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This may not, ethnologically or physiologically speaking, be a very clear and logical construction. Haney Lopez explains that the emphasis upon descent, repeated three times in a single sentence, changes the ambiguity of white into a fixed, biological, and natural grouping. Like the Shahid case, the court recognized the ambiguity of basing its decision upon skin color in the Ozawa case.
Instead of utilizing the ambiguity of the language of white and non-white as a way to question the credibility of physical, racial categorization, the court gave further legitimacy to a non-scientific concept. The court based its decision against admitting Takao Ozawa, a Japanese man, on its interpretation of the original framers, which “was to confer the privilege of citizenship upon that class of persons whom the fathers knew as white, and to deny it to all those who could not so be classified.” In Thind, the court ruled that a white person “was a person the average well informed white American” knew to be white.
And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past.Ironically, citing the ambiguity of “free white persons” in the first naturalization statute approved in 1790, the court’s decision asks: “what is a white person?” In its tortured discussion of the question, the court admits that the 1790 statute is “uncertain, ambiguous, and difficult both of construction and application.” Nonetheless, bypassing ambiguity, the court concluded that It would mean such persons as were in 1790 known as white Europeans, with their descendents, including as their descendants in other countries to which they have emigrated, such as the descendants of the English in Africa or Australia, or of the French and Germans and Russians in other countries. Bhahat Singh Thind (1923) fully articulated an assumption of common sense knowledge as an objective rationale for understanding the difference between white and non-white.Thus negative characteristics are imputed to blacks and positive attributes to whites.This natural and moral dualism is evident in the language of Thomas Jefferson and clarifies the significance of the “one-drop of blood” rule of racial descent in the United States—i.e., white is purity and one drop of black blood renders one black, and, hence, contaminated.