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Does Christianity abolish the many in favor of the one?

What is the Christian attitude toward race, ethnicity and peoplehood?

Such things do not determine human worth any more than other aspects of social position do. Nonetheless, it seems important to me to recover a Christian conception of legitimate particularism. Such a conception would necessarily include some degree of ethnic identity and loyalty and therefore ethnic boundaries. Without such a conception Christianity becomes a this-worldly universalism like Islam or the various modern totalitarianisms. It loses the recognition of the necessity and goodness of the concrete and particular that is, I think, essential to it.

The view that ethnic boundaries are illegitimate, which is implied by the view that racial discrimination as such is wrong, is radically new in Christianity. The historic church never thought it was wrong to have particular attachments or recognize differences among groups of people. To some extent the early Church tailored Christianity to fit each society and people. Such efforts have been revived today—recent Roman Catholic discussions of “inculturation,” for example, presume that cultural particularity is important to spiritual life and insist that it be respected. If cultural particularity is good, though, boundaries among peoples with distinctive ways of life—ethnic boundaries—can’t be all bad.

The Christian embrace of particularity isn’t a fluke. The story of Babel treats this-worldly universalism and the demand for a single universal people, society and law as a sort of idolatry. And Christ himself explicitly recognized the continuing existence and validity of the nations. (Jean-Marc Berhoud goes into the details in his The Bible and the Nations.)

Christianity does not flatten things out and make them all conform to a single comprehensive scheme. The doctrines of Creation and Incarnation tell us that God made the here-and-now in all its particularity, called it good, and became physically present in it with all the specificity that implies. The unity Christianity gives is therefore a transcendent unity that applies even when there are obvious distinctions of unquestioned validity. When Paul said that Greek and Jew, slave and free, male and female are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). he didn’t want to abolish Greeks and Jews any more than he wanted to abolish men and women.

In many ways Christianity is at right angles to earthly social order. Grace completes nature, but does not abolish it. The temptation of Christ makes it clear that Christianity is not about political rule, solving economic problems, or the conquest of natural necessity. Unlike Islam and Judaism it has no concrete legal code, it explicitly recognizes the relative autonomy of Caesar, and it’s said to be a kingdom “not of this world.” If it recognizes that there are kingdoms other than itself why would it want all those kingdoms to get together and create a universal all-pervasive this-worldly order of things? Why would it suddenly decide that Babel was a worthy effort?

Christianity therefore lives at ease with earthly distinctions, much more than with earthly monoliths. It was after the concrete administrative unity of the Roman Empire was abolished through the appointment of multiple emperors that Christianity became its principle of transcendent unity. And that’s what Christianity was for the following 1600 years—a principle that gave Europe an overall civilizational unity while maintaining and on the whole respecting its practical diversity.

The rejection of Christianity has led to various schemes by Nazis, communists, Eurocrats and so on to replace the transcendent unity and concrete diversity of Christian Europe with pragmatic this-worldly unity. Nationality, local and particular loyalties, variations among peoples, and this-worldly boundaries thrived in Christian Europe. They are treated as monstrosities to be destroyed in the newly anti-Christian West. So why view them as opposed to Christianity?

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Dear Mr. Kalb,

I’ve been looking forward, with interest, to the development of your thinking on this subject. In my opinion this is something that needs to be settled among traditionalists if there is going to be any sustainable viability to the movement.

Today we are especially vulnerable to extreme reactions. True, one aspect of modernity has been the movement to abolish ethnic and national distinctions in the name of egalitarianism. Yet modernity has also produced the equally violent and totalitarian reactions of racism and ethnic nationalism. Men are especially tempted to ethnic idolatry in times like ours when kingdom, church, and family have been so weakened as to leave millions rootless and without any sense of belonging. I would hope that the move toward tradition would proceed with a sense of sobriety about these modern errors as well.

“What is the Christian attitude toward race, ethnicity and peoplehood? Such things do not determine human worth any more than other aspects of social position do. Nonetheless, it seems important to me to recover a Christian conception of legitimate particularism.”

So far, no argument from me.

“Such a conception would necessarily include some degree of ethnic identity and loyalty and therefore ethnic boundaries.”

The leap from ethnic identity/loyalty to ethnic “boundaries” begs for clarification. What kind of boundaries do you have in mind?

“The view that ethnic boundaries are illegitimate, which is implied by the view that racial discrimination as such is wrong, is radically new in Christianity.”

The Catholic reader, once again, will have a difficult time agreeing or disagreeing without some idea of what is meant by “boundaries” and “racial discrimination”.

Ethnicity is a form of extended family, and families do indeed have boundaries—houses, private property, etc. But at the same time families do not isolate themselves from other families. They work, worship, intermarry, cooperate, and make alliances with other families according to their interests. Is this what you have in mind? Or do you think ethnic groups should behave differently, perhaps with more restrictions?

“The historic church never thought it was wrong to have particular attachments or recognize differences among groups of people. To some extent the early Church tailored Christianity to fit each society and people.”

True, but the historic Church did not have to face the idolatries of nationalism and racism until quite recently.

