Newsweek was very much liberal in its politics, as is illustrated by a story it ran in 2006 on the topic of race/ethnicity.
The story was a left-liberal criticism of the right-liberal attitude to race.
The right-liberal attitude to race is easy enough to spell out. Liberals want individuals to be self-determining. Therefore, they believe that predetermined qualities like race shouldn't matter.
Right-liberals hold to this consistently. They believe in a colour blind society in which the only thing that matters is who we are as individuals. In Australia this right-liberal position is a minority view, though it has an influential supporter in columnist Andrew Bolt. Bolt has written of how he once attempted to identify with his family's Dutch heritage but that,
Later I realised how affected that was, and how I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.
So I chose to refer to myself as Australian again, as one of the many who join in making this shared land our common home.
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.
To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.
Traditionalists like myself reject this attitude because it means that we only identify with ourselves - a tremendously individualistic if not narcissistic position to take and one that denies a love of a larger tradition that we belong to.
But left-liberals are also dissatisfied with the right-liberal view. Left-liberals believe that if we are colour blind that race distinctions, in particular racial inequalities, will remain in existence. Therefore, to make race not matter (i.e. equal outcomes) it is necessary to "see" race rather than be blind to it, in order to deliberately intervene to bring down the better performing race (the "privileged" race) in favour of the underperforming one (the "oppressed" race).
Why do left-liberals believe that racial inequalities will continue if a society is colour blind? That's a really interesting question, because if we really are all equal in the sense of being on average the same, then a colour blind society should produce equal outcomes over time.
There are several possible answers to the question. The official one is that left-liberals believe that "whiteness" itself is an artificial social construct invented to justify the systematic oppression of the non-white other. Therefore, anyone who supports a white identity is assumed to be a defender of "white supremacy" (since left-liberals believe that whiteness has the purpose of creating a privilege over others). It means too that the achievement of equality depends on the deconstruction of a white society.
So for left-liberals being colour blind in a white society won't create equal outcomes, even if we are all born the same. The white society itself has to go.
The left-liberal view is therefore more complicated than the right-liberal one. The aim remains that of making race not matter, but to achieve this one has to "see" race and treat races differently. And because whiteness is thought to be the origin of racism, discrimination and inequality, then a white identity is morally tainted, whereas other identities are more positively associated with the struggle for justice, or else are simply regarded as expressions of culture.
The right-liberal view is strongest in the U.S., but in most of the West the left-liberal view has triumphed. And perhaps one reason for its victory is that a colour blind society hasn't led to race not mattering. On a range of indicators some races do better than others. This strengthens the hand of those who believe in direct intervention to force equal outcomes.
That's a lot of theoretical background, but I think it explains the Newsweek story, which I'll cover in my next post.