Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Race Baiting


Race continues to play an inordinate role in American politics, and influences politics to an unhealthy degree. In addition to normative definitions of racial demographic groups, there are also cultural demographic groups which play a role in national politics, and to my mind are perverting the proper voice of the nation’s citizens.

To start, I took a look around, and generally there seem to be two models of racial influence in national politics; either the dominant demographic simply asserts itself and largely ignores the minority voice, or else the various demographics operate as a coalition, roughly proportional to the representation in the population. Only in the United States are minority groups given a disproportionately large influence in modern politics.

According to results from the 2000 U.S. Census, out of a total population of 281.4 million people, Whites make up 67.6% of the population, Blacks 12.9% of the population, Hispanics 12.5% of the population, Asians 3.6% of the population, American Indians and Alaska Natives 0.9% of the population, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander 0.1% of the population. An additional 2.4% of the population is mixed-race. This tells us four things, right there.

First, while the ‘melting-pot’ nature of American heterogeny is a fine ideal, it has largely been limited to mixing Europeans together; other regional cultures have not been involved in this process, either through exclusion from the majority or by the choice of that group to remain apart.

Second, I notice that Jews and Arabs are not identified in the Census as a race; they appear to be included as a sub-set of Whites, but this may well be an invalid assignment, given the known distinction between most European races and Semitic races. That is, one would hardly expect someone with a genetic background developed through many years in the Middle East to be effectively the same as someone whose genetic characteristics were molded in Scandanavia or Europe’s North coast.

Third, the rising trend of mixed-race Americans (in 1990, the percentage was so low as to not be tracked) indicates that conventional racial identities may begin to lose functional meaning in years to come, diluted as different races intermarry and raise children who do not fit neatly into assumed categories.

And fourth, it becomes obvious that black American politicians enjoy a far greater share of the political spotlight than can be explained by their demographic representation. This, by itself, is in no way a bad thing, as any individual or group has a reasonable expectation to succeed by their efforts. But even a cursory look at the figureheads of black politics shows an alarming focus on negative and predatory tactics. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson show the perversion of religion in the pursuit of political influence, and such hateful idealogues as Charley Rangel, John Conyers and Shelia Jackson Lee demonstrate the intention to use race as a tool for fomenting hatred, pursuing division and rancor, and to prevent the consideration by blacks of their true best interests. For these threat mongers, the ideals of common ideals for all Americans, and common assimilation of everything Americans can offer one another, is rejected and replaced by a vitriolic practice of race-baiting.

It’s not PC, but it seems to me that we need to set this matter straight. As things stand right now, Conservatives stand to gain politically from the Liberals’ dependence on hate-only demagoguery, but millions of Americans are not receiving the representation they deserve, and the vital need for the country as a whole is to drive discussions which involve racial issues to solution and cooperation.

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