think we’re heading toward a racial trainwreck. Here’s why.
I’d better be wrong.
The United States is no longer one nation, but three–black, Hispanic, and white–living in uneasy coexistence in the same place. Whites, once dominant, are either no longer able, or no longer willing, to impose a uniform national culture. The two minorities grow in numbers, being encouraged to do so by the federal government, and grow in assertiveness. Can the three meld? Or live in harmony?
The answer, I think, is: Whites and Hispanics, perhaps. Blacks and whites, no. Blacks and Hispanics, no.
Civics courses in high-school hold that America is a melting pot, that different groups eventually blend happily as did the Italians and Irish. Note, though, that previous minorities have been (a) European and (b) sufficiently few to be absorbed. They also wanted to be Americans. These things are not necessarily true of today’s minorities.
Further, if you wanted to choose three cultures unlikely to assimilate, ours would be a pretty good choice. Disparate peoples can live in peace, as witness Switzerland, but only if all are thoroughly civilized, law-abiding, and equally well off. That is not the case here.
Look around the world. All of the truly advanced nations, except Japan, are of white European origin. Black nations, without exception, from Africa to Haiti, fall at the dead bottom of civilization. In the United States, blacks also place last, and show few signs of independent progress. Hispanic nations hold the middle ground. This is not a recipe for harmony.
Racial tensions are fairly high today, and growing. After fifty years of attempts to impose integration, American isn’t integrated. If the minorities do not assimilate, as they gain power their assertiveness will probably increase. The crucial question becomes: What prospect is there for assimilation before trouble comes–within, say, no more than twenty years?
For blacks, none. They largely live in isolation in vast, utterly segregated, linguistically aberrant, self-sustaining ghettoes. Animosity smolders between them and everyone else. Their economic and academic lassitude prevents easy entry into a techno-industrial society. Explain these failings as you will. They are real, and intractable.
For Hispanics, assimilation is possible but iffy. The stark cultural gap between blacks and whites isn’t replicated with browns, nor is the visceral hatred of whites. Mexicans aren’t that different from whites–no more so, I’d guess, than Italians or Poles were. Their culture carries a strong European component. Here there is hope. The devil is in the numbers.
If a thousand Hispanics came to the US and dispersed through a city, they would perforce adopt the local culture, intermarry, become Mexican-Americans, and soon simply Americans. By contrast, several million Hispanics concentrated in California may (or, please heaven, may not) become a permanent self-aware nation within a nation, antagonistic to the surrounding country, as blacks have.
Blacks and Hispanics approach a quarter of the population, perhaps too many to be absorbed or contained. Large numbers of unassimilable minorities eventually alarm the surrounding population. They also become politically aggressive. They can now make demands of the white population. Whites, especially in regions of concentration, accede. It is hard to say “no” to Hispanics in LA.
Making assimilation more difficult is that neither blacks nor Hispanics perform near the economic or intellectual level of whites. Hispanics may catch up, but probably not soon enough, especially with the constant influx of new uneducated immigrants. The resultant inequality encourages anger.
Which we have in plenty. The hostility of blacks toward whites, though seldom discussed, is powerful. Trouble also brews unnoticed between blacks and Hispanics as Hispanics, more industrious than blacks, begin to outnumber them. Hispanics show up, work hard, follow instructions, and behave well at work. They are fast taking unskilled jobs that blacks once had. Blacks know it. So do Hispanics. Things could get ugly: Racial conflict doesn’t necessarily involve whites.
The media carefully avoid publicizing the degree of antagonism, the cost of welfare, or–crucially–the ethnic element in crime, which almost perfectly tracks the black population. (I know, I know: One doesn’t say this, but the numbers are there.) Characteristically, when relations between the US and Japan were strained a while back by the rape of Japanese girls in Okinawa by GIs, no photographs of the assailants were published in the mainstream media.
Why the spin? Is there, as some suspect, an organized journalistic conspiracy to control racially inflammatory news? If so, I’m not privy to it. However, journalists see the danger of serious conflict. Maybe their censorship is wise: Accurate reporting would increase tension. Editors know that the United States is not magically immune to the ills of Ireland or Yugoslavia. A repetition of the massive riots of the Sixties by blacks, or the destruction of much of LA by blacks and Hispanics could, given the right spark, become national.
The future? Race is a game of numbers. Birth rates are high among both blacks and Hispanics, low among whites, and everyone is aware of it. Blacks, concentrated in the cities, take over one urban government after another through growing numbers, and know they are doing it.
Hispanics sense that history is on their side, that immigration combined with fertility will allow them to push aside an exhausted white population. “La reconquista” is a potent concept. They are beginning to control the Southwest. How bad is this? If relations with whites don’t deteriorate, not very bad. If relations go south. . . .
So far, whites have not pushed back. They have no way of doing so. Powerful strictures, supported by the courts, enforced by the media and inculcated by the schools, militate against even discussing race openly–though the taboo wanes. Whites seldom riot, are not yet alarmed enough, have no focus for hostility, no leader, and don’t agree that hostility is justified. Yet. But if they begin to feel backed into a corner, if they begin to think in terms of us agin’ them, if they foresee becoming a downtrodden minority in their own country. . . they may rebel.
The results would be awful. Whites would win any real confrontation, being far more numerous, richer, and better armed and organized. They also control the food supply, which may not have occurred to angry urban populations. But the country would be wrecked.
Which suggests that we need to think very carefully, and find a way out of the deepening morass while we still can. If we still can.