Monday, May 31, 2010
Imagine that you lived in a town in which many of the families lived in crowded, dilapidated homes. Naturally, families of more modest means would seek to build new homes on more affordable land, on the hills just outside the town. To build a new home outside of the municipal limits required that families spend months navigating through the costly and complex halls of the town bureaucracy to obtain zoning changes and building permits. On top of that, they were required to use licensed contractors that were beyond the means of most families.
Faced with the dilemma of having their children remain in crowded, dilapidated homes or skirting the town bureaucracy, many chose the latter option and built their homes on the hills without the zoning changes or permits. And rather than use licensed contractors they built the homes themselves.
They new that in order to evade the municipal inspectors, they would have to use fake permits. Virtually all of the neighbors, as well as the city inspectors knew that the papers were fake, but chose to overlook this. Why? Because they new that the vast majority of these law breakers were good, hard working people who only wanted to improve the lives of their families. Bureaucrats and businessmen chose to turn a blind eye, because the former benefited from the taxes and political support and the latter profited from the construction supplies and general items that these individuals purchased.
But, in addition to the benefits, these families did impose costs on the city by necessitating the extension of roads, water, sewer and electrical lines, as well as the construction of a new school. Some of the townspeople argued that the costs outweighed the benefits and that the homes on the hills imposed a net tax burden. And of course, some of the townspeople argued to the contrary. But one thing was certain, select politicians and businessmen handsomely benefited from these projects. Few of the townspeople harbored enmity towards the home owners, rather they directed their ire at their political leaders for not enforcing the laws of the land. After all, if the townspeople had to adhere to the myriad of costly, time consuming codes, why should the families in the hill not have to?
In spite of heated debates, most of the townspeople simply went about their lives and ignored the few homes on the hill. Poorer and even middle class families saw that in spite of the occasional token fine or even eviction, the majority of the families on the hill could live there in peace. So, predictably more and more families moved there, until the hills were covered with new homes, so much so that no one could ignore them. More of the towns people began calling for a strict enforcement of the law, because it was one thing to let a few people get away with skirting the laws, but to have the town authorities ignore the systematic violation of the law in their eyes equalled a serious erosion of the rule of law. And then to make maters worse, one of the homes on the hills collapsed crushing its owner. Although the majority of the homes were solid, the hand full that were not made the headlines and soon the town's politicians could not ignore the indignation of more of their constituents.
Almost everyone agreed that something had to be done; the zoning and construction permit system was clearly broken. But a fierce divide existed between the townspeople. One group believed that the town had to implement an amnesty that legalized the presence of the homes on the hills, after imposing a modest fine on the home owners. The other group supported a tough enforcement of the laws, with some of its members declaring that the illegal homes would have to be torn down and its owners would have to start from scratch, but this time with the right permits. While many of the latter group recognized the benefits of legalizing the status of the homes on the hills, they believed that without the tough enforcement of the law, more and more families would continue to ignore the town's laws and build homes without the proper permits. After all, if a home owner could save $20,000 building a home without permits or a licensed contractor, a $5,000 fine would certainly not deter them. And although very, very few of these law breakers were dangerous to the public, most of the towns people recognized that they did not have the capacity to provide unlimited infrastructure to whoever chose to build a home on the hills.
Both sides argued back and forth without resolving the issue, because in a sense both were correct. To evict good, hard working families from homes that they had built and resided in for many years was completely inhumane. But equally the town had to take strong measures to ensure that the boom in illegal construction would not continue, because although very, very few of the violators were dangerous to the public, the town's capacity to provide infrastructure to existing homes was already deeply strained. And on a deeper level, the towns people new that the rule of law that had brought much peace and prosperity to their town dictated that laws had to either be enforced or changed, but they could not be systematically ignored. And both sides argued until the break of dawn until the sun rose over the homes on the hill...
