The linked story below provides more evidence of America’s move to re-segregate, a trend that brings with it troubling implications for our future.
Families increasingly live in places where neighbors look and sound like they do. The absence of school choice in most of the nation prevents many children from pursuing better schools where they might experience multiple cultures. Race is used as a critical factor in drawing congressional and legislative districts. A troubling number of politicians use racially divisive tactics to win elections, often criticizing people who disagree on issues as traitors to their race.
Given all of this, can we be surprised that school segregation is becoming more pronounced than during civil rights days? Melting Point 2040 is a story of what the future holds if we don’t take action soon.
There is a great deal to like in the proposed bipartisan immigration compromise put together by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others.
I’ve often worried that principles are generally the last consideration in the political process. With this agreement, the eight senators started with principles. That alone is commendable.
Our political system flaws – where party leaders seek divisions to exploit instead of problems to solve – means that these principles are unlikely to be fully followed in the coming decades even if enacted. Still, even with my skepticism, I’m heartened that the agreement matches five critical principles I think are important to national longevity:
1) All men and women are created equal in our rights to pursue success.
2) People who follow the law should have a better chance of succeeding than those who break it.
3) An integrating society speaking a common language is more likely to survive over the centuries than a segregating society speaking separate languages.
4) We need to attract bright, hard-working, tax-paying immigrants to grow our economy and meet our social program promises.
5) While it would be nice to have principle #1 applied to all seven billion people on the planet, our national survival and prosperity means we can only model this behavior with our citizens and legal immigrants.
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.
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.) Continue reading
A recent “60 Minutes” story explores whether babies are born with racial preference tendencies, quoting Yale University researchers who determined that children start to prefer items that are more like them even in their first few months of life.
While one of these researchers states that babies may be born as “bigots” because they disproportionately choose to be around those who are most like them, perhaps the real answer can be found by looking at how humans have behaved since the world started. Over the past 10,000+ years, people learned that those who don’t look like them or share their behaviors, language and views are more likely to destroy their life than those with whom they share many common bonds.
Does human genetic coding, perhaps the flight mechanism that causes deer to run away when I walk past them on hikes, predispose us to prefer those like us and avoid those with whom we have many differences? Interestingly, the Yale researchers found that early childhood biases are tamed as children grow up.
The lesson from this is that multi-cultural societies can work effectively as we learn to respect and trust those who differ from us. For this to happen though, we need to have enough reassurance — through education and/or interaction — to lose what the Yale research shows may be inherent tendencies. The need for interaction to reduce biases is one of the reasons I am greatly concerned with what I see as the re-segregation of America, where we increasingly live by people like us, listen to news that fits our existing view of the world, and rush to reject those who share a different perspective on an issue as being mean-spirited in having that view.
In the midst of the worst economic recovery in U.S. history, voters selected status quo as the way to move forward. That means that we will again have divided government in Washington, D.C. Generally, I prefer divided government. In Illinois, we see the traumatic damage that can be done when one party has total control of all branches of government (and in fact, one man has most of that control), but lacks the willingness to make hard choices to keep the State healthy. So I don’t quibble with the concept of divided government. I am concerned, though, that the people we sent back to Washington are largely the ones who were there during one of the most partisan and ineffective sessions of Congress in recent memory. It is my true hope that our elected officials in the White House, Senate and House will not interpret reelection as a mandate to continue to bicker, but instead to focus on solving the very real problems in America. Perhaps we will find a way to more productively distribute the $20K per person that the Cato Institute says we spend on poverty programs at the federal and state level (yes, that’s $60K a year for a family of three). I hope we will keep the good parts of President Obama’s health reform and rethink whether we really should spend $10s of billions more on health care bureaucracy. Regardless of what Washington works on, I hope those in charge spend more time solving real problems than preparing 2014 electoral strategy. We’re past deserving it. We’re at the point we need it.
In the upcoming book, Melting Point 2040, a lead character is identified as holding the David Laitin named professorship at the University of Chicago. While every other character is fictional, Stanford University Professor David Laitin is not. Professor Laitin, formerly a University of Chicago professor, is a recognized expert on the role of language, religion and ethnicity on national survival. His research, much done with other academics, is interesting for its conclusions about the ability of multi-cultural societies to survive. His findings are reassuring for multi-cultural societies like the United States, India and others, but the concepts do encounter challenge. My concerns are informed by looking at national boundaries over centuries and millennia rather than within a single century. Through history, few strongly multi-cultural societies lasted more than several hundred years. To ensure survival for 1,000 years or more (without more civil war), it’s critical to understand what triggers civil wars and then avoid these conditions. For more, I recommend http://www.ninetymeetingsinninetydays.com/Civil_War.html for an overview and http://www.uclouvain.be/cps/ucl/doc/etes/documents/12.Laitin.pdf for a more detailed look at the role of language on national survival. As an aside, who came up with the name for civil wars? The word “civil” is out of place.