeth of all the evidence that race is "just a social construct," the reality is that "Hispanic" ethnicity is certainly less of a natural inevitability. Instead, it's just a bureaucratic construct of the Nixon Administration's Office of Management and Budget.

While the government allows all individuals to self-identify as a member of a wide selection of races (including "Guamanian or Chamorro" on the 2000 Census short form), it only recognizes a single ethnicity: Hispanic. Nobody else is allowed an ethnicity. All others get lumped together as a nullity: merely Non-Hispanics.

As the Census Bureau says in Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond: "There are also two minimum categories for ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino".

The Bureau tried to explain its system in 2003:

Race and Hispanic origin are two separate concepts in the federal statistical system.

  • People who are Hispanic may be of any race.
  • People in each race group may be either Hispanic or Not Hispanic.
  • Each person has two attributes, their race (or races) and whether or not they are Hispanic.

The Census Bureau's arcane delineation of ethnicity turns out to be crucially important, both in the job market and in politics, because numbers count. Most quotas today are the result of the threat of discrimination lawsuits over statistical disparities in performance rather than lawsuits over actual discrimination. That can only be done if numbers are collected.

Ethnicity may seem like race's seemingly boring little brother. But those granted an ethnicity are blessed with privileges, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's presumption that they are being illegally discriminated against when their hiring rate is less  than "Four-Fifths" as high as that of any other legally recognized group. This leads to covert hiring quotas, weakened standards, and other gimmicks that benefit members of the One True Ethnicity at the expense of the unprotected.

Simple fairness demands that the state instead acknowledge either everybody's ethnicity (just as the government counts virtually everybody's race) or nobody's ethnicity (just as it counts nobody's religion).

In particular, with the 2010 Census approaching, Americans' attention should be focused upon ethnicity. The federal government's indefensible definition of ethnicity is a very weak link in the chain holding together Obama's divisive Diversity Coalition. Ethnicity should be a timely issue to raise in time for the November 2010 elections.

How is this unequal treatment of Hispanic vs. "other" ethnicities morally or politically defensible?

It's not.

Especially because the beneficiaries of this bureaucratic construct and the concomitant quota spoils system are primarily post-1965 immigrants (many of them illegal) or their descendents—people who chose America, warts and all.

Because it's indefensible, almost nobody ever defends the federal government's ethnicity system.

Unfortunately, almost nobody ever attacks the current ethnicity system either.

For decades, opponents of racial and ethnic preferences have mostly ignored ethnic preferences for Hispanics while obstinately butting their heads against preferences' emotional bastion: special breaks for blacks.

To be frank, preferences for the descendants of slaves are more or less the Slavery Tax, a drawn-out form of reparations that white Americans could very well wind up paying forever.

But when the Nixon Administration formalized racial preferences for blacks in 1969, there was roughly one potential beneficiary for every eight white benefactors—a costly burden, but not an unbearable one.

What America can't afford in the long run, however, are ethnic preferences for fast-growing immigrant groups. The Census Bureau projects that Hispanics will increase by 97 million from 2000 to 2050. Among 15 to 19 year olds in 2050, there would be 99 Hispanic legal beneficiaries of ethnic preferences for every 100 non-Hispanic white benefactors.

How is that supposed to work?

Answer: it won't. It's nuts. But almost nobody has stopped to think about it. It's just been assumed that "ethnic" preferences automatically tag along with their big brother, racial preferences.

Yet why should that be? After all, there are no religious preferences in American law. Yet, for example, as Pat Buchanan among others has pointed out, Catholics are seriously underrepresented in the Ivy League. [Our Self-Selecting Elite, by Patrick J. Buchanan, January 1, 1999]

Thus Robert Weissberg's excellent August 23, 2009 VDARE.com column—Is The Affirmative Action Frankenstein On Its Last Legs?makes a powerful case against racial and ethnic preferences, but most of his examples attack racial quotas for blacks, even though ethnic preferences for immigrants rest on much shakier political grounds.

Granted, in the past, ethnic preferences have been less economically debilitating than racial preferences, for three reasons:  

  • Latinos don't need quite as much of a thumb on the scale as blacks do. (For example, in the latest average SAT scores released today, Hispanics trailed whites by 75 points on the Math SAT, which is 68 percent as large as the white-black gap of 110 points.
  • Latinos have been less aggressive than blacks about pushing into sit-down jobs and about filing disparate impact lawsuits. (But Hispanic activists are strenuously laboring to assimilate Latinos toward African-American norms.)
  • Until earlier in this decade, African-Americans outnumbered Latinos.

