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August 26, 2013 10:58 AM Dr. Dumb-Down’s Race Lecture

By Ed Kilgore

Over the weekend Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his campaign to translate his insights as the Smartest Guy In Every Room to the poor unwashed in overtly patronizing prose, just short in condescension to the use of hand puppets. But this time he chose a topic—race—and a time—just before commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington, that makes this approach especially offensive.

Jindal justifiably begins his happy-talk piece for Politico by citing his own minority racial background, but doesn’t mention the fact that his race was almost certainly a factor in his first unsuccessful bid for the governorship of Louisiana in 2003. Indeed, he treats his own personal career as a long and triumphant example of Louisiana voters defying “journalists’ ugly stereotypes” about their racial attitudes.

But while we’ve made “significant progress” on race issues since 1963, says Jindal, “we have taken some steps backward.” Might that be, say, the incredible persistence of African-American poverty? Renewed efforts to interfere with voting rights? Race-based assaults on the very existence of public education? Uh-uh. Here’s the problem:

[W]e still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few. Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans?” That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our “separateness” is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot.
There is nothing wrong with people being proud of their different heritages. We have a long tradition of folks from all different backgrounds incorporating their traditions into the American experience, but we must resist the politically correct trend of changing the melting pot into a salad bowl. E pluribus Unum.

So there you go: Dr. King could rest in peace if we’d all just shut up about race or ethnicity and all this other PC stuff and just glory in our American identity.

Gee, thanks, Dr. Dumb-Down. That really cleared it up for me.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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