“Such efforts have been revived today—recent Roman Catholic discussions of ‘inculturation,’ for example, presume that cultural particularity is important to spiritual life and insist that it be respected.”

You must understand that liberalism attacks both particularity *and* universality at precisely where the Church upholds them. The recent inculturation trend—like its cousin, multiculturalism—is in large part a rejection of Catholic universality.

“The unity Christianity gives is therefore a transcendent unity that applies even when there are obvious distinctions of unquestioned validity. When Paul said that Greek and Jew, slave and free, male and female are all one in Christ ( Galatians 3:26-28) he didn’t want to abolish Greeks and Jews any more than he wanted to abolish men and women.”

True, Christianity does not make war on ethnicity or nationality. They are indeed positive goods. But neither does Christianity promise to maintain and preserve nationality unchanged through the centuries at all costs. She acknowledges that all men are of one blood, the progeny of Adam—and she insists that the bond of faith is stronger than blood. Our Lord makes it explicitly clear that one’s neighbors may indeed be men of a different race, and that a man’s obligations to his neighbor are not diminished by this fact. Legal segregationism seems very much like a means of avoiding these obligations.

“In many ways Christianity is at right angles to earthly social order. Grace completes nature, but does not abolish it.”

I think the above statement is more compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy than Catholicism. Grace, in the Catholic view, both perfects and *transforms* nature.

“Nationality, local and particular loyalties, variations among peoples, and this-worldly boundaries thrived in Christian Europe. They are treated as monstrosities to be destroyed in the newly anti-Christian West. So why view them as opposed to Christianity?”

They are not opposed to Christianity so long as they are recognized as subordinate goods and understood in non-absolute terms.

In an earlier comment, Unadorned mentioned that “good things are lost” when boundaries are crossed and ethnic cultures are changed by mutual interaction. Good things may be lost, to be sure, but other good things are often gained. The fact that groups are merely changed by their encounter is not enough to justify the erection of legal boundaries to keep them apart.

Mr. Murgos, in another comment, said that legal segregation “helps the family”. What could that possibly mean? The truth is precisely the opposite. Imposing legal segregation by race in this country would destroy the American family. Furthermore it would destroy churches, neighborhoods, religious orders, businesses, and countless other institutions. This is conservative?

The comment-box segregationists have lost their minds. To the extent that “traditionalist conservatism” is associated with a totalitarian re-segregation program, it is doomed.

Mr. Culbreath, at what point does legitimate ethnic, racial, and ethno-cultural self-preservation (is such a thing EVER legitimate, according to you?) change into reprehensible “violent, totalitarian racism” as you put it? Please spell out at precisely what point this change from legitimate to illegitimate occurs.

Why do you always talk about “the re-imposition of segregation” when the only force I see being applied nowadays is directed toward the opposite goal of effacing the white race in this country and around the world?

In your view, then, white people objecting to their own effacement is the same as white people endeavoring to “re-impose segregation”? But then, whites have no breathing room at all, and must simply perish and be quick about it, in your view, because you allow them no middle ground between oppressing others and disappearing themselves.

But can’t you see there’s something very wrong with that view? I mean, surely you see at the very least that you’re being ungenerous, no?

Whites must agree to their own racial effacement or be guilty of favoring “the re-imposition of segregation”? You see of course that that view carried to its logical conclusion favors the abolition of all the world’s different races. I happen to like the existence of the world’s different races, so if your brand of restoration of traditionalism contains the proviso that they be done away with, I want no part of it.

You’ll say you oppose only the use of governmental force to keep the races “apart.” But races and the communities they form almost always *naturally prefer* not to be subjected to forced ethnolytic immigration by government diktat. It is government pushed by hidden forces that do not want to show themselves that keeps shoving race-replacement schemes down communities’ throats. The naked, brute “force” we keep on seeing is not being used to keep people apart and I don’t want it to be. I just want it to stop being used to bring about the replacement of one group by another against the first group’s wishes. That’s all. Aside from that I wish everyone well, I assure you.

You have a problem with that, I take it.

Is it OK with you if governments are asked to stop doing that and let people and their communities alone for once? I don’t see where that would amount to “government-imposed re-segregation.”

If a majority of people in the state of Maine object to the Bush administration’s current plan to change all of Maine’s towns, cities, and countryside racially from majority white to majority Somali Bantu, are those white Maine folk guilty of “violent, totalitarian racism”?

If they are, then can two play that game? Or is it only one side that’s allowed to play? Can Maine’s whites go to Rhodesia and take back what once was white-owned farmland? Can they go further, and take over the whole country of Rhodesia, followed by the importation of more and more whites until the Negroes there dwindle to a small minority as has happened in reverse to whites in California against their wishes?

If whites can’t do that to Rhodesia why was it OK for Clinton, Bush, and Rove to do it in reverse to California on purpose?

If Bush’s plan is NOT to change the majority ethnicity or race in the state of Maine from white to Bantu I assume there is a Bantu immigration cut-off written down somewhere.

Where is it? I want to see it, to make sure it’s written down somewhere.

If you and no one else can show it to me, and if in fact no such cut-off exists, then the Bush plan is to change the majority population of the state of Maine from white to Somali Bantu.