Still, the tide is turning. The California mortgage meltdown, in which Hispanic homebuyers played the largest role in defaults, indicates this clearly. By 2050, according to the Census Bureau, there will be about three times as many Hispanics in America as there were blacks in America in 2000, so the cost of Hispanic preferences will be enormous.

Moreover, the political costs of assaulting racial preferences directly are much greater than taking on ethnic preferences. The media, for example, finds blacks fascinating but Mexicans boring.

Moreover, the implications of the legal existence of this pan-Hispanic ethnicity are as dire in politics as in economics.

For instance, earlier this month, we were told over and over that the Republican Party had permanently sealed its fate when 31 of the 40 GOP Senators voted against Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina (wise or otherwise) Supreme Court justice.

Hispanics will never forget, thundered reporters' sources (who were, typically, Hispanic politicians, political consultants, marketers and others who make their livings out of being Hispanic).

It's not clear, though, that many Mexicans even noticed.

Sotomayor is a "Nuyorican," a Puerto Rican born in New York. (Her self-identification, all by itself, is an example of the failure of the post-1965 American assimilative mechanism).

A high school teacher in Nevada tells me that he brought up Sotomayor's nomination a half-dozen times to his mostly Mexican students:

"Normally, the students instantly seize every opportunity to get me off task and onto what teachers call a "bird walk." But each time I mentioned Sotomayor, I was greeted with blank stares. One boy did say that he heard she was from Cuba, but that was about it for a response. The students even seemed happy when I went back to drawing diagrams on the blackboard."

These Mexican kids' reaction is perfectly natural. None of them have any Puerto Rican relatives.

The Hispanic electoral tidal wave you always hear about actually consists of an artificial agglomeration of people who don't share the elemental ties of race, looks, national origin, cuisine—or even language (Linda Chavez's son was placed in "bilingual" i.e. Spanish-language classes by public school bureaucrats simply because his first name was Pablo. Chavez' family have not spoken Spanish for generations.)

In fact, many "Hispanics" dislike each other due to national, racial and class divides. Honduras, for example, was invaded by El Salvador in 1967 after a World Cup qualifying soccer game. Thousands died. And, as the recent coup in Honduras showed once again, Latin Americans are sorely divided along overlapping lines of race and class. Just ask Venezuela's Hugo Chavez—he'll tell you!

What "Hispanics" do share now is legal privilege. By granting Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Paraguayans etc. etc. preferences for being "Hispanic," Nixon and the federal bureaucracy conjured up a pan-Hispanic political class dedicated to uniting together to defend this special treatment. As Peter Brimelow wrote in Alien Nation back in 1995:

"Symptomatic of the American anti-idea: the emergence of a strange anti-nation inside the United States—the so-called "Hispanics". [Page 218]

As long as Hispanic preferences exist, this Hispanic elite will side overwhelmingly with the party more favorable to affirmative action, the Democrats.

Thus, while Republicans typically lose about 2 to 1 among Latino voters, they are outnumbered 12 to 1 among Latino elected officials.

From the perspective of the long-term health of the Republican Party, the only solution is to abolish "ethnic" preferences—and the sooner the better.

Of course, as Christopher Caldwell has noted in his recent book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West :

"One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can't be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong." 

Nevertheless, decisive action can declaw and defund a seemingly powerful lobby. For example, for 30 years "bilingual" educators grew more numerous and better organized off the taxpayers' money. Essentially no politicians, least of all the hapless California GOP, dared take on this ever-growing lobby. In 1998, though, Ron Unz's Proposition 227 put the abolition of bilingual education directly to the voters of California. And they agreed with Unz 61-39.

With the bilingual Ed lobby's myth of inevitable triumph punctured, the Bush Administration's 2001 No Child Left Behind Act—otherwise so softheaded—cut back on bilingualism's federal mandates. Today, bilingual Ed is far from dead, but Unz's well-placed blow has left it close to dead in the water politically.

How should we offer Ethnic Equality?

  • Eithereverybody should be allowed to choose an ethnicity—Italian, Okinawan, German, Guatemalan, Barbadian, Navajo, or whatever—and all laws and regulations, including the Four-Fifths Rule should apply equally to all ethnicities.

(Administratively, data collection would be simple: the Census Bureau currently asks about "ancestry," which could simply be renamed "ethnicity.")

You can win a discrimination lawsuit over disparate treatment due to your religion, but you can't win one based on disparate statistical impact on your co-religionists. Hence, there are no religious quotas.

