In what amounts to state-orchestrated discrimination, California is using bizarre grounds to mandate racial and gender diversity on corporate boards.
The trial commenced this week in Crest v. Padilla, a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch to enjoin California from requiring that publicly held corporations headquartered in California include at least one director who “self-identifies” as a woman. Pursuant to California’s SB 826, by the end of 2021, up to three self-identified women will be required, depending on the size of the board.
In September 2020, two years after enacting SB 826, California went even further, when Governor Newsom signed AB 979 into law. That law requires that California-headquartered public companies also include at least one director from an “underrepresented community,” and by the end of 2022, up to three such directors, depending on the size of the board. The statute defines a “director from an underrepresented community” to be an individual who “self‑identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self‑identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.” Arabs, Armenians, Persians, and Turks, who often are viewed as non-European whites, are excluded from the list of favored minority groups.
A small board could appoint a Rachel Dolezal who self-identifies as an African-American woman to satisfy both requirements. Or, if the board can find biological white males who identify as Alaskan Natives or use the pronoun “she,” they (meaning all of them, not “they” in the royal or gender fluid sense) could satisfy both statutes with a board consisting only of confused white males.
California’s corporations are rejecting this social engineering. In March 2021, the California secretary of state reported that of 647 companies to which SB 826 applies, only 311 reported compliance. At least 50 companies avoided compliance with both statutes by leaving the state or going private.*
Judicial Watch has also sued to enjoin AB 979. That action is in its discovery phase. Both Judicial Watch actions were filed in state court and assert that California laws pertaining to race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender status are presumptively invalid, and taxpayer-funded resources may not be used to implement such laws absent a compelling government interest. Judicial Watch alleges that the California legislature knew these bills to be unlawful when enacted and that the laws cannot pass strict scrutiny.
Though a Judicial Watch victory on SB 826 likely would presage a victory in its similar action against AB 979, three federal lawsuits have potentially greater national implications. Merland v. Weber and Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment (AFBR) v. Weber allege that both statutes violate the 14th Amendment and federal civil-rights laws. The National Center for Public Policy Research last week filed a complaint with the novel premise that the California statutes violate shareholder rights to vote for board nominees based on merit, free of government-imposed race, sex, and sexual orientation quotas.
When it passed SB 826, California’s legislature did not claim that California companies discriminate against female candidates for director. Instead, the legislature cited reports that gender diversity may improve a corporation’s financial performance. For AB 979, the legislature cited reports suggesting that racial diversity among executives might enhance earnings. The legislature did not cite any evidence that racial diversity on corporate boards improves performance, and academic studies have failed to establish that link.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
The AFBR lawsuit alleges that the reports supporting AB 826 were not peer reviewed, or the result of sound statistical analysis. By contrast, numerous peer-reviewed studies analyzed by Jonathan Klick of the American Enterprise Institute have found no effect, or even a negative effect, from increased board diversity. And a study published last week found “a robust and significantly negative stock market reaction” to California’s gender quota mandate.
Beyond the lack of factual evidence, it is remarkable that progressives now identify profit as a “compelling interest” that overrides the heavy burden of using race, ethnicity or gender as the basis for state-orchestrated discrimination. And, despite the legislature’s rationale for the benefits of diversity, both statutes permit a board to exclude all whites and men. The hypocrisy is stunning.
California is not alone. By 2020, a dozen states had enacted or were poised to enact requirements to enhance diversity on boards, though most of the proposals stop at disclosure. Superficially, that is the approach taken by Nasdaq, which recently received SEC approval to require companies trading on Nasdaq to publicly disclose board diversity statistics and explain any failure to have at least two “diverse” directors, including one who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as either an “underrepresented minority” or LGTBQ+.
It has been axiomatic that the purpose of a board is to maximize shareholder value. Doing so requires experience and acumen. The Sarbanes–Oxley Act and the Dodd–Frank Act place onerous obligations on directors, particularly independent directors and members of the audit committee. The SEC has long required public companies to disclose biographical information about each director. In 2009, the SEC also required companies to explain “the specific experience, qualifications, attributes or skills that led to the conclusion that the person should serve as a director.”
Until fairly recently, a hugely disproportionate share of individuals with the necessary experience and skills to serve as directors were white men. But, by 2018, 25 percent of Fortune 100 board seats were held by women and 19.5 percent by minorities. Without government mandates, the boards of public companies have continued to become more diverse. The percentage of Fortune 500 boards with greater than 40 percent diversity has more than doubled in the last ten years.