Dear Unadorned,

You wrote:

“Mr. Culbreath, at what point does legitimate ethnic, racial, and ethno-cultural self-preservation (is such a thing EVER legitimate, according to you?) …”

If this means protecting the members of one’s race from gas chambers and killing fields, then yes, that is legitimate. If this means preventing the members of one’s race from freely associating with members of another race, then no, that is not legitimate. Races and cultures are not static things and should not be treated as such.

“Is it OK with you if governments are asked to … let people and their communities alone for once?

Of course. If that’s all you’re looking for, you have my full support. Legalized segregation was being entertained by Matt and Mr. Murgos: my remarks on the topic are addressed to them (and to Mr. Kalb if that is what he means by ethnic “boundaries”).

“Can Maine’s whites go to Rhodesia and take back what once was white-owned farmland? Can they go further, and take over the whole country of Rhodesia, followed by the importation of more and more whites until the Negroes there dwindle to a small minority as has happened in reverse to whites in California against their wishes?”

That is the sort of racialist thinking I reject. Certainly you will agree that California is better off because it was settled by Europeans whose Catholic civilization replaced paganism. Yet I would not frame the conquest of California primarily in racial terms.

The Somali Bantu thing was bad idea (if I remember the story from VFR correctly), but the Mainers appear to be reacting with sobriety. The townsfolk did not object the *race* of the Somalians, but to the multiculturalism being imposed upon them (mostly by non-Somalians), and to the fact that some were preventing their assimilation.

I’ve got to get some work done. Perhaps I’ll have more comments later.

“The leap from ethnic identity/loyalty to ethnic ‘boundaries’ begs for clarification. What kind of boundaries do you have in mind?”

The discussion was abstract and didn’t deal with concrete issues. My concrete proposals for America today though are much stricter limits on immigration, and legalization of voluntary self-segregation. My hope would be that if those things were law then people and communities could sort out their own lives and mutual relations in the ways that make sense to them and seem productive, and that enough things in common would remain or develop so that public life and self-government could go forward.

That wasn’t the question I was writing about though. What I wrote was a much more general and theoretical discussion that viewed ethnicity mostly from the standpoint of particular culture. On that view an ethnic group would mostly be a group of people who share common inherited culture and loyalties. (More likely, since there are class, regional etc. differences, they would share in a common inherited complex system of culture and loyalties.)

A culture is a shared system for interpreting and doing things. That’s why it’s important. It shows us one way of being human. It’s pervasive and fairly comprehensive, and people feel it’s part of what makes them what they are. Growing up in a culture is normally one of the things that goes into the sense that its demands are authoritative.

Each system for interpreting and doing things works in its own way. You have to know whether you’re playing football or rugby, practicing American or German law, at a church social or in a barroom, acting as a businessman or a member of a church.

In the case of culture, what that means is that normally, in day-to-day life, it helps if it’s clear whether a situation or institution is French, Bulgarian, Chinese or whatever. Otherwise the complex of attitudes, habits and expectations that constitute a particular culture will be inapplicable. Also, it helps if French people normally find themselves in French situations, Bulgarian in Bulgarian situations, and so on. Otherwise the result is likely to be uncertainty what to do, discomfort, alienation, misunderstanding, thwarted expectations, difficulties of cooperation, etc., etc., etc. The French will forget how to be French, the Germans to be German, and so on. The good things culture can do by giving us and the people we deal with a common stock of attitudes, understandings, standards, memories, loyalties and so on will disappear.

So I was thinking of “boundaries” quite abstractly, as whatever makes it possible in a particular setting to know who and where you are, so that you will know what the standards are, so trust and cooperation will increase and friction decrease. “Boundaries” include whatever makes it possible for distinctive cultured ways of doing things to exist.

“The Catholic reader, once again, will have a difficult time agreeing or disagreeing without some idea of what is meant by … ‘racial discrimination’.”

If a Catholic reader ever visited this weblog I would certainly want him to be able to agree or disagree with what’s said here. Still, I don’t see the mystery. “Racial discrimination” is treating someone differently on grounds of race. In this setting “race” is construed broadly, so that if a Swiss doesn’t want to hire Italians it’s “racism.”

Racial discrimination normally includes taking ethnicity into account in deciding who to associate with, either in business or socially. As such it includes many things that seem legitimate to me. The concept of “discrimination” as a per se evil is based on the view that it is wrong to take ethnic distinctions into account in any significant way. That seems clearly wrong to me, but people insist on it and view it as a fundamental moral point. The main purpose of what I wrote was to argue against that view on quite general grounds. It wasn’t to propose particular policies.

“Ethnicity is a form of extended family, and families do indeed have boundaries—houses, private property, etc. But at the same time families do not isolate themselves from other families. They work, worship, intermarry, cooperate, and make alliances with other families according to their interests. Is this what you have in mind? Or do you think ethnic groups should behave differently, perhaps with more restrictions?”

A family should have whatever boundaries it needs to function as a system. Ethnic cultures need the same thing. Families and ethnic cultures are very different systems though so the specifics what they need is different.

