A Pro-Capitalist Anti-Racist Christian Retelling of American History
American history is being rewritten and will be rewritten. That’s because any country tells history in a way that makes them feel good and fosters their ideals. But fewer than half of America’s school children identify as White today. Many of these kids don’t imagine themselves in the thrill of Paul Revere’s nighttime ride or feel their pulse quicken at Patrick Henry’s heroic, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” It’s not believable to say “we” when talking about America’s past role in the world when your ancestors would never have been accepted in it.
Change in our country’s ethnic composition must be met in our storytelling, and we’re struggling as a country to find a new consensus story. There can be regional variation in how kids are taught history but only to an extent. The U.S. truly has a national culture, which dictates that the country agree on a mainstream consensus about how we all got here.
My problem is that those re-writing the history are mostly whiny socialists, and they’re doing it badly. Meanwhile, those of us who embrace traditional American ideals, eat meat, and celebrate capitalism are resisting change. It’s a losing battle. We cannot expect the new majority of non-white kids to accept a backstory that belittles their families. Equally, we cannot expect the plurality of white kids to accept a backstory that belittles their families. Conservatives need to participate in writing a more inclusive version of U.S. history.
My goal is to spark a re-telling of U.S. racial history that encourages proud, self-aware patriotism in any American student. We want kids’ tribe to include all of multicultural America. I want a second-generation Vietnamese immigrant and her White classmate to both proudly say “we” about America. But ancestors from those cultures didn’t get along. Resolving this impasse demands a signficant sacrifice in our story telling: Kids can no longer identify so closely with historical U.S. figures. “We” didn’t write the Bill of Rights—the Americans of that time did (James Madison, actually). “We” didn’t drop napalm on Vietnam—the U.S. army did.
Many countries face this same dilemma. Usually, there is a cutoff point. British say “we” about recent history, but not about whoever built Stonehenge. Chinese people don’t feel pride or shame about Cao Cao from 2000 years ago—he’s just part of the story. Germans say “we” about 1995, but not about 1945. This philosophy is consistent with the conservative critiques of Critical Race Theory that you cannot condemn people for things they didn’t do. It’s also consistent with Jesus’ words that the Pharisees were guilty for their forefathers having prophets killed the prophets because they did as their fathers did. “We” must look resolutely at the good and the bad of our forefathers, recognize how it influences us today, and chart our own path.
A Christian View of Race in Historical Context
(You’ll notice lots of Bible references as you read on. I’m writing for my children. A unifying retelling of American history can cater to each person’s beliefs—and mine are Evangelical Christian.)
Who are we? And who are they? We are children of God - nothing more, nothing less. If our worth comes only from God, all people are equal in the sight of God.
Whose side am I on? As Christians, we are citizens of heaven not Earth. Jesus warns us that we bear the guilt of our ancestors if we continue their sins. We don’t need to defend or be bound by our culture’s role in history.
Old World / New World Asia, Europe, and Africa are connected by land, accounting for about 60% of world land area. That’s the “Old World.” The “New World” – the Americas (31%), Australia (6%), and other islands – were physically disconnected.
Europe conquered the world In the past 500 years, European (white) countries either conquered or controlled nearly every country in the world. Guns, Germs, and Steel is a book that brilliantly explains how that happened.
What color are the continents today? In Africa and Asia, the indigenous people mostly survived since they already had immunity to European diseases. In the “New World,” the indigenous population was mostly killed by Eurasian-African diseases and European oppression. The Americas, Australia and islands are now populated mostly by descendants of European conquerors, along with
- surviving indigenous people,
- descendants of slaves brought by those conquerors, and
- more recent immigrants.
Colonialism is recent! The oldest people today were born during the peak of European world domination. World War II brought the end of European colonialism (mostly - there’s still Guam). If you’re white, it’s likely your parents grew up in a neighborhood where black people were stopped from buying homes. I grew up in one of those towns.
Racism is a hangover from European conquest It’s no mystery why sinful, natural minds from any culture might be pro-white racist. Whites ruled the world for 500 years!
What would Jesus do? Just like Jesus warned the Pharisees they would be guilty of the sins of their ancestors who killed the prophets if they held those same attitudes (Luke 11), we are guilty of the sins of colonialism if we hold the same attitudes as our ancestors.
- Embrace the equality of all people before God,
- Recognize the moral danger of using power to put down weaker people, and
- Collaborate to right wrongs of the past and restore the status of historically oppressed people.
America Descends from an Apocalypse
Garfield Minus Garfield is a literary gem. With Garfield’s character removed from Garfield comic strips, Jon is revealed – depressed, absurd, and pitiful. I challenge you to try the same trick with the early history of Europeans’ arrival to America. Avoiding focus on European experiences, you’ll clearly see the apocalypse that consumed our continent.
In short, aliens invaded America, starting where Haiti is today. They enslaved the local humans while alien diseases spread across the land, killing 80-95% of the population over time. Soon, the first aliens started bringing in other aliens they had already subjugated on a third continent to start farms. For a long time, civilization decayed in freedom, hearing rumors of the aliens and dying under wave after wave of their plagues. Eventually, the aliens and their slaves arrived, subjugating or killing the remnant of people who survived. Only shadows of those societies remain today, most notably in descendants of the Aztec and Incan empires.
From African slaves’ perspective, they arrived to the smoking ruins of America on prison transport ships – traded from one captor to the next. Life was nasty, brutish, and short. For the first couple hundred years, many more aliens came to America as slaves than free, but slaves were killed quickly by the work and left few offspring.
Over time, the situation evolved. Children were born with no memory of life before the apocalypse. Europeans settled colder, remote parts of the continent like New York where their farms could not sustain or contain African slaves. European technology improved, and they built bigger cities with little use for slaves. Eventually, the surviving African slaves fought for freedom in some places and were released in other places. Now, the Europeans wanted nothing to do with the Africans. Where African descendants and surviving indigenous people were the majority, Europeans practiced containment, interacting and disrupting their societies only when it served the Europeans. Where African descendants were a minority, they lived as strangers in their own land, excluded and oppressed by those with power.
Much has gone right in America since the apocalypse. The United States is an exceptional country. But Columbus’ arrival to the American continent kicked off an undeniable apocalypse. We still bear scars from the hellish beginning of modern America. Columbus Day is a remembrance, not a celebration.
