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Is the re-segregation of America inevitable?

March 20, 2015

A group of UC-Berkeley students wants to rename a building for a woman who was one of the most prominent members of the Black Liberation Army when she was convicted for killing a New Jersey State Police officer. In addition, they want to make changes that would effectively create a separate black student body and faculty on campus.

This is in spite of reports that the black students have some 33 black student organizations on campus already.

Hey kids…newsflash. If you segregate yourselves based on your skin color, it doesn’t do a lot to make you part of the larger student body.

Another student group at UC-Irvine wants to remove the American flag from a public, American taxpayer funded space, on the grounds that it symbolizes  “paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy.”

WTH?  Is this what civil rights advocates like Dr. Martin Luther King fought and died to achieve?

In the 1950’s and ’60’s, the best outcome for black people in America was envisioned by people like Dr. King to be integration through mutual respect and opportunity between the races. The goal was to end segregation through understanding, education and love, not by refighting the Civil War for the next 50 years and beyond.

In the 21st century that many of those civil rights pioneers are no longer around to see, the goal of some representatives of racial minorities in America seems to be decidedly more about revenge, payback and becoming even more segregated.

Maybe that’s biologically inevitable. The old saying that birds of a feather flock together may not be something we can overcome.That doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

Our country has historically been open to anyone who was willing to adopt our values. Nowhere in our immigration laws does it forbid anyone to dress or act or speak about their country of origin. It does require that the immigrants agree to defend the values upon which the country was founded, as well as the ground it occupies on the planet.

It would be both unfair and dangerous to suggest that all the University of California campuses only harbor people whose values are apparently far more closely aligned with a militant terrorist group than those of the United States.

It would be equally as dangerous to ignore what appears to be a rising tide of hatred for America and all that it should stand for, racially and politically. If you want to know who ISIL is recruiting, you don’t have to look very far to find candidates.

If you spend your life clinging to the outer margins of societal norms, it’s very easy to feel left out.

While freedom of speech is a right upon which the very fabric of our nation was woven, the right to tear the nation apart is not.

It would appear that the Berkeley students are not seeking to be accepted as equals, but instead are seeking to create a segregated population within the larger student body. Their political intent is being perceived, whether rightly or wrongly, as being defined by those whom they choose to honor.

That also seems to be a large part of the public narrative about race relations in general in our country at present.

Equality is not about conquering each other, or at least it shouldn’t be about that.

People who commit crimes, eschew American values and whose stated intent is to remain segregated from  those who disagree with them rather than interact with civility shouldn’t be surprised when that attitude makes them persona non grata.

Nowhere in our national fabric is woven a thread that says being an American should offer you anything more than a fair chance to succeed. It is that opportunity that the country needs to protect at all costs.

What you make of that chance is up to you.

If our flag symbolizes a standard to aspire to that includes freedom, equality, and democracy, it might be time for all of us, including members of our college faculty and student groups to accept the spirit behind those words, instead of redefining them to suit their own ends.

Equal doesn’t mean greater or better than something or someone else and it certainly doesn’t mean re-adopting segregation within the minority community.

It would be a damned shame, given the untold amount of blood and treasure the nation has spent both within and without its borders to defend it, to redefine equality in terms of separation.

Racial profiling goes both ways, and it is no more attractive from one side than it is the other.

Even given the inherently self-centered atmosphere on college campuses, defining one’s campus existence on the basis of race would seem to be more suited to a propaganda campaign than a desire for equality.

To the extent that any student or person anywhere is made to feel unwelcome for a biological trait or geological circumstance of birth they can neither change or control we may still have a long way to go, but we aren’t going to get there marching backward in lock step.

From → op-ed

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