I suppose in most ways ethnicity is looser but more comprehensive. Particular things don’t matter as much but the overall setting of life matters more. If I go ga-ga over Southern Sung landscapes it doesn’t cause the same problem it would cause if I went ga-ga over a woman other than my wife. On the other hand, if schooling and professional life had no family connection it doesn’t raise the issues that would be raised if schooling and professional life had no ethnic connection—if we are all schooled and work in a thoroughly multicultural setting. In the latter case it’s not clear that ethnic culture could continue to exist in any useful sense.

“ ‘Nationality, local and particular loyalties, variations among peoples, and this-worldly boundaries’ … are not opposed to Christianity so long as they are recognized as subordinate goods and understood in non-absolute terms.”

Agreed.

“The comment-box segregationists have lost their minds. To the extent that ‘traditionalist conservatism’ is associated with a totalitarian re-segregation program, it is doomed.”

Each must answer for himself. I haven’t seen any proposals for legally-imposed segregation, let alone anything totalitarian, although Matt I think denied that legal segregation is always a per se evil. If you intend to discuss things with people it’s a mistake to read what they say suspiciously. It tends to kill the discussion. One reason there’s so little intelligent discussion of racial issues in America is that anything that deviates from standard pieties is taken to be a code word for Naziism. I urge charity.

Mr. Kalb wrote:
“I haven’t seen any proposals for legally-imposed segregation, let alone anything totalitarian, although Matt I think denied that legal segregation is always a per se evil.”

I’ll just affirm that Mr. Kalb has read me correctly here. I make no specific proposal for any specific case, but I do deny that legal racial segregation is always and everywhere immoral and I think that treating it as an absolute evil does itself lead to real evils.

In Mr. Kalb’s comment above he says that a volunteer racial segregation ought to be legal; but something of that sort would quickly become non-volunteer for at least some of the people affected. A chinese-only planned community may be chinese-only as a volunteer matter to its current residents, but people of other races (say the next-door neighbors) who are excluded from it haven’t necessarily volunteered for that exclusion. So I have some concern that the issue of whether the racial segregation is consensual or not can become a de-facto prohibition. I don’t have any specific plans to start such a community but I think that treating such a community as intrinsically evil is wrong.

By “voluntary” I just meant contractual or in accordance with normal rights of property that let the owner admit or exclude whom he will. If I’m blackballed at a club or don’t get a job or someone won’t come to my party that’s not voluntary as to me. That’s not the kind of voluntariness I had in mind though.

Mr. Kalb, thanks for the reply, and I certainly will strive for charity. As so often happens when you and I have these discussions, I start out thinking our positions are different and end up finding no fault in your explanations. Perhaps there is no fundamental disagreement.

Still, our approaches are quite different. I approach the subject with some personal history dealing with real, genuine, hateful racists and listening to their excuses. I’m disinclined to be favorable to similar-sounding arguments—perhaps unreasonably so. Given the ease with which racial and ethnic passions may be inflamed, I believe that the public language of race should be cautious and circumscribed rather than “frank”.

Right, I wasn’t objecting just clarifying that the teeth of the law would be enforcing the discrimination against some who object, even though the situation is characterized as voluntary. The Chinese-Only-Society could buy up a few hundred thousand acres and build a city that allows only ethnically Chinese residents (though one would hope for ordinary charity toward outsiders of course), for example. Nonconsensual discrimination against outsiders is allowed, and then the intellectual battle ground shifts to who is legitimately considered an outsider versus an insider (rather like the way neocons treat the formal category “citizenship”).

Mr. Culbreath writes,

” … I believe that the public language of race should be cautious and circumscribed rather than ‘frank.’ “

If anything was incautious or too frank in my posts I’d appreciate Mr. Culbreath’s pointing out where exactly, and I’ll try to tone it down next time. I, too, wish to avoid stifling discussion of these important topics, especially the topic of whether or not Christianity necessarily decrees the abolition by government force of distinct races, ethnicities, and ethno-cultures and the forced blending of those currently in existence into one homogeneous population from an ethnic, racial, and ethno-cultural point of view. (Christianity’s requirements in regard to particularism was supposed to be the main topic under discussion in the thread, which I admit my post deviated from completely. I deviated because I felt strongly about responding to Mr. Culbreath’s charges both explicit and implicit all over his post that my side was totalitarian, violently racist, and wished to re-impose legal segregation. If Mr. Culbreath wants, I can talk from the planet Mars and he from the planet Neptune but we’ll need pretty powerful megaphones that way. The alternative would be to actually listen to what the other guy is saying.)

Personal history does make a difference, and I agree it is important to keep a cool head and restrained tongue when dealing with inflammatory issues. From my own part though I’ve run into far more antiracist bigots than racist ones. Also, I’m struck by the absolute domination of public discussion by antiracist dogma, and by the circumstance that most persons murdered in the past hundred years have been murdered in the name of abolishing the things that separate man from man.

Unadorned:

Perhaps I should have made it more clear that I do not believe that you are on the side of totalitarianism, violence, or forced segregation. Mea culpa.

