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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Race Identity Politics- Always The Wrong Move

One reason for the success of Jews in the Diaspora, besides hard work, the self-enforcement of moral and ethical guidelines and a strong family structure, was their decision to deal only with the present. The past was past and misdeeds done to prior generations should be remembered but not overwhelmingly.

Thomas Sowell tells a chilling tale entitled "Older Budweiser" about a town in the Hapsburg Empire. Germans and Czechs lived side by side and flourished economically in peace. Then the Czech intellectuals began to institute multiculturalist politics that led to the demise of the amity between the peoples. Once the Czechs demanded certain preferences, as trivial as Czech-only road signs, the Germans naturally reacted with resentment. Anyone familiar with 20th Century Europe knows the result of ethnic identity politics.

Government policies designed to undo history with preferential treatment for Czechs polarized the existing generation of Germans and Czechs. Bitter German reactions led eventually to demands that the part of the country where they lived be united with neighboring Germany. From this came the Munich crisis of 1938 that dismembered Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.

When the Nazis conquered the whole country, the Germans now lorded it over the Czechs. After the war, the Czech reaction led to mass expulsions of Germans under brutal conditions that cost many lives. Today refugees in Germany are still demanding restitution.

Sowell has studied the failures of Affirmative Action worldwide in his book Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study. Not only do the protected classes do poorly, the nations lose productivity and wealth. And the resentment among peoples grow like in the Budweiser story.

Jews and other ethnic immigrants historically have created wealth for countries because they provides unique skills to jobs for which the indigenous majority either lacked the interest or ability to assume. The void now filled by the immigrants created newer jobs for the locals but the price is these immigrants get a piece of the pie. Eventually, a demagogue focuses the populous' attention to the improved position of the immigrants and the race-consciousness virus takes over. This has happened many times all over the world.

Dr. Sowell's lesson regarding Budweiser, without saying it, is the ever-present subject of slavery as a reason for reparations, affirmative action and other government hand-outs has done little to aid blacks in America. He has written about the great strides by blacks in America prior to the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950's. While a number of issues required correction, the overkill in legislation has been a miserable failure for its intended beneficiaries.

For more of Sowell's commentary on the civil rights movement and its harmful effect on American blacks, see this and this and this.

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