Monday, May 21, 2018
Sunday, May 20, 2018
The demise of the white majority is a myth - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."
[JB note: My understanding of the Census projections for the "racial" composition of the USA is that by the mid-2000s the "white" population would not longer be a majority, but a plurality. But a former majority turned plurality is not a "minority," as the article suggests -- see first paragraph ...]
Dowell Myers and Morris Levy, washingtonpost.com
Image from article, with caption: Meghan Markle, engaged to Britain’s Prince Harry, with her mother, Doria Ragland.
Dowell Myers is a professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Morris Levy is a professor in the Department of Political Science at USC.
The tale of the coming white minority has roiled American politics. A recent political science study shows that white anxiety over lost status tipped the last election to Donald Trump, and Democratic Party leaders are banking on changing demography for a brighter destiny.
But rumors of white America’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. That’s because the prevailing definition of whiteness is stubbornly stuck in the past.
It was 2000 when the Census Bureau first projected an end to the white majority of the population in 2059. Four years later, it revised that date to 2050. Then in 2008, it told the public that the passing of the white majority would occur in 2042. At this abrupt rate of change, some anxious whites might see displacement as an imminent threat.
In fact, the Census Bureau projects no fewer than six futures for the white population based on various definitions of whiteness. The most touted set of projections adopts the most exclusive definition, restricting the white population to those who self-identify as white and also no other race or ethnicity. Under this definition, whites are indeed in numerical decline.
But this doesn’t reflect the increasingly fluid and inclusive way that many Americans now regard racial and ethnic backgrounds. Mixed-race parentage is growing more common, and a rapidly growing number of people choose more than one racial or ethnic category to describe themselves on the census.
For example, Meghan Markle — American actress and new member of the British royal family — has a white father and black mother, so she identifies as someone from both races. Under the older, exclusive definition of race — resembling the historical “one-drop” rule — Markle and her children can never be classified as white. Same goes for the offspring of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former Florida Republican governor Jeb Bush.
Under a more expansive definition that counts as white anyone who so identifies (even if they also identify with another race or ethnicity), the white population is not declining; it’s flourishing. The Census Bureau’s inclusive projections show a white population in excess of 70 percent of the total for the foreseeable future.
How, then, do whites of both parties feel about these different stories of the future? A recent study that we co-authored shows that more inclusive definitions for whiteness could significantly diminish anxiety among white Americans about displacement.
Our study is based on a survey experiment on a sample of 2,600 non-Hispanic whites in July 2016, when Trump was consolidating Republican support. Our respondents were randomly assigned to read one of two simulated news stories that reported the bureau’s 2015 race projections. The first mimicked the conventional narrative about the decline of non-Hispanic whites. The second detailed the growth of Hispanic and Asian American populations, but it also mentioned the rise of intermarriage and reported the Census Bureau’s alternative projection of a more diverse white majority persisting the rest of the century.
When asked how the story they read made them feel — angry, anxious, hopeful or enthusiastic — results were clear-cut. Forty-six percent of white Democrats and a whopping 74 percent of Republicans expressed anger or anxiety when reading about the impending white-minority status.
But these negative emotions were far less frequent when participants read the second story about a more inclusive white majority. Only 35 percent of white Democrats and 29 percent of white Republicans expressed anger or anxiousness about this scenario.
The results imply that nearly a quarter of the Democrats and two-thirds of the Republicans who might be agitated about the imminent-white-minority narrative also have positive feelings about a more inclusive and enduring white majority.
Projections of racial demographics should reflect the great changes in the meaning of race in America. But stories about the impending demise of white America are rooted in outmoded notions of racial exclusivity. These stories of white decline obscure the ongoing changes to America’s color line, and they serve only to divide. Fortunately, the white American public seems far more content with the more inclusive future that is actually destined to emerge.
Think Things Look Bad in This Country Right Now? We’ve Been Here Before, Jon Meacham Says - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."
By Tina Jordan, New York Times
May 18, 2018
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE As discord and bickering roil the country, Americans clearly want to read about what’s going on: Five of the top 10 books on the nonfiction list address our current political climate in some way. Jon Meacham — whose “The Soul of America” debuts at No. 1 — points out that we’ve been here before. “Political strife and division, particularly of the poisonous variety, are in some ways the rule in American life rather than the exception,” he says.
