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The Caucasian Club

By Robert S. Sargent, Jr.
web posted October 6, 2003

In Oakley, California, a freshman at Freedom High School named Lisa McClelland has proposed starting a club called "the Caucasian Club." She says she wants to emphasize Caucasian history, and the club would be open to anyone. The school already has a number of race-based groups, including a Black Student Union, a Latino club and an Asian Club.

Why would anyone want to start a "Caucasian" club, since after all they're not a repressed minority? Doesn't it seem understandable that a racial minority would want to have a club that addresses their interests and needs? But as Shelby Steele wrote so profoundly in his book The Content of Our Character, ultimately it's about power. "What has emerged on campus in recent years…is a politics of difference…in which each group justifies…its pursuit of power, through difference alone…Race is, by any standard, an unprincipled source of power…When I make my difference into power, other groups must seize upon their difference to contain my power and maintain their position relative to me." Hence the Latino, Asian, women, and gay clubs, all emphasizing their differences. It was only a matter of time when whites would join the game. As Mr. Steele wrote, "To highlight one's difference as a source of advantage is also, indirectly, to inspire the enemies of that difference."

So we've come full circle, and what is the reaction? According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Darnell Turner, the vice president of the East County Chapter of the NAACP said he was "'…vehemently,' opposed to the name of the club. ‘It is not sensitive to the community we're addressing. The club, in name, seems like a backdoor approach to separation.'" (The Black Student Union, open only to blacks, somehow is not an "approach to separation.") As president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, David Horowitz said, "There is incredible public hypocrisy over the entrenched double standards that have come to be taken for granted by the American educational establishment."

While many conservatives may view Ms. McClelland as some sort of hero, I view the whole concept of race-based clubs as a sad commentary on the state of race relations in this country. The superior moral goal of the original civil-rights movement: integration, a level playing field in all walks of life, a color blind legal system, and so on, has been replaced by a concept of groups segregated by race. The original goal was to guarantee constitutional rights for everyone. Now the goal is entitlement based on race: affirmative action, set asides, reparations.

While I'm against all race-based groups, I hold out some hope for efforts like the Caucasian Club. Any discussion of the damage that race-based groups may inflict has been choked off behind a wall of political correctness. However, the mere suggestion of race-based groups based on "whiteness" forces a response by those championing these groups, and the exposure of the resulting hypocrisy forces a response by those opposing such groups. These "forced" responses can only be good in that they educate people about the balkanization that's happening on high school and college campuses. The result, one would hope, would be an effort to return to the original goals of inclusion and integration, not race-based separation.

Robert S. Sargent, Jr. is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right and can be reached at rssjr@citcom.net.

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