The Corner

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Horses and Water


I devote my Impromptus today to making points about, and singing the praises of, Bruce Bawer’s book The Victims’ Revolution. I thought I would tell a couple of stories here in the Corner. After a preamble . . .

A few decades ago, the Left turned against the old liberal ideal of One America — integration, assimilation, E pluribus unum, and all that wholesome stuff. The Left pushed identity politics, race-consciousness, groupthink, perpetual grievance, “multiculturalism,” and other forms of destruction. About this general mindset, Bawer writes, “If you or I had set out to invent an ideology capable of utterly destroying the America of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the melting pot, we could scarcely have done better.” Absolutely.

Okay, now my couple of stories. Earlier this week, I participated in an event at Yale. And afterward, a beautiful, enchanting high-school senior came up to talk to me, and argue with me. I had made my usual plea for the transcendence of race and ethnicity. And she said, in essence, “Nope, I’m going to be Hispanic come hell or high water.” And I thought, for the thousandth time, “If people want to be members of racial or ethnic groups, rather than Americans or human beings or whatever, there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing. People have a right to define themselves.”

Okay, Story No. 2. I’ve told it before, so longtime readers should feel free to skip it. Years ago, I was working at a public golf course in my hometown of Ann Arbor. We had a variety of leagues, composed of union members, retired teachers, and so on. One league was called, bluntly, “the Korean League.” The league was made up of Korean immigrants and I believe their offspring. And this name “Korean League” offended me — offended my liberal and One America sensibilities.

One day, I drew the head of the group aside and said, “Shouldn’t we call the league ‘the Korean-American League’? I mean, you are part of the American family, and you should not have to put up with separatism.” He thought for a second and said, firmly, “No. We are Korean.”

Okay. What’re you gonna do? You can lead a horse to the water of Americanism, but you can’t make him drink. This is a lesson I know well, much as I may dislike it.

P.S. If other people try to force racial or ethnic identity on you — all the more reason to resist it. This is what such heroes as Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King did. These legacies are now spat on.