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November 13, 2005


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One aspect of the Catholicism noted in regard to "Ave Maria," or the putative "Catholic Jonestown," and of religions or religious thinking more generally, is to shun or ostracize at some level or another those who think differently or hold different views. The motivation to do so is I believe to reinforce faith-based beliefs and to avoid their dilution or challenge, in the absence of verifiability. The core problem with this very common approach, however, is the concurrent veneration of truth by those doing the ostracizing or shunning, which is the Achilles heel of most religions or religious thinking, as Nietzsche well noted. Lies become lived, layered and compounded. We see this substantially now on a national political scale in the United States among those in power. Too few seem to recognize the central problem identified here or much care.

Ensenada, BC, Mexico

farshid rahmani

salam hawariyou


Actually, my comment above is more generalizable than I indicated, reaching to any belief set perceived to be important, which is not readily verifiable, whether religious or not -- all as Lior Strahilevitz' article makes clear.


Why should every town be equally diverse. A coherent community cannot be formed without some sense of majority control, whether that town is majority of one or another ethnicity, religion, or whatever. We're a big country; not every town needs to resemble every other town, complete with the Applebee's.

If we're all diverse, there is no diversity.


The article also disappointed in its typical journalistic laziness because it suggests the racial issues in the town from the name have to do with African-Americans. In fact, the history of race in America is quite complicated, in constrast to the mythology of American racism peddled by the Times. All of the surrounding towns were mixed settlements of friendly indians and whites; White Settlement was not.


Roach - I think the N.Y. Times article (which I took you to be criticizing) made it clear that the name arose in the context of Caucasian-Native American race relations, but it now has a different meaning. Whatever its origins, the town name in 2005 has effects on the ways in which Caucasians and African Americans think about the community.

As for your "Why should every town be equally diverse?" question, I'm not sure why that question is relevant, since no one I know takes the position that every town should be equally diverse. If you actually read my article, you'll see that I make out a case for some forms of religious homogeneity in neighborhoods, particularly when the religion in question is marginalized in broader society. But I also take the position that 100% Caucasian communities are undesirable on social welfare grounds.


While I can't say I'd want to live in a 100% caucasian community, I don't see why it's a problem on social welfare grounds. For starters, it may surprise you to learn, some parts of this country are nearly all white, such as Nebraska and West Virginia. More important, is it so obvious in the rest of the country that the benefit to the group that wants to live in a racial covenent community exceeds the harm to those excluded? The usual presumption behind contracts and a free society is that in most cases voluntary associations (and disassociations) are wealth maximizing as they show "revealed preferences." All male and all female clubs, for instance, persist over time because both groups want it that way, so long as each group has a vital single sex club to join, e.g., college fraternities.

One dirty little secret of the white middle class in this country is that they don't really believe in multiculturalism, at least if that means sending their kids to schools where whites will be a minority and there will be significant numbers of black kids, not least because most whites suspect that large numbers of black kids mean higher rates of violence and disorder in their schools. Why else do white liberals talk a big game about the subject, but move out of neighborhoods in droves if blacks move in and send their kids to elite private schools if they live in big cities--Chelsea at Sidwell Firends--when the only thing wrong with the "bad schools" of the city they live in is that there are lots of black people in them? So this suggests that people's "revealed preferences" even in a world without formal race covenenat communities do not accord with your hypothesis.

It's not so obvious forced integration is wealth maximizing, if by wealth maximizing, you mean aggregate welfare based on individual utility. I'd be interested to see a sketch of your case.

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