The Chief Struggle: Part 2. Race

This is one in an occasional series about how government agents cause or heighten animosity among people in society. See the first part.

There are and have been race-based tensions throughout recorded history. In contradistinction to the lofty ideals of human reason, creativity, and compassion lies the undeniable fact of group tensions, and some of those groups are defined along racial lines.

I remember vividly a story of a former coworker who was in the army. A native of Chicago, he was training in the southeast (South Carolina?), and everyone else there was from the Midwest as well. To begin a weeklong furlough, everyone boarded a Chicago-bound train; since there were more people than seats available, many of the guys were sitting in the aisles on their duffel bags. My coworker and one of his friends decided to ride in seats in the last car since there were only two other people in it. “You have to get off here; this is the colored car,” the engineer explained; they reluctantly complied and sat on their duffels all the way to Chicago.

My coworker, his friend, and the two others in the car were peaceably and voluntarily associating; all four wanted to ride in the same car, and none so much as objected to the presence of any other. However, because of a government law (blatantly unconstitutional to boot!), they were prevented from doing so. Forcible separation of racial groups leads to less understanding between them; if people do not have opportunities to associate with members of an “other,” they do not have as many opportunities to dispel myths an prejudices about the “others.”

Martin Luther King’s work was very promising and starting to bear fruit. In that culture of perverse laws, he fostered voluntary, peaceable associations among people of different races. Unfortunately, a lot of the good he had accomplished was harmed by another perverse set of laws that sought to integrate different races forcibly. Forcing together people who have been trained by a culture—reinforced by the law—to distrust each other has led to terrible consequences.

Unfortunately in the present day, there are still government protections for racial disharmony. Electoral districts are gerrymandered to, according to their defenders, “assure minority representation,” which unnaturally elect more people of a chosen racial group—whatever that group happens to on a given day—to rule over everybody. Government-run colleges accept people from different racial groups according to different standards. These and many other acts of government hinder peaceable relations among people in society.