Politics & Policy

Obama’s Ethnic Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)
The Democrats’ success depends on continuously promoting hostility between groups.

‘The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only at dusk.” So Hegel reminded us that we fully grasp something only as it approaches its conclusion.

And so it is with President Obama’s project to fundamentally transform the country by, among other things, perpetuating ethnic divisions. This final State of the Union marks the beginning of the end of his administration. It’s a good time to ask: Is the project succeeding?

Judging from the bitter state of U.S. race relations today, it seems to have advanced more than many thought it might when they ridiculed candidate Obama’s community-organizing past as something only a 98-pound weakling would do. “I don’t even know what it is,” sneered Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

What it was, simply put, was important ground-level training in how to stoke dissatisfaction and spread activism across the country, one community at a time. Practiced on a national scale — and combined with a liberal academic’s understanding of Critical Theory’s plan to replace the values of the “dominant group” with the “counter-narrative” of “subordinate groups” — the project meant ensuring that different ethnic groups became politically active while remaining unassimilated.

The fact that the president doubled down on his celebration of “diversity” in his speech last night made it clear that he’s not abandoning this narrative in the twilight year of his administration, a race to the end that promises even more damage.

Is it any wonder that voters are angry and restive? The presidential campaign comes not a minute too soon, and not just because it heralds the end of the Obama experiment, but because it can bring a cleansing debate on an existential issue that, surprisingly, gets little attention.

In a new report, I argue that to embark on this debate, we need to understand how America did things in the past — how it assimilated multiple ethnicities into a single people who brimmed with an exuberance of patriotic spirit as they threw themselves into their shared destiny.

We must also understand what we are doing now by officially dividing the nation into five different groups — Whites, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians — and encouraging their permanence with benefits such as racial preferences.

That the first is the “dominant group” of Critical Theory, and the last four are the “subordinate groups,” as can be seen in the perfectly Orwellian “all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others” language of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It helpfully explains that:

Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfa­vorable treatment of women and minority group members.

Two minority groups — Hispanics and Asians — are made up mostly of immigrants. Designating them as beneficiaries of remedies for a “history” of discrimination would seem suspect if the purpose really were as stated. But in this case the true purpose is to encourage people to culturally segregate.

What this approach may do to the survivability of constitutional, representative government is of some import. To quote John Stuart Mill (who, unlike that other 19th-century philosopher Hegel, did think long and hard on the matter): “free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities.”

“Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist,” Mill wrote in his 1861 classic Considerations on Representative Government.

It’s not that complicated:

A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a Nationality if they are united by common sympathies which do not exist between them and other others — which make them cooperate with each other more willingly than with other people.

President Obama, of course, did not create what has been called “the ethnoracial pentagon,” but he has made plentiful use of it. This is, after all, the president who told Univision in 2010 that Hispanics voters must “punish our enemies” and “reward our friends who stand with us.”

The strategy plan of his Task Force on New Americans — announced in late 2014, right after his executive action on amnesty — leaves out such words or phrases as “assimilation,” “patriotism,” “Americanization,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” It is, however, replete with calls for celebrating and preserving “diverse linguistic and cultural assets” as well as “diverse cultural practices.” It stresses that we must have “bi-literacy and dual-language learning” so as “to maintain native-language proficiency to preserve culture.” Meanwhile, it says, becoming a citizen should be made easier, and activism encouraged.

Last night, Obama showed again that he misunderstands not just the world, but also his own country as it has been till now, when he said, “The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity.” No, the world used to respect an America that was the champion of the representative government Mill espoused.

Two of Obama’s predecessors, Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower, saw where this trend was headed. As early as 1966, while gearing up to run for governor of California, the Gipper pegged it as nothing other than an attempt by the Left to divide the country, the better to transform it.

Ike suggested to Reagan that he put it this way at his first major press conference:

In this campaign I’ve been presenting to the pub­lic some of the things I want to do for California — meaning for all the people of our State. I do not exclude any citizen from my concern and I make no distinctions among them on such invalid bases as color or creed.

Reagan responded:

I am in complete agreement about dropping the hyphen that presently divides us into minority groups. I’m convinced this “hyphenating” was done by our opponents to create voting blocs for political expediency.

After seven long years, knowing what we know, those who vie to take up the Gipper’s and Ike’s mantle should also take up this debate.

— Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at
 the Heritage Foundation.

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