The Supreme Court’s decision endorsing race and ethnicity as valid factors in choosing law students at the University of Michigan is just a fading echo from the past, according to veteran conservative commentator George F. Will. A tidal wave of Hispanic immigration is washing away “a vanished America’s problems with a binary, black-and-white understanding of its racial composition.” In his June 24 column, headlined “A Crude Remedy for a Disappearing Problem,” Will also rejoiced that “rapidly rising rates of intermarriage further the wholesome blurring of the picture of the nation.” He summed up, “Demographics, not constitutional litigation, are determining the destiny of a post-racial America.”


A quantitative approach, however, suggests a more disturbing picture, one illustrated by the title of a 2002 book published by the late UC Santa Barbara historian and political scientist Hugh Davis Graham: Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America. Without reforms, mass immigration will make ethnic preferences an increasingly contentious and racially divisive issue for future generations.


The key variable in predicting how disruptive reverse discrimination might eventually become is the “racial ratio.” This novel measure refers to how many whites there are to shoulder the cost of preferences relative to each legally protected minority member. All else being equal in this zero-sum game, as the proportion of whites to minorities shrinks due to the demographic changes Will celebrates, the higher the cost of affirmative action per individual white, and thus the more resentment whites will feel toward minorities.


This racial ratio is directly analogous to the well-known ratio of workers per retiree that is central to debates over the future of Social Security. Yet, this whites-per-minority concept is almost unknown in discussions of affirmative action.


Although the Social Security issue places the interests of the young and the old at odds, their being each other’s children and parents alleviates some of the callousness of the conflict. In contrast, fewer family ties exist to temper racial and ethnic struggles, which is why they are so rightly feared.


If the current rules remain, the racial ratio will plummet for the rest of the century. Simultaneously, the electoral power of whites will fall, making it harder for them to obtain redress of their growing grievances through the normal political channels.


This portends a volatile future for the Republic. White alienation will very likely elicit white-nationalist activism, as in Europe in recent years. The authorities will in turn crack down by imposing ever more stifling political correctness, driving white nationalists underground, with uncertain but probably unpleasant consequences.


How did we start down this road?


The Nixon administration invented racial quotas in 1969 to integrate segregated craft unions. At that time, there were almost eight whites for every black, so the average cost per white of giving a boost to blacks in payback for generations of exploitation during slavery and Jim Crow was relatively small.


In the 1970 Census, African-Americans made up 90 percent of the then-recognized minorities, and Americans to this day still tend to think of preferences as applying primarily to blacks.


In 1973, however, the Nixon White House created the Asian racial and Hispanic ethnic categories. Meanwhile, in 1965, Congress had loosened up immigration again after restricting it tightly since 1924. Almost no one thought about the long-term interaction of immigration and quotas. So, federal bureaucrats driven, according to historian Graham, “not only by the country’s history of past discrimination but also by the vagaries of chance, historical accident, logical contradiction, and inadvertence,” extended affirmative action to Asians and Hispanics.


Nobody offered much of an explanation for why immigrants who chose America, presumably warts and all, should immediately qualify for special treatment at the expense of many native-born citizens, but then not many people bothered to ask either. Americans just found it more interesting then, as now, to argue over affirmative action for blacks.


The 1980 Census found 181 million non-Hispanic whites and 46 million “protected minorities,” resulting in a racial ratio of 3.9 whites for every minority. Today, the majority of the beneficiaries of racial/ethnic preferences aren’t black. Indeed, the Census Bureau recently reported that Hispanics (38.8 million) now outnumber blacks (38.3 million). Only 42 percent of protected minorities are African-American. There are only 2.2 non-Hispanic whites per minority member.


In some fields, Asians now bear the burden along with whites of paying for quotas, which eases the racial ratio. For example, Northeast Asians get no benefit in college admissions. If you lump all Asians in with whites, then the racial ratio of the legally unprivileged to the privileged is currently 2.6 to 1.


On the other hand, Southeast Asians sometimes receive a helping hand when applying to universities. Moreover, Asians sometimes benefit from minority enterprise loans and programs that let minorities win government contracts despite higher bids. That’s why South Asian immigrant businessmen successfully petitioned the Small Business Administration to change their race from Caucasian to Asian in 1982.


Finally, the 1991 Civil Rights Act placed the burden of proof on private employers, forcing them to show that any statistical deviations from racial and ethnic proportionality in their work forces was justified by the strict standard of “business necessity.” Some Asian groups such as Chinese for Affirmative Action support racial preferences, in part because self-imposed quotas help Asians break through the “glass ceiling” that they blame for their tendency to cluster in technical rather than executive jobs. Still, no matter which side of the equation Asians fall upon, the racial ratio is likely to decline sharply over the next several generations.


