The Mises Institute monthly, free with membership
Volume 17 Number 12
Freedom of Association
T. Franklin Harris
Proper liberals feigned shock and disgust when the NAACP released the results of a poll showing
that 50 percent of young people believe that racial separation is fine so long as different races
have "equal opportunities." The poll, co-sponsored by the NAACP and Zogby International,
surveyed more than 1000 people between the ages of 18 and 29. An earlier survey found similar
The Baby Boomer intellectuals who make up the liberal intelligentsia are always looking for a
good (read: any) reason to look down on Generation Xers. As a whole, we lack their faith in the
power of the Almighty State and, so, must be rebuked and belittled at every turn.
To Boomer liberals, the survey results are the smoking gun. Not only are those accursed
Generation Xers apolitical slackers, obsessed with their own careers and families rather than with
Social Change, they're-gasp-racists to boot! Why, when they take over it'll be like George
Wallace has risen from the dead! Never mind, of course, that survey after survey also has found
that Generation X is the most tolerant generation in history, even more so than those sanctified
The fact that liberals deliberately obscure-as they have done for more than three decades-is
that there is a profound difference between the coercive, governmentally enforced segregation
and the voluntary racial separation half of Generation X seems willing to accept.
Visit any high-school cafeteria and you will see voluntary segregation in action, not only on the
basis of race, but also along cultural and subcultural lines.
Looking back on my own high- school senior year, I recall how I spent every day's lunch period
with exactly the same people. I think the technical term for my peer group today is "Gothic," but
back then, we were just those "artistic" students who did weird things like read books.
People like to be with those with whom they share common customs and interests, and, like it or
not, even today customs and interests often break along racial lines.Ironically, it is Afrocentric
scholars, using the term "scholar" loosely, who most strongly insist that there are cultural
differences between blacks and whites. The Ebonics boomlet was based on the notion that blacks
and whites even speak different dialects of English.
The NAACP's recent tantrum over the lack of proportionate representation of blacks on
prime-time television is instructive. It isn't that blacks are underrepresented on television; it is
that they are segregated.
Indeed, there are entire channels, like the UPN network and Black Entertainment Television,
where blacks are, if anything, overrepresented in proportion to their numbers in the general
population. Similarly, large cities with sizable Hispanic populations have broadcast stations that
carry only Spanish-language programming. Indeed, the only racial minority group in the United
States without a plethora of media outlets targeting it is the growing Asian American community.
Ironically, Asian Americans don't count to Boomer liberals. Asian Americans have the gall to be
disproportionately well educated and wealthy, and liberals can't forgive them for proving that it's
possible for members of minority groups to get ahead in America without the benefit of the
Nanny State. The lesson in all this is that freedom works.
Liberals pay lip service to "diversity," but actually champion a bland (and liberal) homogeneity.
It is the advent of cable television, for instance, that has broken the government-licensed cartel of
the major broadcast networks, making possible the creation of BET, Lifetime ("Television for
Women"), and all the other racially, culturally and even sexually diverse media outlets now
popping up everywhere. UPN can exist now in part because the Federal Communications
Commission has loosened its draconian station-ownership restrictions.
The liberal dream of forced integration-through school busing and so-called affirmative
action-has failed. Getting back to the NAACP's poll, the results say only that young people
think racial separation is okay, not that it should be mandatory nor that it is better than racial
integration. It is acceptable, and compatible with freedom. That is all. The point is simply that
individuals should have the choice to associate with whomever they want. And allowing people
to associate freely as they please is being truly tolerant.
T. Franklin Harris is online editor and entertainment columnist for the Decatur (Ala.) Daily: