I posted on this gambit of Obama’s on Saturday, but didn’t say much about it at the time. I won’t go into a terribly extended discussion here either. But I do want to make sure people are thinking hard and clearly about this appalling move. It has a unique power to destroy America: a diabolically insidious power nothing else has had.
I’ll start by simply copying here some thoughts I composed for email correspondents.
It’s an invidious political move, which is why it was slipped quietly into the Federal Register as a proposed regulatory change, just before the weekend. As usual.
The original demand of Syrians was to not be classified by the political narrative of the time about what Asia is. Syrians in fact ARE “white,” in racial terms – unlike Chinese. Syrians are Caucasians. The geopolitical perception of an older era actually obscured that reality about the Syrians, by setting them in the Near East: part of an alien Asia divided into Near East and Far East.
But no one thinks of Syria as part of an Asian “Near East” anymore. In fact, outside of wonks at the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom, no one thinks of Syria (or Saudi Arabia, etc.) as being in “Asia” at all. That area is all imagined today as the “Middle East.”
And the politics of race have shifted too. In the current political narrative of race, Caucasian is equated so firmly with “white European” that college kids are aghast at the idea of non-Europeans being “Caucasians.”
Yet in reality, Asia, including Southwest Asia, and North Africa have Caucasians of varying pigmentation all over them. Beyond the Arabs; India, Pakistan, Iran – all absolutely stuffed with Caucasians. Ancient, indigenous non-Arab peoples in Iraq, the Levant, and across North Africa (even the Horn of Africa). The Caucasus itself, of course, is IN Asia.
Politics has divided “Caucasians” to a greater extent than it has the other major gene groups. The Caucasian world, all by itself, IS the globe’s front line of geopolitical confrontation – and it has encompassed West Asia, North Africa, and Europe (centered on the “Great Crossroads”) in that regard for many centuries.
Geography has played a big role, of course. In the Great Crossroads, it magnified the import of the same kinds of invidious tribal distinctions that other peoples also fight over (i.e., in Asia, Africa, and the Americas). Ultimately, the historical persistence of the pattern and its import has been unique, in the Caucasian-dominated Great Crossroads.
Now, what Obama and the MENA-race activists want is a political distinction in post-modern America, land of grievance and entitlement, for…wait for it…a bunch of people who are increasingly Muslim, as opposed to Christian and Jewish. They want to export to America the pattern of the Great Crossroads, and distinguish Caucasian from Caucasian for political purposes.
Remember how badly it turned out to distinguish Caucasian from “Black African,” for political purposes? Remember how ugly, destructive, and stupid it has been? (Even apart from slavery, which has been practiced everywhere by everyone against everyone.)
Yet at the time, the advocates of that and other like distinctions claimed to have only good intentions. This is no different.
Consider just this one point. Classifying the Caucasian MENA peoples as a separate “race” will mainly divide whom from whom, depending on who is politically motivated to embrace the new race or not? That’s right: Muslims from Jews and Christians.
The new “MENA race,” if it can be installed as part of an accepted narrative, will serve to bolster the false, latter-day political narrative that Jews and Christians are colonizing interlopers in the MENA region. (Because that’s what “white Caucasians” are, wherever they go. The narrative says so.)
Whereas the historical truth is that the Caucasian MENA region is where Jews and Christians came from – and have still remained, throughout the period of Roman and post-Roman development.
Among other things, an invidious racial category in 21st century America will do Arafat’s work for him, seeming to validate the false Sudden Jews narrative about Israel. If Jews don’t say they’re of the “MENA race,” they will by default be (mostly) declaring themselves as white European interlopers. A similar implication will apply to many Christians, regardless of their national or ethnic backgrounds.
This distinction is not useful for any purpose you or I have. It’s only useful for certain narratives of conflict and destruction.
It’s pretty genius, actually. This one move would formally open in North America the socio-cultural and religious rifts that keep the Great Crossroads of the Eastern hemisphere in a perpetual, unslakeable uproar. And thereby make them infect every corner of the earth.
In case it’s not clear, my concluding point is based on the following reality. Jews and Christians from MENA nations will be far less motivated than Muslims are to call themselves members of Obama’s new “race.” Jews and Christians who didn’t come here from MENA won’t be motivated to identify as Obama’s “race” at all.
But if the United States formalizes such a new “race,” as a matter of policy, then how you declare yourself in relation to that “race” will become a defining political factor, and for more and more things. The things will matter, and you will have to choose. In many cases, the choice will be made for you, by the politically motivated. (Who says that all MENA Muslims will want to identify as Obama’s new “race”? But the social pressure will be intense for them to do that.)
That’s what distinctions like this do, instituted formally. They force people to open up conscious divisions against each other. They force great peoples to turn into the Middle East – against whose ancient divisions and resentments the Europe of religious wars looks like the scene of a minor scuffle, long since forgotten.
The whole point of America is to not be such a place. The choices we make here are the last bulwark against the entire globe becoming one. God Himself forbid we should turn into one – through a regulatory filing sneaked into the Federal Register on a Friday afternoon.