Monday, May 10, 2010
A good piece from Mr. Dennis Prager
May 2, 2010
Why Left Talks about "White" Tea Parties
By Dennis Prager
Opponents of the popular expression of conservative opposition to big
government, the tea parties, regularly note that tea partiers are
overwhelmingly white. This is intended to disqualify the tea parties
from serious moral consideration.
But there are two other facts that are far more troubling:
The first is the observation itself. The fact that the Left believes
that the preponderance of whites among tea partiers invalidates the
tea party movement tells us much more about the Left than it does
about the tea partiers.
It confirms that the Left really does see the world through the prism
of race, gender and class rather than through the moral prism of right
One of the more dangerous features of the Left has been its
replacement of moral categories of right and wrong, and good and evil
with three other categories: black and white (race), male and female
(gender) and rich and poor (class). BRILLIANT analysis
Therefore the Left pays attention to the skin color -- and gender (not
just "whites" but "white males") -- of the tea partiers rather than to
One would hope that all people would assess ideas by their moral
rightness or wrongness, not by the race, gender or class of those who
hold them. But in the world of the Left, people are taught not to
assess ideas but to identify the race, class and gender of those who
espouse those ideas. This helps explain the widespread use of ad
hominem attacks by the Left: Rather than argue against their
opponents' ideas, the Left usually dismisses those making the argument
disagreed with as "racist," "intolerant," "bigoted," "sexist,"
"homophobic" and/or "xenophobic."
You're against race-based affirmative action? No need to argue the
issue because you're a racist. You're a tea partier against
ever-expanding government? No need to argue the issue because you're a
As a Leftist rule of thumb -- once again rendering intellectual debate
unnecessary and impossible -- white is wrong or bad, and non-white is
right and good; male is wrong and bad, and female is right and good;
and the rich are wrong and bad, and the poor right and good. For the
record, there is one additional division on the Left -- strong and
weak -- to which the same rule applies: The strong are wrong and bad,
and the weak are right and good. That is a major reason for Leftist
support of the Palestinians (weak) against the Israelis (strong), for
This is why, to cite another example, men are dismissed when they
oppose abortion. The idea is far less significant than the sex of the
advocate. As for women who oppose abortion on demand, they are either
not authentically female or simply traitors to their sex. Just as the
Left depicts blacks who oppose race-based affirmative action as not
authentic blacks or are traitors to their race.
In this morally inverted world, the virtual absence of blacks from tea
party rallies cannot possibly reflect anything negative on the black
and minority absence, only on the white tea partiers.
But in a more rational and morally clear world, where people judge
ideas by their legitimacy rather than by the race of those who held
them, people would be as likely to ask why blacks and ethnic
minorities are virtually absent at tea parties just as they now ask
why whites predominate. They would want to know if this racial
imbalance said anything about black and minority views or necessarily
reflected negatively on the whites attending those rallies.
And if they did ask such un-PC questions, they might draw rather
different conclusions than the Left's. First, they would know that the
near-absence of blacks and Hispanics no more implied racism on the
part of tea partiers than the near-absence of blacks and Hispanics in
the New York Philharmonic implies racism on the art of that orchestra.
Second, they might even, Heaven forbid, conclude that it does not
reflect well on the political outlook of blacks and Hispanics that
they so overwhelmingly identify with ever-larger government. Leftist
big-government policies have been disastrous for black America just as
they were in the countries that most Hispanics emigrated from. But
like the gambling addict who keeps gambling the more he loses, those
addicted to government entitlements keep increasing the size of the
government even as their situation worsens.
Finally, if one eschews the "racism" explanation and asks real
questions, one might also conclude that America generally, and
conservatives specifically, have failed to communicate America's
distinct values -- E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust, and Liberty
(which includes small government) -- to blacks and Hispanics.
