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If There's A Black Caucus, And A Latino Caucus...
Why not a white caucus? Tom Tancredo speaks out against the racism of race-based caucuses in Congress:

"It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.

"If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses," said Tancredo, who is scheduled pitch his longshot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.

I don't think we will ever have a "colorblind" society -- one of those things people automatically advocate without really thinking. I do think we should have a society where neither race-based discrimination nor special treatment is sanctioned.

Naturally, some jerk comes out to play the race card:

“This story is really about a member of the minority party using intolerance to advance his presidential campaign,” said Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo.

Wow...a politician using a platform to advance his own cause? What a shocker.

The request comes in the wake of reports that freshman Rep. Stephen Cohen, D-Tenn., was refused admission to the Congressional Black Caucus because he is white. All 43 members of the caucus are black.

Cohen said in a statement that he told a reporter that he would be honored to join the caucus but did not apply, "nor has the CBC denied membership to me."

The political Web site, which first reported the issue, quoted Rep. William Clay, Jr., D-Mo., as saying the black membership in his group is "an unwritten rule."

Posted by aalkon at January 26, 2007 10:14 AM


In college, I noticed a few postings on the bulletin board announcing the formation of a "Black Engineer's Society" and a "Women Engineer's Society" and even a "Hispanic Engineer's Society".

I had the gall to ask a friend "Why isn't there a 'White Engineer Society" - a passer-by told me that the entirety of the profession was white, and therefore I was a racist of some kind for even thinking about it.

Race is a divisive issue because someone profits from division. We can either live continuously in the past, avenging long-past grievances, or we can move forward.

From where I sit, it looks like 1962.

Posted by: brian at January 26, 2007 5:21 AM

Isn't there some argument for these forms of positive discrimination as a temporary measure? Many social problems are self-perpetuating, and this is one way to break that cycle.

Having written that, I'm offering odds that Crid will be the first to put me right. :-)

Posted by: Norman at January 26, 2007 6:04 AM

Norman! Norman Norman Norman!

Race isn't a big issue, I loathe the human heart wherever it beats. But aren't all those congress people just snots? It's kinda funny to hear this defended as an "unwritten rule." Last time anybody used that defense was when they made Rehnquist Chief Justice, and he had to explain the exclusion of Jews from his gated community.

Brian- It ain't 1962!

Posted by: Crid at January 26, 2007 6:18 AM

I really should have put money on it.

Probably the nearest we get to these caucuses in the UK is all-women selection for members of Parliament. The same arguments go back and forth. Why should the voters be restricted to women MPs? Surely they want the best person for the job. But why are there so few women MPs? Because there's no role models. So this constructive discrimination against women effectively reduces the voters' choice. Back and forth it goes ...

I find myself in an odd position. On the one hand, I can't see any reason to suppose that genetic differences (such as XX or XY chromosomes) could not have some statistically-detectable effect on people's abilities or predispositions. It doesn't make evolutionary sense to be perfectly even-handed. BUT I absolutely agree that no-one should be prevented from doing whatever they are capable of, on the grounds of race, sex or similar. We don't need to design our society on the basis of genetics. It's entirely unjustifiable because the effects, if any, are more than swamped by individual differences.

So, why are primary school teachers almost all women? Should we care?

Posted by: Norman at January 26, 2007 7:11 AM

Reverse discrimination is OK. The congress doesn't need to follow the same rules it foists on the public.

Don't you peons get it?

Posted by: MarkD at January 26, 2007 10:02 AM

The CBC is kind of a dinosaur. Its defining moment in recent history has to be its failure to persuade a single Senator to officially protest GWB's 2000 election. One would think it would have grown into a more effective and inclusive iteration by now, perhaps only keeping the name as a nod to history (ala the NAA"Colored People"). I'm guessing membership these days serves primarily as election material fodder: "So and so has been a member, and 4 time president, of the Congressional Black Congress, for 20 years . . . vote him in yet again!"

But I am neither black nor a member of Congress, so what do I know?

Posted by: snakeman99 at January 26, 2007 10:22 AM

Race/ethnicity is a pretty good proxy of cultural values and certain types of life experiences, so it seems sensible to want to hang with people of similar ethnic backgrounds sometimes. White students do form groups on the basis of their cultural identities. The LGBT student association has a bunch of Jewish lesbians who do Shabbat together every week. As an Irish-American homosexual male, I guess I could get in a huff about not being invited to the Jewish girls' happy hour, but I know exactly where to find my own brethren on a Friday night: the Mine Shaft in Silverlake.

Last time I checked, Blacks were still represented disproportionately in statistics on poverty, AIDS cases, infant mortality rates, homelessness, etc, etc. Obviously the chips don't fall in a colorblind manner. Not all Blacks are poor homeless people with AIDS, but again -- race/ethnicity is fairly reliable proxy for some very shitty life experiences. Why not allow some members of Congress to show a reasonably increased interest in the nation's disenfranchised -- who are very likely to be Black? Everyone needs friends in high places.

Posted by: Lena at January 27, 2007 2:04 AM

Good site.

Posted by: Alex at February 27, 2007 8:05 AM

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