Consider an unlikely example. The Chicago Tribune recently recounted the tale of the Universal School's girls' basketball team. The school is a private Muslim institution. The girls on the team may not be seen by any post-pubescent males unless the girls are wearing full-body robes. That means men and teenage boys cannot attend their games. The problem is that the universe of Muslim schools with girls' basketball teams in Illinois is pretty limited. So the girls want to set up some games with secular public and private schools - on the condition that no men attend the games. That means no dads, no brothers and no male staff members allowed in the bleachers.
Whatever your reaction to this, it's really not comparable to the black experience. These Muslims are asking for segregation - by gender in this case - whereas the black civil rights movement and its gay and feminist imitators worked against the logic of segregation.
Of course, 9/11 doesn't explain everything. Welfare reform and the drop in crime removed two of the most galvanizing political issues driving racial debates. President Bush's decision to drop quotas as a reliable GOP punching bag cooled tempers, too.
There's also the demographic challenge. As we've been told a trillion times, Latinos are the largest American minority. Much nonsense has been written about what will happen when the United States becomes majority nonwhite. But surely the argument that Americans, collectively, owe a debt to blacks will lose some of its resonance in a country where the majority has no lineal connection to slavery or official racism. An interesting peek into this future can be found in the clashes between blacks and Latinos in the L.A. County jails. White racism has barely come up.
America is fortunate that our Muslim population is vastly more moderate than, say, France's or Denmark's. We're debating how to accommodate girls' basketball teams. Europeans are debating their civilization as some Muslims try to overturn the foundations of secularism and call for the beheading of those who stand in their way.
This doesn't mean we're not in for some screaming matches - or worse - as we deal with Muslim Americans as the new frontline minority, or with the dilemmas of Muslim immigration. But those are subjects for a million future columns.
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