“I, too, wish to avoid stifling discussion of these important topics, especially the topic of whether or not Christianity necessarily decrees the abolition by government force of distinct races, ethnicities, and ethno-cultures and the forced blending of those currently in existence into one homogeneous population from an ethnic, racial, and ethno-cultural point of view.”

I think the answer is clearly “No, Christianity does no such thing.” Neither, of course, does Christianity require the forced maintenance of any race, ethnicity, or culture in perpetuity. So—we agree then?

Allow me to throw into the mix this fascinating article on the mathematics of segregation.

Also, Mr. Culbreath, I must dispute the following assertion you made, if I understand you rightly. You write, “the historic Church did not have to face the idolatries of nationalism and racism until quite recently.”

Nationalism in the modern sense, I think, has some real novelty to it; but racism is as ancient as the Fall. Indeed, the astonishing power of Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan rests in part precisely of the depth of the racism that permeated the ancient world; so much so that the power of the parable is diminished somewhat for us.

Two more points briefly:

1. I agree with Mr. Kalb that racial discrimination, as he defines it, is often legitimate. Much of what might pass for racial discrimination is merely the innocent and natural gravitation of people to those most like themselves. There is no intent to harm anyone, no intent to deprive anyone of life or liberty or livelihood, no hatred or bigotry involved. I think we all agree that the antiracist witch hunts (I myself just received a letter accusing me and my business of “racism”) are a plague on humanity.

That said, I don’t think the goal should be to make the world safe for all forms of racial discrimination. Sometimes racial discrimination *is* motivated by genuine racism, and sometimes it does result in real injustices—the prevention of which is the legitimate business of government. Therefore, I’m not prepared to say, as Matt seems to be, that a racially exclusive Chinese-only city should be legal here in the North Sacramento Valley. I’m not even prepared to say that the restaurants in my city should be free to turn away patrons, or that private schools should be permitted to turn away students, on the basis of race alone. Such practices would clearly harm the common good and work against the establishment of a relatively cohesive regional culture.

2. And what about regional culture? A general restoration needs to start small, and that means it will have to start in your city and neighborhood. The recovery of local and regional character—of a sense of place—is central to any realistic vision of restoration. If regional culture is going to be revitalized, it will need to build upon what is already established, and that means that many places will continue to have a multiracial or multiethnic character. Furthermore, the recovery of regional identity, especially in the cities, will inevitably involve some of the ethnic “blending” and “homogenizing” that is so vehemently disliked by Unadorned (unless I have misread him). This merging of various races and ethnic groups is what one might expect when people live together in the same place for a long time. It isn’t social engineering, but is simply the ground floor of culture-building.

The analogy of a society to a family is a good one because it is concrete and has been used traditionally for many centuries. A family gets to decide its membership and its rules not outsiders.

Perhaps some additional observations would be helpful to keep the idea of segregation in perspective. During the American segregation era, the family of whites protected themselves from the violent family of blacks as nonviolently and as best as they could given that the outsiders had no intention of taking in the black families and given that politicians make good changes difficult. The only white on black violence was by a tiny number of hoodlums and political radicals. There was unfairness to blacks and progress was as slow as can be expected with any large family ruled by an elite instead of by justice.

Then outsiders came in with a supposed better and quick way and unleashed a still unabated rampage of black on white violence—the fear of which had driven whites to tolerate unfairness to blacks. Yet, I’ll bet the outsiders would do it all over again. Why—because they tolerate it now, they did it to Rhodesia, and they did it to South Africa.

There is the idea of recovering regional identity through some kind of voluntary blending forcibly imposed on the region by outsiders. It seems there are a lot contradictions in there.

Mr. Culbreath referred to ” … the ethnic ‘blending’ and ‘homogenizing’ that is so vehemently disliked by Unadorned … “

I’m not opposed to “ethnic blending” but to driving races to extinction that don’t want to be driven to extinction. A community that prefers not to be submerged by a different race, ethnicity, or ethno-culture shouldn’t be forced to submit to that submergence as our federal government is constantly doing to U.S. communities. What I “vehemently dislike” is forcing. If a community WISHES to be blended, nothing should stand in its way. But as R.J. Stove says at the end of his piece up today at Vdare.com,

“All over the Western world, elites are suppressing popular resistance to nation-breaking immigration.”

“Popular resistance”? I guess popular feeling must run counter to all the “nation-breaking immigration” that’t going on, then.

Why are all these elites suppressing all that popular resistance? One reason is their stock portfolios gain in value when high-wage workers native to the developed world are replaced by ultra-low-wage 3rd-Worlders who are brought in. Another is it gives them an intense “moral high” to do it: it makes them feel “holier-than-thou” and “self-sacrificing.”

Bigger Wall Street profits and the intense “moral high” that some individuals get from feeling themselves to be “self-sacrificing” (willing to sacrifice their own race, ethnicity, and culture) are, for many, insufficient recompense for the loss of their biological/cultural patrimony.

The right of a race, ethnicity, or ethno-culture to be left alone to preserve itself intact into the future is a legitimate one and a deep one. I call on the federal government to stop trying at every turn to quash that right in furtherance of its own self-seeking nefarious ends.

