Who has the better argument, BLM and the woke or black conservative academics and those who think like them? (See my lead-up piece to this one here.)
Economist Thomas Sowell points out in his book Discrimination and Disparities that the expectation of parity in outcomes among populations is fatuous. Simply put, parity is the rare exception, not the rule. Consider something as politically neutral as age. Wouldn’t we expect that, given two large enough populations, the median ages of the two would be about the same? And yet, the median age of Latino-Americans is about 28 while that of Japanese-Americans is about 41, i.e., not even close.
Broad-based outcomes are affected by countless different factors including birth order, geography, culture and many others. So disparities between blacks and whites, whites and Asians, Asians and blacks, blacks and Hispanics, etc. may get our attention, but they’re far from dispositive of anything and come nowhere near to establishing racist actions or intentions. Disparities urge further inquiry, but that’s all.
And what happens when we make those inquiries? The woke claim of widespread current-day racism finds no support. In the first place, as black conservatives and many others ask “Who are all these racists who have such an overwhelming impact on 47 million black lives? The answer is the sound of crickets.
Oh, some claim that Donald Trump is a racist, but the “evidence” for that consists almost entirely of quotations taken out of context (he didn’t call Latinos “animals,” only the M-13 gang whose atrocities well merit the term). But whatever your take on Trump’s alleged racism, no serious person claims he’s responsible for the racial situation in the U.S. before he took office or after he left.
The ugly demonstration in Charlottesville, VA in 2017 is proof positive that racism still lives in certain corners of the U.S., but what power do those people have over anyone’s life but their own? How do they manage to deny jobs or places in college to black Americans? They don’t.
So who are all these racists? After all, in order for them to control the destinies of millions of black Americans, they must be everywhere and wield astonishing power. They must sit at the heads of corporations large and small, preside over law firms, governmental agencies at the local, state and federal levels, rule over colleges and universities. Who are they? What are their names? Back in the 1950s and 60s, we knew them all too well – George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Bull Connor. Today we don’t because, if they exist at all, they’re so few and so powerless as to be all but irrelevant.
If racists were so numerous and racism so prevalent, we’d see countless lawsuits against them and their employers for their despicable actions? Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal in all aspects of life and society. Entire bureaucracies exist to stamp it out. And yet lawsuits even alleging racism, much less proving it, are scarce as hen’s teeth.
And if racists are so common, where are the investigative journalists digging up and reporting on their illegal practices in hiring, housing, voting, college admissions, etc.? There are many stories that assume racism to be the cause of various events, but almost never any actual evidence for the claim.
Derek Chauvin is assumed to have slain George Floyd out of racial animosity, but no one has produced an iota of proof for the proposition. And believe me, they’ve tried. As the man at the center of the most publicized trial of the past several years, it goes without saying that the press, including the New York Times, has turned over every imaginable stone trying to find evidence of Chauvin’s racism. They’ve found him to be a poor officer, but not a racist. If he murdered a man out of racial hatred, wouldn’t his bias have turned up in other parts of his life? Where are the other police officers avowing Chauvin’s racism? What about his ex-wife? Where are former girlfriends, schoolmates, teachers, neighbors, relatives, a diary? Nowhere.
From coast to coast, we’ve heard college presidents bewailing the racism on their own campuses and vowing to eradicate it. From Peter Solovey at Yale to George Bridges at Evergreen State College in Washington, university officials prostrate themselves before woke mobs, but never answer the most urgent questions of all – “If your institution is so infused with racists, who are they? Name them. Name one. More importantly, why haven’t they been fired? Why haven’t you, President Solovey, President Bridges, rooted out the racists over whom you preside?” They make not a word of response and of course take no action against anyone.
Yes, some faculty have been forced to retire or give up certain offices, but those incidents demonstrate not the presence of racism, but its absence. Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika were both professors and masters at Harvard. In 2015, she was forced to retire and he to step aside as master and cancel his classes. Their offense? She’d tweeted that students should be free to select their own Halloween costumes without oversight from university officials. This was excoriated as racism.
The requirement that students read Shakespeare or listen to Mozart is routinely counted as a brand of racism so offensive, so threatening as to require banishment from syllabi.
Those are the types of incidents the woke claim prove our colleges and universities to be racist, but their very triviality demonstrates the opposite. If incidents of actual racism were so rife on campus, surely we’d have heard about them. But we haven’t.
There’s a good reason why: there are no racists on those campuses, at least none among the faculty and administration. None are outed and none are discharged because they can’t be located. They can’t be located because they don’t exist.
And if there are no racists to be found holding positions of power sufficient to create or even substantially influence the racial disparities we see in this country, can’t we conclude that those disparities stem from something else?
Perhaps sensing the strength of that argument and unable to locate actual racists, the woke mob long ago moved on to another theory – systemic racism.
I’ll discuss that next time.