Unfortunately, however, no real exploration of almost any important
issue in American life is possible as long as the Left focuses on the
race, gender and class of those who hold differing positions. And that
will not happen. For when the Left stops attacking people and starts
arguing positions, we will see what the Left most fears: blacks and
Hispanics at tea parties.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Growing up in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, I saw individuals of every race, religion, culture and class live, work, shop and study together in peace. With little outward conflict, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs shared the same neighborhood.Kosher Delis thrived next to Pakistani Kabob houses and the Croatian Culture Center brushed up against a Yeshiva and everyone shopped on Devon Street. Individuals from groups with millenia of hatred and bloodshed at the worst were indifferent to each and at the best formed lasting friendships. There are many lessons we can learn from studying the success of West Rogers Park as well as the failure of most other nations in maintaining peaceful relations between diverse populations. Whereas the diverse empires and autocratic states of the past and present maintained order through the heavy hand of the state, the United States did so while expanding social and economic liberty. In order to meet this challenge, the United States must reflect on these historical lessons with the utmost candor and intellectual honesty.
From my experiences in West Rogers Park, I am confident that individuals of every race, religion, culture and class can get along, provided that certain political, economic and cultural structures are maintained. However, as a student of history, I am extremely skeptical about the capacity of diverse groups to peacefully co-exist. A brief survey of history (and current events) shows that racial, religious and cultural diversity has led to endless conflicts both within and between nations. The extent and persistence of inter-communal conflict leads me to believe that it is an innate, evolutionary based defect in human beings. Regardless of the cause, conflict has been the rule, rather than the exception. In no way am I saying that human beings should accept the spiritual sickness of racism and ethnic conflict. We must strive to eliminate conflict and violence with the utmost idealism, however when formulating viable paths and policies we must work with the facts on the ground and not the world as we wish it to be.
So, the first qustion we must ask is, why do Jews, Moslems, Hindus and other groups get along so well in West Rogers Park in particular and the United States in general, but not in their own nations? The answer is that because on Devon street they are largely engaged as individuals in a system of limited government. Whereas, in India, Israel, Lebanon, etc. they are largely engaged as groups in a conflict for power and resources. Within most nations this conflict is played out in the ethno-political spoils (patronage) system. In most diverse nations, political affiliation is almost exclusively determined by ethnic and religious background. For example, in Lebanon, the Kataeb Party is Christian, the Future Movement is Sunni and Hizballah is Shi'ite and cross-confessional parties are few and far between. In this system, ethnic groups seeking to influence the laws and (re)distribution of wealth and opportunity via the interventionist state. In more homogeneous or assimilationist nations, the interventionist state re-distributes wealth according to socio-economic logic (to the poor, elderly, etc.) and political logic (to individuals and businesses that support winning candidates and parties). More corrupt states emphasize the latter and cleaner states emphasize the former.
In an ethnic spoils system, wealth and employment is seized and redistributed wealth across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. Ethnic disparities in wealth have always been an area of contention in diverse societies, however when the state rather than the market determines economic outcomes, a greater potential for inter-communal violence exists. In the Kenyan elections of 2007 - 2008, the ethnic Kikuyu supporters of incumbent president Mwai Kibaki engaged in violent clashes with the ethnic Luos and Kalenjin supporters of presidential challenger Raila Odinga. Both sides new that if their ethno-political representative won, their people would receive the spoils: government jobs, contracts and even cash. In nations where the rule of law is better established, outright seizures of wealth are rare, however ethnicity plays a major role in the assignment of public employment and educational opportunities. For example, in Malaysia, after winning the elections, Malaysian dominated politically parties instituted aggressive affirmative action programs that assigned great public employment and educational opportunities to the politically dominant (but poorer) Malay majority, as the expense of the economically dominant Chinese minority. Not surprisingly, this contributed to violent inter-communal clashes of 1969. Before we examine the growth and evolution of the ethno-political spoils system in the United States, it's necessary to outline the republican (philosophy and not party) ideals that dominated American political and social life.
