- - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

White America is dying off. Does it matter? It obviously matters to those who are doing the dying. In the long run, however, what is important to the future of the nation is not the endurance of a particular color, but the endurance of the nation’s culture. Together with the decline in the numbers of white Americans, depending on how you define “white,” there’s a diminishing sense that the country is an exceptional place to live. There’s a growing sentiment of good riddance. If American pride in liberty and justice for all is to fade with its changing complexion, it won’t be easy to rekindle.

A recent study by the University of New Hampshire found that between 1980 and 2014, the proportion of the non-Hispanic white U.S. population — mostly of British and European racial stock — fell from 79.6 percent to 61.9 percent, and the study cites Census Bureau data projecting that by 2050, whites will be a minority in America. During the same period, the percentage of Latinos rose from 6.4 to 17.3, and is forecast to reach 29 percent by 2060.

Researchers say natural population declines, defined as a failure of births to keep up with deaths, are occurring among whites in 17 states — up from four states in 2004. An aging population plus an increased frequency of drug- and alcohol-related deaths in the working class have boosted white mortality. Adding falling childbirth rates resulting from the Great Recession signals white America’s decline.

Changing demographics and the accompanying shift in the nation’s ethnic balance are not necessarily a bad thing. In 1993, Time magazine published a cover story on multiculturalism titled “The New Face of America.” It featured a computer-generated female face on its cover blending the nation’s predominant ethnic strains, a forecast of the effects of intermingling of genes. Her race was unfathomable but her beauty was unmistakable. Beauty is only skin-deep, however, and it’s a crucial question whether future Americans will cherish the national motto “E pluribus unum” — “out of many, one.”

For some, the natural progression of racial changes over time is not rapid enough. Cal State San Marcos was host to a Whiteness Forum the other day featuring displays on “how white privilege has oppressed people of color in a variety of ways,” as reported by the website College Fix. “One thing you can do today is to begin to educate yourself about white supremacy and learn how to not support it and how to help eradicate it,” said Dreama Moon, a professor who organized the event.

“Progressives,” as liberals call themselves after years of abusing the honorable word “liberal,” have no hesitation pitting ethnic and socioeconomic groups against each other, believing it to be the most direct pathway to Utopia. Urging civil unrest, like a bull (or even a calf) in a china shop, can exact a heavy price. Barack Obama, America’s first black president, seldom misses an opportunity to slow the nation’s progress with incessant reminders of its past sins. “We have, by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism,” Mr. Obama told “Comedy Central” on Monday, “but the progress we’ve made has been real and extraordinary.”

Americans can tell when they’re being damned with faint praise. A CNN/ORC poll found finds that 54 percent think race relations have worsened during Mr. Obama’s tenure. That’s a legacy that speaks for itself.

The ethnicity of America is evolving as a function of natural demographic progression. Future generations will judge whether the nation remains an exceptional one. It won’t be, if the driving force for social change is obsession with race rather building a community with shared core values. America is exceptional because it has an exceptional culture.

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