(Endnotes in parentheses)
“Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.”
* * *
“Today, that problem is growing worse — and so is every other form of racism. America has become race-conscious in a manner reminiscent of the worst days in the most backward countries of nineteenth-century Europe. The cause is the same: the growth of collectivism and statism.”
* * *
“The smallest minority on earth is the individual, Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” (1)
Ayn Rand wrote these words over 50 years ago. But her words live on as a present day description of the so-called “Progressivism.”
Fifty-plus years after a successful movement to eliminate legal race discrimination and institute remedies for such conduct, the cry of racism has emerged in three-digit decibels here in the United States. Why? The answer is contained in Rand’s essay. Racism is but a sub-set of collectivism, and that has been by no means eliminated, either officially, culturally, or socially. In fact, it has been encouraged by official acts, and imposed by popular culture, threats by employers, and, in some cases, by mob action.
Thus, the flaw in attempts to end race discrimination was that the legislation and judicial action enacted and decided with that goal in mind perpetuated collectivism that was inherent in racism.
“Systemic” means “relating to a system as a whole; inherent in the system.” or “fundamental to a predominant social, economic, or political practice.” (2) As early as 1967, the term “institutional racism” began to be used to justify such practices as “affirmative action” and other race-conscious activities in government. (3) That term has not been heard recently. One can suppose that there are some who believe “systemic,” which has generally been used in the medical context, might give some scientific aura to racism as pervasive or a disease of the entire body politic.
Is there “systemic racism “in the United States today? Well, yes. But not as our leftist cousins would like us to believe.
My recent experience with racism happened recently, and similar experiences have occurred over some time, as they have most of my adult life, and for sure, every ten years such as the present one.
The recent occasion spoken of in the above paragraph was my purchase of a firearm from a dealer. In order to make the purchase, I was required to complete ATF Form 4473. The purpose of this form was to ensure that eligibility to purchase and possess a firearm; that is, I was not a felon, mentally ill, et cetera. The questionnaire asks for identifying information, such as date and place of birth, height, weight, residence, and so forth. It does not ask for eye color or complexion hue. It does, however ask for the race and, whether buyer is “Hispanic” regardless of race. In other words, it asks you what tribe, recognized by the government, you belong to. It means the government classifies you by your accident of birth. This is also the case for the U. S. Census and a myriad of other forms. To purchase a firearm, to completer the Census, it is mandatory. True, one can classify himself or herself. (4) For non-government agencies and organizations, many such forms have options for “multi-racial” or “prefer not to answer,” but those still have a number of racial categories to choose from.
What is interesting about each person choosing the racial and ethnic classification he or she belongs to is that their choice cannot be successfully challenged. (5) Biologically, almost everyone is of mixed race, and thus there is only one: human. (6)
As an aside, since most anthropologists appear to agree that humans originated in the eastern and southern Africa, one can suppose that all individuals in the United States can claim to be “African-Americans.” (7)
The ATF is not the only agency that insists that an individual who interacts with it be classified by their supposed race. Other agencies do. For example, the EEOC regulations require employers who have more than a certain number of employees to do so. (8)
The national Census was required by the Constitution to implement apportionment of members of the House of Representatives. A controversy arose as to whether slaves, who could not vote, would be counted for that purpose. The states, mainly Virginia, and New York, which interestingly enough had a significant number of slaves, whose ratification of the Constitution was essential if the new federal government was to succeed, wished to include the slaves. Other states essential to ratification also objected, because counting the slaves would give disproportionate power to the state where they were a significant portion of the population. Thus, the compromise in which “three-fifths of all other persons” would be counted was included in Article One. (9)
After the 14th & 15th Amendments, it was no longer necessary to identify who was a slave versus a free person. Nevertheless, later enumerations identified persons by race or ethnicity, though such identifications were to an extent arbitrary, and sometimes ludicrous. More categories were added until the number in the current 2020 Census reached 14, plus “some other race, ” which I suppose could include Martian or Vulcan (which would be logical for Mr. Spock). The current form includes “Chamorro” — residents or those whose origin is in Guam. Why this is a separate “race” can doubtless be traced to a bureaucrat’s desire to curry favor with a denizen of K Street.
While actual enumeration of individuals continues to be necessary to decide the number of members of the U. S. House of Representatives allocated to each state, identifying the race or ethnicity of each person does not serve any Constitutional purpose. It should be eliminated, once and for all.
The late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries saw academic acceptance of racial hierarchy and eugenics. Many intellectuals, who included President Woodrow Wilson, educator John Dewey, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and feminist hero Margaret Sanger, promulgated those idea that were termed “progressive” in those days. (10) Apparently our current “Progressives” agree at least for their own purposes.
An official government website enumerates the ostensible reasons for asking the race question:
• Establish and evaluate the guidelines for federal affirmative action plans under the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program.
• Monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and enforce bilingual election requirements.
• Monitor and enforce equal employment opportunities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
• Identify segments of the population who may not be getting needed medical services under the Public Health Service Act.
