U.K.: The News on Race Ain’t Bad, and for Some, That Ain’t Good

One of the most remarkable developments over the past several years has been people’s utter inability to accept good news. I’ve seen this first-hand. One example: Back in 2019, I was talking to a friend who supported Elizabeth Warren to be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. She informed me that the country was too misogynistic to nominate a woman and that was why Warren was falling behind in the polls. I refrained from stating the obvious – that (a) my friend is a Democrat and the people she was calling misogynistic were Democrats voting in Democratic primaries and (b) three+ years previously, Democrats had done just what she claimed they wouldn’t. No, I only mentioned that there’s a very good piece of research demonstrating that, in the authors’ words, “when women run, women win, as often as men,” i.e. the U.S. electorate is as open to electing women as it is men.


The study I referred to had looked at over 68,000 elections at the state and national levels over three decades and compared three different types of electoral contests – male incumbent vs. female challenger, female incumbent vs. male challenger and male non-incumbent vs. female non-incumbent. It found a statistical dead-heat. Male and female candidates are equally likely to emerge victorious.


Now, female voters are somewhat more likely to vote for female candidates and male voters are somewhat more likely to vote for male candidates, but the result is a wash. It’s not that there’s zero gender bias, but what exists is minimal and has no measurable effect on outcomes. When women run, women win as often as do men. If women want more women in office, all they have to do is toss their hats in the ring.


By any stretch of the imagination, that’s good news, but my friend didn’t want to hear it. She cut off the conversation then and there. That the U.S. electorate isn’t anti-woman was a notion that was so disturbing to her that she refused to even consider the possibility, much less learn an important and uplifting new fact. Her sense of personal oppression was more valuable to her than the happy truth.


And so it is with the report by the British Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities released on March 31. Like the U.S. study on electoral outcomes, that report is the best of news for everyone, but particularly ethnic minorities in the U.K. And, all too predictably, it was met with howls of protest, racial slurs and slander and libel directed at the Commission’s members, nine out of ten of whom are either black or a member of an ethnic minority. Tunku Varadarajan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, describes it this way:


As a result, [Commission Chairman Tony] Sewell, who is black—only one of the 10 other commissioners is white—has come under blistering attack. It ranges from the achingly predictable (a profusion of “Uncle Tom” accusations on Twitter ) to the grotesque. A Cambridge professor of postcolonial studies likened Mr. Sewell to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. A Labour member of Parliament suggested that he belonged in the Ku Klux Klan. Add in put-downs like “house Negro,” “token” and “race traitor,” and you have a picture of the liberal rage ignited by the commission’s refusal to endorse the belief that Britain is irremediably racist.

Mr. Sewell, 62, runs a charity that coaches black schoolchildren in science and math. “It’s a STEM pipeline program,” he says via Zoom from the study of his house in London. “It starts when they’re young and takes them up to university, using summer schools.” Thousands of black kids have been given a college opportunity they “didn’t have in the first place.” Yet he’s called an “Uncle Tom.”


A black man who’s devoted his life to educating black children is Joseph Goebbels come back from the grave? Truly, is there anything too absurd for these people to say?


What had Sewell and the nine other commissioners done to so infuriate the woke mob? They’d delivered news that, while not unalloyed, was unquestionably good. It was good, that is, if you welcome the news that Great Britain is not a particularly racist place and that disparities between the races are mostly within their own abilities to set aright. If you’re woke, on the other hand, any explanation that deviates from the single word, “racism” is beyond the pale of acceptable discourse.


There’s a problem with that woke trope: it doesn’t hold up to even modest scrutiny. Facts are its bitter enemy and facts are what the Commission sought, found, analyzed and reported.

I’ll have more on the report next time. Meanwhile, I encourage readers to examine it.

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