Segregation in the future

In my last post, I put out my thoughts on segregation as it existed in the pre-civil rights American South.  To sum up:  I’m not a fan of it, but I appreciate what I take to be its goal of maintaining two separate communities in their integrity.  It may be (as some commenters have said) that my opinions on this matter aren’t very well considered–it’s not a subject that greatly interests me–but I thought it was important to put them out before what I say next, so everyone will know where I’m coming from.

After the Civil Rights Act and the apotheosis of Martin Luther King Jr. in the public imagination, Republicans and mainstream conservatives more-or-less made a decision:  discard segregation (either because it’s evil or because it’s untenable) and focus all our distinct-culture-preserving energies on restricting immigration.  So, basically, whites are not allowed to have their own neighborhoods, but they are kind of allowed to have their own country.  That is, the majority culture gets to keep being the majority culture, and nonwhites are allowed (and expected) to assimilate into it.  You can’t keep the “darkies” off your street, but they don’t get to invite all their relatives from the old countries over, so that the country as a whole loses its character.

This was supposed to be the morally and electorally defensible position.  It’s not explicitly racist, but it addresses the conservative fear that our distinct culture is being drowned out by diversity.  Of course, the liberals gave mainstream conservatives no credit for their reconfiguration.  From their standpoint, any loyalty to a distinct cultural and ethnic background is racism, and they correctly saw that that was what’s behind the new position.  The liberal universalist creed is this:  All Americans are equal, and anybody who wants to can become an American.  Also, being an American just means living here and paying taxes; you can hate the native inhabitants and boast of your plans to devour half of the country for Mexico.  That’s not a threat; that’s cultural vibrancy, and we should be grateful to it.

The mainstream conservative stance has obviously failed.  The border was not effectively controlled, and America will become a hispanic country in the foreseeable future.  At the very least, Mexican loyalists will have an iron grip on American politics, so it will be impossible to resist the invasion at the national level.

One might ask if it will soon be time to reconsider the decision to reject segregation for immigration restriction.  As America becomes truly multicultural, border control is ceasing to do anything for cultural homogeneity.  Segregation may be our only hope for cultural survival (e.g. for your grandchildren to speak English and to refer to the Northern power in the Mexican-American War as “we”).  Would open borders + racially segregated neighborhoods be a better compromise than what we’ve got now?

One might ask whether the question is academic.  Once America is majority nonwhite, why would they make any concessions to the white population?  That presumes that we regard segregation as a concession, but I don’t know that that’s how they see it.  Blacks and hispanics by and large dislike whites (they make this very, very clear), and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to infer from this that they would just as soon not have to live with us.  In fact, it could be that ethno-cultural segregation will happen at their insistence, while whites (continuing our great tradition of not knowing what’s good for us) bemoan the loss of a “post-racial” future.

18 Responses

  1. Sir, I must disagree on one point. It is only white, Christians who are labeled racist for ethnic loyalty. It is only our history and common heritage which is attacked with impunity.

    Is is, however, the season of hope. Merry Christmas!

  2. Merry Christmas!

  3. My impression from what I know of history is that traditional societies *can* be multi-ethnic and stable (up to a point) when there is a strong and shared religion acting as social glue – I’m thinking mainly of the Roman Empire, including its Eastern Continuation.

  4. Try pre-Revolutionary France. One of the first acts of the National Assembly was to disband the Breton Regiments

    There were many Basque-speaking areas in Languedoc-roussillon, German was widely spoken in Alsace and Provençal or Occitan was the common language in the whole area south of the Loire.

  5. It is also instructive to read Boswell’s and Johnson’s separate accounts of their visit to the Western Isles. Johnson, the Englishman, was nostalgic for the fast-vanishing Gaelic culture and clan society; Boswell, the Lowland Scot, writes like a Yankee journalist of the old school, visiting an Indian Reservation.

  6. “To sum up: I’m not a fan of it, but I appreciate what I take to be its goal of maintaining two separate communities in their integrity.”

