Race relations: Are we more "enlightened" these days?
The Left are culturally triumphant in America today. They worked tirelessly for their dominance and they have won it. Anger is a great motivator, it seems. Conservative values have few champions outside the more evangelical churches. The media, bureaucracy, schools and colleges are a Leftist monoculture. And the Left are convinced that their ideas have made America much more enlightened than it was. If it weren't for those goddam conservatives, America would be a wonderland of right-thinking with no dissent allowed.
Is there any truth in that? I can't see it. With the vast anti-white hostility whipped up among blacks by the Left, it seems to me that race war is restrained only by the impossibility of it succeeding.
So how does that compare with the past? In the Jim Crow era, blacks walked very gingerly through life. Not only being aggressive but even being "uppity" could earn a black the rope on some occasions. So an enforced racial peace prevailed, with levels of black crime much lower than today -- particularly black-on-white crime.
But nobody these days would advocate a return to Jim Crow. So is there a better model of modern-day multiculturalism than what prevails today? Is there a better model in the past? There is. I was there. I grew up in an exceptionally multicultural society that was also as peaceful as any. It was an unwitting and unintended natural experiment that does, I think, tell us a lot. It's something that took place in Australia but the similarities between Australia and the USA are great -- great enough to permit generally safe generalizations from one to the other.
I grew up in the '40s and '50s in Innisfail (which is actually a romantic term for Ireland -- and a lot of us did have some Irish blood. I do). And for reasons that need not detain us, the small population there (c. 7000) had quite amazing racial diversity. About 50% of the population were Anglo-Celtic and another 30% were Italian but the rest almost covered the racial spectrum: Indians, Chinese, Maltese, Spaniards, Greeks, Russians, Danes, Aborigines etc. But there were no Muslims or Africans.
So what were race-relations like? Generally civil. We Anglos were shocked to see Italian men wearing pointy shoes but I doubt that anyone ever mentioned it to them. And we got gelato long before anybody else in Australia did. There was grumbling among the Anglos about "wops" and "dagoes" and in her youth my mother was threatened by her father that he would disown her if she married an Italian.
But within-group grumbles were just about it. There was no real aggression from either side. The Italians and Spanish grew rich farming sugarcane and the Greeks opened the only cafe in town (the "Bluebird"). And very popular it was. And a Dane sold us milk straight from the cow (quite illegally). It was not paradise. Drunken deeds happened there. My own father was something of a king-hitter if someone disrespected him when he had been drinking. But people mainly mixed socially in their own ethnic groups. The men floored by my father were Anglo-Celtic men much like him.
So it was a normal Australian country town much like any other despite it phenomenal ethnic mix. There was real behavioural tolerance there even if the language among friends left something to be desired. A man who decried "dagoes" in private would be just as polite in any dealings he had with Italians as he would be with anyone else. The speech did not matter. The current Leftist hysteria about "incorrect" speech was unknown and unimagined.
So it is perfectly possible for a heavily multicultural society to be perfectly civil and free of inter-group aggression. No society will ever be perfectly peaceful or just but stress-free multiculturalism is possible.
So the Left have wrought a great evil by their constant preaching that black failure is due to white prejudice. Who can blame blacks for taking that as read and becoming angered by it? The whole Leftist agenda of "affirmative action" screams that blacks are being unfairly treated and that government has to step in to right a wrong. But affirmative action is just racism hiding behind an anodyne name and its fruit -- hate -- is the typical fruit of racism.
The only message coming from government about race should be that blacks are better than whites at some things and whites are better than blacks at some other things. Any other message destroys social peace.
So from my perspective the present is not enlightened at all. It is endarkened, if I may coin a word.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).