Not only is this progress insufficient for progressives, but they reject the premise that corporations should maximize shareholder value, or that directors should be selected based on talent. Rather, their priority is “equity,” meaning that jobs are awarded to achieve parity with each group’s percentage in the population, regardless of qualifications.
It is difficult to see how the California laws comply with the Constitution, or federal law.
Racial balancing can never satisfy the compelling-interest requirement for racial and gender preferences. Chief Justice John Roberts succinctly reiterated this in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007):
Accepting racial balancing as a compelling state interest would justify the imposition of racial proportionality throughout American society, contrary to our repeated recognition that at the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.
The U.S. Supreme Court also has held that “racial classifications are antithetical to the Fourteenth Amendment, whose ‘central purpose’ was ‘to eliminate racial discrimination emanating from official sources in the States’” (Shaw v. Hunt , quoting McLaughlin v. Florida ). More than once the Court observed that “distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people” (e.g., Rice v. Cayetano  and Hirabayashi v. United States ).
Though the criteria for gender is somewhat more flexible, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in United States v. Virginia (1996), the “inherent differences between men and women” cannot justify the “denigration of the members of either sex,” support the imposition of “artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity,” or permit government to “rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.” Last year, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court extended the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status.
The Supreme Court has applied prohibitions on state action to a private company when the state requires the unlawful act. In California, the improper acts are specifically mandated by the state, at risk of escalating fines.
The destructive fixation on race and gender has had profoundly negative effects on education, the military, government, science, and other sectors. With the quality of corporate boards at America’s largest corporations now under siege, the outcome will not be any better.
The professional conservative movement should be moving massive amounts of money to support parents' efforts and harden them as a target of this leftist onslaught.
By Joy Pullman•
For the first time in ages, the political right has had a massive boon dropped right into its lap. Democrats are shaking in their boots over the political implications of their institutional support for the state-sponsored racism known as critical race theory.
Their initial attempts to Jedi mind trick away people’s concern by insisting CRT isn’t real failed, and even Nancy Pelosi mouthpiece Politico is reporting how CRT in schools is deeply offending the independent and Democrat voters crucial to the Democrat Party’s competing grievance groups.
So what is the institutional right doing to capitalize on this amazing opportunity? A few states are banning it from classrooms — amid the usual friendly fire butt-covering for do-nothing Republican politicians — while Democrats prepare for total war to maintain their control of the national child-indoctrination apparatus known as public schooling.
If the conservative movement and Republican Party were serious like the left is serious, here’s what it would be doing to use the CRT uproar for tactical advantage instead of maxing out their energies on chest-thumping panel discussions and TV appearances while parents with kids and full-time jobs try to do all the groundwork without air cover.
The nation’s largest teachers union announced it’s filled a $5 million war chest to provide legal defenses for any teachers caught pushing CRT. The Biden administration has nominated to a key U.S. Department of Education legal post a leftist extremist who previously wielded federal power to institute racist policies that forced schools to discipline children according to their skin color instead of their actions: “Under her leadership, civil rights investigations became tools of harassment to coerce changes in school policies.”
These institutions are going to use the might of the federal government, an army of lawyers, and the nation’s largest teachers union to defend their territory. Who is helping parents go on the offensive against state-sponsored racism?
One-man journalist army Chris Rufo is recruiting lawyer volunteers via Twitter. That’s great, but he shouldn’t have to do this himself. The professional conservative movement should be moving massive amounts of money to support parents’ efforts and harden them as a target of this leftist legal onslaught. Stop platforming leftist propaganda outlets and start hiring effective marketing strategists, investigative journalists, and scads of lawyers.
Max Eden points out in City Journal that when racial extremist Catherine Lhamon underwent confirmation hearings as Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of USDOE’s Office of Civil Rights: “Republican senators… did not challenge Lhamon on her record on school discipline. Nor did they ask any questions on the issue at the forefront of so many voters’ minds: critical race theory.”
Later, one senator, Ranking Member Richard Burr, sent Lhamon written questions about racial extremism and Llamon dodged, claiming she could not answer any “hypothetical” questions. Eden notes:
While Burr deserves credit for forcing Lhamon to make her ambivalence about racial discrimination a matter of public record, it is a shame that no Senator was willing to ask her any of these questions directly during her hearing. The American people deserved to witness her reluctance to condemn racial discrimination. The exchange could have made national news and framed Lhamon’s nomination as what it likely is: a referendum on whether or not the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights should permit anti-white racial discrimination.
Republican senators are not elected by the people of their states to rubberstamp racial extremism. The least we ought to be able to expect them to do is probe and bring out nominees’ unfitness for office, then vote against those nominees as a consequence. Explaining that vote to constituents should be a no-brainer. Get better, Republicans. Kids being recruited by racists are counting on you.
It should also be a complete no-brainer to make effective opposition to critical race theory a litmus test for public office, including appointments and judges. Not just saying “I oppose CRT,” but displaying an effective track record of opposing it or things like it, or presenting a specific plan about how the candidate proposes to combat it with the power he wants voters to grant him.
We’re talking about an ideology that pushes eight-year-olds to rank themselves and their classmates according to their racial and sexual (?!) “privilege,” demonizes people according to their skin color, says babies can be racists, and encourages leading children in chants to an Aztec god. Opposing CRT should be like taking candy from a baby. If a candidate can’t or won’t do it, he’s worthless and better disposed of.
How does one dispose of weak public officials who won’t stop taxpayer dollars from funding racists? Pressure. The Republican Party and all its various local branches should make CRT opposition a requirement for getting their campaign dollars and other assistance.
If primary season is coming up, primary them. If it’s not, run ads pressuring them. Send journalists to look into the public money and institutions politicians oversee and whether it’s funding CRT, and ask them to comment on why this is allowed. Get allies to go on TV and ask why Politician A who oversees the education committee wouldn’t comment about evidence of tax dollars funding racism. This is politics 101, people. Lefties do this in their sleep.
Richard Hanania pointed out earlier this year that, months into the CRT explosion, National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton publicly stated that neither had any policy ideas about how to fight cancel culture. Hanania responded by noting that the cancel culture use of “racism” to tar and feather perfectly normal and nonbigoted ideas is backed by an entire legal apparatus that has accreted over the years under the “disparate impact” doctrine, sprouted from race-conscious “diversity” laws and jurisprudence.
“Disparate impact” is, of course, what critical theorists use to absurdly accuse the United States, babies, and white males of inherent and systemic racism. It is very much linked to policies that can and should be reformed. Hanania gives these suggestions for such anti-CRT reforms:
1) Eliminating disparate impact, making the law require evidence of intentional discrimination.
2) Getting rid of the concept of hostile work environment, or defining it in extremely narrow and explicit terms, making sure that it does not restrict political or religious speech.
3) Repealing the executive orders that created and expanded affirmative action among government contractors and the federal workforce.
This is a starting point for think tanks to delve into various laws and regulations to put out actually useful whitepapers. Give politicians and bureaucrats a map of exactly what policies the real antiracists want them to search out and destroy. That way we can better hold them to it.
Philanthropists should get together and stick a bunch of money into an endowment — or endowments! — that distributes “critical race theory escape scholarships” for families stuck in school systems that are trying to make their kids racists.
State lawmakers should sponsor bills to create “antiracism choice scholarships” that make state funds available to families in school districts that are found to be teaching racism. As Chris Bedford notes, this is the time to institute universal backpack funding so parents never have to negotiate with racial terrorists again. Churches should step up to their historic commitments to provide a Christian education to all Christian children, and to serve the poor, by starting schools or crowdfunding CRT escape scholarships.
State think tanks should help fundraise for any and all of these, or provide startup funding and assistance to groups of parents to start non-racist charter and private schools, education “pods,” and homeschool communities. The possibilities for direct action to give affected children immediate lifeboats out of desperate situations are myriad.
Parents need help using research skills such as filing open records requests to find out what their school systems are doing with their kids and tax dollars. They may also need lawyers to send threatening letters and even file lawsuits if school districts refuse to disclose this public information. This kind of discovery, and amplifying it, would be largely the work of journalists if the profession weren’t such a mess.
Again, Rufo is amazing, but he should be duplicated as much as possible. Get the guy a research assistant, and journalists and lawyers to extend his work to as many school districts as possible. How many parents really know what their children are being told in school? Very few.
Scared parents in my local district in a red state recently sent around an “I do not consent” form letter to bring to school this fall stating that they don’t want their children taught critical race theory. How is that enforceable? How would they know if the school went ahead and ignored them? Why is it even a thing that parents should feel the need to send letters like this to an institution they are funding and sending their children to? Who is backing them up?
