With us the two great divisions of society are not rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.
The great majority of intermarriages take place between Hispanics, Asians and whites. If there is a great population of multiracial people, it's almost certain that they will be some combination of Hispanic and white, or Asian and white. Undoubtedly, some of these people will "become" white in our racial discourse. To paraphrase myself, by 2050 or so, we'll have a large population of white people with Latino or Asian last names, and a cultural understanding similar to the descendants of ethnic European immigrants.
Of course, the American racial landscape goes beyond white/black/Latino/Asian. Which is why it's important to understand the significance of a black/non-black divide. On nearly every measure -- from income and education to housing and health -- the distance between blacks and everyone else is large and enduring. Upwardly mobile immigrant groups have always counterpoised themselves against the descendants of slaves in an effort to attain the privileges of whiteness. This is a simplified analysis, but my guess is that the dynamic will remain, with a few alternations. Some ethnic immigrants may never "become" white, but since blackness retains this social stigma, it's very likely we'll understand them as non-black, which in practice, is the same.
This is a depressing perspective. But it's not only the likely truth about our future, it's the truth about our past. The first thing to understand is that race, as we know it, is an invention and a re-invention. You need not go back but a century to see people referring to the "Irish Race" or the "Italian Race." or the "Hebrew Race." Indeed, by the standards of the 19th century racialism, today's "white people" are an unholy, mongrel mix.
And so it has long been with "blacks," an ethnic group whose members range in appearance from Beyonce and Charlie Rangel to Yaphet Kotto and India Arie. I love my family. But the photos from our Christmas Eve dinners immediately reveal that the notion that we're all of the same "race" is not so much a statement of phenotype, but of culture and sociology. It should not be forgotten that both America's president and First Lady have "white" ancestry.
Well-meaning neophytes often suggest that if people of different "races" screwed each other, we'd all look the same, and our problems would disappear. Unfortunately, such magical thinking underestimates the abiding complexity of human thought.In fact people of different "races," have been screwing for over two millenia. Our response--over the past 500 years--has been to invent more races.
The focus on sex, and even child-bearing, is ultimately obscuring. Miscegenation is a term invented during the run up to the Civil War. It specifically refers, not to sex between various races, but sex between blacks and whites. By that point, "miscegenation" was so widespread that it had reached the White House. But it changed nothing. Sex was never the point. Preserving power for a Calhoun's broad American aristocracy was. The thinking was not limited to the South and did not die after slavery. The first suburbs bore those same pretensions of a broad gentry. And almost every one of them excluded blacks. The impact of that exclusion, and that mindset haunts us to this very day.
It's flattering to think our open sexual selves might erase the last vestiges of the white supremacy. This is exactly backwards. Our increasingly open sexual selves (to the extent they exist) are the result--not the cause--of the fall of white supremacy, all of which have led us to a place where a black man is in the White House.
But "whiteness" remains the big tent, resilient against the entreaties of one. It is the exclusion of that "one" which gives the thing meaning.
Defining common cultural literacy for an increasingly diverse nation.
Is the culture war over?
That seems an absurd question. This is an age when Confederate monuments still stand; when white-privilege denialism is surging on social media; when legislators and educators in Arizona and Texas propose banning ethnic studies in public schools and assign textbooks euphemizing the slave trade; when fear of Hispanic and Asian immigrants remains strong enough to prevent immigration reform in Congress; when the simple assertion that #BlackLivesMatter cannot be accepted by all but is instead contested petulantly by many non-blacks as divisive, even discriminatory.
And that’s looking only at race. Add gender, guns, gays, and God to the mix and the culture war seems to be raging along quite nicely.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?
1. Youngstown, U.S.A.
The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977.
For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.
Former Senator Jim Webb is the fifth Democrat to enter the race—and by far the most conservative one.
In a different era’s Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination. He’s a war hero and former Navy secretary, but he has been an outspoken opponent of recent military interventions. He’s a former senator from Virginia, a purple state. He has a strong populist streak, could appeal to working-class white voters, and might even have crossover appeal from his days as a member of the Reagan administration.