Mr. Culbreath mentions restaurants, schools and housing.

Antidiscrimination laws mean something different in different settings. In the case of restaurants they generally aren’t that intrusive because the relation of restaurant to customer is well-defined, limited and short-term.

Education (not to mention employment) is very different. An antidiscrimination law can’t just say “a school must admit black applicants.” The reason is that a school is a comprehensive long-term environment, the whole of which must be cleansed of discrimination, whatever “discrimination” is held to be. Suppose the school admits 5% of black applicants but 95% of white applicants? Suppose the blacks who enter mostly flunk out or leave? Suppose there are school clubs that discriminate? Suppose the biology program includes stuff about racial differences and the main school celebration is Robert E. Lee day?

In the case of education and employment the law can’t just state a simple rule and leave it at that. If discrimination is pervasive and responsible for major social problems, so doing something about it is a fundamental matter of social justice, there are going to have to be intrusive government programs with the mission of supervising and changing institutional culture. Otherwise there are too many places for it to hide. In other words, there’s going to have to be what we have now.

Dealing with housing segregation also requires comprehensive intervention. Matt’s Chinese-walled city is an interesting thought experiment but not the real issue. As the article Mr. Cella cites demonstrates, if people have even rather moderate preferences in favor of living mostly with people like themselves you’re going to get rather strict segregation. To prevent it you’re going to have to prevent people from choosing where to live.

If antidiscrimination laws represent most people’s sense of how things should be, they’re not really needed. If only 60% of schools or employers will accept me I’m not likely to end up in a very different position than if 100% would accept me. It’s as if I lived in a city 60% the size of the one I actually live in.

It follows that such laws can really be useful only when imposed on a community from outside, and then to do their work they require radical denial of self-government for every institution in the community. There are no doubt cases in which such things are needed. Shouldn’t they be the exception though? What have the fruits of compelled “diversity” been in our schools and businesses?

Mr. Kalb, you wrote:

“Antidiscrimination laws mean something different in different settings.”

Quite right. So would you agree, then, that such laws are not always and everywhere bad?

“An antidiscrimination law can’t just say ‘a school must admit black applicants.’”

I agree, private schools should not be forced to *admit* applicants merely because they are black. But in some cases it may be good to require that private schools do not *refuse* applicants merely because they are black. There is an important difference.

“The reason is that a school is a comprehensive long-term environment, the whole of which must be cleansed of discrimination, whatever ‘discrimination is held to be.”

I don’t see this as being the case at all. Requiring a school to consider all qualified applicants without respect to race is not the same as “purging” all forms of whatever anyone thinks is discrimination in the school environment.

“Suppose the school admits 5% of black applicants but 95% of white applicants?”

No problem, in this case, so long as blacks were not turned away merely because they were black. I realize this might be hard to prove, that “enforcement” could become overzealous, and that the difficulties inherent in the law might outweigh the benefits. But the *idea* of such a law is not anathema to my thinking.

“Suppose the blacks who enter mostly flunk out or leave?”

Then they flunk out or leave. We’re not talking about equality of outcome here. The point of such a law would be to prevent deliberate school policies that fracture a community by race.

“Suppose there are school clubs that discriminate?”

That’s another matter. Student clubs are less institutional. In my opionion race-based student clubs are a bad idea, but whether or not they are permitted should be left up to the administration.

“Suppose the biology program includes stuff about racial differences …”

Any biology program worth its salt will do that. So what?

“… and the main school celebration is Robert E. Lee day?”

Again, I don’t see the need for legal intervention here. And I don’t suppose it would be too difficult to find blacks who admire Robert E. Lee.

I get the feeling you see a kind of slippery slope where almost *any* antidiscrimination laws are concerned (sans restaurants). If we have one here, then we have to have one there and there and there.

“In the case of education and employment the law can’t just state a simple rule and leave it at that. If discrimination is pervasive and responsible for major social problems, so doing something about it is a fundamental matter of social justice, there are going to have to be intrusive government programs with the mission of supervising and changing institutional culture. Otherwise there are too many places for it to hide.”

That’s certainly a legitimate point. Sometimes, however, even laws that are only occasionally enforceable can send a message and serve a good purpose.

“In other words, there’s going to have to be what we have now.”

You mean a regime of paranoid, professional antidiscrimination witch hunters who see a racist behind every white male face? I’m not persuaded. It must be possible to have limited, reasonable laws against racial discrimination, in those few contexts where it serves the common good, without going off into paranoid lunacy.

“Dealing with housing segregation also requires comprehensive intervention. Matt’s Chinese-walled city is an interesting thought experiment but not the real issue. As the article Mr. Cella cites demonstrates, if people have even rather moderate preferences in favor of living mostly with people like themselves you’re going to get rather strict segregation. To prevent it you’re going to have to prevent people from choosing where to live.”

Once again, I don’t see how legally preventing a developer from refusing to sell lots to white people prevents anyone from choosing where to live. Most neighborhoods are self-selecting and end up with a certain demographic anyway.

“If antidiscrimination laws represent most people’s sense of how things should be, they’re not really needed.”