Although the United States has fallen short of many of its republican ideals, it has come closer than any nation in achieving them. Unlike corporate systems that approach its citizenry as groups (class, race, ethnicity) the American Republican ideal is to approach its citizens as equal individuals governed by uniform laws. Needless to say, the original definition of a citizen (white, male landowner) was painfully exclusive, but it continuously expanded to include all native born and naturalized American citizens. And in contrast to the ethnic spoils system, the republican ideal involves the social, political and economic engagement of diverse individuals, rather than groups. In no means does this imply that citizens should act as isolated individuals, but as individuals cooperating with like minded citizens for the pursuit of their vision of the common good. The ideal is that one would focus on the broad welfare of their fellow Americans, rather than act as partisans for the narrow interests of their ethno-religious communities. The focus would be to foster the common pursuit of individuals bound by common social and political values, rather than bound by blood. At times this pursuit is more geographically based, as seen when members of a neighborhood work together to improve the quality of their local schools, parks and political discourse. And a less geographically centered example is seen when individuals work together to protect endangered species, the environment or advance the principles of economic freedom. Conflicts of competing values and visions inevitably emerge, however the risk of accute conflict and violence is far less than with ethno-political conflicts.
In no way does the classical vision of American Republican rejects having the members of an ethno-religious community work together to improve the economic and social lives of their compatriots. The American past and present is filled with endless examples of mutual aid societies formed by immigrant groups to address the challenges that their people faced. And groups such as the NAACP strove to help African-Americans advance in the face of virulent racism and crushing poverty. However, fundamental difference exist between mutual aid societies and the ethno-political movements that have risen in importance. Mutual aid societies represent the best of free association and civil society, whereas most ethno-political organizations are implicit advocates of a coercive ethnic spoils system.Whereas mutual aid societies are largely self financing, ethno-political parties generally rely on public funds. For example, members of a mutual aid societies voluntarily pool their resources together to provide scholarships for the members of their community. In contrast, ethno-political partisans demand that the government set aside X number of university admission slots and scholarships to members of their community. Whereas mutual aid societies seek to foment the creation of wealth, by provide credit to the entrepreneurs of their community, ethno-political partisans generally focus their efforts on redistributing wealth via the expansion of entitlement programs, which are often community specific. One example being Chicago's Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. Lastly, whereas mutual aid societies promote equality under the law for its members, ethno-political partisans often lobby for legal privileges or excemptions from the law for its members. On Devon Street most of the hard working immigrants understand that their wealth and welfare is the product of their individual labor, so their is little motivation to compete as groups in the political arena. Accordingly, elections may end in disappointment, but never in bloodshed.
Unfortunately, American politics has shifting in that direction, as we see when Congressman Gutierrez (D-IL) demands that Obama enact immigration reform because of the support that Latinos offered to him in the presidential election. And former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch displays similar sentiments when he stated "supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama -78 percent of the Jewish community did - believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him." The key point is that the said politicians did not argue that their said positions should be pursued because they were conducive to the welfare of all Americans, but rather that they were owed to the members of their ethnic compatriots based on the support that they offered Obama during the election. Liberal supporters of an ethnic spoils system will respond that having the president pursue the pet policies of each member of a coalition of diverse ethnic and economic interests is equivalent to the pursuit of broad, national interests. I strongly disagree with this, because no government will ever have sufficient resources to satisfy the narrow interests of every special interest and any attempt to do so will end in conflict and / or a massive national debt. We are witnessing the latter and once our creditors force us to cut our expenditures, we will witness the former. Peace and prosperity can only be maintained by the promotion of common interests, founded on the rule of law.
