Segregation Among Failures Triggering Bursts of Animosity

After the events of the past week, including last night’s shootings in ‪#‎Dallas‬, I fear that my choice of 2040 as the setting for Melting Point 2040 didn’t recognize how quickly our ongoing segregation could tear us apart. The prologue to that book is certainly true today. Below is a portion of that prologue, with a couple of particularly important points highlighted in bold:

“Racial, ethnic and religious tensions have troubled the United States since its Declaration of Independence, and even earlier since Europeans first anchored along America’s shoreline. All that’s needed to again boil these issues over the sides of America’s melting pot is the addition of a few more briquettes to the grill or the quick turn of a stovetop dial.

“America’s founding fathers wrote that “all men are created equal,” but even they failed to recognize that “all men” rightly includes all men and all women regardless of race or other characteristic. So it’s perhaps not surprising that America’s multi-cultural society continues to battle the implications of its diversity 264 years later as the year 2040 starts. America’s challenge is little different from the divides that have tested the world throughout its history.

“Pockets of hate and intolerance have dotted the U.S. landscape in its less than three centuries of existence, though the objects of the greatest vitriol have changed repeatedly. Anti-black laws and sentiment lasted longest and resulted in the greatest cumulative violence. Italians were victims of the largest mass lynching in U.S. history. But many others have faced or still face discrimination as well. Irish. Hispanic. Arab. Asian. American Indian. Jew. Catholic. Mormon. Muslim. Women. Gays.

“Conceptual truths embedded in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights helped shape the United States into a frequently positive global force. Failure to abide by these tenets has, at times, allowed others to surpass America as beacons of democracy, capitalism and freedom. Even on its best days, America must battle with demons of hate, fear and anger – confronting ignorance, narcissism and arrogance along the way.

At home, tensions erupt into violence when multiple failures overtake the nation’s ability to solve problems. Failures to communicate, understand, tolerate and respect trigger these bursts of animosity.

“Passage of civil rights laws in the 1960s moved America toward a period of integration that increased opportunities and requirements to work together. Then, after decades of progress, Americans started moving to live with people who shared their personal politics, values, religion, race and language. In doing so, the cross-fertilization of ideas and knowledge needed to reach consensus and solve important issues has become increasingly difficult.”

Whether the tragedy is in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Minnesota, New York, Cleveland, Orlando or any of the dozens of other recent examples, the path forward starts with talking together, finding solutions and implementing them.

 

Six Questions Syria Raises for America’s Future

Syria’s collapse into ethnic and religious civil war carries with it lessons for the United States perhaps far more important than current missile-launch debates.

Two lessons are critical:

  • Segregated societies can be divided easily, just as Syria is being torn between Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and other religious sects in their different geographic strongholds.
  • Politicians who exploit divisions, or fail to heal wounds of divisions, can quickly turn nations into bleeding grounds.

After substantial advances toward racial integration in recent generations, progress has halted in many parts of America and even moved toward re-segregation in many regions by race, ethnicity and, recently, language.

Syria reminds us that we need to answer different questions beyond those being debated today in order to create a more unified society. Following are six questions particularly worthy of introspection and debate:

[Read more…]

Whole Foods Language Policy Just the Start

In Melting Point 2040, 18-year-old Mexican immigrant Juan Gonzalez is spurred into aggressive political protest by an English fluency requirement at a massive retailer in a heavily Spanish speaking part of Arizona. War gamer/survivalist and English-only speaker Pete Roote is angered by a Spanish-only hiring requirement at a Colorado meatpacking firm established because it is easier to train in one language by hiring only Spanish-speaking applicants. In my novel, those events take place in 2040.

Last weekend, a dispute began drawing national attention to issues of language requirements. Two employees at a Whole Foods store in New Mexico claim they were suspended for complaining about what they characterized as an English-only requirement. Whole Foods disputes the characterization of their policy, saying they require English to be spoken on the clock, except when speaking to customers who prefer another language. The company says the policy is to spur “inclusion” and to improve employee safety, noting also that employees can speak any language at lunch, on breaks, or if all participants in a discussion agree to speak in another language. The company also says that the two suspended employees were suspended for “rude and disrespectful behavior,” not a language policy violation.

