What is “racism,” and why do Democrats so relentlessly accuse Americans of it? It is necessary to put scare-quotes around “racism” nowadays, because the word has been quite nearly stripped of meaning by its constant overuse as a political epithet. Depending on the context, sometimes “racist” is merely a synonym for white person (which seems to be the message of Robin DiAngelo and other proponents of Critical Race Theory), but during election season in the United States, it seems that “racist” is synonymous with Republican.
It is this purely partisan definition of “racist” that former First Lady Michelle Obama demonstrated this week in a remarkable 26-minute video campaign ad for Joe Biden. Mrs. Obama heaped praise on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as “an overwhelmingly peaceful movement for racial solidarity.” In fact, BLM is an avowedly Marxist revolutionary organization that has inspired the murder of police officers and incited violent riots nationwide. Of course, anyone who points out this fact is immediately subject to denunciation as a “racist,” and the purpose of Mrs. Obama’s video was to point the finger at President Trump. By criticizing BLM’s organized spree of vandalism, looting and arson, Trump was “stoking fears about black and brown Americans,” Mrs. Obama earnestly declared:
Only a tiny fraction of demonstrations have had any violence at all. So what the president is doing is, once again, patently false. It’s morally wrong and yes, it is racist, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work…. Racism, fear, division, these are powerful weapons and they can destroy this nation if we don’t deal with them head on.
The “tiny fraction” of BLM-inspired riots that Mrs. Obama dismisses as a trivial statistic inflicted billions of dollars of damage, mostly on small businesses in minority neighborhoods, but you are “racist” — guilty of “stoking fears” — if you express concern about this terroristic campaign of destructive violence. Trump is “racist,” according to Mrs. Obama, and everyone who votes for Trump is “racist.” Thus, what the former First Lady called her “Closing Argument” for the Biden campaign can be summarized simply: Democrats, good; Republicans, racist.
While making the accusation of racism a partisan weapon, Democrats seek to silence any honest discussion of the problems affecting black Americans. After all, if white “racism” is the one-size-fits-all explanation for these problems, and if the Republican Party is nothing but the organized political expression of “racism,” then the solution for whatever ails the black community is very simple: Vote Democrat.
This is exactly the message Mrs. Obama intended to convey in her nearly half-hour appeal on Biden’s behalf, with her tendentious argument intended to stigmatize all opposition to the Democratic presidential candidate: Vote for Joe, or you’re a racist. She thereby sought to turn the election into a referendum on “racism” — or “white supremacy,” “white privilege” or “white nationalism,” as the target is variously described by soi-disant progressives. No Democrat disputes the diagnosis (reiterated in the platform the party adopted at its Philadelphia convention this summer) that every problem in the country is the fault of white people, whose collective wickedness is a force of dreadful oppression. “Democrats will root out structural and systemic racism in our economy and our society,” the party platform declares, lamenting “America’s long and ongoing history of racism and disenfranchisement, of segregation and discrimination.” Furthermore, the party pledged itself to “confront white nationalist terrorism,” warning of “the growing threat from white supremacist and other right-wing terrorist groups.”
White people are bad, being white is wrong, and only a “right-wing terrorist” would vote for Trump — such is the general sentiment expressed by the Democratic Party’s national platform. The racism of white people is “systemic,” a word repeated 10 times in the Democratic platform, beginning in the preamble, where they declare they “must” (note the imperative tone) “redress the systemic injustices that have long plagued our society.” Exactly why Democrats failed to redress these injustices at any previous point, such as during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency or during Biden’s more than four decades in Washington, the platform doesn’t bother to explain. Likewise, the platform’s pledge of “enacting fundamental reforms to address structural and systemic racism and entrenched income and wealth inequality in our economy and our banking system” omits any explanation of why Biden or Obama didn’t do this earlier.
You see that, by describing these problems as “structural and systemic,” Democrats simultaneously evade the need for specificity while also portraying the problems caused by white racism as so enormous in scale as to excuse their prior failure to “root out” the “entrenched” injustice. It’s a clever rhetorical trick, and Democrats think Americans are too stupid to figure out what a complete scam it is. Michelle Obama got her degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, whereas you — yes, you, the stupid racist who voted for Trump — probably got your diploma from some obscure state university, if you even went to college at all. Democrats are so much smarter than the rest of us that it’s difficult for many Americans to comprehend the sophisticated nuance of their arguments. When they incite a mob of violent anarchists to loot and burn your business, Democrats expect you to be grateful for this opportunity to “address structural and systemic racism and entrenched income and wealth inequality.” But while you’re sorting through the broken glass and charred debris left behind by the BLM rioters, do you express gratitude for what Mrs. Obama calls an “overwhelmingly peaceful movement for racial solidarity”? No, because you’re a racist.
What is actually going on here? How is it that America, which twice elected Obama president, has apparently regressed so far so fast as to deserve these repeated denunciations as irrefutably guilty of “systemic” injustice? Two words: Hillary lost.
For three years, we were dragged through the “Russian collusion” hoax as a way of explaining what, to Democrats, was the electorate’s otherwise inexplicable rejection of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid. Democrats believe it is always wrong for Republicans to win elections; they had convinced themselves in 2016 that they were “on the right side of history”; and America was poised to take the historic step of electing Mrs. Clinton as the nation’s first female president. When that didn’t happen, Democrats immediately denounced Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, the product of a Kremlin conspiracy, and declared themselves the “resistance” to this incipient authoritarian regime that had stolen the election.