Jon Meacham image from article
Despite the current atmosphere, Meacham, a journalist and presidential historian, remains optimistic. “If history is any guide — and, however imperfect, it’s the only guide we have — then the right number of Americans at the right time will decide to heed what Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature’ and realize that we’ve been happiest and strongest in the hours when we have most generously interpreted the Jeffersonian assertion that we’re all created equal,” he says. “This isn’t sentimental or hokey: It’s the fact of the matter of the American experience. I’m not saying, ‘Relax, everything will be fine.’ My argument is ‘Let’s get to work and perhaps we will survive as we’ve survived before.’”
His book is a call to action. “Let’s learn the lessons of the past: Resist tribalism, deploy reason and remember that fair play for others is the best way to ensure fair play for you. If we can do that, then we’ll rise above the corrosive tweets, the presidential bullying and the narcissism of our reality-TV president,” he says. “It feels dark and insuperable, but it’s felt that way before.”
New York Times Review of the book by John McCain, "The Restless Wave" -- Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."
Excerpts from a review by Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times, of the newest book by John McCain, “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations” :
“We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself,” he [McCain] writes. “We are blessed, and in turn, we have been a blessing to humanity.”...
Assigning a special nobility to his country’s role abroad, even (or especially) now, is a way for McCain to keep believing that Americans are ultimately united, instead of terribly divided. Domestic politics are too disappointing, too grinding, too inglorious. “The Restless Wave” is a wistful book; McCain wants to rally Americans around helping an imperiled world, rather than accept that the call might be coming from inside the house.
John Kelly’s Ancestors Wouldn’t Have Fit In Either - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."
Viet Thanh Nguyen, New York Times; original article contains links
image from articleExcerpt:
I had forgotten that memory of my mother, sitting by herself, reading aloud from a church newsletter. It was the only way she could read, having had only a grade school education. As an American teenager fluent in English, I felt pity for her, and perhaps a bit of shame.
The memory came back to me on learning of the White House chief of staff John Kelly’s words about undocumented immigrants coming from south of the border, whom he described as people who would not “easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society.”
“They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English,” Mr. Kelly said. “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws.”
Mr. Kelly feels sympathy for these people, some of whom are like my mother, born into a rural background [in Viet-Nam]. But Mr. Kelly — like President Trump, who last week called certain undocumented immigrants “animals” — cannot empathize with them. His inability to see or feel the world as they do is shared by many Americans. ...
What some of us also forget is that at nearly every stage of our country’s history, the people who were already established as American citizens found convenient targets to designate as unable to assimilate: the indigenous peoples; conquered Mexicans; slaves; or the newest immigrants, who were usually classified as nonwhite.
In 1751, even before the country was founded, Benjamin Franklin wrote that “perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my country, for such kind of partiality is natural to mankind.” He favored “the English” and “white people,” and did not want Pennsylvania to become a “colony of aliens,” who “will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion.” He was speaking of the Germans.
German-Americans [see also] are now “white,” which is partly a color, partly a state of mind and partly a matter of perception. The eventual whiteness of German-Americans saved them from being thrown en masse into internment camps during World War II, unlike Japanese-Americans. With historical lessons like that, it’s no surprise that some Vietnamese-Americans desire to put their refugee past behind them, including the memory of how only 36 percent of Americans wanted to accept Vietnamese refugees in 1975. ...
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Obama’s Legacy Has Already Been Destroyed: Note for a discussion, " Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."
Andrew Sullivan, nymag.com
image (not from article) fromExcerpt:
More profoundly, Trump has managed to shift our cultural politics. He has baited the left to occupying new territory, thereby cementing his triumph. What drives Trump is racial essentialism, a rage at the post-racial, integrative center that the mixed-race Obama represented. Nils Gilman has an insightful piece on this in The American Interest. He sees — rightly, I think — the 2008 Jeremiah Wright speech, “A More Perfect Union,” as the high-water mark of racial liberalism after the civil-rights era:
Obama began his speech by noting the “nation’s original sin of slavery,” but declared that the aim of his campaign was to continue “the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.” Although “we may have different stories, we hold common hopes,” Obama averred. “We may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place,” he continued, “but we all want to move in the same direction.” That there might exist people in this country who desire very different things from a racial perspective was out of the question; instead, Obama observed everywhere “how hungry the American people were for this message of unity.”
Nothing could be further from the left’s current vision, which is that the very concept of post-racial integration is an illusion designed to mask the reality of an eternal “white supremacy.” Today’s left-liberal consensus is that Obama, however revered he may still be as president, was and is absurdly naïve in this respect: that there is no recovery from the original sin, no possible redemption, and certainly no space for the concept of an individual citizenship that transcends race and can unite Americans. There is no freedom here. There is just oppression. The question is merely about who oppresses whom. ...