Jewish World Review April 7, 2000 /2 Nissan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LOVE, IT TURNS OUT, truly is blind -- unless you work for the Clinton White House.
Let me explain: In recent years, Americans have become increasingly multicultural in matters of the heart. Nearly one-tenth of new marriages with a black partner involve a white mate; as many as a fifth include a non-black mate. The mixed-marriage figure rises to more than 25 percent among Filipino-Americans and 50 percent among native Americans.
Furthermore, the rate of such unions is skyrocketing. Douglas Besharov and Timothy Sullivan four years ago reported "a strong, unambiguous trend toward integration within American families -- at a time when so many public figures are bemoaning a deterioration of race relations and a further separation of the races. Moreover, a sharp increase of earlier marriages between the races has already led to a rising number of children who call themselves "mixed."
In recognition of these changes, this year's census gives each of us the option of describing ourselves as a mixture of racial and ethnic groups, such as African American/Native American/Thai/Chinese/White (Tiger Woods fits into this category).
So here's the good news: In contemporary America, as in the tale Romeo and Juliet, love is depriving bigotry of its sting. When lovers gaze into each other's eyes, they see many things -- but color evidently is not one of them.
Unfortunately, the administration wants the federal government to ignore these heartening trends. Budget Director Jacob Lew spread this word in a recent bulletin to all executive departments and establishments. Lew noted that while the Census provides 63 categories of data on the population by race, "the administration will try to simplify things for "use in civil-rights monitoring."
He decreed that "responses that combine one minority race and white are allocated to the minority race." For people who check two or more minority races, the government will "allocate (that person) to the race that the complaint alleges the discrimination was based on." It will make similar adjustments in assessing "disparate impact" cases. In other words, the government will juggle racial descriptions to make it easier for people to sue each other.
For the purposes of civil-rights law, people who check any of the "minority" categories -- principally, African American, Hispanic and Native American -- may be counted as a member of such a group, even if the "minority" relation were 10 generations removed.
Harvard scholar Stephan Thernstrom contends that the change in counting procedures produces downright weird results.
The Lew memo also will swell the number of people who belong to officially designated minority groups. The number of "Native Americans" will more than quadruple, from 2.1 million in 1990 to somewhere in the vicinity of 9 million. This no doubt will produce a corresponding boom in casinos, aid to Indian reservations -- and, of course, lawsuits.
Thernstrom notes dolefully that the law drags us back to the days of Jim Crow and "one drop of blood" statutes. Those laws held that anyone with any mixed-race ancestry was "nonwhite" and, hence, subject to legal discrimination and the odium of segregation laws. The only difference between the Old South and the New America is the choice of weapons. The feds will subdue their prey with subpoenas rather than fire hoses.
Henceforth, mixed ancestry will serve as a ticket to federal spoils, beginning with hiring preferences. Some New Segregationists want the government to prevent white folks from lying about ancestry in order to join the bidding. One can imagine a "solution" out of apartheid-era South Africa: mandatory proof-of-race cards.
Nothing better illustrates the central role color plays in the liberal enterprise. The Lew memo will reignite tensions in a time of growing racial harmony. It also will make life miserable for anybody who runs a business: If payrolls don't reflect the makeup of the local census tract, employers will be assumed guilty of discrimination and subject to federal action. Good luck in Spanish Harlem.
The revised counting method is tailor-made for tort lawyers, rabble-rousers and professional protesters -- all of whom will thrive in a nation that suddenly features tens of millions of new potential victims.
But here's the capper. The memo also means that Bill Clinton, who promised
repeatedly to bring us together, will leave office as the first president in
more a century to resist a social movement toward unity and brotherhood --
so federal departments and agencies instead could honor the logic and