Note that the public doesn't have to understand the concept of "disparate impact." (How many New York Times columnists do you think understand it?) All that voters need is to have an opinion on the unfairness of one ethnicity being more equal than all other ethnicities.

And unfairness is something that people can't help having feelings about.

Which form of Ethnic Equality should we have: Ethnicity for Everybody or for Nobody?

Well, in the spirit of bipartisanship upon which Barack Obama ran for President, I think we should let him should make the choice between Everybody and Nobody.

What could be more just than that? It's like when you have to divide one desert between two children. The fairest way is to announce that one will cut and the other will pick which piece he wants.

To make the deal even better, I'd go so far as to offer the President a historic compromise: permanent racial preferences for the descendants of American slaves (and for tribally registered American Indians, while we're at it) in return for Ethnic Equality.

Mr. Obama, you can achieve a historic victory for the black race, you can fulfill the "dreams from your father," just by choosing either Ethnicity for Everybody or Ethnicity for Nobody.

Take your time, Mr. President. Talk it over with the public! Let's have a national conversation on ethnic preferences!

After all, as an old discrimination lawyer, that's your field of professional expertise.

Seriously…taking preferences away from Hispanics in return for preserving them for blacks is the last thing David Axelrod wants Obama to talk about—an "alliance of the diverse" always threatens to dissolve into an oxymoron (which is exactly why making him talk about it should be a GOP priority).

The Republicans are never going to win a majority of Latinos. But they can definitely point out dispiriting reasons for Hispanics to not trust black Democratic politicians.

For years, the Main Stream Media promoted the assumption that the GOP must increase its share of minority votes to survive.

But achieving that's unlikely (which is why the MSM recommends it). A more plausible strategy is for the GOP to mobilize a higher white turnout and get a greater share of the white vote, while diluting minority voting through a divide and conquer strategy emphasizing issues that spotlight minorities' conflicting interests.

Of course, in 2008, McCain managed to do the exact opposite by running away from all racial and ethnic issues, thus deflating the white turnout rate, while Obama excited a broad increase in turnout among nonwhites.

Question: What if Obama picks the "Ethnicity for Everybody" option? Then the EEOC's idiotic Four-Fifths Rule for determining disparate impact would have to be applied to scores of different ethnicities—which we couldn't possibly afford?

My answer: Of course you're right. We couldn't afford it.

Still, you have to admit, the unaffordability of disparate impact is an excellent topic for public discussion. If applying disparate impact law to a majority of Americans would bankrupt the country now, wouldn't it also bankrupt the country in the future when whites are a minority?

Don't worry, though. Obama can't pick the "Ethnicity for Everybody" option.

Why not?

Because Jewish groups would figure out that, if "Everybody" gets an ethnicity legally protected from disparate impact, that would squeeze Jews very badly.

Jewish neoconservatives took the lead in fighting racial quotas in the 1970s. They saw them as posing the same threat to Jewish success as did the quotas limiting Jewish admissions to the Ivy League in the 1920s. Moreover, many Jews back in the 1970s had lower-level civil service jobs, such as the public school teachers who were threatened by black political empowerment—witness the ferocious late 1960s Ocean Hill-Brownsville black-Jewish showdown in which black politicians in Brooklyn tried to fire hundreds of Jewish teachers.

About a decade or so ago, however, neocon flagship Commentary Magazine largely lost enthusiasm for decrying racial quotas. (Search "Affirmative Action" on Commentary's website here). Perhaps that was because the editors realized that Jews have largely moved on to higher level jobs where preferences typically aren't yet sizable enough to threaten Jewish primacy. Or perhaps they figured out that nobody would dare propose applying quotas to Jews, even if there was a quota on whites overall. (Ask Commentary).

But this is exactly what the "Everybody" Option, applying the Four-Fifths Rule to white ethnicities, would do.

Emphatically, it would not be good for the Jews.

These calculations would therefore drive Jewish opinion toward what is actually the best solution: the "Nobody" option, in which ethnicity is treated like religion, not race.

Instructive parallel: in 1956, when the Census Bureau announced it would ask Americans about their religion in its next survey, it was Jewish organizations who objected so strongly that the plan was scrapped.

Revitalizing Jewish opposition to preferences and quotas would be decisive.

Deconstructing Nixon's legal concoction of Hispanic ethnicity certainly won't eliminate all the problems caused by mass immigration from south of the border.

But it would be a start.

Abolishing the "Hispanic" ethnicity from government purview would be good for America, good for the GOP—and bad for Barack Obama.

What's not to like?

 

[Steve iler (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]