Most left wing narratives present the hegemony of one group or culture as the source of conflict in diverse states. From this worldview they call for the elimination of the hegemonic dominance of Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture in the United States, an end to the ethos of assimilation and the fostering of multi-culturalism. The key word is assimilation because even as the demographic dominance of Anglo-Saxons receded, diverse immigrant groups largely assimilated to the values and visions of the American Republic, which at their core reflected an Anglo-Saxon ethos. Catholic Irish and Italians, Greeks, Jews and Japanese, (just to name a few) may have maintained many of their religious, cultural and culinary traditions, but by the second generation, the vast majority had adopted core American values and visions and held a love for the United States that was equal to or greater than that of their Anglo-Saxon neighbors. This assimilationist ethos clearly was a major factor in the success of the American Republic in maintaining peace and prosperity among extremely diverse populations. And conversely, history shows that as hegemonic rule is challenged and disparate identities are emphasized, conflict will almost certainly erupt. This is seen in Iraq, were the fall of secular, sunni dominated, ba'athist rule heralded bloody inter-communal clashes between Shi'a, Sunni, Kurds, Christians and Turkmen. And it would appear that peace will only occur once another group asserts hegemonic control, or Iraq splits into several ethno-religious states.
To fully understand this topic we must touch upon the essential, yet deeply controversial topic of demographics. More specifically, as the demographic and geographic concentration of a group increases, the extent to which it assimilates and the manner in which it relates to the larger society dramatically changes. Since it is considered taboo to critique other ethnic groups, I will use my own people, Jews to demonstrate some fairly universal principles. Recently I read an article that discussed Jews who immigrated to small southern towns. The reason why their stories are not more widely known is because owing to their relatively minor demographic presence and geographic concentration they assimilated and intermarried to the point were they ceased to be a distinct group. In areas in which the presence of Jews were greater, they could continue their existence as a distinct group, yet most assimilated to the dominant norms and behaviors. This is even seen with Orthodox Jews in West Rogers Park who in spite of their distinctive garb, traditions and insular nature, conform to the laws, language and norms of the land. They realize that if they do not learn and master the economic and social environment they quite simply will not be able to put food on the table. But, as the demographic concentration increases, groups are increasingly able to avoid assimilation, gain excemptions from laws of the land and in some cases gain special legal and economic privileges. This is seen in Israel, where the Ultra Orthodox were able to gain an excemption from mandatory military training, lavish welfare benefits and generous subsidies. In effect they are able to use their political power to redistribute wealth from the more productive, secular society. And as demographic concentration reaches a critical point, some groups begin to use their growing political power to impose their will on the larger society. In Israel, Ultra-Orthodox political parties are aggressively pushing to ban driving and flying on Shabbat for all Israelis. We can assume that once this was accomplished, they would impose their dress and dietary codes on the general public. This explains why in contrast to their Israeli counterparts, few secular American Jews harbor animosity towards the Orthodox.
In light of the paramount role that demographics play in political and social life, we must breach the great taboo and discuss the unprecedented demographic shift that the United States is experiencing. Specifically, some demographers anticipate that the by 2050 the United States will become a majority-minority nation, in which no one ethnic group predominates. Before we do so, I must emphasize that in itself the demographic shift is not troubling, because the author strongly affirms the equality of all races and creeds. But, in the context of the decline of the assimilationist ethos, the growth of ethno-identity-politics and the redistributionist state that we previously discussed, we must ask ourselves if this shift will increase the risk of inter-communal conflict that is present in most diverse nations.
