I was reminded of all this while reading an article this morning, Two Lawsuits That Could Kill Yale. I highly recommend it to your attention. It highlights some of the confusion at the heart of our politics, both on the Right as well as the Left.
I can't summarize the whole article, but the Yale lawsuit that was brought by AG Barr follows on a similar lawsuit against Harvard--but adds the weight of the federal government:
The second case was announced by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in August, when it notified Yale University that a two-year investigation found Yale’s affirmative action practices to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act. “Asian Americans and whites have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials,” the DOJ wrote. Yale has until September 15 to submit a plan to change its affirmative action policy so it no longer discriminates against whites and Asians. The school has indicated that it will fight the DOJ and defend its current policies as lawful.
The author, Helen Andrews, claims that the DoJ lawsuit suffers from fuzzy thinking:
The DOJ’s ultimate goal is even harder to discern. Does it really want a Yale that is majority Asian and less than 1 percent black? A 2013 study at Harvard found that, without affirmative action, Harvard would be 43 percent Asian, 38 percent white, and 0.7 percent black. (The United States is 5.6 percent Asian.) Is that the kind of fairness the DOJ has in mind? When California voters passed a referendum banning affirmative action in 1996, university bureaucrats circumvented it by cloaking the old racial preferences in layers of subterfuge. Unlike the voters of California, the Justice Department has the power to force Yale to comply with its demands. If it wants to ban affirmative action, it can refuse to ease up, hauling Yale into court if necessary, until the school produces an outcome it is satisfied with.
So what outcome should it be satisfied with? If Yale is allowed to keep affirmative action in any form, the DOJ will be giving its stamp of approval to racial discrimination against Asians and whites. But if affirmative action is abolished, the result will be an ethnically lopsided Ivy League and, soon, an ethnically lopsided national elite. There is no legal principle that can find a middle ground between these two undesirable outcomes. “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” the DOJ letter says. Either that’s true under the law or it isn’t.
But, if America is a "propositional nation," what would be wrong with America becoming a nation governed by a largely Asian elite within a generation? It's not as if Chinese-Americans don't share our values or harbor any residual loyalty to the Middle Kingdom, right?
Or is it the case that our increasingly diverse nation contains significant groups with differing ideas about the fundamental purpose of life--and does that mean we're not all equally American? But how can we be sure?
It's all very disturbing, and it suggests to much of the population--if we take polling seriously--that diversity may not be all it's cracked up to be. Although I could be canceled for saying that. In other words, AG Barr, with the best of intentions, could end up damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. And it's not a problem he can solve.
So, I'll simply offer two reflections on this whole notion of a "propositional nation."
First, from The Nation Of Immigrants Myth:
We are a nation of immigrants.” It is every American politician’s incantation, usually prefatory to some shibboleth lauding “strength in our diversity.” The creed of America as nation-of-immigrants (hereafter the “NOI creed”) is now unquestioned by Americans and foreigners alike.
The NOI creed’s assertion of national rootlessness justifies official multiculturalism and mass immigration. ...
The creed is a half-truth but useful to social engineers transforming this country in ways alien to our history and heritage. Immigrants in the millions have come to the United States, most in waves beginning in the 1840s. Many immigrants and their descendants have contributed mightily to America. Others have contributed to the crime statistics. Some tried America, then went home.
Nevertheless, the NOI creed is literally false: Despite thirty-plus years of mass immigration set off by the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, the vast majority of Americans are still American-born children of American-born parents. It is also historically false: Scores of millions of Americans are neither immigrants nor descendants of immigrants.
As for the Statue of Liberty, it is a gift from France to honor the centennial of American independence. Emma Lazarus’ “Give me your tired…”—a cri-de-coeur against Russian pogroms—is a later add-on. E pluribus unum explicitly commemorates the union of thirteen British colonies into one nation. The statue and the motto do not celebrate immigration; they salute the achievement of the settlers who founded those colonies and, in time, won independence from their Mother Country. It was the settlers’ nation, not empty wilderness, that later gave immigrants a new home.
To test the truth of the NOI creed, ask what a true nation of immigrants would be. Absent a founding group or majority, it would be no nation at all, but a random gathering of people of assorted races, religions, and nationalities, united only by their presence in the same land. With no native culture to provide national unity, the population would tend to fragment on racial and ethnic lines, ensuring division and strife as groups pursue their interests at each other’s expense. That may be our multicultural future. It is not the American past.
If that makes you uneasy, consider this: A propositional nation is a recipe for authoritarianism:
So what is this propositional nation I now find myself in? A nation built on propositions not heritage or identity. What propositions? Something to do with equality and freedom and voting, at least in the abstract, but in the concrete, it always ends up having to do with open borders, demographic change, international business, dumbing down sexual morals, and ramping up government bureaucracy.
But a large number of people don’t accept those propositions–especially the tangible ends they always seem to lead to–and that number includes a lot of people whose identity with the nation goes back long before those things were proposed. And a lot of the newer citizens don’t seem all that committed to those propositions either (other than the one for ramping up government bureaucracy). What gives?
A propositional nation is a recipe for authoritarianism. There’s nothing organic holding your nation together, so you fall back on government control. If you’re going to base your identity on a political proposition, that’s the most likely direction you’re headed. Forget about America circa 2017. Consider America circa 1620.
For American schoolchildren, the Pilgrims were seekers of religious freedom. The story is different if you’re British. Puritans were revolutionaries who not only wanted to overthrow the Church of England but wanted to overthrow the English monarchy as well. In fact, they did overthrow it, a mere 29 years too late for the Pilgrims. The Puritan Oliver Cromwell et al. signed the king’s death warrant and ended up ruling Britain as a republic while doing his best to exterminate Catholics. His compatriots in the Massachusetts colony were doing their part to maintain a propositional nation of their own in the New World, complete with banning Christmas and hanging Quakers and Jesuits and witches.
For the Left it seems to boil down to: My proposition, not yours. Or else. And they never seem to consider the consequences down the road. So the answer is authoritarianism. Ideas really do have consequences.