• Allocate funds to school districts for bilingual services under the Bilingual Education Act. (11)
Affirmative action as it has been practiced is the most egregious form of government race discrimination. It, of course, assumes that one is inferior in some way because of their racial classification, and needs special treatment on that account to achieve some benefit or achievement. (12) More to the current point, a supposed beneficiary of an affirmative action program may be, and quite often is, assumed to have attained position, profession, or occupation only because of their race rather than their ability, and, perhaps, edged out a more qualified person. Whether it is a fact that many affirmative action beneficiaries are objectively unqualified for the status or position they attain, the perception is widespread, and is unhelpful in the quest to abate race or sex discrimination. (13)
Regarding voting rights, the Census does not publicly identify individuals, so to ascertain a pattern of supposed discrimination, those interested would have to assume that qualified voters in a particular voting precinct failed to vote because they were excluded from the polls because of their race, which might not be the case in fact. Many citizens do not vote because of indifference or simple laziness. Anyway, racial or ethnic discrimination in voting, housing, or employment should be enforced by individual actions based on intentional acts. The “disparate impact” concept as proof of discrimination is rampant collectivism, which is inherently both over-inclusive and under-inclusive.
Additionally, the Census is used for allocation of government largesse and is useful for private commercial uses. (14) But dividing and categorizing citizens (and non-citizen) residents by race only perpetuates the concept that and individual’s race should matter to the government. Obviously, in this case our government is still discriminating by race.
Many countries do not enumerate their inhabitants by race and ethnicity. France is one of the most notable. In that country, an individual is a French citizen or not. On July 13, 2018, the day prior to Bastille Day, the National Assembly voted to remove the word “race” from the Fifth Republic’s constitution. This comes some years after the word was removed from French legislation in 2013. (15)
Dr. Carolyn Liebler, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota worked with the Census Bureau to document how answers to the race question changed from 2000 to 2010. She found that 6.1% (9.8 million) changed their answers. If that trend continues in 2020, the Census’ expressed purposes for distribution of government largesse will become invalid. (16) Nevertheless, Dr. Liebler answered her rhetorical question why we ask the race question thus, “Because our society is organized by race. We treat it as real.” (17) Perhaps so, though one can certainly argue that no such “organization” exists. But the official treatment of individuals in this country as members of tribes only perpetuates the existence of racism. That is inevitable, and “systemic” when the government continues to treat it so.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has declared “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” (18) Our government should start with the U.S. Census by purging the racial and ethnic information from current and past Censuses and eliminating the question from future ones. In his dissent in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine for racial segregation, Justice John Marshall Harlan stated “our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” The doctrine was repudiated in the Brown v. Board of Education (1954), but our governments still tolerate discrimination on the basis of race. If “systemic” or “institutional” racism exists, it will persist so long as Justice Harlan’s words are ignored. (19)
Note: Doubtless there are those who would question this analysis, or parts of it. This blog is always welcome to such questions, if they are respectful.
- Ayn Rand, “Racism” (1963), reprinted at https://ari.aynrand.org/issues/government-and-business/individual-rights/racism/
- “systemic, adj. and n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2020. https://www.oed.com/
- See S. Carmichael & C. V. Hamilton, Black Power 4 (1967). (Cited by the OED in its entry “institutional.”)
- In our brave new world, it’s been asserted that one should be permitted to choose which sex (“gender” in wokespeak, a dialect of George Orwell’s Newspeak, I suppose) one wishes to identify with.
- Ann Morning, “It’s Impossible to Lie About Your Race,” (July 1, 2015, updated July 1, 2016) https://www.huffpost.com/. To enforce the “Jim Crow” laws, in the early 20th Century, some states adopted the so-called “one-drop rule” that and discernable Negro or black ancestry makes one “black” for legal purposes. This “is taken for granted as readily by judges, affirmative action officers, and black [and white] protesters as it is by Ku Klux Klansmen” interestingly enough (emphasis added). See F. James Davis, Who is Black? One Nation’s Definition (1991),
excerpted at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/onedrop.html
- Many on the left, in their Orwellian doublethink way, challenge this concept as being racist itself. One particularly outrageous example is a recent Twitter statement by one Ibram X. Kendi, the director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, stated that the recent Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and her husband adoption of two black children from Haiti, proves they are racists and “white colonizers.” One cannot make this stuff up.
- See Mounier, Aurélien; Lahr, Marta (2019). “Deciphering African late middle Pleistocene hominin diversity and the origin of our species” Nature Communications. 10 (1): 3406.
- See https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo-1-survey/eeo-1-instruction-booklet.
- U. S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2. The “three-fifths” obviously referred to the aggregate number of persons counted, not three-fifth of each individual.
- Margaret Sanger has recently been removed from the pantheon by the woke crowd, notwithstanding her contributions to their cause, because they discovered she held some heretical beliefs. Revolutionaries always eat their old, as well as their young.
- See https://www.census.gov/acs/www/about/why-we-ask-each-question/race/
- One wonders if an ostensible racial category could be a disability and “affirmative action” considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans for Disabilities Act.
- It might be added that many small businesses are formed with women (often spouses or siblings) or members of favored “minority” groups as token owners to obtain government benefits.
- See endnote 11.
- https://www.connexionfrance.com/ July 13, 2018. This move has not been without controversy, apparently for the same reasons there would be opposition here. It would prevent the use of identity politics and wedge issues based thereupon.
- As will its use for identification of alleged “disparate impact.”
- Jo Craven McGinty, “Documenting Race Proves Tricky for Census” The Wall Street Journal, July 25 – 26, 2020, page A2. (Print edition).
- Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007),
- Plessy, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). Harlan should not be confused with his eponymous grandson who also served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1955 to 1971. The flaw in Brown was that it did not base its holding on the categorical grounds Harlan articulated, but upon the sociological theories, that relied largely on the work of Swedish academic Gunnar Myrdal.