The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the need for the United States government to stop giving preferential treatment in any of its programs and activities based on race, national origin, or ethnicity. The Trump administration is on the right track because it announced this week that it is rescinding policies put in place by the Obama administration that gave racial preferences in the admission process for universities.
Mike Gonzalez and Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation approve of the President’s action because “this type of discrimination is the gateway drug of the identity politics Balkanizing America.” They continue their discussion by encouraging the President to go even further.
To be sure, this week’s action is just the beginning, and the left will fight it tooth and nail. But the administration should go even further. Just last Friday, the two of us published a Heritage Foundation paper calling on the administration to stop giving preferential treatment on the basis of “race, color, national origin or ethnicity in any of its programs and activities.”
Indeed, we think that the administration should stop collecting data, including in the Census, on artificially created ethnic groups, such as “Hispanics” or “Asians,” which bring together under large umbrellas disparate cultures and races. That would really cut identity politics off life support.
A more important question that should be asked on the Census is about citizenship. This question, as well as the question on race, has been asked since the beginning, but now is considered to be controversial. The reason given by the authors for why this question should be asked is that “it would also help weaken the grip of identity politics, a destructive force that is now racializing all of society.” They continue their explanation as follows.
By emphasizing citizenship (but not ethnic ties), the government gives all people, but especially immigrants and their children, the important and inclusive message that it is concerned with their relationship not with the land of their ancestors but with the land to which they now belong.
By 2017, the Census itself would boast that 132 federal programs used Census Bureau data “to distribute more than $675 billion in funds during fiscal year 2015,” a figure which will grow to more [than] $800 billion by the 2020 Census. With this much money at stake, it is little wonder that special interest organizations based on race and ethnic identities have sought, often successfully, to control the Census.