You are not your ancestors. For Christians, Jesus speaks to this issue in Luke 11:47-51. If our ancestors “killed the prophets,” our “generation will be held responsible for it all” only if we follow in their footsteps. Seeing this sinful world clearly – especially our ancestors’ role in it – is paramount to avoid the coming wrath. Build your identity on Christ the solid rock.
The modern self-image of many cultures requires dissociation from elements of ancestral cultures. Today’s Germans condemn the Nazis. My wife, a Christian from Namibia whose recent ancestors were converted by missionaries, values her culture but avoids the parts linked to folk religion. Rome lied to itself that it descended from Greeks; White Americans lie to ourselves that we’re descended from Rome. In fact, I’m more likely descended from the “barbarians” who overthrew it – or a remote Irish tribe that wasn’t even involved.
If you feel a sense of loss about switching America’s origin story from positive to negative, remember that “it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven”. Humility is healthy. Also, a lot of other stuff happened besides oppression. We can honor the good parts of our history without being trapped into defending the bad.
America’s Place in the World
The world is a big place—but not so big that it cannot be summarized. The US has 5% of the world population. If there were 20 random people in a room, probably one of them would be American. This post is an attempt to show America in scale compared to the rest of the world.
Most of the world is Asia
First, let’s debunk a typical way of summarizing the world. Continents. Grouping people into 7 continents is a nakedly Eurocentric idea. The two most populous continents by far—Asia and Africa—are the least dominated by White people. The other four continents include Europe and societies dominated by European settlers (North America, South America, and Australia). Pretending Europe is a distinct continent from Asia is particularly bold since it’s one landmass, especially in view of the diversity contained within Asia. Most of the world lives in Asia.
Next, please spend a moment to visit the World Population History map. Watch the video, where each yellow dot represents a million people. Below are screenshots from the years 0 AD, 1000, 1500, and 2000. China and India have always been home to most of the world.
What’s more, China and India have produced most of the world’s wealth for most of history, as late as the 1800s.
European colonialism was huge
An old joke goes, “The sun never set on the British Empire…because God didn’t trust them in the dark.” In the 400 years from Columbus discovering America to WWI, European countries conquered all but about 10 of today’s roughly 200 countries. Note that Eastern Asia—China, Korea, and Japan—was the largest region never colonized, in keeping with their historical powerhouse status.
Interestingly, the whole time Europeans were invading the rest of the world, they were also invading each other. Wars to conquer each other’s territory were a constant in European history. Finally, with WWI and WWII, the Europeans cracked up. A house divided cannot stand. They completely devastated each other and lost the ability and will to subdue their colonies.
It’s worth asking why Europeans wanted to take over the world, since that’s related to why colonialism stopped. One simple motivation was to steal stuff like gold and jewels. But a deeper motivation was trade. It’s very hard to get rich without trading partners, since countries are usually only good at producing a few things. By conquering other places, Europe could turn them into trading partners. For example, British folks could produce more wool blankets than they could use. By expanding into America, colonists there could start producing items Britons valued and buying items Britons produced. Almost magically, Britain could go on producing lots of wool blankets, but start consuming a much broader variety of items more easily produced elsewhere like cotton, tea, silk, etc.
After WWII, not only was Europe in tatters; their colonies were sufficiently transformed so they would remain trading partners without European domination. Europe had spread its production technology throughout the world, remaking the world’s economies in its image. Thus, colonialism prepared the ground for modern trade between independent countries, which has the same benefits without so much cruelty.
Pax Americana and the US Role in Colonialism
The early history of the US was expansionist, steadily conquering more territory until we reached the Pacific Ocean. The goals and effect were pretty much the same as colonialism, just over a connected area. Tomayto, tomahto. (Russia grew to its current size the same way, via expansionism rather than colonialism.) With nowhere to keep expanding, the US started taking colonies in the 1890s (Phillipines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.), but it was no longer a good economic strategy. Having trading partners was just as good and less messy. In 1899, the US pushed Europe to not colonize China (which would have shut the US out) but to instead require it to trade with everybody. Similarly, in 1853, the US threatened Japan to force them into trading rather than try to colonize Japan outright.
As mentioned earlier, Europe let go of its colonies after WWII, spawning new independent countries all over the world. Like a newborn fawn, new countries typically fall down a few times before they gather the strength to stand up. It’s a vulnerable and volatile process. It was in this context that the US took on the role of World Police, afraid of communists exploiting power vacuums. At the time, with Europe and China in smoking ruins, the US accounted for 50% of the world’s GDP. To flatter ourselves, we call the period since 1945 the Pax Americana, or American Peace.
Relatively free trade between independent countries, enforced by the American military, has been good for us and good for the world. Notice the stark change in world GDP growth that happened in 1950 in the chart below. Nations regained their self-determination. China and India, those old stalwarts, are coming back.
Paradoxically, Pax Americana meant a relinquishing of control not only by Europe but also by America. Free trade benefits both parties and technological innovations in rich countries quickly spread to poorer countries. In economic theory, this type of level playing field tends to produce faster growth in poor countries than in rich countries, allowing the poorer countries to catch up over time (with some caveats). Since 1960, the economic importance of Europe has fallen off a cliff while the importance of Asia has skyrocketed. The Americas held their own until 2000, after which we followed Europe’s path.
In 1945, America was a self-consciously White society, grounded in ideas of White supremacy. So its an interesting legacy that the height of American power, Pax Americana, has shepherded the end of White domination both around the world and in our own country.
Pax Americana and America’s role as World Police are under strain. The conditions that allowed it–America having 50% of world GDP—have changed. The only way for America to continually make itself richer is by enabling its rivals to catch up via foreign trade. And arguably the conditions that required Pax Americana have also changed—a spate of new countries and trading partners vulnerable and struggling to be free. It’s said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”
The European powers kept the benefit of trading even after they let go of their colonies. Will America keep the benefits of free trade if its military withdraws?
One could argue that Europe held on to control for too long, until it blew up in the form of WWI and WWII. Can America move gracefully past Pax Americana without a catastrophe?
America is Exceptional, even if Americans Are Not
Our history isn’t all happy. Our country’s best traits aren’t all intentional. But the end result is special.
