America’s Balkan Values

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, February 9, 2016

The racial spoils industry survives on several requisites.

One, Americans must be readily identifiable as being non-white or white. Two, once non-white claimants pass the racial litmus test, they must think and speak in a particular progressive manner, in dutiful obeisance to those who set up and perpetuate the racial spoils system. And three, racialism must remain defined as a one-way bias.

The problem with the first criterion is multifold. America today truly is a multiracial, intermarried society in which the old rubric “white” no longer equates to “of European descent.” Obama’s racist former minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright appears whiter than many Americans of Mediterranean heritage.

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Many whites of European descent are indistinguishable from so-called Latinos. Certainly a Sicilian-American can look more “Latino” than someone of Mexican or South American descent. If Ted Cruz took his mother’s name, no one would know that Ted Wilson was Latino. If George Zimmerman had used the name Jorge Mesa, the Trayvon Martin confrontation never would have made front-page news. {snip}

The Latino Marco Rubio could claim ancestry from anywhere, while former presidential candidate Bobby Jindal appears clearly of Indian ancestry. In our sick racial-spoils system, Rubio qualifies as a minority and Jindal does not. Is the reasoning that Rubio will encounter more white-generated prejudice than the darker Jindal, or that Rubio’s ancestors in Cuba suffered more than Jindal’s in India?

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Eager for government-promoted racial advantages, and aware that appearance is no longer necessary for socially constructed racial status, a number of white careerists have reinvented themselves as minorities to gain job traction. Senator Elizabeth Warren was Harvard Law School’s first “Native American” faculty member on the basis of her grandfather’s high cheekbones and unsubstantiated family lore. Ward Churchill, with beads and headband but without an earned Ph.D., became a “Native-American” tenured campus activist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Rachel Dolezal teased her hair a bit and reinvented herself as the president of the local NAACP chapter in Spokane. Shaun King altered his patois, claimed he was black, and became a national spokesman for the Black Lives Matter movement. Note well: None of these people claimed that their ancestry was really Italian, Punjabi, Jewish, Korean, or Arab. Apparently, invented “diversity” status of that nature would not win career advantages.

So who is deserving of special set-asides? Take the case of multimillionaire Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who fled Mexico’s censorship and came to America to establish a lucrative career under the singular protection of the U.S. Constitution as a self-appointed advocate against supposed American nativism. Has America been so unkind to Ramos that his children will have to have special help getting into college, while the progeny of an out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia or an Armenian farmer in Chico cannot qualify?

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So a Susan Smith with a Mexican grandmother becomes Susan Lopez-Smith, while a German-American would not become Susan Schmidt Wilson. A Rick Smith becomes Ricardo Smith, and with that change gains a hundred or so SAT points as a bonus. As a general rule, the more exotic the name, and the less white and less American it sounds, the more one’s career is aided. Certainly, a prep-school kid called Barry Dunham or even Barry Soetero would not have the career trajectory of Barack Hussein Obama. A Barry cannot claim to be the victim of American nativist prejudice; a Barack can.

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Finally, racial prejudice is a circular firing squad now. Blacks lament the lack of Oscars but not the racially disproportionate NFL, NBA, and their commensurate MVP awards. In sick 21st-century America, lamenting the lack of black Oscar nominees logically leads to calls for an all-black Oscar alternative, where no one but blacks (not even Latinos) can be nominated. I suppose the theory is that blacks can spot authentic African-Americans, perhaps borrowing the one- or two-drop rule of the Old Confederacy. Putting de facto quotas on Asian-Americans for college admissions is okay; after all, such bias won’t hurt successful, grade-grubbing Asians, who are too enamored of capitalism even if they espouse liberal politics. Wondering why the meritocratic NFL is vastly disproportionately African-American is taboo; wondering why meritocratic UC Berkeley is disproportionately Asian-American is politically correct.

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The termite-ridden foundations of the racial-spoils temple are crumbling, as they have dissolved earlier in our 19th- and early-20th-century past. Soon the entire rotten edifice will collapse under the weight of its own inherent contradictions and illiberal prejudices.

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