CHRIS POWELL: Census shows racism fades; and few Afghans ever cared

Published on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 21:04

How strange that Connecticut and the country are being condemned as "structurally" and "systemically" racist even as the latest U.S. census finds that they are more multiracial and multiethnic than ever and demographers expect that the country soon will have a nonwhite majority.

These trends do not suggest oppression. Rather they suggest acceptance and equality. They provide hope that within the lifetimes of today's young people the current obsessions with race and ethnicity will seem quaint and people will see each other first as people – and maybe as Americans, too.

Lincoln foresaw that day, as did the country's founders, the proclaimers of the Declaration of Independence.

In Chicago campaigning for the Senate shortly after Independence Day in 1858, Lincoln noted that half the people in the country then were not descendants of those who had fought the Revolution but instead were recent immigrants.

"If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood," Lincoln said, "they find they have none. They cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us.

"But when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that 'we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration – and so they are."

The day of deliverance from tribalism has been a long time coming and it is not here yet, but the census shows that it is coming.

Racial and ethnic composition aren't the important things about this country. What is important is the commitment to a democratic and secular culture and to the objective of raising everyone to economic self-sufficiency, reducing the extremes of wealth and poverty so that everyone has a vital stake in that democratic and secular culture.

The census suggests that race and ethnicity will be taking care of themselves, that the country may be more integrated in those respects than some think it is. Economic inequality has become the bigger challenge.

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Not that the United States ever should have cared much about Afghanistan, but how was that country to resist a return of the theocratic fascism of the Taliban when the United States planned to evacuate so many Afghans who didn't want to live under theocratic fascism and most Afghans didn't care much about how they would be governed?

The rationale offered for this evacuation was that these Afghans were helping the United States. To the contrary, the United States was helping them build a country without theocratic fascism.

That effort, costing thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars, failed mainly because most Afghans themselves are indifferent to how they are governed. As soon as the U.S. and NATO troops began to withdraw from the country, Afghan soldiers deserted or surrendered and Afghans who desire freedom failed to mobilize.

If the Afghans themselves cared so little about their freedom, why should the United States have cared more?

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States were not the consequence of the sanctuary Afghanistan provided to some of the terrorists. They were the consequence of the failure of the United States to enforce its own immigration law, to pursue intelligence that a spectacular attack was being planned, and to maintain security in air travel.

Who rules in Afghanistan now will be far more a problem for Russia, China, Pakistan, and Iran than for the United States.

But the United States still fails to enforce immigration law. Even as the federal government and state governments are busy devising social controls in the name of reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the country's southern border is wide open, with the Biden administration admitting thousands of immigration lawbreakers even when they are known to be infected.

The United States can let the Taliban have Afghanistan, but one of these days it should control its own borders.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 21:04. Updated: Wednesday, 18 August 2021 21:06.