American Exceptionalism is the idea that the U.S.A. is special in the world. We’ve changed the world with our liberty, equality before the law, individual responsibility, republicanism, and laissez-faire economics. I’ll argue that’s mostly true, but not because we’re heros and saints. God didn’t create a special breed of `Mericans. All the pivotal people and moments were helped by historical accident.
It means we can recognize America’s greatness without blinding ourselves to its failings. And it means anybody, from anywhere can help make America great.
I argued above that modern America-the-continent started with an apocalypse. The indigenous empires and tribes collapsed under wave after wave of disease. Hellish work camps were built in its wake, in the most fertile zones, powered by the surviving natives and masses of kidnapped Africans. Dan Carlin’s recent Hardcore History episode about this era paints a clear and sobering picture. The European overlords recognized this horror, but were making too much money to stop. Their (super racist, Medieval) attitude was pity for the savages and pity for themselves having to live among savages.
It was in this context that the 13 future-U.S. colonies were founded. The southern British colonies’ geography and climate allowed the same model based on Europeans exploiting Native Americans and/or Africans found throughout most of America. But the land and sparse pre-existing population in the northern British colonies could not support this exploitative model. Instead, a European settler society was born – obsessed with freedom and racial purity, seemingly in response to the bondage and racial mixing happening in the rest of America.
Today, we still celebrate the Enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality, etc. that helped motivate the American and French revolutions and that underpin the greatness of America today. Unfortunately, the same authors writing about liberty were also developing pseudo-scientific race-based justifications for why those ideals could not apply to everybody. Democracy was for a “civilized” in-group, not for the “un-civilized” out-group.
Already at its founding, the U.S. understood itself to be a diverse nation of immigrants. But the diversity of early (free) immigrants was limited to a few countries in Northern and Western Europe. Eventually, Southern and Eastern Europeans were accepted, but that was it. For the 350 years of colonial and U.S. history until 1965, immigration from Asia and Africa, 80 percent of the world population, was mostly forbidden. Only European immigrants were welcomed.
However, two sources of non-European diversity were always baked into the United States. Indigenous tribes obvously lived on U.S. territory before Europeans arrived, and many inhabitants of Mexico were (and are) fully or partly indigenous. Regulating immigration between the U.S. and Mexico has never been fully possible. In addition, African slaves and their descendants have always made up 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population.
The society of Enlightenment ideals established in the U.S. was – and is – a great system for the people it includes. People were in charge of the government, not vice versa. Power was spread out, so nobody could become a king or dictator. People could try their luck at whatever and worship as they wanted. The place thrived, creating art, science, technology, culture, business, and more. Unfortunately, as we’ve said, that freedom’s coverage was pretty narrow at first: land-owning men descended from Europeans.
(If there was ever a special breed of Americans, it was the Founding Fathers. The smoothness with which the U.S. won a war for independence and slid straight into being a republic is nothing short of miraculous. Love them or hate them, what they built has stood the test of time.)
Fortunately, our government and its power to control Americans’ lives is weak by design. This makes it harder for elite groups to hold on to power. A constant feature of U.S. history since its start has been a continual loss of elites’ grip on power. With each loss of power, American freedom has been extended to a larger group. Poorer White men with no land were allowed to vote. Enslaving people was outlawed. The definition of White was expanded to include “lesser” Europeans like the Italians and Irish. Women gained full citizenship rights.
Finally, in the 1960s, government support for maintaining a monoracial White America collapsed. Race-based discrimination was made illegal and immigration from Asia and Africa was allowed. The results have been dramatic.
African Americans began taking their rightful place in mainstream society. All-White-by-design towns and neighborhoods in the Northern U.S. integrated. Unprecedented migration (legal and illegal) from Mexico and the rest of Latin America started in the 1990s, growing our population enormously. Immigration from Asia and Africa has built slowly from a tiny base, since most visas are awarded to family members. But since the mid-2000s, Asians account for over a third of new immigrant arrivals. Immigration from Africa is growing quickly too, further blurring the link between dark skin and culture as James Baldwin predicted in 1965. Since 2012, less than half of American-born babies are White.
In some ways, this change in the face of America since 1965 is unprecedented. Many White Americans feel a bewildering loss of control, and there is backlash. But in other ways, it’s a continuation of America’s modus operandi. Once more, the group that was in control, lost it. British immigrants gave way to Germans, who gave way to Italians, who gave way to Irish. Each new group was treated with suspicion and blamed for stealing jobs. Southern slave holders lost control. Men’s wives gained the vote and got a job and gained the ability to control their own fertility. Each time, social norms are massaged, and a new coalition forms to wield power.
Perhaps most importantly, America’s new power centers cannot alter what makes America special, and they wouldn’t want to. America’s secret sauce is decentralization of power and constitutional limits on government power. New Americans benefit from these traits as much as everybody else, and don’t have the power to change them either. As proof, government spending and average tax rates have barely changed since 1950.
The United States is far from perfect, and always will be. But at the end of the day, it still attracts over a million new immigrants per year, while only a few thousand people renounce U.S. citizenship. Something is going right.
Open in new tab. Billy Joel - We Didn’t Start the Fire
Multiculturalism is Still an Experiment
Democracy is sometimes called America’s “Great Experiment.” By any measure, it’s a success. We rocked it. Now every country wants to be a democracy, or at least call themselves one. In the 1960’s, we leveled up. America embarked on its 2nd Great Experiment: co-equal multiculturalism.
Post-Columbian America has always contained many cultures. Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans melded up and down the continent, producing the world we knew until 1960. To give credit where due, the diversity of the pre-1960’s United States was already remarkable. Europeans of every stripe melted into “White” people, and White Americans constantly re-negotiated their uneasy co-existence with Black Americans and Native Americans.
But there was no mistake about who was in charge. White men. And the official culture was a derivative of British. We sometimes call it “Judeo-Christian ethics.” WWII shattered the colonial foundations of that world, and in 1965 America opened up.
The 1790 Naturalization Act said only White immigrants could become citizens. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act…is self explanatory. 1917 brought the Asiatic Barred Zone Act. The 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act finally allowed Asian immigrants to become citizens, but only 100 immigrants per country per year. During that whole time, free African immigration was also nearly impossible. America was closed to fully 75% of the world population.
Along with the 1965 Civil Rights Act that ended Segregation and the 1968 Fair Housing Act that banned Whites-only neighborhoods, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act allowed substantial willing immigration from everywhere including Asia and Africa for the first time.
