I have been reading of late some histories of Germany in the 1930's, with a particular emphasis on racial laws and policy. Over time the expanding bans on Jewish participation in the economy and society as well as preferences given to non-Jews for government jobs led to some practical problems, including:
- What percentage of Jewish blood made one Jewish? The Nazis messed around with this problem a long time, in part because of Hitler's absolute reluctance to get involved in such details. Was it one grandparent? Three grandparents?
- How does one test for such things? In the thirties, there was an boom in geneology research in Germany, as everyone raced around trying to figure out what evidence was sufficient to establish someone's race
It would be nice to think we put this kind of thing to bed, but here we are in the 21st century running around trying to answer the exact same questions
- Does 1/32 Cherokee blood make Elizabeth Warren the member of a protected group? Does 1/8 black blood mean George Zimmerman is not a racist?
- We are building infrastructures to make rulings on race. I found this story amazing
This story reminded me of the 1980s case of the twin red-haired Boston firefighters who claimed to be black, based on a photo of a great-grandmother and alleged oral history. While I remembered that they had gotten fired for their alleged fraud, I didn’t remember this detail:
Under current rules, said [general counsel to the state personnel office] Ms. Dale, candidates who say they are members of minority groups are judged by appearance, documented personal history and identification with a minority community. Disputes over claims of minority status are resolved by the Department of Personnel Administration.
And indeed, there eventually was a two-day administrative hearing, in which the hearing officer determined that the twins failed all three criteria, and thus were not black. A judge upheld the ruling, finding that the twins had claimed minority status in bad faith.I have to admit being under the impression until now that as a legal matter, minority status was an in issue of self-reporting. But at least in the Massachusetts Civil Service system, one can get fired for “racial fraud.”
- Every year, in the name of some sort of racial harmony, I have to sit down and report to the government on the race of each of my employees. For 364 days a year I can ignore the race of my employees, but one day a year the government makes me wallow in it. Here are part of the instructions:
Self-identification is the preferred method of identifying the race and ethnic information necessary for the EEO-1 report. Employers are required to attempt to allow employees to use self-identification to complete the EEO-1 report. If an employee declines to self-identify, employment records or observer identification may be used.
Where records are maintained, it is recommended that they be kept separately from the employees basic personnel file or other records available to those responsible for personnel decisions.
Race and ethnic designations as used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission do not denote scientific definitions of anthropological origins.
I am told we are trying to create a society free of racism, but the results sure look a lot like racism to me.