    I believe that this was the rhetoric used to defend segregation, but I hardly think this was the real goal for many of segregation’s proponents; since when did Southern pro-segregationists really care about “preserving” the “community” of people they often derided as savages incapable of civilization? It seems rather that it was a unilateral imposition by the one community arranged to maintain its hegemony and keep the other community dependent, even/especially if that meant denying integrity to that other community. How many blacks worked for whites? How many whites worked for blacks? To the extent that blacks *as a whole* were a pool of laborers and consumers serving whites, the two races were actually pretty well “integrated” it seems.

    A point: A Jew who converted would leave the ghetto (though being a “New Christian” could render one suspect). A serf could climb the ecclesiastical ladder and become Pope. Serfs could be emancipated, and over time it became easier for commoners to be ennobled. But under Jim Crow, you were a Negro if you had a single Black great-great-grandmother. This biologism has more in common with the modern heresies of racism, eugenics, and Naziism than with traditional mores regarding castes and ghettoes in Christendom.

    ~Bonifacius

  7. A single black great-great-grandmother is a double octoroon or something. The “one drop rule” was a late addition to Jim Crow, coming in the 1920s. That is, there is no necessary connection between the two.

  8. But the laws against interracial marriage prevented dilution. One was forced to remain “black”, at least according to the prevailing laws. This was getting harder to get around the more the South was homogenized and regulated from a central government. There were examples of prominent interracial marriage in the South, but generally only before 1865. And the prevailing laws and attitudes prevented these less racially charged attitudes towards class and slavery from gaining wide acceptance. I am inclined to agree that
    “This biologism has more in common with the modern heresies of racism, eugenics, and Naziism than with traditional mores regarding castes and ghettoes in Christendom.”

  9. Bonifacius, the reality of segregation doesn’t thrill me either. But I’m a little concerned about your moral reasoning. I apologise if I’ve misunderstood your argument, but you seem to be suggesting that social categories based on inescapable biology are morally suspect, particularly if they involve group inequality. But many significant human relationships are based on biology and many involve hierarchy and inequality. The obvious one that springs to mind is the human family. So too are masculine and feminine social roles based on biology.

    I’m not persuaded either that the fact that a small number of serfs could rise in the hierarchy is what justifies the existence of serfdom. Either we accept that the primary goods in life are available to us whether we happen to be a peasant or an aristocrat or else we launch into a permanent revolution in which whatever is constituted as the good is made equally available to all (very difficult in practice, hence the permanence of the revolution).

  10. The Byzantine Empire has a ‘third sex’ of Eunuch who formed a distinct class of officials and functionaries (bureaucrats, in effect).

    This was a permanent status (!), and had advantages in terms of security and conditions – and indeed power, as well as the obvious disadvantages.

    A Eunuch could not become Emperor – almost anything else but. Patriarch, Chief General in the military; but not Emperor.

    Also Eunuchs were (in some eras) banned from monasteries, and from Mount Athos (because it had a disruptive effect similar to making them ‘mixed sex’).

    My point? I think de facto ‘caste’ systems are often stable, in fact perhaps *only* caste systems are stable over many centuries. But they need some outlet for those of lower caste but higher ability or drive – they need to be able to make exceptions and create niches for the exceptional – without these exceptions being regarded as a precedent.

  11. I would agree.

  12. I think it is still necessary to acknowledge that the development of racism and race based slavery in the United States was a pretty unique event, and one that really only has precedents in the Arab world.

  13. One morally suspect aspect of the racism in both the Old and New South are the ways in which they were used to justify a universal white vote. I cannot see that as conservative. One of the best justifications for slavery was based on it’s conception of Noblesse Oblige and the Serfdom of the Middle Ages. If the white vote is universal, black slaves are considered property and whites cannot be enslaved, justifications for slavery become limited.

