The Siren Song of ‘Equity’ | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Siren Song of ‘Equity’
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Inconsistency is, it seems, part of what makes us human. Nonetheless, some inconsistency is still rather striking. Take, for instance, the modern American liberal who spends so much time and effort hailing the virtues of “diversity” yet who spends even more time and energy fulminating about the fact that we are not all the same. Different genders, races, and ethnic groups in America don’t have the same incomes, aren’t equally represented in most occupations, and have different levels of education, business ownership, rates of incarceration, and any number of other differences. This, we are told, is unjust and evil. It is the result of “systemic racism” or “systemic sexism.” And to rectify these injustices we need a government powerful enough to upend existing “power structures” and bury arcane notions of “individual rights” in order to erase the manifestations of these evils and achieve “equity.”

We’ve heard a lot lately about “false narratives” and arguments made without evidence. Front and center has been the case of Trump loyalists who insist that massive voter fraud cost Donald Trump the 2020 election. Yet many of those who are rightfully insistent on credible evidence when it comes to claims about massive election fraud have a far different attitude when it comes to accusations of “systemic” racism or sexism.

As reported in my hometown newspaper, the San Diego Union, according to a recent survey, in California public schools, black students were suspended at a rate approximately twice the state average. This, according to quoted sources, including a professor involved in conducting the survey, was a result of “systemic racism” and a manifestation of “implicit bias” in teachers and school administrators.

During the Trump years, we all became accustomed to the press including the phrase “without citing any evidence” in just about any piece regarding claims made by the Trump administration or its allies. Despite no one in the story citing any evidence that racism had anything to do with the reported variances, the author of this article neglected to use the phrase (and no explanation was given to why whites are suspended much more frequently than Asians).

It is shocking just how incurious the press, and much of the Democratic Party, has become regarding such claims that denigrate many segments of American society, simply because they are politically or ideologically satisfying.

The supposed solution to the problem of too many black students being suspended is, of course, to send teachers through ideological “anti-racist” training so that they can recognize their “implicit biases” and “micro-aggressions.” But if the disciplinary issues with black students are not some manifestation of racism by teachers, but rather the result of other issues faced by black youth, will this prescribed course of action actually help black students?

A cardinal rule of statistics is that when you are analyzing certain variances between groups, those groups need to be very similar or you need to find a way to control for their differences. For instance, when comparing income levels between racial groups or between the sexes you need to account for the fact that age, education, work experience, geography, religion, and other cultural factors all play a role. This is easier said than done as, despite popular perception, we don’t (thankfully) have vast, detailed data bases on everyone in the country, and the statistics typically cited in the media are simple averages of aggregate incomes of the groups being compared, which usually are misleading. The city of San Diego, for instance, just commissioned a study on incomes of city employees, and the simple comparison of average group incomes showed significant differences by race and gender. But when controlled for type of position, overtime worked, and other relevant factors, the study concluded that those variances largely, or completely, vanished.

The economist Thomas Sowell has long argued about the perils of ignoring age differences among racial and ethnic groups in this context. The average age of white Americans, for instance, is 44 compared to 34 for black Americans. One would expect a group that is 10 years older, entering its prime earning years, to have a greater average income than a group that is 10 years younger. AARP recently reported that a Kaiser Family Foundation study showed almost no income gap between whites and blacks 65 and older with similar years of education.

The top-earning ethnic groups in the United States are Indians, followed by East Asians. And the highest earners under the “white” rubric are Jews. I think Jews can make a fairly persuasive case that they have not been big beneficiaries of “white privilege.” And there are significant variations in income within broader racial categories. Filipino-Americans make a lot more on average than do Thai-Americans. The reasons for this are undoubtedly complex, but it doesn’t seem likely that racism is a significant factor.

If we allow more largely poor “asylum seekers” from Central and South America into the country, the result will likely be a decrease in the reported average income of Hispanics. But would that make Americans more “systematically racist” — as those who focus on income gaps argue?

Many other factors have a bearing on the average incomes of groups, from misguided government policies that likely have contributed to the dramatic rise of one-parent black families to the constant narrative of victimhood itself. If America is really a racist place with the deck stacked against black people, what incentive is there for poor blacks to risk their life savings to start businesses or take jobs that may initially pay little more (or even less) than that available under public assistance? It’s like a politician saying elections are rigged and then wondering why turnout among his supporters was less than expected. Demoralizing people has consequences.

The charge that America is “systemically racist” took off in 2020 after the disturbing viral video of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis policeman. Yet, there has never been any evidence given that the actions of the police officer were influenced by Floyd’s race — other than the supposition that a white police officer would never treat a white person that way. But even that argument is demolished by the fact that a white man in Florida — Timothy Coffman — died in similar fashion in 2018.

