The Danger of Race-Based Politics


Overall, perceptions of worsening racial relations have been building since the Obama years. And now, with everything from the Kate Steinle murder verdict to President Trump’s dog-whistling Muslim tweets, they see destined to worsen further.

Ironically the strongest demand for racial exclusion comes mostly not from traditional racists — still not extinct — but from a campus left determined to address the evils of “whiteness” through policies of racial separation not seen since Jim Crow days. At some campuses, events are held that whites are excluded from and racially separate dorms are being developed. Even at the high school level, there are attempts to be “racially conscious” towards students, essentially teaching them to their racial “profile,” with dubious educational benefits.

President Trump’s unfortunate tendency to go out of his way to offend non-whites, whether they be Navajo war heroes, Hispanics or inner-city African Americans, makes this all worse. The president and the radical racialists both seem to find common purpose in the creation of kindling for racial bonfires.

Race is not the fundamental problem — class is

Some Democrats see identarian politics as the real core of the party and also the most likely course back to power, as the white population drops. The loser here, however, is any hope for racial comity. The rise of racialist politics — pushed by writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates — tends to deepen alienation between ethnic groups. For example, a steadily rising majority of Los Angeles residents now expect another riot in the next five years; that number climbs to 70 percent among younger people.

In California, and some other states, Latino politicians and activists have embraced the notion of “open borders” to the point that some cities, like San Francisco, actually advise aliens with criminal records how to avoid deportation. There is even a notion of downgrading citizenship itself, essentially erasing the border or any sense of shared national identity, more essential than ever in an increasingly diverse country. All this in a state, like California, where more whites are dying than being born since 2000.

Perhaps most tragically, this race-conscious approach does little to address the fundamental problem facing all young people — the lack of jobs that pay anything close to a sustainable family wage amidst soaring rents and home prices. The real issue is a growing class divide, that sees many Americans, including whites, being more downwardly mobile.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Photo: Cabe6403 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons