The Consequences of American Meritocracy in the Rearview
If you’re reading this and you’re black, I don’t care. Yellow or brown, I still don’t care. If you’re gay, ditto. If your family is from Mexico or China, same.
Basically, if you’re reading this, while I certainly appreciate your doing so, I don’t care about all of those immutable traits over which you have no control…and that includes whether you’re a man or a woman; incidentally, a duality that is not changeable.
Why? Do I hate minorities or people who are different from me? No. I don’t care because none of those things make you special. No more than me being a white, heterosexual male makes me special. DNA doesn’t define us.
There’s never been a society in human history that has thrived based on any of those things. Never. Not once. Europe hasn’t dominated the world for the last 500 years because of them. South America hasn’t been an economic basket case for a century because of any of them. China isn’t transforming into the world’s premier economic and military power because of any of them. No, none of those things matter.
That doesn’t mean they are in and of themselves inconsequential. They aren’t. They exist, and people respond to them. In Ralph Ellison’s seminal work, Invisible Man, a black man goes through life feeling essentially invisible as society doesn’t see him as the man he is; rather their perceptions of him are based on their own prejudices, preconceived ideas, or experiences.
What Ellison was assailing was stereotyping, which, although it has a negative connotation today, was a critical element of the human experience throughout most of our existence. Stereotypes originated as a way for humans to quickly make sense of the world around them. They’re a kind of mental shortcut, reducing complex realities into simplified categorizations as it relates to others. This was particularly important when violence was a normal part of everyday life, and seconds or minutes mattered. Recognizing someone as your enemy or your friend (stereotyping) in a fraction of a second and acting accordingly (discrimination) could mean the difference between life and death, and eyes are the fastest receptors of information humans have. It was at those times when someone’s skin color, hair color, or the shape of their face were proxies for the friend–enemy dichotomy.
At the end of the day, stereotyping is the inverse of being informed. Human evolution and the advancement of civilization have given us far more information than we’ve ever had. And with more information we often discover that what we thought was true, isn’t or might not be. As such, stereotypes become far less important in decision making.
The result is that we now know that there are many factors more useful in the friend–enemy dichotomy than race. Things like how someone comports themselves, how they speak, what they say, and even facial expressions. Of course, unlike much of human history, most of us have the good fortune to not live in situations where we have to make that friend–enemy distinction in a fraction of a second or we lose our lives.
Nonetheless, stereotypes endure, and not always without reason. For years after college I worked as a waiter in restaurants. It was common knowledge everywhere that on average, black patrons tended to tip less than white patrons. That was and is demonstrably true. Some waiters acted accordingly. I didn’t. I approached every table the same way. Usually the tips comported with the stereotype, but sometimes they didn’t. Indeed, the best % tip I ever received, $20 on a $40 bill, was from a black man dining alone.
The point is, although constantly diminishing, some stereotypes persist, and until human brains have as much data as ChatGPT to draw upon, they’re likely to continue. But that doesn’t mean they have to be the criteria we use to impel our actions. Thankfully Americans have been moving away from discrimination based on stereotyping for most of our history. From the Civil War to women’s suffrage to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “content of their character” to the election of a black president, Americans have been seeking to diminish the influence of innate characteristics; and we’ve largely succeeded.
While some differences persist between races or between sexes, the reality is, Americans of all stripes have more opportunity than virtually any place on the planet. Indeed, black median household income in the United States ($38,800) is higher than that of every country in the world but four, while at the same time, the poorest 20% of Americans are richer on average than most Europeans. And the “gender wage gap” is gone, too. What’s more, advancement is alive and well, demonstrated by the fact that 20% of America’s richest citizens are self-made, starting their lives in poor households. The fact that 60% of are self-made from the middle class or below shows exactly how much opportunity there is in America.
But a funny thing happened on the way to leaving stereotypes and its discrimination behind and focusing on content of character; the nation was hijacked by the party of the KKK and Jim Crow. Suddenly, at the very moment when America had achieved something very close to a true meritocracy, the modern Democrat put its only vehicle to power, the Victim Industrial Complex, into overdrive.
Every single aspect of America was now divisive, and anything that didn’t genuflect at the cancerous altar of diversity was racist, sexist, or homophobic. Founding Fathers. Boy Scouts. Football. Pancake syrup. Healthy diets. Math. Punctuality. The justice system. Halloween costumes. Beer. Capitalism. Free speech. Private property. The military. The 2nd Amendment…. Basically anything associated with the creation of the greatest engine of prosperity and freedom in world history was suddenly verboten, particularly if it had to do with Christian, heterosexual white males. In the words of one of the gurus of this cult of division, Ibram Kendi, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” So much for content of character….
Kendi, in speaking for Democrats, thinks that the way forward for the most successful, most diverse nation to ever exist, the one with more opportunity for more people than any in history, is to eviscerate the meritocracy that largely created it and replace achievement as the defining characteristic with skin color. Others in the party want it replaced with sexual orientation, biological sex, or the mental affliction of gender confusion. They want to change the criteria for who can become a brain surgeon, nuclear scientist, or architect from merit to skin color or “gender”….
The only reason these buffoons proffer such inane ideas is that they’ve had the luxury of developing them while living in an ecosystem of security, prosperity, and indulgence created by the very culture they seek to undermine. The absurdity of their position is the fact that 99% of the humans who have ever lived cannot even imagine the prosperity, luxury, security and freedom these snowflakes denigrate.
Which brings us back full circle. No society was ever successful based on race or sex or “gender fluidity”. Such things are tangential at best and virtually inconsequential in modern America. As the clowns on the left seek to aggrandize them and turn back the clock on freedom, meritocracy, and equality, they should be careful what they wish for. When the rule of law is replaced by the rule of man, it’s brute power that makes the rules, and history shows that rarely do minorities thrive in such circumstances.
Follow Vince on Twitter at ImperfectUSA
Image: Free image, Pixabay license, no attribution required.