Ever since the Civil Rights movement became a “Grand Myth”, the 20th Century equivalent of wagon trains headed West and the Minutemen at Concord, an activity so redolent of national values that it becomes a metaphor for what being American is, every generation has been given its marching orders to fight for a new equality.
Fighting against inequality requires inequality in the same way that Manifest Destiny needed land
area to work. It becomes harder to spread out once you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean. Fighting for civil rights becomes a struggle when everyone has the right to vote, drink from water fountains and do everything else.
After that it’s all imaginary territory. You aren’t really expanding the borders; you’re just paving over swamps, slopping split level housing all over them and pretending that the next lawsuit over racial profiling or the article over pay inequities is just like those people in the black-and-white photos marching at Selma.
Racism is a resource and like every other resource, it’s in danger of running out. We hit Peak Racism decades ago. Peak Sexism peaked even earlier. Even Peak Homophobia peaked a while back. The cool kids are trying to push Islamophobia while peddling worn copies of Edward Said’s Orientalism that the campus book store refuses to buy back at more than 10% of the sale price, but once you get past the keffiyahs and a 10 year-old photo of what looks like a guy in black Klanwear in Iraq, (which looks like the world’s most confusing hate crime), the calm waves of the Pacific Ocean are there telling you that maybe it’s time to put away that thesis on “Othering in The Simpsons” and enjoy your job as Director of Sensitivity Innovations in the Department of Human Resources.
Fighting for equality stopped making sense when everyone became legally equal. Bringing back the word for a battle over gay marriage was refreshing after it had to be buried for so long during the long march through affirmative action and all sorts of positive discrimination gimmicks. But that’s just a blip on the radar.
Equality stopped being the issue before most of the people fighting inequality today on a professional basis were even born. Instead the issue became carving out niches of inequality that would preserve “inequality safaris” for the edification and lawsuits of future generations.
Bigotry is too prized a resource to just watch it drain away in some communal pool of brotherhood and sisterhood. The only thing to do is to find ways to dam it up and create national parks of bigotry that will allow future generations of civil rights warriors to rough it by camping out under the burning crosses while admiring themselves for their artificial courage in defense of a manufactured cause.
So instead of equality, there’s diversity that opens up a door for a select few while closing the door for everyone else. Instead of merit hiring, there’s quota hiring. That means one black guy in the boardroom, one Asian woman at the meeting and one Latino guy in the White House. (And the GOP, knowing the stats, and having missed out on the black guy, wants it to be their guy.) And that’s all you get.
The quota can be increased.