Definition:
Digital Divide
Adversity.Net, Inc. for Victims of Reverse Discrimination
Digital Divide is a term which refers to the fact that blacks and Hispanics use the internet less than whites or Asians.  The term implies that the races are divided according to those who make greater use of, and derive greater benefit from, the internet (the "haves") and those who do not (the "have nots").  By definition, the "haves" are presumed to be privileged whites and Asians and the "have nots" are presumed to be underprivileged blacks and Hispanics.

          "Digital Divide" is closely related to the terms "proportional representation", "underrepresentation" and "disparate impact".  As with these other terms, "digital divide" assumes (a) that racial discrimination is both the cause and the effect; and (b) that whites are primarily responsible for the alleged racial discrimination.

          "Digital Divide" became a popular term during the first two Clinton presidencies when Bill Clinton was fond of proclaiming that grave disparities in internet access had a disparate impact on minorities and needed to be "remedied" by government intervention.  He also proclaimed a great many other grave disparities which were based on skin color.

          By definition, neither whites nor Asians can be victims of the "digital divide". For example, in 1999 Forrester Research reported that 64% of Asian-American households were using the internet versus 34% of white households. But the digital divide crowd took no notice of this disparity because both whites and Asians are presumed to be privileged as compared to their brown and black counterparts. (Note 1)

          Today (in 2003) this author has 3 siblings (white) who are so poor they cannot afford computers or monthly internet access fees. Yet the racial quota lobby does not count them as victims of the so-called "digital divide".

          "Digital divide" is a deliberately provocative term intended to conjure up an image of black and Hispanic "have nots" who are being kept in cyber ignorance by oppressive, privileged whites and Asians.

          The Pew Internet and American Life Project trumpets the fact that U.S. blacks represent 13% of our population but only account for 8% of U.S. internet users. (Note 2)

          The Information Technology Association of America worries about the fact that blacks only make up 8% of U.S. tech workers while they represent 11% of the U.S .workforce. (Note 2)

          An organization called Byte Back says of blacks' "underutilization" of the internet: "It's going to be like the difference between having a bathroom in your home or not having a bathroom in your home." (Note 2)

          Not quite.  A bit of history will help to place the "digital divide" in proper perspective.

          The U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration, and the U.S. Rural Telephone Administration all were created to ensure that American citizens had equal access to vital services such as mail, electricity, and basic telephone service at a reasonable cost regardless of their geographic location. The enabling legislation for all of these historic agencies made absolutely NO provision for special treatment or special rates based on citizens' skin color, race, ethnicity or national origin.

          The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775 at a time when the U.S. was a weak confederation of colonies scattered across the eastern seaboard. The postal system that the Congress helped to create in 1775 helped bind our new nation together, and ensured that all U.S. citizens regardless of geographic location were able to send private communications (what we know as first class mail) at a reasonable, standardized cost. A central idea behind the creation of the USPS was that an informed citizenry -- with the ability to communicate privately with each other at reasonable cost -- was essential to an informed electorate (voters) which, in turn, is a central tenet of our democratic form of government. The legislation which enabled the creation of the USPS provided no special rates or discounts for citizens of certain races, genders, ethnicities, or skin colors.

          The Rural Electrification Administration was established in 1935 to ensure that electric power was available to even the most geographically remote citizen at a reasonable cost. Otherwise, if the cost of stringing power cables over vast distances to serve relatively few customers was passed directly to the distant customer very few rural customers would be able to afford electricity. Today, the rate structures of the electric utilities essentially subsidize the cost of providing electricity to the most distant customer. The REA made no special provision for the race, gender, ethnicity or national origin of consumers of electricity.

          Similarly, the Rural Telephone Administration was established in the 1940's to ensure that basic telephone service was available to even the most geographically remote citizen at a reasonable cost. As with electricity, if the cost of stringing phone wires over vast distances to serve relatively few phone customers were passed directly to the most distant phone customer then very few rural customers would be able to afford phone service. Today the rate structure of the telephone companies essentially subsidizes the greater cost of providing telephone service to rural customers. The RTA made no special provision for the race, gender, ethnicity or national origin of telephone customers.

          All three of these essential "backbone" services are rightly regulated as monopolies and/or quasi-governmental agencies in furtherance of our nation's democratic principles. And none of them made special provisions for skin color.

THE INTERNET AND DIGITAL DIVIDE:

          In that historic context, one must ask what is it about the internet that necessitates social policy and legislation granting special treatment to certain races, ethnicities, and genders?

          Answer: Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Not a damned thing.

          When the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration, and the U.S. Rural Telephone Administration were established the dubious notions of "disparate impact", "proportional representation" and "underrepresentation" were not even a gleam in Bill Clinton's great-grand-daddy's eye. But the fact remains that all of these historic, essential backbone services were established in the service of democracy without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or national origin.

          Precisely because of the race blind policies established by the USPS, the REA and the RTA, today the internet IS already available to all citizens at extremely reasonable, standardized costs.

          So where is this alleged "digital divide"?

          As defined above, the "digital divide" exists only in the minds of the racial quota lobby, and in the spirit of those who would divide our nation based on race, gender and ethnicity.  It exists solely in the minds of those who think that certain races, skin colors, genders and ethnicities -- including especially blacks and Hispanics -- should receive special treatment in the form of reduced computer costs and reduced internet access fees.


Related Terms and Articles:

Disparate Impact & Proportional Representation

Underrepresentation

Equality and the Internet
(WorldNetDaily, Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr., 7/16/99)

Digital Divide Unconquered (opens new window)
(Washington Post, Ellen McCarthy, 8/28/03)


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"Digital Divide" Notes:

NOTE 1: World Net Daily 7/16/99 by Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr. Last known link:
(no longer available: *http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_rockwell/19990716_xclro_equality_a.shtml)

See also Adversity.Net synopsis at:
http://www.adversity.net/FRAMES/Editorials/5_Equality_and_the_Internet.htm

NOTE 2: Washington Post 8/28/03, page E1 "A Digital Divide Unconquered" by Ellen McCarthy. Last known link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56643-2003Aug27.html (opens new window)

 

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