According to the Washington Post, which has been compiling statistics on the subject since 2015, the number of unarmed blacks who died at the hands of police in 2020 was 25 — which was about the average since 2015. Although most of those 25 incidents made national news (and often the initial reporting was missing critical facts), only a handful were actually cases of criminal police misconduct. The facts don’t support the narrative of Black Lives Matter, eagerly and uncritically endorsed by most of the mainstream media and the leadership of the Democratic Party, that there has been an “epidemic” of killings of unarmed blacks by “white supremacist” police officers. Most blacks are, in fact, opposed to reducing levels of policing in their neighborhoods.

So why is there this insistence that only racism is the cause of the ills in minority (especially black) communities? Why is even questioning this considered racist by the proponents of critical race theory and other social justice warriors?

It is because there is a far larger agenda involved. Only the narrative of “systemic racism” justifies the drive to not only make overtly racist “anti-racist” training, anchored in critical race theory, required for employees of certain cities, universities, and businesses, but also ram even more ideological leftist propaganda down the throats of our young people. Spurred by the call for “social justice,” the leftist California legislature in 2020 passed a bill making an “ethnic studies” course a high school graduation requirement. Designed by leftist academics, the proposed course outline stresses that (per critical race theory dogma) whites are a single, “privileged” ethnicity and calls capitalism a “system of oppression.” The outline, in the words of the Wall Street Journal “boils down to vulgar Marxism, identity politics and victimology.” Even Gov. Gavin Newsom felt compelled to veto it. But the Legislature hasn’t given up. And it did succeed in mandating an “ethnic studies” course for graduates of the Cal State University system starting in 2024.

But it’s not just California. Since the death of George Floyd, critical race theory–based “anti-racist” changes to the curriculum have been instituted with breathtaking speed at schools — both public and private — across the nation. Children are being taught that people of color are by definition oppressed by whites and that white people are inherently racist and owe everything they have to their “white privilege.” Instilling racial hatred is now deemed “social justice” as long as the targeted group is expanded to include all white people (and soon, perhaps, Asians). Fortunately, voters in California just rejected an initiative, endorsed by the state Democratic Party and Kamala Harris, to remove the state’s constitutional prohibition of racial discrimination by the state.

The root causes of the statistics often given as “evidence” of “systemic racism” are many, and racial discrimination — past and present — no doubt plays some role in some cases. But arguing that varying outcomes among very different groups of people are necessarily the result of some nefarious actions, and ignoring all evidence pointing in other directions, is foolhardy from a public policy perspective. And more than that, the notion that inequality of outcomes is in itself the manifestation of some evil that must be stamped out is a very dangerous one to a free society. After all, eliminating inequality of outcomes requires an all-powerful, intrusive government and the violation of individual liberties.

Who would have thought that in the United States of America, we’d be witnessing everyday Americans (including schoolkids) being forced into seminars to examine their “whiteness,” being publicly shamed, punished with losing their jobs or being kicked out of schools, and forced into public confessions of their supposed crimes of expressing (or having once expressed) non-approved opinions? It is not surprising that those who tell us that we need to do these things — which are straight out of Mao’s Cultural Revolution — are Marxists and other totalitarian ideologues. This includes the leaders of Black Lives Matter and the creators and proponents of critical race theory, which now dominates our universities and has metastasized into many other institutions such as the New York Times and the Democratic Party.

It is not coincidental that this line of attack is nearly identical to that of the communist propagandists of earlier generations who professed that totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba were delivering “equality” and “justice” (just ignore the mass graves, gulags, and the walls and armed guards to keep people from escaping), while the United States, leader of the “so-called free world,” was a cesspool of racism, sexism, and capitalist oppression. The goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat has just been modified to be the dictatorship of the non-white proletariat.

Most liberals don’t seem to realize it yet, but when the heads of even liberal journalists and editors at the New York Times are falling under the guillotine of the woke mob, and voicing Martin Luther King’s dream of a society in which people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character is considered a racist “microaggression,” nobody is immune from having his or her life destroyed by these totalitarian thugs. And things will only get worse until liberals, who control most of our cultural institutions, universities, and now our national government have the courage to stand up and say, “Enough!” Since one of “moderate” Joe Biden’s first executive orders was to reverse a Trump order banning the use of critical race theory–based “training” for federal employees, things look to get worse before they get better. The siren song of “equity” — and fear of being called “racist” — has made many liberals deaf to the immorality and injustice of their “social justice” solutions.

Ultimately, to the ideological Left, all this talk about “justice” is really a struggle for power — the power to make everyone “equal” (just like in the old Soviet Union). That vision of forced “equality” is in direct conflict of the founding American principles of individual liberty and freedom of thought. And that is why it is so important to the ideological Left to demonize those founding principles as “false.” Their vision requires the violation of individual liberty and freedom of thought — and requires convincing Americans that those violations are needed to achieve some greater good. If the Left gets its way, with the assistance of its liberal enablers, America will soon truly be the oppressive country about which liberals so like to complain.

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