Many will respond that this is unduly alarmist because prior immigration waves were just as large as our current one. But, when one looks carefully at the numbers, one will find some significant differences. The first thing we notice is that prior immigration waves were more diverse, in the sense that no one country of origin predominated. In 1950, the largest groups were from the British Isles (15.12%), Italy (12.6%), Germany (11.32%) & Poland (8.89%). In contrast, our current immigration wave is dominated by Hispanics, so much so that between 1980 to 2010, Latinos grew from 6.4% to 15.5% of the population. Hispanics are no less able to assimilate than prior immigrant groups, however as previously discussed, demographic concentration of any ethnic group limits their capacity or desire to socially and economically assimilate. This is especially true, because the destination points of prior waves were more geographically disbursed, whereas the present wave is concentrated in the southwest of the United States, as well as a few major metropolises. Secondly, addition, prior waves were separated from their nations of origin by an ocean and by costly transportation, which facilitated assimilation. In contrast, the present wave lives adjacent to and can easily travel to their nations of origin. Thirdly, in prior waves upwards of 50% of immigrants returned to their nations of origin, with those who were most able to economically and socially integrate remaining. In contrast the expanded welfare state allows those who are unable to assimilate to remain. And lastly, prior waves were followed by immigration time-outs or 30 years or more, which helped facilitate the assimilation of individuals and groups that were already here. Even in the face of a major economic downturn, no such time-out has been called in the United States. Many will point to the universal fluency in English of the second generation, as well as the consumption of pop culture as evidence that assimilation is occurring as as rapidly and profoundly as with prior waves. However, when we look at a notable divergence in educational and economic outcomes, as well as political orientation, we must call this into question.
The blame for faltering assimilation and increased inter-communal does not lie with any ethnic group; immigrants respond to the cultural ethos and policies presented to them by their new nations. In prior generations, immigrants encountered an America that was confident in its values, visions, institutions and identity and accordingly parents encouraged their children to assimilate. With no uncertainty, the schools were expected to teach their children what it means to be American, while they the parents would teach their children about their faith and traditions. So, clearly the blame lies with the members of America's educational, economic and political elites who woefully ignore the ample lessons that the history of the American Republic and other diverse societies has to offer. Rather than foster the robust participation of individuals in a vibrant civil society, they have encouraged groups to compete in ethno-identity-politics infused with a sense of resentment. Rather than encourage individuals to participate in a free market that abounds with opportunity, groups are encouraged to compete in a spoils system fuelled by a boundless sense of entitlement. The politicians nad educators that are undermining many of the fundamental principles of the American Republic should take note that peace and prosperity found on Devon Avenue and the United States is the exception and not the rule of diverse societies.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
While perusing various articles, organizations and forums that addressed SB1070, Arizona's deeply controversial immigration law, I was fascinated by the diverse opinions expressed by different segments of American society. In many cases, the responses that readers posted and public opinion polls were more fascinating and relevant than the articles themselves. In a broader sense, they tell us a great deal about the values and political visions of different groups and the underlying tensions that exist between them. In terms of inter-communal relations, the perception that different groups hold regarding immigration and other social and economic issues may have a greater effect than reality. To put it simply, the vast gulf that separates the perception of recent events held by most Latinos and European-Americans will be an increasing source of tension and conflict.
According to the Rasmussen Reports: 70% of Arizonans support this measure, while 23% oppose it. Interestingly, many of its supporters shared the concerns of their opponents, as demonstrated by the fact that 53% "expressed concerns that "it will lead to racial profiling" and "that efforts to identify and deport illegal immigrants also will end up violating the civil rights of some U.S. citizens." And 85% said they’re angry at the federal government, while only 10% express anger at immigrants. So, contrary to the claims of its opponents, racist and anti-immigrant sentiments are not the driving forces behind this misguided law, rather the sense that steps had to be taken because of the failure of the federal government to secure the border and maintain order. While many are not comfortable with the provisions of this bill, few see viable alternatives. Many are open to providing a path to citizenship once they feel that security and rule of law has been reestablished.
Perusing the Face Book site " MILLION Strong AGAINST the Arizona Immigration Law SB1070" was quite eye opening. The posters expressed legitimate concerns about racial profiling. But, unfortunately, very few treat the law as a deeply flawed effort to address very real problems, many participants simply labelled their opponents as "nazis" and "racists." Few reached out across the isle and presented alternatives means to address the concerns that drove so many Arizonans to support these very poorly conceived measures. Many posters, were not just opposed to racial profiling, but to any measure of border control and interior enforcement. These sentiments were especially prevalent among Latino posters. However, I had the pleasure of conversing with a few very reasonable opponents of the law, who understood that security could only be achieved and racial profiling could only be avoided if amnesty was accompanied by serious border control and a focus on fining employers. They acknowledged that until the situation was brought under control, public sentiments for harsh enforcement-only measures would only grow.
