The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is, like all bureaucracies, humorless and unyielding—and it is no less so when it comes to balkanizing or fragmenting Americans.
Employers must divide the workforce into racial and pseudo-ethnic groups, growls the EEOC, whether the workforce wants to be divided or not.
Here’s a sample of their FAQs on the matter:
Q: What should an employer do if an employee refuses to self-identify using the new race and ethnic categories?
A: An employer may obtain the necessary information from existing employment records or visual observation if an employee declines to self-identify. Employment records and visual identification may be used only if an employee refuses to self-identify. (Our emphasis)
It’s been four decades since the federal government began ordering agencies to categorize all Americans according to the “ethnolinguistic pentagon” of Hispanics, Asian, Native American, African-American, and White. Compulsion to submit has been a hallmark of the effort.
So even if after decades of indoctrination you decide to exercise your rights and refuse to tick that ethnic box, you can’t. Your employer or the faceless bureaucrat sitting across from you will quietly do it for you.
What This Does to Our Culture
The effort to force Americans to self-identify has invaded the entire culture, from school questionnaires to the standard medical forms one fills out at doctors’ offices.
For proof of the type of country these divisions are begetting, you need look no farther than the mayhem taking place at Mizzou and Yale this week, and the role that radical leftist faculty members are playing in the “student demonstrations.”
Over at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, economist Bryan Caplan is blasé about the impact the coercive power of government can have on America.
According to him, society will not harden into permanent subdivisions despite the fact that, from childhood on, external forces condition Americans to identify themselves not as Americans first, but as members of groups defined by race and ancestry.
Caplan is not comparable to the radical faculty we’ve seen trying to incite mobs at Mizzou. He and I have had a friendly running exchange over this issue. In the latest round, he says the numbers don’t show that America is increasingly being divided into groups, mainly because people, as he put it in his last post, are too lazy to listen to government.
I beg to differ, and I worry that, with the government trying so hard to make our differences permanent, and the culture taking its cues from the government, the United States may very well end up a nation of separatist groups and tribal-type enclaves.
Caplan pulls out some numbers from the General Social Survey, some of which are more than two decades old, showing that, by better than 90 percent, Americans are happy and proud to call themselves “just an American.”
But for starters—as Caplan himself acknowledges because he’s an honest debater—some of his own numbers make my point.
In a 2004 answer in the Survey, feeling American was irrelevant to just 7.6 percent. That figure grew to 15.1 percent a decade later. Caplan chalks that up to the waning of the post-9/11 rally-round-the-flag effect. How do we know that?
A Decrease in Identifying as Americans
There are studies, too, that show an increase in ethnic identification and a worrying decrease in self-identification as Americans.
These include studies in what many consider the gold standard of academic works on assimilation: the groundbreaking Legacies, The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, written by two liberals, Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut, respectively of Princeton and UC Irvine, which is part of a longitudinal study that continues to this day.
They find a shift in identification, and it is “toward a more militant reaffirmation of the immigrant identity for some groups.”
Self-identification as “American” diminishes over time.
Children of immigrants, they say, seem “to adopt the ethnoracial markers into which they are persistently classified by the schools and other U.S. institutions.”
In fact, after four years of high school, more children of immigrants choose their parents’ national origin for self-identification. They drop “American” in large numbers because they’re being “collectively channeled into enduring racially marked subordinate statuses.”
How Hispanics React to Being Categorized
Many Hispanics are at the same time not adhering to the groups that the bureaucratic gnomes synthetically created in the 1970s. According to a major 2012 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 24 percent of Hispanic adults identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino, and close to 70 percent say that Hispanics do not have a common culture.
One can almost hear the vexation in the Pew writer’s comment last year that “[m]any do not identify with a specific racial group or think of Hispanic as a race, even though it is an ethnicity in the federal statistical system.”
No less vexed was The New York Times when it discovered last year that as many as 7 percent of those who had chosen “Hispanic” and “some other race” in the 2000 census switched their racial self-classification to “white” in 2010. When the left’s entire political strategy hangs on growing the “colored” minority population, this must come as a hard blow. As the Times put it:
Hispanics are often described as driving up the nonwhite share of the population. But a new study of census forms finds that more Hispanics are identifying as white.
There’s bad news, too, in the 2012 Pew study. A whopping 51 percent of immigrants from Latin America and their children identify themselves by their family’s country of origin. Only a paltry 21 percent say they are “American.”
This points to the possible rise of what John Fonte at the Hudson Institute calls “ampersand Americans,” who are not Mexican-American or Irish-American, but Mexican and American or Irish and American.
This post-nation-state concept is even more worrisome—becoming a nation with hardening group boundaries, in Portes’ and Rumbaut’s expression, or worse yet, with a transnational ethos, that would make America lose the national cohesion that was a common purpose in generations past.
Since I agree with Lincoln that “we shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth,” I view our growing divisions as disastrous.
In other words, Caplan may say that the evidence makes him “sleep easier than ever,” but I am still reaching for my Advil PM.