At a news conference outside the Albuquerque store, the director of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) threatened to launch a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods if the company does not change its policy. MoveOn.org, often seen as a branch of the Democratic Party, has jumped into the fray nationally, starting a petition drive to force Whole Foods to allows employees to speak with each other in any language. [Read more…]

Immigration, Segregation, Mothers and National Survival

In recent weeks, issues of race, language, immigration and the potential for broader conflict have elevated considerably following a national report showing that  racial segregation is expanding at a dramatic pace. That this study took place and subsequent consternation is taking place in the United Kingdom should offer no relief to those of us worried about the long term impacts of segregation in the United States.

A recent column in Express laments Britain’s move toward looking like America: “In such places as Detroit and Baltimore a white person is as rare as a truthful politician. There are entire school districts that are white, black or Hispanic. It is important to stress this is wrong for everyone involved, from black to white and every colour in between. Segregation is not the way forward; integration is, yet we are further away from that in this country than ever before.”

The Express columnist noted former Equality and Human Rights Commission Chairman Trevor Phillips saw accelerated segregation coming eight years earlier when he warned Britain was “sleepwalking into segregation” and allowing “ghettoes” of different races and faiths to flourish. “Predictably he was shouted down and bizarrely even branded a racist,” the columnist wrote.  (Segregation is Madness.)

Long-term segregation, along racial, language or religious lines, has led to violent confrontation in nearly every country through human history where it has been allowed to flourish. Those who suggest it won’t happen here believe the conditions for conflict won’t exist in their lifetime. I believe we are merely awaiting the final demographic shifts and ascension of exploitative, self-serving politicians to turn growing divisions into conflict if we don’t begin acting to create more integrated experiences.

There is no greater gift that we can give to mothers on this day than to ensure their children do not end up fighting in senseless conflicts driven by divisions we saw coming, but then allowed to happen.

 

 

An Argument Against Official English (Not Mine)

Iowa State Associate Professor Warren Blumenfeld argues in the linked column against having a shared national language. He creates a number of spurious assertions that official English:

1) Marginalizes non-native English speakers,
2) Decreases the likelihood of supporting multi-cultural programs, and
3) Suggests that other languages are not important to learn.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-j-blumenfeld/english-only-laws-divide-_b_2141330.html

The professor recounts the racist behavior of a playground monitor and quotes an unnamed individual that “no true patriot could support or tolerate this hateful law” as evidence of the accuracy of his message against “cultural genocide.”

I think the Professor is missing the point.

America needs to be multi-cultural and multi-lingual; on that he is correct. However, we benefit as a nation by sharing a common language that allows us to communicate effectively with each other. A common language also minimizes the risk of being torn apart. (See other posts on this blog for comments about ongoing secession efforts around the world.) [Read more…]

Is segregation ever the answer?

Tomorrow, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we do, it’s worthwhile to also celebrate the man whose teachings guided Dr. King. Benjamin Elijah Mays was a minister, college president and Dr. King’s spiritual adviser. His life story and views are worth remembering. A quote on the importance of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, from the attached article, stands out as one of his many crucial insights: “Make no mistake—as this country could not exist half slave and half free, it cannot exist half segregated and half desegregated.”

Unfortunately, America is again being divided by politicians more intent on securing the advance of the Democratic or Republican parties than on finding common cause and uniting the nation behind it. America is resegregating – in the communities in which we live and the viewpoints to which we expose ourselves. For decades now, we have created racially segregated political districts, yet appear surprised that politicians act on the personal gain they accrue from fostering divisions. With today’s second-term presidential inauguration, it’s clear we’ve come a long way from the nation in which a young Benny Mays watched his father be forced at gunpoint to remove his hat, salute and bow to a mob of white men simply because they were white. But we still have a very long way to go to eliminate racism perpetuated by some people of every race.

http://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/spiritual-leader?msource=MAG10

 

Are We Becoming Greece or Argentina?

The attached opinion piece by a noted historian points out challenges America is creating for itself with its continued divisive political culture. The most critical point:  it is the poor and middle class who truly suffer when we follow policies with a history of proven failure. Nations divided – whether by economic class, race, ethnicity or language – end up with violence on the streets.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/03/were-now-one-step-closer-to-america-coming-civil-war/?intcmp=trending