Perusing the commentary on the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Suntimes and Huffington Post, I came across a broad spectrum of views. The first two papers elicited responses that were overwhelmingly in support of the law. Most focused their ire on the federal government's failure to enforce its own laws, believing that the Bush and Obama Administrations had placed political considerations over the rule of law and general welfare of Americans. But, unfortunately a notable minority of posters expressed hateful, racist sentiments. And of course the generally liberal Huffington Post was largely, but not entirely opposed to the law. For the most part CNN maintained a fairly neutral stance, allowing spokesmen for organizations that opposed and supported SB1070 to present their positions and debate their ideological opponents. In contrast, the Spanish language media offered overwhelmingly one-dimensional presentations, granting very little time to individuals with dissenting views. And on the rare occasion they did, air time was granted to extreme figures, such as Sheriff Arpaio, rather than more reasonable, main stream proponents of immigration enforcement. Especially in the Spanish language print media, I found a strong tendency to foment the belief that Latinos were besieged by racism, hatred and anti-immigrant forces. Clearly this indicates an underlying sense of alienation.
Clearly we are witnessing a stark divide among Latinos and European Americans regarding their perception of this law in particular and immigration in general. In Arizona, "76% say it is more important to gain control of the border than it is to legalize the status of undocumented workers. Only 19% believe it is more important to legalize the status of undocumented workers already in the country." S0, while a notable minority of whites "cross ethnic lines" and oppose an enforcement centered approach to immigration reform, the majority clearly do not. While I do not possess hard data, anecdotal evidence indicates that the majority of Hispanics support an amnesty centered approach and seem to oppose most enforcement measures.
While individuals and groups can in good faith hold very different visions about what policies most contributes to the general welfare of all Americans, ethno-political movements seem to be far more focused on the interests of their respective groups. In fact, calls for ethnic solidarity and advancing group interests was widespread among Latino participants in the facebook site. We can only imagine the fallout that would occur if more than a handful of the proponents of this bill openly called for ethnic solidarity and advancing the interests of white people! Often perceived group and national interests are synchronized; for example, La Raza's lobbying for programs to improve the educational achievement for Latino students may be exclusionary, but raising the education and skill level of any group is in the interest of all Americans. But, at times perceived ethno-political and broad national interests are at sharp odds. This is especially true with the current debate, where politicians like Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) are accused by some members of the right of placing ethno-political interests above the rule of law and the interests of non-citizens above the broad intersts of all American citizens. Some even described anti-enforcement politicians as the "treason lobby" and express anger that non-citizens and their supporters are protesting the enforcement of the law.
Ultimately the issue is not which side holds greater truth, it's that the perceptual chasm that exists between different communities will lead to increased tensions. In the past the demographic and political hegemony of European-Americans limited opportunities for conflict. Different ethnic and cultural groups may have held starkly different social, political and economic visions, but because none possessed a sufficient demographic and geographic concentration, for good or for bad, they largely had to assimilate or at least acquiesce to the dominant Anglo-American vision, laws and institutions. But with dramatic demographics shifts, assimilation has waned as has the desire to acquiesce and with that, competition between groups to shape the political destiny of the United States has increased.
The existence and competition of diverse political values and visions is a challenging, but essential aspect of a healthy republic. However history shows that when political fault lines overlap with ethnic divisions, greater conflict becomes inevitable. Progressives has sought to minimize conflict by demonizing any manifestation of white ethno-identity politics while encouraging its expression in all other groups. This asymmetrical relationship is unsustainable and will almost certainly increase identity politics among whites; a prospect that I find troubling.
If you doubt the destructive effects of ethno-identity politics on diverse nations, read up on the history of the Ottoman Empire, Yugoslavia, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, just to name a few.