Barone: "GOP Shouldn`t Panic If Whites Become a Minority"
April 05, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Michael Barone writes about the Census results:
Finally there is an assumption — which is particularly strong among those who expect a majority "people of color" electorate to put Democrats in power permanently — that racial consciousness never changes. But sometimes it does.
American blacks do have common roots in slavery and segregation. But African immigrants don`t share that heritage, and Hispanics come from many different countries and cultures (there are big regional differences just within Mexico). The Asian category includes anyone from Japan to Lebanon and in between.
Under the definitions in use in the America of a century ago, when Southern and Eastern European immigrants were not regarded as white, the United States became a majority non-white nation sometime in the 1950s.
That`s just the kind of myth that springs up as people forget what really happened. Jim Crow never applied to Italians or Poles. Anti-miscegenation laws didn`t apply to southern and eastern Europeans. Black people should get upset about all this "How the Irish Became White" mythmaking.
By today`s definitions, we`ll become majority non-white a few decades hence.
But that may not make for the vast cultural and political change some predict. Not if we assimilate newcomers, and if our two political parties adapt, as we and they have done in the past.
Barone is vaguely picking up here on some of my arguments over the last few years that the GOP could take a number of steps to redefine the government`s race/ethnicity categories to their advantage. All over the world, people (especially women) want to be described as fairer than they actually are. But in America, the government rewards ambiguous people for declaring themselves nonwhite. And you get more of what you pay for. I`ve argued, in short: concede that the descendants of American slaves and American Indians will always be legally privileged, but nobody else should be. So, either get rid of the category of ethnicity, which is currently reserved for Hispanics, or open it up to everybody. Don`t let South Asians be a protected group. Etc.

But the first thing you`ve got to do is pay attention to how the race rules work. For example, Barone writes, "The Asian category includes anyone from Japan to Lebanon and in between." No, the Asian category currently ends at the Khyber Pass. It used to end in the hill country of Burma. That Barone, who has a tremendous memory for detail, can`t remember stuff like that shows how outgunned Republicans are intellectually in this area because they never pay attention to it. You can`t begin to win at this game if you don`t know the rules.