In January 2000, the Census Bureau released its official projections for the 21st century. Over the next 25 years, according the Bureau’s best-guess Middle Series estimate, the number of non-Hispanic white benefactors will rise from 197 to 210 million. In contrast, minority beneficiaries will increase from 92 million to 135 million, reducing the racial ratio from 2.2 to 1.6. By 2050, white payers will barely outnumber minority payees. And, four generations in the future in 2100, there will be 230 million whites sacrificing for 341 million minorities, for a racial ratio of 0.7. That would be an order of magnitude more burdensome per white than when affirmative action began 34 years ago.


Unfortunately, when preparing these projections, the Census Bureau underestimated the U.S. population by six million, in large part because the 2000 Census found 8.7 percent more Hispanics than expected. This means the Middle projection for Hispanics may well be understated.


Further, from 2000 to 2002, the number of Hispanics grew almost 10 percent—as fast as the Highest Projection trend line. In 2002, the actual Hispanic population exceeded the Bureau’s Highest forecast by 9.1 percent.


This implies that the most likely outcome might combine the Highest Hispanic projection with the Middle trend for the other groups. That leads to even more lopsided racial ratios. By 2050, there would be 213 million whites and 240 million preferred minorities. By 2100, there would only be two whites (230 million) for every five nonwhites (563 million, including 413 million Hispanics). Compared to 1969, this racial ratio of 0.4 would be almost 20 times more onerous on individual whites.


Gender preferences for women increase the burden on white males even further. Quotas for women haven’t been quite as controversial because they take from men but often give to their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. So, the net effect on a family as a whole tends to be more mixed than in the case of racial and ethnic quotas, where individuals are battling over the treatment not only of themselves, but of their children and grandchildren. Still, these gender quotas do add to white men’s frustrations.


Of course, the ideal outcome would be for legally privileged groups to improve their performance up to the levels attained by the unprivileged. Women, for example, have moved ahead so quickly that they now outnumber men as undergraduates, making gender preferences outdated at that level.


Sandra Day O’Connor opined in her majority decision, “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” This is of course not a time limit, as many have claimed, but simply an empirical prediction. Unfortunately, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians have not made much progress toward narrowing their academic performance gaps over the last 15 years, so there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for it.


But won’t interracial marriage solve the problem? In general, intermarriage does tend to ease racial tensions, but the current U.S. policy for classifying the offspring of such marriages will only exacerbate the racial-ratio problem. Census respondents in 2000 could, for the first time, identify themselves as belonging to more than one race. This change posed problems for the Clinton administration’s political allies, such as the NAACP, which wanted to maintain the old Jim Crow “One Drop of Blood” rule that counted anyone with any visible sub-Saharan African background as being simply black. This maximized the number of blacks and thus maximized quota sizes.


After struggling for years, the Clinton White House announced on March 9, 2000 that it would indeed let people who are part white and part minority check two (or more) boxes. Yet, for use in civil rights enforcement (in other words, in calculating quotas), the Office of Management and Budget bulletin announced, “Responses that combine one minority race and white are [to be] allocated to the minority race.” That is, the government simply ignores the white box.


This procedure increases the number of minorities for the purposes of discrimination lawsuits, thus increasing quota sizes that firms impose pre-emptively upon themselves. People who are so slightly black that they identified themselves before as white are now counted as only being black.


Clinton even extended the infamous one-drop rule from part-blacks to those to whom it hadn’t applied even in the bad old days, such as part-American-Indians. (For example, Winston Churchill’s American grandmother was welcome in high society despite being one-quarter Iroquois.) Similarly, the Clinton policy applies the one-drop concept to Hispanic ethnicity, which isn’t defined by blood at all.


The upshot is that under this rule, the more that whites intermarry with minorities, the faster the size of the affirmative-action-eligible minority population will go up and the faster the white population will go down, thereby increasing the load on the remaining whites. Besides, in the 2000 Census, 97.6 percent designated themselves as monoracial, suggesting that race mixing still has a long, long way to go before everyone in America is a Tiger Woods look-alike.

What can be done to keep the racial ratio up and racial disharmony down? Some possible steps: count part-white people as white, not minority, or at least as half-white; put Pakistanis and Indians back in the Caucasian race where they belong; reduce immigration; exclude immigrants from affirmative action; limit quotas to blacks and American Indians or dump quotas altogether. And remember, reform is easier now, when non-Hispanic whites cast four out of every five votes than after procrastinating for a generation.  

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Steve Sailer is a columnist for VDARE. com.
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