In today’s leftward drifting Democratic Party, however, it’s hard to see Webb—who declared his candidacy Thursday—getting very far. As surprising as Bernie Sanders’s rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does. The Virginian is progressive on a few major issues, including the military and campaign spending, but he’s far to the center or even right on others: He's against affirmative action, supports gun rights, and is a defender of coal. During the George W. Bush administration, Democrats loved to have him as a foil to the White House. It’s hard to imagine the national electorate will cotton to him in the same way. Webb’s statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw. (At 69, he’s also older than Hillary Clinton, whose age has been a topic of debate, though still younger than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.)
The retired general and former CIA director holds forth on the Middle East.
ASPEN, Colo.—Retired U.S. Army General David Petraeus pioneered America’s approach to counterinsurgency, led the surge in Iraq, served as director of the CIA for a year, and was sentenced to two years probation for leaking classified information to his mistress. On Wednesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, he was interviewed by my colleague, Jeffrey Goldberg, about subjects including efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program; the civil war in Syria; ISIS and the threat it poses to the United States; and the Iraq War.
Here are several noteworthy moments from their conversation, slightly condensed:
The Risks of Attacking Iran
Jeffrey Goldberg: So you believe that, under certain circumstances, President Obama would still use military force against Iran?
David Petraeus: I think he would, actually. I know we’ve had red lines that didn’t turn out to be red lines. ... I think this is a different issue, and I clearly recognize how the administration has sought to show that this is very, very different from other sort of off-the-cuff remarks.
Goldberg: How did the Obama administration stop Israel from attacking Iran? And do you think that if this deal does go south, that Israel would be back in the picture?
Petraeus: I don’t, actually. I think Israel is very cognizant of its limitations. ... The Israelis do not have anything that can crack this deeply buried enrichment site ... and if you cannot do that, you’re not going to set the program back very much. So is it truly worth it, then?
So that’s a huge limitation. It’s also publicly known that we have a 30,000-pound projectile that no one else has, that no one else can even carry. The Massive Ordinance Penetrator was under design for almost six years. ... If necessary, we can take out all these facilities and set them back a few years, depending on your assumptions.
But that’s another roll of the iron dice, as Bismarck used to say, and you never know when those dice are rolled what the outcome is going to be. You don’t know what risks could materialize for those who are in harm’s way.
You don’t know what the response could be by Iran.
There’s always the chance that there will be salvos at Israel, but what if they decide to go at the Gulf states, where we have facilities in every single one.
This is not something to be taken lightly, clearly.
The Disney CEO and the Oscar-winning actress compare notes on Hollywood.
Midway through Goldie Hawn and Michael Eisner’s on-stage conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday, the former Disney CEO proposed a theory for what made Hawn stand out in Hollywood over the years.
“From my position, the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman,” he said. “By far. They usually—boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online—but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you being an exception, are not funny.”
It’s a statement that recalls Christopher Hitchens’s Vanity Fair essay, “Why Aren’t Women Funny?,” which drew big controversy upon its publication in 2007, given the success of women comedians from Lucille Ball to Tina Fey. For her part, Hawn said she agreed that she may owe her sense of humor to her being an “ugly duckling” growing up.
“I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals. I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants.”
If the U.S. and Iran conclude a nuclear deal next week, the Islamic Republic stands to gain billions of dollars in eventual sanctions relief. But money isn’t the most important reason the Iranian leadership may be set to shake hands with its historic enemy after 18 months of negotiations.
“One of the most important reasons Iran is signing this deal, in my opinion ... is not actually sanctions,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “It’s ISIS. There is actually support for this deal within the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, because their day job is right now fighting ISIS, and they need the United States, particularly in Iraq, on the right side of that fight.”
But despite its ancient roots, America’s salad sector wasn’t always so vibrant. Paul Steck, President and CEO of Saladworks, remembers when people weren’t so excited about greens. The chain started in 1986 and has more than 100 franchise stores in 15 states; the company emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year.
“We were founded 28 years ago,” said Steck. “At the time, salads were essentially a side dish ... the old-school knock was that salad is rabbit food. The modern salad is anything but.”
It wasn’t that bad. But it did help me understand why it made people so angry.
From the Gray Lady, a Modest Dip Proposal. On Microblogging Platform, a Furor. For Peas, a New Use. There are times when The Times out-Timeses itself, and then there was Wednesday. The country's largest newspaper smugly tweeted a link to a recipe for guacamole. One made with peas. "Trust us," it read.