An Interesting Question from AVI

In a post about reducing racism, AVI ends on a note that is worth further exploration. I'd like to put it before the Hall, even though there is a lot of overlap in readership. I'll give enough of the setup for context, and then the ending question.
When did we make our biggest gains in reducing racism in America? I think people would point to the 40's-60's.... It is at least co-incident with the period when we had much less immigration, 1927-1964. The common declaration is that all prejudices go together, and reducing prejudice against immigrants is just the same thing as reducing it against blacks, with the requisite accusations of white American disliking "brownness" in general....

What if it's just not true? What if it would be better and more praiseworthy if human nature were that way, especially in aspirational, open-hearted America - but it's just not?...

We sometimes speak of immigrants making it harder for blacks to get ahead in terms of employment and wages - it was one of Bernie Sanders's core values until he gave all those away. We aren't supposed to mention that, but it is likely true for economic gain. What if it is also true in an emotional, associational sense? What if Universal Brotherhood is actually a dead end, and step-by-step changes of becoming a people are all that is possible?

I don't know this to be true. I simply note that it is possibly true but no one says it. Which in turn immediately leads to "Why don't we want this to be true? Why is it not one of the cliches of the discussion, rather than an unmentionable?" There are plenty of untrue cliches out there all over the political spectrum, but this one is not even a Facebook poster.
So why isn't it one of the cliches, do you think?


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I wrote on this years ago, in slightly different form, with a conclusion that virtue-signalling requires we include everybody or it doesn't sound so moral anymore.

I believe I will rethink this, as that's not very complete. I'll start today while snowblowing out 10"

E Hines said...

I'm not sure why it needs to be cliche.

It's also not an unheard of or unheard position. Like AVI, I've written on this a time or two, also. And in Europe they're also coming to the overt realization, for a number of reasons both venal and valid but adding up to: slow down the immigration rate, make the immigrants assimilate and give them time to, and give us time to absorb them while preserving our nation's culture.

So it has been here for generations, also for a range of reasons both venal and valid.

Cliche? I'd rather it remain a carefully thought out discussion--or even a shrilly screamed argument--about rates, assimilations, and absorptions than a rotely recited and meaningless phrase.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I don't think the point is that it needs to be cliche, just that this plausible argument is completely excluded from our politics -- even as a cliche, even from snarky Facebook memes. That indicates that to some degree the idea is approaching unthinkable -- we can still think it privately, but there's no room to think about it publicly (except in highly rarefied spaces like the Hall, or AVI's blog). It's just not part of the wider public debate at all.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason no one talks/writes/meme-makes about it is because society has been pounded for so long with the ideas that 1) western culture is inferior for [insert speaker's favorite reason], 2) assimilation is bad because other cultures are better, 3) a growing sense that culture is ingrained to the point it cannot be changed because 4)culture = race and "of course everyone knows that race cannot be challenged." Which leads to such warped outcomes as people being applauded for changing their sex or gender on a relative whim, but excoriated or worse for changing their culture ("you're not being true to your people" or "that's cultural imperialism and raaaaaaycist!")

To counter these requires calm, thoughtful talk and study, things the media currently used to spread culture at the moment all militate against. I have yet to encounter a truly thoughtful soundbite.


J Melcher said...

Stephen Sondheim, in "West Side Story": "Your papa's a POLE-lack, your mama's a SWEEED, but YOU -- were born HERE. And that's all that you need."

Said derisively by a Puerto Rican character about the attitudes of the first-generation children of immigrants towards those fresh off the boat.

There is a deal of widely-recognized truth in successful popular culture. And it is, I think, true that little unites disparate groups like having a rival challenger group. Oklahomans and Texans have little to say to each other unless sneering at New Yorkers, for instance.

Eric Blair said...

And what's funny about that is that New Yorkers can't tell the difference between them!

Also funny is that West side story was originally written about Catholics and Jews, when it got penned in 1920's. By the time it was actually produced, the culture had changed so much that it was rewritten.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I justm want to say I haven't forgotten this. I am thinking about this in terms of Christian heritage and the generally absolutist claims that Jesus makes about some issues, while ignoring others altogether. Since the church became a political power 300 years later the calculations change, I think. At least, they did. Whether they should have is another matter.

We might reject incremental improvements. But one could argue that is exactly what God Himself has done with us throughout owur existence, including the progression from Pentateuch to History to Wisdom to Prophets to Messiah.

Grim said...

Good that you're still thinking about it. It's rare that one identifies a void like this. An explanation is really wanted.