We’re all celebrating Independence Day, the birthday of the modern world. And one of the things that I used to brag about was that America valued people for themselves, not for their ethnic, religious, or whatever background. You could just come here from anyplace and become an American. Just like that. We are bound together by our belief in the unique virtues of the Constitution and the message of the Declaration.
So I’ve always hated quotas. When I was applying to college my high school guide told me to avoid certain universities because they had Jewish quotas, which for the most part were filled with legacies, and I was unlikely to get in. I hated that. I hated the “equal opportunity” quotas too, and still do. And I hate the cunning forms of quotas that dominate much of our policy thinking and actions.
Just two days ago, the State Department announced the creation of a new position, “Special Representative to Muslim Communities,” which is itself, shall we say, of dubious intellectual legitimacy. The first special rep is one Farah Anwar Pandith, who describes herself as a Muslim from Boston. I hate that. I hate the job title–no one can imagine a special rep to Hindu Communities or Baha’i Communities or Coptic Communities, let alone Christian or Jewish Communities–and I hate the fact that Foggy Bottom has chosen a Muslim special rep.
This has nothing to do with Ms. Pandith. I hate sending Catholics to represent us to the Vatican, Jews to Israel, Latinos to South America and WASPS to Great Britain. It strikes me as un-American. Send Ms. Pandith to Rome (she served two years in the European Bureau, after all), and send a WASP to Buenos Aires or Mexico City. Send a Copt to Pretoria and an African-American to Paris. They’re supposed to represent us, all of us, and if you send “one of them,” our diplomats will be treated that way, and assumed to be instinctively sympathetic to whatever the locals want. That’s bad diplomacy. It’s pandering. I think it stinks.
Happy Independence Day!