Columns

The Racism Industry's Biggest Lies

AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

Nothing has been more common during the last years than accusations of “racism.” President Biden has said that he is going to lead a “great battle…to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.” This great “anti-racism” crusade is not directed at anti-Semites who despise Jews and blame the ills of the world on them. Nor is it aimed at the Nation of Islam, the Black Muslims, who hate whites and especially Jews. Yet these cases would seem to qualify as racism. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “racism” as “Belief in superiority of a particular race; antagonism between different races.” The Random House Dictionary of the American Language defines “racism” as “a belief that human races have distinctive characteristics that determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.”

But contrary to common usage as specified in dictionaries, racism has been redefined by sociologists as “prejudice plus power,” so that only white people, who are falsely claimed to exclusively hold all of the power, can be said to be racist. This is convenient for the anti-racism industry, because once racism is so defined and white people identified as power-holders, then all whites are automatically white supremacists. Now a definition cannot be said to be a lie, because it is always an arbitrary investing of meaning in a word or phrase, but it can be said to be a novel usage, deviant from common understanding, and it can be identified as tendentious, aimed at advancing a presumed conclusion prejudicial to some party. 

As well as vilifying white people by arbitrary definition, the “anti-racism” industry has manufactured a series of blatant lies that fly in the face of all empirical evidence. These lies have whipped up such a hysteria, that foundationless accusations of racism appear daily. Let us examine one case, which, although it appears to be minor, unjustly damaged the lives of several individuals. This is the Smith College case of African American student Oumou Kanoute claiming to have been maltreated because of racism. 

Here is the beginning of a detailed and balanced New York Times report of the incident: 

In midsummer of 2018, Oumou Kanoute, a Black student at Smith College, recounted a distressing American tale: She was eating lunch in a dorm lounge when a janitor and a campus police officer walked over and asked her what she was doing there. The officer, who could have been carrying a “lethal weapon,” left her near “meltdown,” Ms. Kanoute wrote on Facebook, saying that this encounter continued a yearlong pattern of harassment at Smith. “All I did was be Black,” Ms. Kanoute wrote. “It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.”

The American Civil Liberties Union helpfully chimed in, claiming that student Kanoute was racially profiled for “eating while black.” Other students came to Kanoute’s aid: “Students walked out of autumn convocation in solidarity with Ms. Kanoute. The Black Student Association wrote to the president saying they ‘do not feel heard or understood. We feel betrayed and tokenized.’”

What appears to have happened is this: Student Kanoute, working on campus during the summer, entered a closed building, which no one was authorized to enter, to eat her lunch. A janitor, seeing someone in a closed building, followed procedure and called the campus police. The unarmed campus policeman politely inquired of the student what she was doing there. According to the law firm hired by Smith College to investigate this incident, there was “no persuasive evidence of bias.” 

Nonetheless, not bothered by the evidence, the Smith College administration, responding as do most college and university administrations, caved to the false claims of racism. The Smith president “said the report validated Ms. Kanoute’s lived experience, notably the fear she felt at the sight of the police officer. ‘I suspect many of you will conclude, as did I,’ she wrote, ‘it is impossible to rule out the potential role of implicit racial bias.’”

Smith College officials emphasized “reconciliation and healing” after the incident. They announced a raft of anti-bias training for all staff in the months to come, a revamped and more sensitive campus police force, and the creation of dormitories — as demanded by Ms. Kanoute and her A.C.L.U. lawyer — set aside for black students and other students of color.

Apparently, racial segregation is the new tool of anti-racism! 

The true victims of this incident, along with Smith College’s integrity and the truth, were the working-class employees of Smith College. A cafeteria worker, who had worked at Smith for 35 years, who mentioned to student Kenoute that only children from the camp were supposed to use the cafeteria, but allowed her to take her lunch, was accused by Kenoute of being a “racist person,” and was moved by the Smith administration away from the dormitory where she had worked for decades. The janitor, also a 35-year employee of Smith, who followed security protocols, was put on leave for several weeks; another janitor, who was not working at the time of the incident, and was publicly accused by student Kenoute of “racist cowardly acts.” The campus security officer was accused of “implicit bias.” These employees, who had been thrown under the bus by the Smith administration, also experienced the distress of repeated accusations of racism. 

