Speaking to (possible) supporters, Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson said that America’s “original character defect is racism.”
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) September 18, 2019
“You cannot have the future you want if you’re not willing to clean up the past,” Williamson said. “That’s just the way it is. So, that is as true of a nation as it is true of an individual. Because all that a nation is, is a group of individuals. So, our original character defect is racism. The first slave ships were brought here in 1619. And then we had 250 years of slavery followed by another 100 years of institutional violence against black people in the American South. That’s 350 years, which is longer than this country has even been in existence.”
Next, she made the case for reparations. Or, as she prefers to call it: “Help.” “I think we would all agree that if you have been kicking someone to the ground, and I think that we’d all agree that 350 years is a lot of kicking to the ground, that you have a moral responsibility: number one, obviously to stop kicking, and number two, to say, ‘here let me help you get back up.’ So I want to be president because I want to help navigate a season of repair.”
Although it’s true that America’s original sin was racism, there are a couple of issues with this little talk. First of all, Williamson correctly points out that a nation is a collection of individuals living in the same country. However, she then suddenly proceeds to forget all about those people being individuals and transforms them into members of a collective — a collective based on the color of their skin. What happened to one black person 350 years ago happens today to his great-great-great-great-great-grandchild. It’s a ridiculous statement, but that is essentially what Williamson argues when she says “if you have been kicking someone to the ground… and I think we’d all agree that 350 years is a lot of kicking.”
No, Marianne, nobody has been kicking anyone to the ground for 350 years. If you truly believe in individualism, you’d see how ridiculous it is to pretend otherwise; to pretend that you have been kicking your black neighbor to the ground because one of your ancestors happened to do so three and a half centuries ago. Or, for that matter, even a mere 50 years ago.
Another issue with Williamson’s remarks is her “solution” in the form of spending $200-500 billion on “reparations.” You solve an issue like racism and slavery by no longer engaging in such despicable behavior. Once everybody is treated equally, it is up to people themselves to improve their lot in life. Slavery was abolished 150 years ago in America. Institutional racism has been virtually non-existent for decades. African Americans and others have no valid reason not to be the best they can be. Nothing and no one stands in their way. If they want to pull themselves up by the bootstraps they can. Just like white people.
Lastly, at a certain moment, Williamson argues that slavery and racism are a “historical trauma” for black people. This is not only nonsense because the vast majority of African Americans living today have not been victimized by either racism or slavery (thank God). It is also downright dangerous. She’s basically telling young African Americans that a) they can’t possibly pursue their dreams but b) none of it is their fault. They’re powerless. This is most definitely not what you want to be telling young people — of any color or cultural background. Before you know, they’ll actually start believing you, with horrendous consequences for themselves and for society at large.
Like many conservatives, I sympathize with Williamson. Unlike most of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, she truly seems to be a kind, gentle, decent person. However, when it comes to actual issues, she makes the exact same mistakes as most of her fellow liberals. What a pity.