Monday, February 18, 2013

The Great Silence (On Race & Culture) Part X

We close this discussion on race and racism, with the question: given what we know about the limits of human nature,what should be done to ensure peace in an increasingly diverse America ? 

During a discussion about Dr. Ron Paul's platform, a progressive friend of mine became noticeably agitated and asked me "how can you support him, he is racist?!?" 

To which I responded, "can you name a single instance in which Dr. Paul was less than courteous to someone because of their race or culture? Or, better yet, present me with a single policy that he has proposed that could be deemed as malicious in intent towards any one group?"

After a nervous silence, he contested "I heard that years ago, some questionable things were written about African-Americans in his newsletter." 

I retorted that for various reasons the validity of these charges are questionable, but in questions of race, what is most important are not our inner thoughts and feelings, but rather our personal conduct and the policies that we support, which in the case of Dr. Paul do not demonstrate racism. Dr. Paul has repeatedly stated that “Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals." 

To which my friend responded "we know deep down inside that Dr. Paul and other conservatives do not like blacks..." 

"For the sake of the discussion," I interjected, "let's assume that's true. Never the less, in contrast to most liberal politicians, Dr. Paul opposes the war on drugs, because, for among other reasons, it is a significant factor in the mass incarceration of African-Americans. And what about Presidents, such as Lyndon Johnson  and Richard Nixon who were privately racist, but passed essential civil rights legislation? I then posed the vexing questions:"what good has the lofty feelings and self congratulatory rhetoric of liberals done for African-Americans? Has it lessened the prohibition fueled violence that is wracking Chicago's South and West Sides? Has it improved the city's dismal public schools? Has it lessened unemployment?"

My friend's discourse demonstrates that many liberals approach issues of race with a mindset that is reminiscent of more archaic forms of religious thought. Specifically, his rhetoric implies that he places far greater importance in "purity of thought" and "purity of theology", than in individual conduct and the real impact of policy. Historic examples of this phenomena abound; in the Ottoman Empire, Islamic Persia and Afghanistan, the religious authorities overlooked widespread pederasty and homosexual behavior, even though they were explicitly haraam. Yet, for crimes of thought (apostasy) and speech (blasphemy), the death penalty was readily applied. During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the civil and religious authorities mercilessly hunted heretics, yet turned a blind eye to radically unchristian behavior, such as the plunderrape and enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by the conquistadors. Granted, the hypocrisy of Americans who condemn the heretics who question the official narratives of race and culture, yet behave no differently than so called racists, is not nearly as destructive as the previous examples. But, it does demonstrate how many Americans have elevated proper thoughts, feelings and rhetoric to an almost religious level, while placing little stock in real behavior.

Rather than indoctrinate our children with a collectivist, multicultural ideology, the best remedy for racist behavior is an affirmation of civility and individual dignity. Frankly, I could care less about what someone may think about my people, Jewish-Americans, as long as they do not harm anyone's life and liberty, or impede their pursuit of happiness. They are under no obligation to view me or my culture favorably, but I insist that I am treated fairly as an individual. In practical terms, this implies a support for laws that prohibit clear cases of housing and employment discrimination. And although they should have the complete right to express their anti-Semitic thoughts to me, they should refrain from doing so, not because of any egalitarian ideology, but because it constitutes an act of incivility. If they are compelled to peacefully express their thoughts in a public forum, I welcome them to do so, because it will surely highlight the idiocy of their beliefs. 

Do not engage in fruitless debates about the desirability of one group over another. Discussions of diversity should be centered on the issue of compatibility. For example, if you were the Minister of Immigration of Somalia, would you opt for secular, white, western Christians migrants who would never assimilate into the traditional, Islamic, tribal centered society of Somalia? Or would it be wiser to invite migrants with compatible norms, values and traditions, in order to minimize the risk of conflict? Would policies that induced rapid demographic shifts in Somalia contribute to stability and development, or increased tension? The same line of logic should apply to the policies of the United States and Western Europe. 

Next we must put to rest the cornerstone of the liberal narrative, namely that disparate results constitute proof of discrimination and institutional racism. In his book, The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective, Dr. Thomas Sowell documents that across the globe, achievement gaps are ubiquitous. In most cases, culture and behavioral patterns, rather than discrimination are the most significant factors. The best evidence being the examples in which discriminated minorities, such as the Chinese of Malaysia, the Armenians of Turkey and the Jews of Hungary, outperformed politically dominant majorities. And in his monumental study, Affirmative Action Around The World: An Empirical Study, Dr. Sowell demonstrated that in every case, preferential policies: increased inter-group friction, benefited the more well off members of the target communities and imposed economic costs on the nation.

While the federal government should intervene in real and compelling cases of discrimination, it must respect the rights of self governmentfreedom of association and refrain from social engineering. For example, the Department of Justice intervened in the very liberal Marin County not because there were documented cases of discrimination, but because it was "too white". They pressured the County to offer subsidized, low income housing as a remedy for their "lack of diversity". At best this might lead to temporary physical integration, but will discourage real, long term social and economic integration, which only occurs through cultural assimilation, freedom of association and respect for individuality. 

Our educational, economic and political elites must change course and encourage democratic assimilation, rather than multiculturalism. Families, communities and private schools should be welcome to teach their children about their own traditions, but on their own time, with their own resources. Public schools and other tax payer funded institutions should educate students about their shared American Culture and History, driven by the goal of E pluribus unum. Immigration policy must compliment, not undermine these goals. For I cannot cite a single example in world history in which exacerbating group differences and grievances, led to a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic nation. And lastly, never, ever stifle free speech and honest debate, for as we see in Syria, forced silence may offer the temporary illusion of calm, but it never leads to long term peace and good will among diverse communities.


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