Student Kenoute’s false accusations were validated by the Smith administration, and she suffered no punishment for her abuse of long-standing employees. Rather she was celebrated and feted for her “victimhood.” The lesson appears to be that false accusations of racism can be made with impunity, and that injuries to innocent parties go unpunished. And that privileged students at elite colleges and universities can lynch working-class employees at will. 

This is but one case of lies about racism. But thousands of injustices have been perpetrated by the lies of the anti-racism industry. Let us begin with Black Lives Matter and its sponsor the Democrat Party. The basic argument of BLM is that all African Americans are at risk of being murdered by the police, who are racist. BLM states that its “mission is to … build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. … We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.” [emphasis added]

That African Americans are “systematically targeted for demise” by police and whites is a blatant lie, and the statistics prove it: According to Heather Mac Donald, see also here, “in 2016, 7881 African Americans were murdered. Of those 7881, the police fatally shot 233 blacks, the vast majority armed and dangerous, according to the Washington Post. The Post categorized only 16 black male victims of police shootings as ‘unarmed.’ That classification masks assaults against officers and violent resistance to arrest.” So who murdered the other 7,648 African Americans? Almost all, around 90%, were murdered by other African Americans, many during drive-by shootings.  

African Americans who do not carry weapons, resist arrest, fight police, or point their weapons at police are highly unlikely, based on the statistical evidence, to suffer death at the hands of the police. In fact, it is the police who are at much greater risk of being murdered by an African American criminal. As Mac Donald points out, “In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer. Black males have made up 42 percent of all cop-killers over the last decade, though they are only 6 percent of the population.” 

Following logically from the BLM main lie about police “systematically” murdering African Americans is BLM’s recommended policy solution: disband or defund the police. A policy based on a false assertion is likely to be counter-productive, and so it has proven. In Democrat-run cities that have defunded and otherwise shackled the police, violence has skyrocketed, particularly among inner cities heavily African American. African Americans suffer by far the highest level of homicide victims, at least three times their percentage in the general population. African Americans know this, and are not blinded by BLM propaganda, which is why, according to the Gallup opinion poll, they oppose reducing the police presence in their neighborhoods. African Americans know that they are most at risk from African American criminals. 

Also increasingly at risk are Asian Americans, especially Chinese Americans. A wide range of commentators, from Asian activists, to Democrat politicians, to woke professors have attributed the attacks to white supremacy as (allegedly) advanced by President Trump. For example, Tina Tchen, Michele Obama’s former chief of staff, said that “The increase in racist attacks against Asian Americans [is the result of] white supremacy [that] perpetuates this violence and has no place in our country.” Among the many other similar comments is that of a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University, who says that there is “a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term ‘Chinese virus’ and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed toward us.” 

However, in most cases, attacks on Asian Americans have been perpetrated by young African American men. This was the case in 2010 as in 2020; the main difference is that reports in 2010 were franker about who the criminals were, as in this headline: “Dirty Secret of Black-on-Asian Violence is Out.” Furthermore, most of these attacks have not been in MAGA flyover country, or in the free states of Florida or Texas, but in closed Democrat states of California and New York, and especially in the far-leftist cities of San Francisco and New York. How exactly these young black attackers are expressing their “white supremacism” has gone unexplained. As Jeremy Carl puts it, “lying and racial scapegoating because the truth is politically inconvenient should have no place in our country.” 

The biggest and most dangerous lie is that America is systemically racist. Many empirical indices of racism indicate that the country is not racist. Attitudes have changed: negative attitudes by whites about African Americans have just about disappeared. Behavior has changed: many whites vote for African Americans; and interracial mixed marriages have increased markedly. Government policies to support African Americans have ranged from the direction of vast funds, to fifty years of “affirmative action” giving special privileges; while universities and business enterprises give special preference to “diverse” and “marginalized minority” African Americans. With the attitudes and behavior of whites not showing racism, anti-racists have been forced to posit an invisible “implicit racism” to justify their claims. “Implicit racism” is the phlogiston of the anti-race industry, and, like phlogiston, is a failed theory. 