  14. That there are men and women and that they must needs relate to each other in a hierarchical manner is clear from Revelation. That there are Whites and Blacks and the former have an innate superiority to the latter such that the former ought monopolize goverance and the latter be held in subjection, that I don’t see in Revelation. The two are not comparable. One *could* argue that suffrage runs with ancestry and that only those who came to these shores free should be free citizens, but that was not the thrust of Southern racist rhetoric (and Southern racists there were, despite so many attempts to gloss over this as Yankee-Liberal-Leftist-Marxist-Jewish-Capitalist-Whatever rhetoric). A considerable amount of the rhetoric was simply that a Black man qua Black man, not qua peasant (for whites could be peasants) not qua happened-to-have-been-enslaved-at-one-time (for all admitted that the Ancient Hebrews had been slaves *undeservedly*), not qua anything but being Black, was unequal. And that does not seem admissible. It may very well be that particular genes for particular human qualities (athletic ability, intellect, impulse control, etc.) may appear in different genetic communities with varying degrees of prevalence or strength, but the blanket judgment “blacks are biologically inferior to whites as such and all social relations should reflect this” reflects a basic denial of the personality of all human beings and their unity in Adam and in Christ. I’m not even protesting de facto segregation, just the ideological underpinnings of legally enforced, mandatory, de jure, unilateral, pro-white, anti-black segregation. Defend that on moral grounds and there is little left that can be rejected short of physical violence.

  15. But the laws against interracial marriage prevented dilution. One was forced to remain “black”, at least according to the prevailing laws.

    Preventing intermarriage did not prevent dilution. My husband’s great-grandfather was white. My grandmother in law could have easily “passed” for white as many fair-skinned, straight haired “black” people did in her day. She did not. Even today, my husband’s family reunions look like a UN convention with relatives who range from the fairest skin to the darkest dark.

    Laws did nothing to prevent miscegenation or dilution of the blood. They simply made the likelihood more rare because of the social pressure not to intermarry. I do think as Christians it is important to keep in mind that even in the OT of the Bible, there was clear evidence that God valued authenticity of faith, piety, and courage over blood lines under certain circumstances. Commonality of faith and values supersedes biological lineage. Given the reality of the world in which we live, the idea of wide-scale racial homogeneity seems a fruitless pursuit and less able to achieve than conversion of hearts and minds, one person, one family at a time. I also think that this is most in line with New Testament scripture.

    For the record, I am not a liberal black person, nor am I one who discounts the biological differences between various ethnicity of people. I was also bound and determined that I would only marry a black man and turned down advances form other races of men because of that determination. I do not begrudge people who are uninterested in intermarriage because that would be hypocritical of me. I do however, oppose those who wish to impose their will on the matter onto others. Because there is no Biblical support for the idea that inter-ethnic marriage is to be rejected based on biological factors, we should not impose a law where none exists. Inter-faith marriage however, should be rejected summarily.

    I wholly reject the notion of ethnic superiority or the supposition that different ethnicity of people are so different as to be considered different species that need to be kept apart at all costs. People tend to self-segregate rather naturally anyway based on a variety of factors: race, sociology-economic, shared history, etc. That has really never changed. What has changed are the values of the culture and the way people connect around those values, which often transcends biological differences.

  16. Oh, I fully agree. Those laws were limited in their power, particularly before the end of slavery.
    “I wholly reject the notion of ethnic superiority or the supposition that different ethnicity of people are so different as to be considered different species that need to be kept apart at all costs. People tend to self-segregate rather naturally anyway based on a variety of factors: race, sociology-economic, shared history, etc. That has really never changed. What has changed are the values of the culture and the way people connect around those values, which often transcends biological differences.”
    I agree to this as well. The obsession with race in our society is arguably a modern and early modern phenomena.

  17. A careful reading of a realistic history of the Texas Ranger companies from back in the “olde days” on the frontier and into the early 20th century would either fill you with horror or fill you with hope in regard to the problem of injuns and mexicuns. (They were dealt with more or less the same.) But that was a long time ago.

  18. […] I proposed a grand bargain of my […]

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