Johnson goes on and relates other shenanigans that resulted in establishing the various so called racial categories use by the Census Bureau -- American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, and White -- and determinants of which ethnicities belong in which group.
Is this what America is about? How did we get to this?
It created somewhat of a stir in the black community when the Census Bureau reported several years ago that Hispanics surpassed blacks as the nation's largest "minority" group.
The only reason why anyone would care about this is that the very odious attitudes and ideas that historically provided the rationale for discrimination and persecution have been transformed into platforms for political power, preferences and entitlements.
It is ironic to me that, as we encourage Iraqis to create a new, free society in the Middle East -- as Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Kurds work to create a constitution with just and common rules for governing all -- that we Americans retain the concepts of race and ethnicity in our political formalities. I think it is insulting to all Americans and denigrates the ideal of freedom as we understand it at home and advocate it abroad.
My plea here, of course, is not to ignore ethnic differences. They are crucial. My plea is to remove them from politics where, rather than appreciating them as part of individual uniqueness, they are used to transform people into objects for political manipulation.
Back to Jacques Barzun: "...the race question appears a much bigger affair than a trumped-up excuse for local persecution. ... It defaces every type of mental activity - history, art, politics, science and social reform."
If the idea of race is elusive and abusive, the notion of minority is, of course, absurd. Hence we get ridiculous headlines like the Census Bureau's about "majority minority."
A truly free society understands and respects the fact that there really is just one minority _ each unique individual. Certainly this was the Rev. Martin Luther King's point about "content of character" being the standard to which we should aspire.