Quite true. In fact, I think we are just about there in many places.

“If only 60% of schools or employers will accept me I’m not likely to end up in a very different position than if 100% would accept me. It’s as if I lived in a city 60% the size of the one I actually live in.”

In the case of higher education, I’m not really that interested in whether or not a student is admitted to the school of his choice. I’m interested in preventing institutionalized segregation by race. In most places, I believe that is in the public interest.

Christianity and ethnic particularity

Jim Kalb at Turnabout has an article on the vitally important subject of the relationship between Christianity and cultural particularism….

Mr. Culbreath wrote,

“I’m interested in preventing institutionalized segregation by race.”

Though he was addressing Mr. Kalb and not me, once again I wish to say I’m strongly against legal racial segregation as it used to exist in the Southern U.S. and also under the old apartheid system in the Union of South Africa. The main reason I’m against it is because I find it morally unacceptible from almost every point of view, which of course needs no explanation on this forum—imagine being a Negro parent and taking your little three- or four- or five-year-old child, who is all smiling and happy and knows of course nothing whatsoever about “race,” to a public park or to the zoo or on a bus, and having to start teaching him the first of what will become a lifetime of shocking lessons—that he’s not permitted, let’s say, to drink at the same water fountain as white kids when he’s thirsty, or go to the same sandwich counter as white kids when he’s hungry, or sit in the front of the bus when taking that public conveyance, or swim at the same pool or beach when it’s hot out, and all the rest—and any of us on this forum could write a hundred books about it and still not adequately cover the wrongness of legal segregation, a thing I could never support under any circumstances I am able to imagine.

BUT …

It’s just as morally unacceptible (even MORE unacceptible) for government to disrupt, beat down, dislodge, disperse, and in effect destroy settled racial-majority or ethnic-majority communities in the name of mandated “diversity” schemes or “civil rights” or citing the lie that “There’s no such thing as race,” or whatever, which are more and more simply invented justifications camouflaging hidden special interests drunk with power and running amok, getting what they want via social crimes like massive incompatible immigration wholly inappropriate to a country’s ethnic proportions having the effect of overturning and actually doing away with hundreds- and thousands-year-old communities, etc., in ways we see happening all around North America and Europe today. Everyone knows exactly what I’m talking about and it’s just as wrong as—even more wrong than—legal segregation was in the 1950s South.

Finally: I wish to show that Christianity does not condemn or oppose the existence of distinct races, ethnicities, or ethno-cultures or mandate their wholesale extinguishing by governments acting through brute physical force and planned, well-orchestrated propaganda campaigns of shocking, unjustified vituperation and demonization as if embarked on religious crusades of some kind.

Segregation would allow people to worship and to eat and to work and to reside around the people they want to. If there is increased white flight to white refuges where whites have the authority to let in only as many nonwhites, nonchristians, or non-whatevers as they see fit, there is nothing immoral with that. The white integrationists will plant footsteps on the backs of the whites heading to the refuges; what am I saying…the’re already there.

The schools and neighborhoods have already been destroyed. All that remain are mostly segregated. Churches, religious orders, businesses, and countless other institutions were not destroyed under integration. They flourished in both communities.

There is a propaganda commercial appearing on TV. It shows Halle Berry being led through a curtain in a restaurant to a segregated part of the restaurant with a “Colored Only” sign. Where are all the commercials showing the mug shots of the legions of black faces and their dead, raped, and robbed white victims sacrificed so that Halle Berry can go to a white-only restaurant instead of a black-only or a multicultural restaurant?

I don’t see how I can learn unless I reveal my thinking for criticism.

Sorry. In the second paragraph it should be “were not destroyed under segregation.”

Calling what we have now a “regime of paranoid, professional antidiscrimination witch hunters who see a racist behind every white male face” may be true in a sense but it simplifies things too much. The current regime came in very quickly after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted and it’s had the uniform solid support of responsible officials, judges, legal authorities and so on ever since then. Those people may be wrong—I believe they are—but they’re not all crazy or lacking in public spirit.

I think that what we have is the natural outcome of the assumption that discrimination is what is behind the problems black people have, so that it’s a serious problem that something serious should be done about. The problems of black people are stubborn and pervasive, and the causes aren’t obvious, so if it’s discrimination that is behind them then the discrimination must be stubborn, pervasive and hidden as well. Hence the current regime.

What Mr. Culbreath seems to be proposing is formalistic, a rule that schools, housing developers and whatnot can’t have an explicit rule that says “no blacks” or whatever, but otherwise they can do pretty much as they please. Consider a few possibilities:

1. There could be schools and other institutions that don’t in terms exclude blacks, but have a “people like us” approach to admissions that in practice means that few if any blacks (or whatever) go there. It seems to me that “people like us” schools are OK. One function of a school, after all, is to induct students into the way of life of a particular community, and a particular community is always “people like us.” Today all schools have to have a “people like us” approach, where the “people” are the “diverse American people” The result is that all schools have to be multicultural and diverse and give blacks lots of extra points on admissions. That seems OK to me, although it shouldn’t be compulsory. But you could also have a finishing school where “people like us” means people of an established wealthy social background with certain sorts of connections. That seems OK too, at least something it would be wrong to forbid, even though not so many blacks would qualify.

