Redistricting, Race and Individual Freedom
By Kevin J. Ryan
In recent months, Democrats have diverted the nation’s attention away from serious issues like spending, the economy and national security and focused the public discourse on topics like birth control, feminism, civil rights and gun control. The “progressive” Left’s desire to regress to the hot topics of the 1960’s is no surprise. They don’t want voters looking at their taxes, the nation’s credit rating or the root causes of mass shootings. Instead, they want to distract voters by convincing them that Republicans are sexist, racist, dinosaurs who want to oppress women and minorities. At the moment, the Democrats have largely succeeded but the news isn’t all bad. We can find an example of the Left’s favorite fall-back deception failing right here in Northeast Queens: race.
In the recent redrawing of City Council District 19, some tried to focus the discussion on race. The purpose of rezoning is to keep voters with common interests together, so they can be effectively represented in government.
As Council Member Halloran said, the current plan keeps neighborhoods together as most residents asked, and is therefore a tremendous improvement over an earlier plan that pushed Broadway-Flushing into a district with mostly apartment buildings. Redistricting is supposed to be about what people have in common, not their differences. Those who wanted it to be about race got it wrong. They could never have been right, because the US Supreme Court said that lines must not be drawn according only to race. Not only is it not what the Voter Rights Act meant, but it’s also unconstitutional. For the most part, the new lines are in step with Council Member Dan Halloran, the civic associations, the zip codes and the United States Supreme Court. The opposition is comprised solely of people who can’t see past race and opportunists who would use them for political gain.
To assume that all people from the same continent all have the same opinions, interests and aspirations is deeply ignorant. Korean Americans and, Indian Americans and Chinese Americans, for example, each have a distinct culture, well beyond simply being “Asian.” Lumping them together is insulting to those cultures.
To assume that all people of the same ancestry or from the same nation have the same political views is racist. It assumes a sort of collectivism, which contradicts any notion of individual freedom or dignity of the human person. It suggests that individuals cannot think for themselves, because their opinions are dictated by their ethnicity. This is the problem with trying to create districts based on race alone.
A single Chinese American man in his mid-twenties who lives in an apartment in Mitchell Linden and works for an advertising company and a Chinese American father of three in his fifties who lives in a house in Broadway-Flushing do not necessarily have the same views and interests. It is racist to assume they must.
Democrats have traditionally won over immigrant voters by demonizing Republicans and tricking them into thinking that Democrats care about them. My ancestors, like many in New York’s history, were probably also similarly hoodwinked. But as they learned more and worked hard to earn a better life here, they grew out of it. We need to help the thousands of new immigrants in Queens whose values are the same as ours do the same.
Many Korean Americans, for example, who go to church and believe in the traditional family unit, are Republicans who just don’t yet know it. Many immigrants also own small businesses and certainly have an interest in lower taxes and reasonable regulation. Many of them also work terribly hard to provide a quality education for their children and share our belief in equal opportunity. Republicans must continue to recognize and respect each distinct culture, while appealing to all those who share our core beliefs.