All of that was a vast pile of lies, or perhaps a hallucinatory delusion insofar as anyone ever believed it. (George Costanza’s rule: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”) Democrats and their media allies believed in “Russian collusion” as fervently as Scientologists believe in “Dianetics.” Even after their quasi-religious faith was conclusively debunked by investigators, a hoax supported by the phony Steele dossier that was paid for with Democrat campaign cash, the Trump-haters still refused to accept the verdict of the 2016 election. As an alternative theory to explain Trump’s victory, Democrats turned to “white nationalism.” Trump was Hitler, everyone who voted for him was a Nazi, and the existence of a comparative handful of actual “white nationalists” was cited as proof of this. Violence against Trump supporters was thereby justified as “anti-fascism,” and soon any public gathering of Republicans was besieged by angry Antifa mobs. Recall that even before Trump took office, his inauguration was attacked by riotous “protesters,” more than 200 of whom were arrested and who, among their other crimes, smashed the windows of a Starbucks and set fire to a limousine in downtown D.C.
Democrats did not denounce this anti-Trump violence, as the rioters were expressing the rage that all Democrats felt, and the justification offered for such crimes was their repeated insistence that Trump was a despicable racist, as were all of the 63 million Americans who voted for him. This is slander on a mass scale, and Democrats expect to get away with it because the national media has never called them to account for their lies, and because most Republicans are either hopelessly inept at rhetoric or else too timid to object forcefully to this slander.
What do Democrats mean when they accuse Americans of “racism”? Make them define that term and give specific examples, rather than vague assertions about “systemic injustice.” Statistical disparities between groups of people are not evidence of oppression. As the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, siblings often vary greatly in their abilities and life outcomes: “If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?” To make racism the all-purpose explanation for every measurable socioeconomic disparity between white people (as a collective group) and black people (as a collective group) is to ignore every other variable, to say nothing of the disparities existing within each of these groups.
Seduced by racial grievance hustlers, or hypnotized by peddlers of Critical Race Theory, many people lose the capacity for skeptical inquiry. It apparently never occurs to most Americans to question whether the categories “white” and “black,” in contemporary usage, describe the kind of collective blocs of ethnic solidarity that permits useful analysis. Certainly the 197 million Americans whom the Census Bureau classifies as “white alone, not Hispanic or Latin” are not ethnically homogenous, nor united by their social, religious, and political interests. There is no known consanguinity such eminent white Americans as Mark Zuckerberg (Ashkenazi Jew), Sean Hannity (Irish Catholic), Alyssa Milano (Italian), and Donald Trump (German). None of them, incidentally, are descended from the so-called “Old Stock” of English colonial settlers who founded the American Republic. It is a strange view of humanity that casts into a single category (“white”) such vastly different people. How am I, the descendant of Alabama yeoman farmers, presumed to share some mystic affinity with, e.g., Melania Trump, a native of Slovenia who didn’t arrive in the United States until 1996? Yet this is what the proponents of identity-politics “social justice” tell Americans, that the nearly 200 million white people in this country are defined by their membership in a collective group, just as the approximately 40 million black Americans are collectively defined.
How can we have an intelligent discussion of “systemic racism” in America when the nation is so vast, and the racial categories are so flexible as to lump together people with such diverse backgrounds into monolithic categories as the basis for claims of “structural injustice”? But Americans never get the chance to ask these questions of the Democrats who hurl the accusation of “racism” like a Puritan in colonial Salem accusing his neighbors of witchcraft.
Among the many bizarre aspects of this 21st-century political crusade, perhaps none is stranger than the assertion that Joe Biden is the man to purge America of “systemic racism.” Biden’s record on racial issues is arguably far more “white supremacist” than anything Trump has ever said or done. Breitbart’s John Nolte has compiled several examples, e.g., when former West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd died in 2010, Biden eulogized him as “compassionate” and a “mentor.” Biden didn’t mention that Byrd began his career as an Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan. Rather notoriously, in 1964, Byrd delivered a 14-hour filibuster speech against the Civil Rights Act. Of course, if we were allowed to have an honest discussion on the subject, it might be acknowledged that no one could be elected to high office in West Virginia in those days if he wasn’t racist, although becoming a KKK leader was taking it a bit far, even by the standards of that time.
The question at issue, however, is not whether Byrd deserved praise at his funeral, but whether Biden deserves to be elected president on the basis of his alleged ability to eradicate “systemic racism.” Racism simply fails to explain everything Democrats say it can explain, and adding such modifiers as “systemic” or “structural” is just linguistic camouflage, deployed to conceal this explanatory failure.
In her video, Mrs. Obama praised Biden as “the kind of leader our nation deserves.” Does she mean by this that Americans are confused and have difficulty speaking a coherent sentence? The RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows Biden ahead by nearly 10 points, so apparently a majority agree with Democrats that we are a profoundly racist country. Or maybe the polls are all wrong, and Trump will repeat his against-all-odds upset in 2016. If Trump wins again, we shall see if Democrats are “overwhelmingly peaceful” in their reaction.
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