Thomas Sowell

To most of us, group polarization is an awful thing. But many activists and politicians thrive on intergroup strife, whether in Third World countries or in the United States. No country thrives on it, however. There is growing evidence that more and more Americans are sick and tired of it.

California's Proposition 209, which outlawed group preferences and quotas by state institutions, passed despite all-out opposition to it by the media, the political establishment, and many others. Polls show that most people elsewhere in the country are also fed up with quotas and preferences.

Now there is an effort in California to get a new proposition put on the ballot to prevent the state government from even collecting information on individuals' race or ethnicity. This would put an end to racial bean counting and the demagoguery that goes with it.

The unstated -- and unsubstantiated -- assumption of the racial bean counters is that different groups would be proportionally represented everywhere, in the absence of discrimination. In reality, you cannot find any such proportional representation anywhere in the world, except where there are quotas imposed by government.

Scholars who have spent years studying racial and ethnic groups in countries around the world fail to find anything resembling proportional representation in universities, industry, the military, or anywhere else -- except where there are quotas. Yet the prevailing dogma has continued to insist that anything other than proportional representation is odd and suspicious, when in fact it is the norm. It is demographic representation that is the exception.

Californians wishing to add their signatures to the petition for the Racial Privacy Initiative can download it from the Internet at

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate