By Race Possessed: The Revolution Will Be Televised

Barack Obama has said racism in America is “part of our DNA”—declaring, by definition, that America is, was, and always will be a racist nation—committed by our very nature to the oppression of black people. So, too, our government and our institutions are all irredeemably racist and stand as stark symbols of our national disgrace. It is a disgrace that almost always wears a white face—a white face that has driven America off course, sacrificed its values, and blackened its soul. 

Today, more than a half-century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and 45 trillion penitent tax dollars, America’s racial divide deepens gravely. The train of black progress that had come so far since the hard days of the Kerner Commission (1968) suddenly seems lost and nowhere near its intended destination. The tragic death of George Floyd feels like an asterisk in a much larger, more dangerous confluence of bitterness that tears at the very fabric of our republic. Under the banner of racial injustice and its witches’ brew of white supremacy, white privilege, white oppression, even the blasphemy of a white Jesus, America is so fractured along racial lines it appears poised for civil war. 

Amid this storm, we are witness to the American sense of life and its Enlightenment values—reason, freedom, individualism, and achievement—supplanted by virulent strains of identity politics and group think imposed by collectivists and race peddlers who feel violence, destruction, and mob rule are necessary to build better societies. By promoting and inflaming racial animus, they are determined to bully us into silence and to force us to act against our conscience by telling us what to think, what to believe, what to say, how to act, whom to hate, and to demand we simply comply and obey because they know better and their hearts are purer. 

Contrary to Obama’s belief, racism is not part of America’s DNA, nor should we accept any push to codify it with fashionable constructs such as critical race theory, implicit bias, systemic racism, white fragility, or any other bumper sticker philosophy/theory that serves only to racialize and divide us and stain our country’s inherent goodness.

The late, renowned economist Walter Williams rejected claims of America’s systemic racism: “You can’t offer a lot of evidence that we’re systematically racist or there’s institutional racism in our country. . . . I think that a lot of things that people are blaming on slavery and discrimination—it just doesn’t cut the mustard. . . . The civil rights struggle is over, and it’s won.”

Economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell goes further: “It [systemic racism] has no meaning that can be specified and tested in the way one tests hypotheses,” adding that it was a lie reminiscent of Nazi “propaganda tactics.”

Indeed, when the story of America is written, it will recount, as many contend, that no nation has ever evolved more morally, admitted more of its transgressions, and subordinated itself more to its minorities to repair historical racism than the United States.

To Sowell, “What was special about America was not that it had slavery . . . but that Americans were among the very few peoples who began to question the morality of holding human beings in bondage.” Shelby Steele agrees—we cannot overlook “fifty years of real moral evolution in America.” Simply reducing the world to oppressors and oppressed, building black identity focused on protest, and seeing America as essentially evil only intensifies racial loyalties and interracial conflicts. 

Steele argues, as America has worked through its “white guilt” about race, it has experienced a “loss of moral authority,” which blacks have exploited to an unfortunate consequence—seeing racism everywhere and making demands that have led to the practice of using the sin of racism to cure racism (e.g. racial quotas, government set asides, lowering standards, etc.). In the end, such a strategy “corrodes and breaks our faith in our principles,” further “stigmatizes and casts blacks as inferior,” and ensures dependency  “on the very people who oppressed us in the first place.” 

Ultimately, the answers for blacks (and everyone) are to learn how to live with freedom, how to get past race as some kind of defining predestination, and, above all, how to embrace the principle that competition with one’s fellow man on a level playing field is the true path to mutual understanding and respect. 

Creating opportunity and offering a life of possibility are America’s great promises—allowing those who wish to fly to do so—with, as the 1964 Civil Rights Act stated, neither race nor ethnicity as an advantage or a handicap. 

Yes, race, ethnicity, and color have always mattered in America, but they are immutable characteristics that should have no standing in the exercise of our freedoms. In our quest for a more perfect union, personal racism should remain what it is, a moral issue, not a legal one, and waged privately and appropriately by economic and social means.

To divide people racially is a dangerous enterprise. No Americans should be lashed to a Procrustean bed to fit another’s imperfect theory of who they are or what their future should be.

Until we understand this, the revolution will be televised.

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