Jewish World Review May 10, 2012/ 18 Iyar, 5772
By Victor Davis Hanson
Sometimes a trivial embarrassment can become a teachable moment. It was recently revealed that
Not long ago,
However, a glitch arose when it was learned that Zimmerman had a Peruvian mother. By university and government diversity standards, he could be characterized as a "minority." That bothersome fact threatened to undermine the entire hyped narrative of white-on-black crime. So the panicked media coined a new hybrid term for Zimmerman: "white Hispanic."
Note that the media has so far not in commensurate fashion referred to President Obama as a "white African-American" even though he too had a white parent. In Obama's memoirs, we learn that well into his 20s he self-identified as "Barry." Only later did Obama begin using his African name, Barack, which at some key juncture offered a more valuable cachet than did the suburban-sounding "Barry."
Is there anything wrong with such chameleon-like self-identification in an age when universities are full of hyphenated careerists and newscasters awkwardly trill their names to remind us of their particular ethnicity?
In the last 50 years, massive immigration from
For that answer, ask
Identities, in psychodramatic fashion, are sometimes put on and taken off, like clothes, as self-interest dictates -- given that so often they are no longer ascertainable from appearance. If that sounds crass or unfair, ask
Nor is race sure proof of either poverty or past oppression. Asian Americans, for example, have a median family income more than
How long after a Mexican national crossed the border would he become a Chicano eligible for affirmative action? Do Attorney General
In truth, after a half-century in our self-created racial labyrinth, no one quite knows who qualifies as an oppressed victim or why -- only that the more one can change a name or emphasize lineage, the better the careerist edge. The real worry is that soon we will have so many recompense-seeking victims that we will run out of concession-granting oppressors.
How odd (or rather, how predictable) that something that started out as a supposedly noble lie -- that to atone for past bias we must be judged by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character -- has become utterly ignoble and beneath us.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2012, TMS