We’re not alone. Although most countries in the world are controlled by a single ethnic group, there are many important exceptions. India, Indonesia, and Nigeria are gigantic amalgams of people groups consolidated into countries by European colonialism. They all gained indendence after WWII. And other White settler societies like Canada and Australia have embraced non-European immigration even more fiercely than the USA in recent decades.
Co-equal multiculturalism can be contrasted against “group+guest” multiculturalism. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are group+guest. China is group+guest. America is shifting from a long history of group+guest multiculturalism to co-equal multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. There is a difference between de jure and de facto multiculturalism. De jure multiculturalism was passed as a federal law in 1965. But de facto multiculturalism is a gradual process of popping bubble after bubble of Whites-only space. Big-city school busing – pop! Country clubs admitting women and minorities – pop! Black families moving into a white neighborhood – pop!
Most of our lives are lived in local spaces; some are multicultural and others are not. But national media like Hollywood and TV networks are a shared experience for most Americans. Until the early 2000s, non-White actors were guests in that space. If you don’t believe me, contrast any pre-2000 romantic comedy on Netflix to one made since 2015. Today, non-White actors on TV are not only more common, they are portrayed as normal people. That’s new.
The thing is –- unlike democracy which undeniably succeeded –- we’re still watching for whether co-equal multiculturalism will succeed in America. It doesn’t help us to deny it. Multiculturalism has many recognized benefits. (Jesus might start the list of benefits with “justice.”) But many of our country’s current struggles also trace back to multiculturalism. Monoculturalism encourages in-group trust, political unity and shared ethical ideals.
East Asian countries that have hugely succeeded post-WWII are unbelievably mono-cultural. Think Japan, Korea, China. Meanwhile, America is increasingly seen as being in decline. Our current prosperity is clearly built upon our history of group+guest diversity. Are we succeeding on momentum, or will our new intensifying mix propel us to a new age?
Tucker Carlson is a loud voice correctly recognizing this shift and challenge to American society. Unfortunately, Tucker wants to meet the moment with blame, selfishness, bitterness, and an unworkable desire to go backward. It’s too late. The genie cannot go back into the bottle. The fundamental reason all these multicultural societies have emerged since WWII is that European world domination disintegrated. It’s as if the Galactic Empire from Star Wars collapsed and power shifted toward all the star systems it had been repressing. (Credit is due here to the stabilizing power of the American military, with appropriate caveats.) Even if America could restore monoculturalism today, world economic conditions would no longer support it. We’d look more like North Korea than like 1950s America.
The correct response is to embrace co-equal multiculturalism while addressing its challenges head-on. We need large-scale efforts to build community, trust, and a national identity. We need empathy for groups that are losing power even as we affirm those groups that are ascendant. And we need local independence – federalism – to lower the tension. There is a role for top-down forced multiculturalism, but not everywhere all the time. America’s shift toward multiculturalism has already gotten over the hump, so that prosperous places are diverse places. The fastest growing local US economies are in the South, attracting diverse immigrants from everywhere. After decades of leaving, African Americans are actually returning to the South in recent years.
Ronald Reagan said, “The best social program is a job.” More than anything, the cure for what ails America is broad-based economic prosperity. Pre-1960s America got some things wrong, but they were right about the dynamism enabled by limited governments and unfettered human creativity. America will thrive when we get back to loving our neighbor – including the new neighbors, some of whom are probably due an apology and reparations – and giving people and business freedom to thrive.
Economic History of Black Americans
(Note to the reader: I recognize there’s something dicey about me White-mansplaining Black history in 2022. If some portion of this is offensive or wrong, please write a constructive comment. I’ll read it.)
Setting the Stage
About 500 years ago, Europeans started conquering the American continent. It was a messy, disorganized, frequently evil process. Some individual Europeans ventured to the Americas for freedom or adventure, but European elites participated with a clear goal of making money. Their business model was mostly growing crops to sell in Europe. The most successful of these businesses were in the warmer, more fertile parts of the Americas including the present-day southern US.
The extraction businesses that Europeans started – mining and farming – required lots of labor. They wanted to pay as little as possible for labor to maximize their profits. With no government stopping them and an apparent under-appreciation of the coming wrath of God, that meant enslaving people. In some cases, Native Americans were enslaved; but there were limited numbers of Native Americans available, and they died quickly under the barbaric conditions of slavery. Other Europeans were enslaved permanently or temporarily as “indentured servants,” but they were difficult to control and imprison. The most successful and plentiful supply of enslaved people proved to be Africa.
At the time, Europeans would usually die from local diseases if they tried to settle in Africa. However, African cultures practiced slavery and Europeans were eager to buy Africans who had been enslaved. Thus, European traders bought people at African ports, trafficked those people on prison ships to the Americas, and sold them to European farmers in the Americas.
(During their centuries of dominance, Europeans were slave traders in America, arms dealers in Africa, and drug lords in Asia. Those people had to answer to God. Remember, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” and woe to us if we repeat their sins!)
This system of African slave labor lasted in the present-day United States for about 250 years. That’s roughly the same length of time the U.S. has been a country. During that time, African slaves in the US were treated badly and intentionally debased. Slaves were not allowed education, their African culture was intentionally diminished, and their family structure was disrupted. Owners would often rape enslaved women, and it was not uncommon for family members to be sold and never seen again.
In 1865, American slaves were set free…and left completely impoverished with no land, education or money to build a life on. And everybody around them was afraid of them and hated them.
At the time, about 13% of Americans were considered to be black and nearly everybody else was thought of as white. There was lots of diversity among whites and some white groups were discriminated against. However, light-skinned people from discriminated groups could do things to blend in or “pass”. For example, my great grandmother changed my family’s surname from Clark (common among disliked Irish immigrants) to Clarke (common in England). For Americans with dark skin, passing as white was impossible.
Two motives for discrimination against people are discussed in economics: Taste-based discrimination (or “prejudice”) happens when a person simply does not like you for you. It’s not very logical. Statistical discrimination (or “stereotyping”) happens when a person is trying to avoid some negative characteristic of people that they cannot observe directly, so they pick on the people most likely to have that characteristic. It is often noted that Arabic people were aggressively screened in airports after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Is that an example of taste-based discrimination or statistical discrimination?