The main evidence of racism offered by the anti-racist industry are the statistical disparities among the vast racial categories of whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Of particular concern is the “underrepresentation” of African Americans and Hispanics in education, prestigious fields of occupation, and income in relation to their percentages of the general population (12% and 18% respectively). For the anti-racist industry, there is only one possible explanation: prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination against African Americans and Hispanics suppressing their success. For the anti-racist industry, these statistical disparities prove that America is structurally racist. 

In order to believe this theory, you not only have to ignore the lack of racist attitudes and behaviors, but you must deny the significance of other statistical disparities that are correlated with the disparities in education, occupation, and income. Of obvious importance is the educational achievement gap. Heather Mac Donald puts it this way: 

But the expectation of proportional representation in every profession is groundless, thanks to the academic skills gap. The unequal distribution of skills, not bias, explains the lack of racial proportionality in employment.

The median black eighth-grader does not possess even basic math skills. “Basic” skills, as defined by the National Assessment of Education Progress exam, means partial mastery of grade-related knowledge. Fifty-three percent of black eighth-graders scored “below basic” on math in 2017. Only 11 percent of black eighth-graders were proficient in math, and 2 percent were advanced. By contrast, 20 percent of white eighth-graders were below basic in 2017, 31 percent were proficient, and 13 percent were advanced. Only 12 percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 32 percent were proficient, and 32 percent were advanced.

The picture was not much better in reading. Forty percent of black eighth-graders were below basic in reading in 2017, 17 percent were proficient readers, and 1 percent were advanced readers. Sixteen percent of white eighth-graders were below basic in reading, 39 percent of white eighth-graders were proficient readers, and 6 percent were advanced readers. Thirteen percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 45 percent were proficient, and 12 percent were advanced readers.

And, of course, these performances are reflected in standardized tests for college and graduate school admissions. On the 2015 math Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) out of a possible 800 points, blacks scored 428, whites 534, and Asians 598. There was a similar pattern of results by race in the Graduate Record Exam, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), the Business School Admissions Test (GSAT), and the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). As long as applicants are admitted on the basis of achievement and merit, African Americans would be underrepresented. This result follows from the application of a universalistic criterion of merit, not from any racial discrimination. 

There are three other disparities among racial categories that contribute to the disparity in educational achievement. The first is the percentage of children raised by two-parent families, which is very high among Asians, next highest among whites, lower among Hispanics, and very low among African Americans. The second is community culture, particularly the emphasis in community culture on educational achievement. In this, Asian communities are particularly high, and African American communities not sufficiently high. The third disparity is criminality. African American neighborhoods are high crime zones. Asian neighborhoods low crime zones. Crime is disruptive and destructive, resulting in a drag on achievement. 

Finally, the anti-racism industry, which increasingly appears to be an anti-white movement, has quite falsely stated that the virtues needed for success in society and in the world are characteristics of “whiteness,” rather than characteristics of success. The alleged characteristics of “whiteness” are a devotion to hard work as a means to success, rational, logical thinking, belief in science, postponement of gratification, speaking standard American English, searching for correct answers, politeness and courtesy, promptness, quantitative emphasis, two-parent families, respect for authority, and devotion to occupation. If these are characteristics of “whiteness,” everyone needs more of them, not less. And what, then, are the characteristics of “blackness”? Are we to believe that African Americans disdain these values and hold opposite ones: avoiding work, illogical thinking, immediate gratification, not searching for right answers, rejection of authority, rudeness, etc.? These claims of “whiteness” raise the question: How on earth did middle-class African Americans ever get there?

The anti-racism industry is not about justice, it is about power for the few: race activists who gain fame and fortune raced baiting, and the Democrat Party that secures the votes of African Americans and the fortunes that come with office. Whites get nothing but vilified, and African Americans get to think of themselves as helpless victims. What a legacy!