I know who it should be: Those with the resources to make their concerns heard and enforced, through as many avenues as possible. The time to press this advantage — one of the few people on the political right have right now — is immediately, and as hard as possible. Don’t squander this moment. Who knows if and when another one like it will arise.
Teachers questioned how they could teach history and social studies through a social justice lens without rankling parents in the 'highly conservative county ... in the middle of Trump country.'
The curriculum-writing team in a suburban St. Louis school district plotted with a critical race theory advocate on how to keep parents in the dark about their efforts to inject leftwing social justice advocacy into their classrooms, according to a video of their meeting leaked online.
The video, posted on rumble.com in early July, is alleged to be a condensed version of a September 2020 webinar that members of the Francis Howell School District’s curriculum-writing team participated in. The webinar was hosted by their equity consultant, LaGarrett J. King, an associate professor of social studies education at the University of Missouri. He was described on the call as a specialist in the study of “race, critical theories and knowledge.”
It’s unclear who edited the video, which appears to have been posted anonymously by someone with the online moniker “wokeatfhsd.”
During the webinar, King told the predominantly white team members that “This is not a safe space,” but rather a “racialized space,” because “In many ways a safe space is a space where white people tell us how not racist they are. And this is not that space.”
King said “the first thing we have to understand is that our social studies and our history curriculum is political and racist,” and “there is no such thing as neutral history.” He then asked the team members to question whether they are developing black history curriculums through the historical lens of the oppressor. “We have made those who have oppressed people, the oppressor, we have humanized them,” he said.
The nation’s founding “means nothing to black people,” he said, calling history “psychologically violent” but one-sided. He also seemed to justify violence in the name of racial justice.
“All of our wars was about freedom, violence,” King said. “But yet, when black people say, ‘Hey … we need to take over, man. We need to burn this place down, we need to do this, we need to do that.’ ‘Oh no, you should do non-violence to achieve freedom.’ It’s silly. It’s prejudice.”
During a question-and-answer portion of the webinar, teachers and staff on the call questioned how they could reframe their classes to look at history and social studies through a more racialized social justice lens without rankling parents in the “highly conservative” community, which one teacher described as “the middle of Trump country.” King agreed that teachers could do away with verbiage like “white privilege,” while still getting the progressive message across to students.
One white teacher on the call said she’s been teaching about white privilege for a decade.
“Kids are way more open,” she said, “but then they go home and they tell their parents, and then their parents get upset. I don’t advertise to my students when I’m teaching U.S. history that sometimes I would consider myself the anti-U.S. history teacher.”
Another white teacher said because they teach in a conservative county, “Sometimes I think we have deferred to letting that stop progress. We let noise keep progress from moving forward.”
In a paper he co-authored in 2018, King acknowledged that critical theory was developed in the 1920s by German thinkers who “sought to extend Marxist theory into the changing social, political, and economic landscape of the twentieth century by talking about how culture and ideology encourage and sustain social inequality.” In order to “remain true to critical pedagogy,” the authors wrote, “teachers should work to identify questions that are important to students’ lives and that encourage them to reflect on the ways that they are either privileged or oppressed by social dynamics.”
While the district’s teachers have privately discussed their efforts teach students through a decidedly progressive social justice lens, school leaders have publicly denied this is occurring. At a recent school board meeting, superintendent Nathan Hoven said the district has not adopted critical race theory into the framework of its curriculum. “We are not and have no interest in advancing any political agenda,” he said.
“While we support the work and many of Dr. King’s contributions, we vehemently disagree with any suggestions that teachers or staff hide the work we’re doing from parents and taxpayers,” the district told National Review in a statement provided by spokeswoman Jennifer Jolls. “We always strive to make decisions that we believe are in the best interests of students, and do so in a way that is transparent and accessible to all stakeholders.”
School board members recently voted to approve black history and black literature courses as high school electives, according to local media reports. “Students and parents requested these courses be added to the curriculum and we are proud to offer them for those who choose to expand their learning on these topics,” the district said in its statement.
For each of the challenged provisions, DOJ's complaint alleges black voters are burdened more than white voters in Georgia's new voting law.
On Friday, the Biden administration filed suit against Georgia, challenging numerous aspects of the state’s Election Integrity Act of 2021. While many of the allegations contained in the nearly 50-page complaint struck a surreal chord, assessing the merits (or lack thereof) of the lawsuit requires an understanding of the Voting Rights Act. Here’s your lawsplainer.