It is important to distinguish between these types of discrimination because of how they change over time, based on how the discriminators (“the haters”) are affected. In theory, prejudice should die out over time, like a bad evolutionary characteristic that goes away due to “survival of the fittest.” Those haters are hurting themselves. Stereotyping, on the other hand, persists because the haters actually benefit – even though it’s selfish.
Black Americans have been hurt by both prejudice and stereotyping. In a given situation, these two forms of racism are usually impossible to distinguish.
Selective Migration and Self-Segregation
Why are Mexican immigrants to the US typically poor while Indian immigrants (a poorer country) are typically rich? The circumstances in which people migrate determine which portion of the population migrates and where they go. Each story is different.
In 1865, ninety five percent of Black Americans lived in the southeastern US states where slavery had been permitted. Once free, some of those people started to migrate. During the Great Northern Migration, from 1916 to 1970, six million black Americans moved from the rural South to cities in the North.
Today, America’s cities are racially diverse, although frequently still segregated within neighborhoods. Rural areas are more segregated, with rural areas outside the South being overwhelmingly white. Explanations for this pattern can be roughly divided into demand-side and supply-side.
On the demand side, Black people like to be around others they can relate to just like anybody else. People had varying degrees of preference for racial and cultural self-segregation. But the preference for segregation competes with other priorities, like needing a job. The cities where black migrants moved can be imagined as points in space that offered specialized jobs. Anybody who wanted a lucrative factory job – black or white – needed to live in the cramped housing around that point, leading to racial diversity. Speaking in generalities, rural areas offered homogeneous jobs over a wide area. It was easier for racial groups to self-segregate in rural areas.
On the supply side, most White people in the North were not welcoming of Black migrants. Where they could collude to prevent Black migrants from settling, they often did so using violence, private contracts between homeowners, and outright legal bans. Generally, it’s easiest for groups to collude in small groups with tight relationships. White residents of small towns in the Midwest and rich neighborhoods in cities were usually able to effectively collude to exclude Black migrants; poorer parts of cities did not manage to collude, and that’s where Black migrants settled.
Evolving Stereotypes: Racism Today and Tomorrow
As described above, taste-based prejudice should resolve itself over time as racist “dinosaurs” die out, but racism based in negative stereotyping might be a harder problem. Racist stereotypes protect the “haters” from direct harm but damage the stereotyped group – creating a self-perpetuating cycle. This section explores some ways that cycle might be breaking.
First, progress might not be linear, like acceleration of a (non-electric) car. Imagine for a moment that all black Americans were true to a bad stereotype, except for one brilliant, dynamic, upstanding black person. That first “high” type person would have to fight extremely hard against the “low” stereotype to be accepted. It’s quite possible that the haters would stop him from reaching his potential. However, once he had succeeded, a second black genius would suffer under marginally less racism before succeeding, and so on. As the share of economically successful black Americans increases, the barriers to success become less. The first disappointingly small gains we have seen in the acceptance of black people in America might have been the hardest bit.
(The idea that President Obama’s success has made it easier to succeed in the United States as a black person is an example of this concept.)
Second, increasing diversity among African-descended people in America can break down stereotypes - similar to how travel broadens people’s understanding by increased exposure. James Baldwin predicted that the independence of African countries, which was recent when he spoke in the 1960’s, would shake white Americans’ conception of black people. As with Asian immigrants, many African immigrants to the US are highly educated and economically successful. African refugees, although having fewer formal qualifications, enjoy the same positive social characteristics of many new immigrant groups: entrepreneurialism, strong families, healthier diets, etc.
Third, sadly, many rural areas of America are deteriorating badly. (See Coming Apart by Charles Murray. This is the “American carnage” that has fueled much of President Trump’s political movement.) Those rural areas are overwhelmingly populated by white people, whereas a higher share of black people live in cities that are getting better over time. As crime, drug use, and poverty shift from cities to the country, one might expect the stereotypes of rural white people to suffer relative to stereotypes of urban black people.
Finally, for Americans of any race, economic success is increasingly found in urban areas, which are more racially diverse. Part of fitting in to a diverse city setting is “virtue signaling” an embrace of multiculturalism. That is, perhaps the image of a successful person is shifting away from someone who supports racist institutions toward someone who is anti-racist.
Who Won Reconstruction?
Long ago I learned the phrase, “The North won the Civil War, but the South won Reconstruction.” The explicit statement is true – Northern Union troops won the American civil war and ended slavery, but a White Southern backlash enshrined another 100 years of racist Jim Crow oppression for Black Americans. However, the phrase also reinforces a Northern narrative of being on the ‘right side of history’ that is not fully justified.
Let’s go back.
European conquest and colonization of the Americas started off as a business. The conquerors’ most profitable business was intensive farming by enslaved Africans. These farms straddled the equator, extending north to the Carolinas and south to Brazil. More temperate zones like the eventual northern U.S. states and Argentina could not support such intensive farming, making importation and enslavement of Africans less profitable in those areas. Slave-supported agriculture was always recognized as a dirty business – evil in its treatment of Africans and (supposedly) contaminating for European-American society.
Against this backdrop, European settlers in temperate zones prized their society’s European ‘racial purity,’ hemmed in as they were by Native Americans, Africans, and even Chinese immigrants who they fought to keep out. Coming up to the Civil War, political opinions about what to do about slavery ranged from doing nothing, to not letting slavery expand, to deporting African Americans to Sierra Leone or another far-off place. Only extremists anticipated an integrated society of Black and White Americans. For example, Indiana’s 1851 constitution (still in force today with amendments) banned free Blacks from entering the state and appropriated money to send the few current Black residents to Africa.
When Lincoln was elected, his campaign platform included containment of slavery, not emancipation – and certainly not integration. Thankfully, war forced the Union into emancipating slaves, and deportation of 3 million Black Americans was a logistical impossibility. But most Lincoln voters were not rooting for a pluralistic multiracial society. We stumbled backward into it.
After the war, Northern states continued to resist Black settlers. Biased government and vigilante violence kept African Americans out of most Northern towns and the richer parts of cities just as they oppressed Blacks who remained in the South. Saying “the South won reconstruction” gives credit to Northern states they do not deserve. Segregation was a consensus policy.
Most American churches are still racially segregated. Martin Luther King called Sunday morning, “the most segregated hour of Christian America.” Are Christians really that racist? What is going on and what can be done about it?
