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Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” speech has yet again raised the issue of whether countless white Americans are “racists.” Of course, given the term’s inherently fuzzy quality, who can authoritatively say for sure? But, imprecision acknowledged, it is important to scrutinize how the liberal media elite has expertly twisted racism to demonize millions of whites who (correctly) reject the “racist” label. Far more is involved than playing semantic games–controlling the meaning of “white racism” is a huge prize in today political environment.
A perfect example of an elite media capturing “racism” occurred in a recent column by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. Under the headline, “Yes, half of Trump’s supporters are racist” he sought to show, with seemingly hard facts, that, indeed, Hillary’s assessment was correct. What was Milbank’s smoking gun proof? One such fact comes from the 2012 American National Election Study that found that when white people rated blacks on scales of hardworking/lazy and intelligent/unintelligent, some 62% of whites rated blacks lower than whites, a jump from the 2008 figure when only 45% of whites did not see blacks as equal to whites in either work ethnic or intelligence. Milbank also cited a Pew Research Center study that found that while 79% of Clinton supporters believed that that the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities was an important issue, a mere 42% of Trump supporters concurred. Milbank also had previously noted that Trump supporters were significantly less likely to believe that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States. To close the case, Milbank offers research showing that Trump does best among voters who believe that white people were “losing ground.”
Milbank’s modus operandi is to take a proposition amenable to scientific verification, decide what is factually correct and then bestows the racism label upon those who reject his version of reality. This is equivalent to a court of law where defendants—here whites charged with racism—are given zero opportunity to defend themselves. And Milbank, like other liberal sages, is a hanging judge. If he decides that asking whites if blacks are naturally faster than whites in races less than 400 meters, and a white answers “yes,” Milbank is totally free to convict the respondent of “racism.” And there is no appeal—off with his head! And even to suggest that the conclusion from on high is scientifically iffy will only add years to the racism sentence.
Now imagine if survey respondents could defend their “racist” choices. Plausibly, countless interviewees would argue that yes blacks really are lazier than whites given the obvious willingness of employers to hire immigrant workers over native-born blacks and surely less motivation to work helps explain black proclivity for public welfare. And if, as Milbank implies, blacks and whites are equal in vocational talent, why must government pass countless anti-discrimination and affirmative laws to force employers to hire more blacks? As for the issue of black intelligence, has Milbank every uncovered any data showing that blacks and whites are equal on any test assessing cognitive ability, tests such as IQ tests, SAT tests, and multiple measures of K-12 achievement. Such data do not exist.
I would love to see Milbank’s data demonstrating the tangible benefits of racial/ethnic diversity in the US or, better yet, the Middle East or Africa. The opposite is more plausible—diversity is a problem to be managed and if its benefits were as advertised, why spend millions on lawyers and bureaucrats whose job it is to force firms to embrace diversity? To be blunt, Milbank’s reasoning only confirms his personal upside down world, not the racism of Trump supporters.
According to Milbank and fellow liberal pundits, a white saying bad things about blacks is prima facie “hard” evidence of racism even if the negative statement is indisputably factually correct. To be “racist” is to assert, for example, that compared to whites, blacks commit more crime, have higher rates of illegitimacy, are more likely to abuse drugs, more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, more prone to commit child abuse among many other examples of “bad” behavior. White racism was once evidenced by whites visibly inflicting harm on blacks; today, white racism is anything—no exceptions–said or believed by whites, regardless of veracity, that blacks find offensive or disrespectful. The measure of racism has shifted from behavior to attitudes or beliefs, no small shift given the widespread disconnect between attitudes and behavior. In fact, now just thinking “bad thoughts” about blacks independent of any action constitutes the sin of white racism.
This devious approach cripples any intelligent public discussion of America’s racial tribulations. Consider, for example, the minefield awaiting a blunt white office-seeker discussing what can be done to revitalize such black-dominated cities as Detroit or Selma, AL Sensible proposals might include cracking down on crime (including qualify of life offenses such as public intoxication), imposing stricter discipline in local schools to build a higher quality work force, hire public employees by merit, not race, and otherwise make the inner-city more business friendly.
According to Milbank and company, simply acknowledging this reality insults blacks and is irredeemably racist regardless of intentions. And if our white office-seeker continued with these “hateful” bad-mannered facts, the facts themselves would be attacked as misleading or downright false. Outraged blacks would claim that rampant crime in black neighborhoods is just a stereotype and exists only because racist police are out to get otherwise law-abiding blacks while whites are not arrested for the same behavior thanks to white privilege. Tellingly, the white candidate’s effort at helpfulness would not only not garner black votes, but would also alienate middle class white voters disturbed by a candidate’s inability to grasp today’s racial etiquette.
The cost of killing honest conversation hardly stops here. Escaping the onus of being deemed a racist will inevitably generate a plethora of lies and convoluted analyses. Since it is racist to even hint that black youngsters (and their parents) are at least partially responsible for their woeful academic performance, ameliorative suggestions will drift off into spending more money, requiring culturally competent (i.e., black) teachers, upgrading school computers, making the curriculum more multicultural, adding more support staff and on and on, none of which have proven effective. Similarly, rather than even mention locking up black criminals—a certifiable racist proposals–a savvy candidate will yammer about requiring sensitivity training for all cops, hiring more black police and add yet more civilian oversight.
It is no wonder, then, that conversations about race are filled with mysterious forces, e.g., structural racism, or claims of being victimized by barely perceptible insults, e.g., micro-aggressions. One can only recall the complicated mechanisms such as epicycles within epicycles once invented to demonstrate that the sun really revolved around the earth.
Clearly, tarring millions of whites as “racist” for merely expressing indisputable facts about blacks, albeit facts that makes many African Americans uncomfortable, hardly helps blacks beyond supplying some temporary feel-good therapy. This is messenger shooting on a grand scale and perhaps explains why black progress has come to a standstill.
Why do liberals pursue this discussion-killing strategy? Let me suggest that demonizing whites in general and Trump supporters in particular with white racism cheap shots is the paramount value in today’s political conflict. It certainly outshines holding frank discussion that might accomplish something tangible. Going one step further, I suspect that the Milbank and company must know this awkward, unspeakable reality– nearly all black pathologies are self-inflicted–but having repeatedly defined “racism” as anything that blacks find disrespectable, reversing course is no longer an option. There certainly are no personal costs for continued dishonesty and few blacks complain that avoiding racial offensiveness is a recipe for stagnation. Bashing whites as racist has become an all too easy way of making a living regardless of the consequences.