2. You could also have a school where the admissions procedure was for applicant and parents to talk to the head, who leans back in his chair and decides whether they would add to what he has in mind. That seems OK too, even though the grounds for admission would be absolutely inscrutable.

3. You could have a school for techies, where they’re such techies that they know about Bayes’ Theorem (see http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/stalkers/em_bayes.html ). Such a school would admit blacks and women, but would subtract points on their applications. As a result, not many would get in. It would also add points on applications submitted by boys, Jews and East Asians. The school would be altogether rational to do so, as the linked article shows.

In none of these cases would there be an explicit “no blacks,” “all Chinese” or similar rule. Nonetheless, the results might turn out very similar. They might also be very similar at the school Mr. Culbreath says is OK, with the R. E. Lee celebration, “whites only” clubs, and biology unit on The Bell Curve.

I don’t see any reason why antidiscrimination laws must always and everywhere be bad. Still, it seems to me they’re mostly bad and need specific justification. What Mr. Culbreath seems to be proposing—forbidding formal exclusionary rules while otherwise letting people arrange things as seems sensible or desirable to them—might be a good idea in some situations. After all, an explicit rule is a sort of public insult. It seems something though that a particular society or locality might have or not have depending on judgment and circumstances. It doesn’t impress me as something that must be done, but for all I know in some times and places it might make political sense.

I agree with everything Mr. Kalb says.

My views are driven in large part from my experience with segregation (which was limited because I was a child), with talking to older people, and much more so, with the horrors of forced integration. If all blacks were not allowed in white neighborhoods and shopping areas and workplaces, there would be almost no violent crime against whites, who could concentrate on catching and holding the fewer white violent criminals. This fact is ignored mostly in the public sphere, that is, by politicians, educators, and the media, and the problem is not going to start declining until it is discussed.

Please pardon the detail, but many people don’t even consider this. There really are two possibilities for protecting white people immediately: 1) a large degree of segregation with the police having the right to profile and to stop and frisk anyone politely or 2) the National Guard. I’m willing to try the Guard first. I know it is unrealistic to expect this to happen in the near future. My point is that it should happen, just as we should repatriate all Moslems, even the white, Christian-raised converts to Islam.

I don’t know the extent to which I should or should not be conscious of my white race or should want to see it retained in general. That is one reason I am blogging here where these sensitive matters are moderated in an even-tempered manner.

Mr. Kalb writes:
“What Mr. Culbreath seems to be proposing—forbidding formal exclusionary rules while otherwise letting people arrange things as seems sensible or desirable to them—might be a good idea in some situations.”

The notion seems to be to make it procedurally/formally verbotten to discriminate based on certain explicit discriminands, but OK to discriminate based on direct correlates to those discriminands. I don’t think that works. If we can discriminate (with the force of law behind us) based on correlates but not based on certain verbotten formal attributes then we have the exact same power to discriminate; it is just that we are required to deny that we are doing it at the same time we actually carry it out. The formal nondiscrimination principle is asserted as critically important, but at the same time it has no concrete authoritative consequences. People don’t like the things they assert as critically important to have no consequences; so in the end procedural nondiscrimination requirements always lead to substantive nondiscrimination requirements.

The only way procedural nondiscrimination makes any sense to me is if the attribute (say race) in fact has no actual consequences that it is morally OK to consider in the decision. That is, the only time procedural nondiscrimination makes any sense is when procedural and substantive discrimination are the same thing and are both morally wrong. Formal anti-discrimination by race only makes sense if race, as an actual matter of fact, is nothing.

Some laws are symbolic and not functional. What they require is somewhat like good manners. They don’t stop you from doing what you want, if that’s what makes sense to you, but sometimes they require you to be a bit indirect or not go quite as far as you might otherwise go to avoid public offense. I took Mr. Culbreath’s proposal somewhat in that sense.

That is exactly how I understood the comment too. The contradiction lies in treating formal antidiscrimination as something critical and at the same time as something that has no tangible consequences whatsoever beyond a general admonishment to be nice. Something can’t be critical and have no consequences at the same time.

I guess I disagree that some laws are purely symbolic and not functional. Anti-sodomy laws may be rarely enforced, but their existence gives the magistrate discretion to enforce them. That can be a good thing - I am all for laws against intrinsic moral wrongs that are rarely enforced for practical reasons. In order for a formal antidiscrimination law - a law that categorically disallows discrimination based on race, for example - to be of this sort we have to stipulate that actual substantive racial discrimination is (like sodomy) an intrinsic moral wrong. People are logical and generally attempt (with varying degrees of objective success) to be consistent with the things they state as critically important principles.

Law isn’t that logical. Does the existence of the English monarchy show that people really think the Queen ought to run things? It’s customary to shroud rejection in various ways even when the rejection is justified and rationally speaking not particularly offensive. People are touchy and self-centered and you have to live with them as they are. And in general there can’t often be a need to make ethnic distinctions absolute.

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