Schelling’s Model of Segregation examines how mild intolerance of outside groups by individuals leads to extreme segregation. For a moment, dear reader, please spend a few minutes with this nifty game that demonstrates Schelling’s model: The Parable of the Polygons.
Welcome back! For purposes of discussion, let’s treat the Parable of the Polygons as an allegory for black and white Americans self-segregating into churches. It would work similarly if more groups were in the picture, like Hispanics and Asians. Now that you understand the mechanism, can Christians un-do racial segregation?
First, we should decide whether there’s a problem. Do we want separate but equal? Jesus said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If we believe Jesus when he says our “worldly” differences don’t matter, separating churches by race is arbitrary and weird. If we don’t believe Jesus…we have a malignant cancer.
Second, can the problem be fixed? The website does a good job explaining how segregation disappears if everybody’s preferences change and the groups are equal size.
However, my mother taught me, “You can’t control what others think - only what you think.” Imagine there was a single, open-minded polygon in the Parable of the Polygons who had no racial preferences or preferred a mixed-race church. It would settle somewhere, some racist polygons would move away, and churches would continue self-segregating as before. If there was a group of open-minded polygons, they would all end up together, and the closed-minded polygons would continue self-segregating as before. Now, there would be three groups: mixed race, white, and black churches. Sound familiar? The more Christians become convinced of the value of diversity, the larger the mixed-race share of churches will become.
Third, consider whose “problem” is the segregation. About 15% of Americans are black. For black Americans to solve racial integration by themselves would require entirely dissolving black churches and for black church-goers to tolerate 85% of parishioners being different than themselves. Even then, if white Americans would not tolerate at least 15% black parishioners, this movement would set off “white flight” and churches would remain segregated. Thus, it is neither fair nor possible for church segregation to be solved entirely by black people. If black churches are more segregated than white churches, it merely reflects white people’s unwillingness to be in the minority.
My recommendation: Leave your church—for a visit or permanently. Experiment with being a minority. Make some church people uncomfortable. Change starts with you.
One **ist is a joke. A million **ists are a nightmare.
One communist is a joke. A million communists are a nightmare. The same is true of racists. To illustrate, one of my favorite whackos in America is Michael Symonette, who tries to unite Blacks and Whites…by blaming everything on the Cherokee Indians. He’s deeply crazy and “racist”, but the dude is basically harmless because nobody agrees with him.
Think about fascism, capitalism, Confucianism, hedonism, racism. If only one person holds these views, they’re easily sidestepped and don’t matter much. Only when a view is pervasive does it make a big splash. (See the Economics of Discrimination (1957) by Gary Becker, a coldhearted Libertarian if there ever was one.1)
That’s why “systemic racism” is the only type of racism that matters. The allegation that systemic racism is woven into American society is one of the most divisive splits between Red and Blue America now. I hope that zooming out to consider it in the context of other -isms and other countries can help us approach the topic constructively.
Group ratios matter
South Africa was ruled by a White minority government until 1990 under an infamous system called Apartheid. (Namibia, too.) It was Segregation on steroids. Around 10 percent of South Africans are White, and the majority are Black—roughly the opposite of the racial group sizes in America.
When South Africa’s government abandoned racist policies, the changes to society were much faster and further reaching than what happened in America after the 1960s. Systems that negatively impacted Black citizens were more quickly dismantled. Black confidence and sense of “ownership” of society blossomed more quickly. [Find a citation.] Even if individual White South Africans kept racist personal views, they became relatively easy to sidestep.
Dismantling -isms must be balanced against competing priorities
The Soviet Union was a repressive communist regime that choked its subjects creativity and personhood. But it was also a system of governance that supported the lives of its 280 million people. I can’t pretend to be an expert on the disorderly dissolution of the Soviet Union, but anybody can see there were tradeoffs. Some groups were unambiguously blessed by freedom from the USSR, but other groups were hurt by it. Pensions ceased, jobs were lost, education was disrupted. People went hungry. Freedom from Soviet-style communism came at a great cost to the citizens of the former USSR, and the vacuum left by the collapsed system led to today’s unhealthy political environment in Russia.
Similarly, recent post-colonial countries face tradeoffs between dismantling unjust leftovers from their history while maintaining systems that sustain their citizens. A great example is land reform and maintenance of property rights. After Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, most farm land was owned by White farmers, and the government redistributed that land in a messy forceful fashion. In principle, returning land to the citizenry redressed an injustice, but it had disastrous consequences for Zimbabwe. The country’s White elites saw that their rights would not be defended by the new government, and they left en masse.2 When neighboring South Africa passed to Black control 10 years later, is was much more careful to reassure White citizens of their security under the new government and to protect their property rights. The process of fixing unjust patterns of land ownership in South Africa has been slower than in Zimbabwe, but it’s been better for the country overall.
If we take seriously the idea that systemic racism is woven into America’s institutions, we also have to accept that dismantling racism cannot be the only priority.
Systems can outlast the ideas that motivated them
Belief in communism motivated the Chinese Communist Revolution. That government is still in power, but its communist beliefs (in an economic sense) have long ago died out. China is run by capitalists today. For that matter, backlash against taxes provoked the Boston Tea Party in Massachusetts, which today has earned the nickname Taxachusetts.
Asserting that systems in our society are “racist” in some way does not mean the participants today are motivated by racist beliefs.
The Unwinding of White Dominance
The past 500 years have been a wild ride for White people.
Ever since the Roman Empire fell apart, Europe was split into a bunch of competing dictatorships. When the Black Plague hit, a third of the workers died, giving more bargaining power to those who remained. To quote Hal Varian, it was a great time to be alive if you were alive.
The resulting freedom and competition sparked technological growth that helped White people take over the world.3 Europe brought guns to a knife fight. But the trouble with technology is others can imitate it. Around 1945, White people lost their grip on global power, and White power has been unwinding ever since.
Today, as non-White people around the world get rapidly richer, many White people’s lives are stagnant. And they’re pissed about it. Anybody would be. We should empathize.
To be clear, White people are still super rich on average. But humans judge their circumstances relative to expectations. In America, while educated Whites have ridden the post-WWII global wave of increased prosperity, less-educated Whites have not.
