In totalitarian societies, the truth is what the dictator says at any given moment. In democratic societies, the truth is what the mass public wants to hear at any given moment.
Faced with the outpouring of civil rights demonstrations in American streets, Kennedy said that he needed to get people off the streets, not that he needed to find dignity for the plight of black Americans. That would come later when it would be palatable to mainstream America.
Politics in America is about the competition of interest groups for political power. Once victorious an interest group does not go away; it escalates its demands.
The civil rights movement started out with demands for basic human dignity. Once those were met, it legitimately demanded equality of opportunity, and once that was achieved, it demanded preferential treatment where equality of opportunity was redefined, in Orwellian fashion, as equality of result.
Flush with success, it now demands reparations where those who never were enslaved will receive compensation from those who never owned slaves, all in the name of virtue and justice.
By nature, humans are tribal. Tribalism is the easiest way to organize people and mobilize them politically.
Until very recently, America was a multi-ethnic society with a dominant culture. That culture is breaking apart as we become more tribal, and we begin to think of ourselves in terms of tribal loyalties, as reinforced by political elites.
Multiculturalism is the great myth of our time. The cliché is, “Our strength is our diversity.” But is it? Military officers sent to Vietnam learned that the enemy’s strength was a homogeneous culture, language, and identity.
There is no real multicultural society on the planet that has not tumbled into barbarism or devolution. Whether Lebanon, which institutionalized multiculturalism in its constitution and exploded into ethnic warfare, or Rwanda, where tribalism descended into barbarism, multiculturalism does not work.
Switzerland is not a multicultural society. It has different language groups with one strong, unshakable identity. The Swiss know who they are. Something we seem to be forgetting.
Ask the white farmers who are being hunted in South Africa like animals, with the eager justification of some black political elites, if Nelson Mandela’s vision of the rainbow society is working.
Minorities will support the idea of multiculturalism as long as it advances their own interests. Consequently, tribalism ironically finds its justification in multiculturalism. In the name of multiculturalism, Muslims want public schools closed on Muslim holidays and halal food in the school cafeterias.
Somehow the tribal aspirations of all cultures are legitimate, unless those tribes are white or Christian.
In the name of multiculturalism, schools have segregated dormitories, student unions, and even graduations.
But imagine if whites wanted to segregate the student union, to have white-only dormitories and graduations? The virtue signalers would descend on the campus in outrage.
Muslims in Seattle wanted their public-school students greeted with a Koranic blessing during Ramadan but let a dozen Christians stand beneath the flag and silently pray in the name of Jesus, and one would think the Constitution was being eviscerated.
The advocates of affirmative action hiring in the name of diversity almost never seek to hire whites where there is a preponderance of minority employees. Diversity is only good when it means hiring minorities in white-dominated situations, not the other way around.
No man or woman wants to be a stranger in their own land, told their culture is illegitimate, or the aspirations of their children must be sidelined because of historic injustices of which they had no part, save that someone with similar skin color was advantaged by them.
We are told it is the essence of bigotry to see the disproportions of black crime and not look beyond race to social and economic factors, but when it comes to the evils of enslavement, all whites are guilty, even those whose ancestors never owned slaves or had not stepped foot in America until slavery was long gone.
The mobilization of tribal instincts is the means for elites — especially the identity-obsessed left — to advance their quest for political power. But in politics, as in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law embraces the political world.
Do not expect whites to sit by idly and be told their culture is illegitimate, and they are responsible for all the evils in the world. Expect that they too will be mobilized on the basis of identity.
In the end, if we devolve into a multicultural society, we will have the same political instability as other multicultural societies. The mobilization of people by identity will create a society that is inherently not viable. It is what the left’s myopic obsession with phony multiculturalism and identity politics will bring.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. This article originally appeared in The American Spectator and is reprinted by permission of the author.