Sen. Jim Webb is preaching Civil Rights that don't sound right

(Author's note: This is an excerpt of my weekly column in Also, it was cross-posted at

Last week in the Wall Street Journal Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) opined that federally sponsored diversity programs should be halted. It seems Webb — senator by day, apparently civil rights historian by night — has surveyed the landscape and come to the perplexing conclusion that the most overlooked barrier to climbing the ladder of success in the U.S. is being white.

“After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers,” Webb says.
He continues, “In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.”

The fallacy in Webb’s argument is this: his definition of "racial harmony" seems to be a state where "marginalized white workers" feel good about themselves and their prospects for advancement in social status and employment. But that, to me, isn’t the definition of racial harmony; it’s an ego trip that harks back to the day when WASP elites — who contrary to Webb’s "research" still are very much in control of the levers of power in the halls of congress, academia, and private industry — only faced competition among themselves because laws specifically excluded others.

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