On top of weakening White power, consider the intersectionality faced by White, rural, non-college-educated, Christian, straight men. Rural areas got poorer, job opportunities got worse, women took control, traditional sexual morality became bigotry, religion seemed more hollow, marriage got harder and divorce more common, and drugs became more available and lethal. Their national government transformed from a White ethno-state to one that accepts people from all over the world and vocally promotes the well-being of every identity group except them.
For many Whites who are educated and prospering, their place in the new multicultural social order is tolerable and more fair. But those who are not prospering are understandably resistant. Non-college-educated Whites’ average income in the US has fallen over the past 50 years. Although social progress is not zero-sum, it’s still been a net-negative for the losers.
The past decade has brought a resurgence of pressure to break down barriers to Black and Hispanic (Native) success. This time, the onus has successfully and appropriately been placed on the richer White majority to break down path-dependent systems that make it harder for non-Whites to succeed. However, we have to recognize that self-immolation doesn’t come naturally to people.
In Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Daniel Tatum brilliantly describes the coming-of-age experience for Black teenagers in a society that stigmatizes them. She offers 6 stages of progress toward racially aware self-actualization for Black people. Good.
But next, Chapter 6 – The Development of White Identity creates a false equivalence by describing six stages of progress toward White people becoming racially aware social justice allies/warriors.4 This is about how White people can help Black people thrive, rather than how they can thrive themselves. Whiteness is reduced to oppression. Describing a White person moving into the final stage of self-actualization, Tatum writes, “Her experience in a White anti-racism group helped her to stop feeling bad because she was White.” Blackness is painted as basically good and whiteness as basically bad.
Christians should be well-prepared for a call to help empower discriminated groups. We are called to selflessness and are warned about grasping for power in this world where we are foreigners. But it’s also a big pill to swallow. Like everybody else, White people reliably put themselves first. White people are members of a long, proud European-derived culture and history that unfortunately includes oppression. There are routes to racially-aware White identity that do not include Black allyship, as demonstrated by the success of Fox News.
Without denying the benefit of having White skin in America, one must acknowledge that many White people have been trounced by the past 60 years of history. Human flourishing of White and non-White Americans requires public policy and culture that provide win-win formulas that enable everybody to thrive.
Property Rights are Useful, not Sacred
Property rights are a society’s definition of what it means to own something. They are the bedrock on which individuals stand when they agree to trade goods or services. When I buy a candy bar or a piece of land with money, me and the seller are both depending on a clear, stable definition of what it means to “own” those things. (Watch a quick Khan Academy overview.)
Property rights even have an aura of sacredness. In the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not steal,” literally means don’t violate property rights. Every government ever has defined its version of property rights because they are so fundamental.
However, now we are re-evaluating the fairness of our history and the fairness of how people came to own things. When property rights were assigned in ways that no longer seem fair, we’re left with a sense of conflict as to whether today’s property rights are fair.
On an individual basis, when the original owner is still alive, it’s a settled legal question. The innocent buyer of a stolen bicycle got hoodwinked; she has to give the bike back to the original owner and is only compensated if the thief is caught. However, it’s also traditionally recognized that recovering stolen goods can be difficult. That’s why they say, “Possession is 9/10 of the law.”
What do we do when several generations have passed? When earlier representatives of our current government recognized the property rights as valid? When the unfairness has hurt and helped generations of descendants? All of America used to belong to Native Americans, and millions of manhours of stolen African labor provided an early economic foundation for the country.
This is a complicated topic, and honest people disagree. Here are a few of my thoughts.
First, property rights are never absolute. Our government limits property rights in many ways:5
- Income and sales taxes limit the ability to trade goods.
- Property tax limits the ability to own goods.
- Fines and imminent domain allow the government to simply take your stuff.
- Other laws and regulations limit what you’re allowed to do with your stuff, like drive without a seatbelt.
Additionally, most government spending is redistributive since the benefits don’t come equally back to the people who were taxed. Medicare and social security are redistribution for old people. Free education is redistribution for kids. Federal grants to states and cities are redistribution to poorer places. The list goes on. So it’s dishonest to pretend that redistribution based on historical wrongdoing would be pathbreaking.
In Leviticus 25, God laid out a version of property rights that was far from absolute, where land was returned to its ancestral owner every 50 years, known as the “year of jubilee.” The sacred command about property rights—Thou Shalt Not Steal—is to follow the law; it doesn’t specify what property rights should be.
Economists today recommend “strong” and “stable” property rights. That is, the government should maximize people’s freedom to use their stuff, and the rules should not change too often. While this advice might have moral benefits, the intent is to create a system that motivates people to be productive, secure in the knowledge that they can benefit from hard work and wise risk-taking.
If large-scale historical wrongs in American history are to be addressed via reparations or any other reassignment of property rights, it will necessarily be done outside the normal workings of our property laws. It is up to our imperfect democratic decision-making process. Individuals will collectively decide whether the greater evil is to maintain the status quo based on historical injustice or to play Robinhood by stealing from the rich to give to the poor today.
In summary, the world is not fair. Government is not fair. I hope we can make the world fairer. But we should be careful, since it’s easy to muck these things up, especially when using the government.
Affirmative Action & Immigration from Africa
Since the 1960s, US governments and society have taken steps to elevate African Americans. These are attempts to reverse damage done by the same groups’ actions that repressed African Americans until that time.6
Until recently, targeting of affirmative action has been relatively easy for the same reason that targeting repression was easy: skin color is easy to see. Nearly all African-origin people living in the US were descendants of repressed peoples. However, immigration of Black people to the US has grown steadily for several decades. Today, 10% of Black people in the United States are immigrants, with the fastest growing share coming from Africa.
In the next decades, the number of immigrants from Africa is set to grow exponentially, very similar to what has happened with immigration from Asia. To quickly explain why, immigration from both Africa and Asia was effectively illegal before the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Since that time, most immigrant visas are awarded based on family ties. Beginning in 1965, there was a slow accretion of African and Asian immigrants based on non-family visa programs, most notably refugees and diversity visa winners. Those early immigrants were then empowered to sponsor immigration of relatives, allowing an exponential growth. This logic allowed Asian immigration to ramp up significantly in the 1980s to the point that Asia is now the largest source of new immigrants. Immigration from Africa is following a similar path, though on a smaller scale coinciding with Africa’s smaller population. Importantly, most immigration from Africa and Asia can be classified as “high skill” immigration because of the (intentional and unintentional) selection processes determining who immigrates.
As with immigrants of any ethnicity, Black immigrants differ from US-born Blacks. Specifically, immigrants from Africa have higher educational attainment, on par with US-born Whites. This group’s ancestors also did not suffer under American-style slavery and discrimination.7
How does African immigration affect affirmative action?
Affirmative action programs can be divided into broad and narrow programs. Broad programs are things like targeted education funding and protection of voting rights, which affect all members of the group. Even if Black immigrants are not the intended target, 90% targeting is still pretty good.
Narrow affirmative action programs involve winning a contest like a hiring decision or awarding a scholarship. Minority representation targets or quotas in organizations are this type of narrow program. Narrow programs benefit exceptional individuals.
No matter the size of the African immigrant population, if they have much higher achievement than pre-1960 American Blacks, this group will win a disproportionate share of affirmative action contests. In so doing, the originally targeted group – descendants of slaves – lose opportunity.
To illustrate, my company publishes statistics about employment, emphasizing the need to increase Black, Hispanic and female representation. But most of the Black employees I’ve met at my company have African last names. There is no effective metric to track inclusion of pre-1960 American Blacks.
The situation is not a total loss for pre-1960 American Blacks. Success of African immigrants can indirectly benefit all African Americans by improving stereotypes. This is the case with Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya. However, the goal of directly providing opportunities for American descendants of slaves is diluted.
As the number of African immigrants continues to grow exponentially in the US, affirmative action programs will be forced to differentiate between people who do and do not descend from American slaves to fulfill their restorative intent. Smart programs should take note and make the switch now.
The Pace of Change is Slow in America
Wooden utility poles in America are inspected every 10 years to make sure they haven’t rotted. The workers leave behind a metal tag with the year of the inspection. I enjoy stopping and looking at the phone poles in an area to find the oldest tags. Some tags go back to the 1940s.
National Band and Tag Company
Since WWII, rich White-controlled countries have changed very little in relative terms.8 These countries are often lumped into a group called “the West.” It may feel hard to imagine given how much has changed in the West, but the scale and speed of change experienced in the rest of the world is…bigger. There are many reasons for this.
Many countries became politically independent or had a political revolution since WWII. The USA’s political rulebook - the constitution - is from 1788.
Europe’s population went up by 1.5x since WWII. America’s population increased by 2x, mostly through immigration. But world population increased by more than 3x.
In 1960, seventy of every hundred Americans already lived in urban areas. Now, it’s gone from 70 to 89, a 27% increase. In the world, urbanization has increased from 34 to 57 of every hundred people, a 68% increase. Layered on top of differences in population growth, cities in the West have grown much slower than cities in the rest of the world. In 1950, New York and London were the largest cities in the world. Today, neither of those cities make the top ten.
GDP, or gross domestic product, is the total production of a country. So GDP growth rates are a decent proxy for how quickly the productivity of workers and the conditions they’re working in have changed. In Europe and USA, GDP has increased by 2 or 3x per worker since 1960. Where most of the world population lives, in Asia, the change is closer to 6x since 1960. Africa and Latin America have had slower GDP growth, unfortunately. (Wikipedia)
This one is paradoxical. Technological innovation drives change, and the West has led the development of most technologies. Cars, electronics, the internet, new medicines - the West leads in all these areas.9 But even if technology is developed in the West, its application is most often more impactful elsewhere.
Because the technologies being replaced are more modern in the West, new technology’s impact is only incremental. In America, cell phones got rid of wires; in Africa, cell phones brought phones. Mobile payments are only a small change from using credit cards in the US so they’ve been slow to catch on; in China, mobile payments mostly replaced cash transactions and have made a huge impact.
The West and now other rich countries offer the most comfortable places to live. We lead many social and technological trends. If you’re interested in learning about and being involved with major social change, look to the “developing” world.
Guiding philosophy and footnotes:
For me, this challenge is personal. I’m White and my wife immigrated as an adult from Namibia. Our unbelievably beautiful children are…all of it. But I’m told they’ll be flattened to “Black”. History as taught in schools today won’t serve them well: neither the liberal victimhood of New York curriculum (where we are now) or the reactionary myths still taught in middle America. I’m writing for my children.
A few principles that guide my retelling are:
- Any complicated true story can be told many ways, and history’s value is for learning about the present. I want to tell truth that gives kids healthy perspective to understand their world.
- Our understanding of history is tied up with our value system. I’m raising my kids as Christians so there are lots of Bible references. If this work ever gets broader adoption, the moral lessons could be kept while removing explicit religious references.
- History makes more sense if the characters act rationally. I emphasize characters’ economic motivations and the role of economic systems. To make sense, U.S. history must be learned in the context of European colonialism and America-the-continent.
- I’m a White man trying to interpret the history of oppression of Black and Brown people throughout America’s history in a way that’s fair and palatable to most American Christians. The project is fraught. I hope my writing is judged on its merits, and that readers’ criticisms will be constructive. If you think I’m wrong, I promise to self-reflect and not reflexively defend what I’ve written. White, Black and Brown are all capitalized since the words refer to social constructs of race rather than literal colors.
- I don’t have beef with how all of U.S. history is taught. I focus on issues of inclusion because that’s the part that’s broken. Other parts are important too.
Time filters out good literature. Nobody talks about a mediocre book 50 years later. ↩
Bad leaders and sanctions by the U.S. have also played a role. It’s a complicated history. ↩
The book’s description of the journey toward White allyship is useful, although it’s written from a non-Christian perspective. If one approaches life as a new creation—dead to self, alive only in Christ, and aware of oneself as an unworthy sinner—the feelings of guilt Tatum warns about should not be such a problem. ↩
Property rights, like all government power, are ultimately enforceable via violence. “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” according to Mao Zedong. All taxation is theft. Wielding government power responsibly is about choosing the lesser evil. ↩
The 1960s were a turning point in discriminatory policies. Many forms of discrimination of course still linger today, but they normally lack official sanction. ↩
This is not to say that African immigrants and their ancestors have not experienced effects of racism. ↩
I’m referring to Europe and countries whose current residents mostly descend from European colonizers. That’s USA, Canada, Australia, etc. One could certainly argue about which countries are included here. ↩
East Asia is starting to take more leadership today, but I’m talking about history since WWII. ↩