Last week, the Biden administration, through the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, filed a one-count complaint against the state of Georgia, the Georgia State Election Board, and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, pursuant to Sections 2 and 12(d) of the Voting Rights Act.
The latter provision, Section 12(d), authorizes the attorney general of the United States to file a civil lawsuit against states and local election officials for alleged violations of the substantive provisions of the Voting Rights Act, such as Section 2. Further, under the Voting Rights Act, the federal government may seek injunctive relief to block voting laws from taking effect.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act currently prohibits any “standard, practice, or procedure” that “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” The “results in” language here proves key, because when Congress first passed the law in 1965, Section 2 prohibited only a “standard, practice, or procedure” “to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”
As originally drafted, then, the Voting Rights Act only prohibited intentional discrimination. However, following the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Mobile v. Bolden, wherein the high court held that Section 2 only bars “the purposefully discriminatory denial or abridgment by the government of the freedom to vote” on account of race or color, Congress amended the language of Section 2 to prohibit practices that “result” in the “denial or abridgment” of the right to vote.
To prevail on a Section 2 claim, then, the Department of Justice need not establish a state such as Georgia intended to deny or abridge the right to vote based on race or color. Rather, Section 2(b) provides that a violation “is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes . . . are not equally open to participation” because members of a particular race or color “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”
Based on this statutory language, courts have developed a two-step analysis to determine if a practice violates Section 2. First, courts ask whether the practice provides members of a particular race or color “less opportunity” than others “to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” Second, the burden must be “caused by or linked to ‘social and historical conditions’ that have or currently produce discrimination.”
While the courts seem to agree on this two-prong approach to Section 2, in practice the lower courts have reached conflicting assessments of the validity of various laws. For instance, the Seventh Circuit upheld Wisconsin’s voter ID law against a Section 2 challenge, while the Fifth Circuit rejected Texas’s Voter ID law.
Most extreme, however, was the Ninth Circuit’s application of the two-prong test in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. In Brnovich, the en banc court held that Arizona’s “out-of-precinct” provision, which required voters to cast their ballots in the correct precinct, violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The appellate court also struck Arizona’s ballot-harvesting ban that made it illegal for individuals to possess another person’s ballot, other than election officials, mail carriers, caregivers, family, or household members. In striking Arizona’s voting law, the Ninth Circuit focused heavily on the disparate impact of the challenged provision, as opposed to whether minority voters have an “equal opportunity” to vote.
Brnovich is currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and experienced court watchers expect the justices to reverse the Ninth Circuit and uphold Arizona’s voting laws. Beyond the bottom line in Brnovich, the Supreme Court will likely also define the appropriate standard for lower federal courts to apply in analyzing Section 2 claims.
While it is unclear what guidance the Supreme Court will provide or what standard the justices will adopt in Brnovich, it is likely the majority will stress that a mere disparate impact on voters is insufficient. Yet the gist of the DOJ’s entire lawsuit against Georgia is that select provisions of the Election Integrity Act impact black voters at a higher rate than white voters.
Specifically, the DOJ complains that black voters are “disproportionately burdened” by the challenged provisions of Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021. And what exactly are those challenged provisions?
First, the DOJ complains that Georgia prohibits the distribution of unsolicited absentee ballot applications then also bars private organizations from distributing duplicate absent ballot applications. Next, the DOJ challenges Georgia’s requirement that in requesting an absentee ballot that voters either provide their driver’s license number or present a photocopy of another form of identification — but even a utility bill would suffice.
Also challenged are limits on the time period for requesting absentee ballots and limits on the number and location of absentee ballot drop boxes. Finally, the DOJ challenges Georgia’s ban on out-of-precinct voting and the distribution of food or drinks by private organizations to persons waiting in line.
For each of these challenged provisions, the complaint alleges black voters are burdened more than white voters. But even under current precedent — outside the liberal Ninth Circuit — that is not enough. Rather, the question is whether under the totality of the circumstances the challenged provisions deny black voters an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and that that burden is caused by historical or current race discrimination.
Given that Georgia’s law provides more generous early voting and absentee voting opportunities than many other states, it is difficult to see how a court would find these provisions violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Further, if, as expected, the Supreme Court in Brnovich, upholds Arizona’s challenged provisions, the precedent will be even stronger in Georgia’s favor.
For now, though, Georgia must answer the DOJ’s complaint. At that point it is likely the DOJ will seek a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law. However, to obtain a preliminary injunction, the DOJ must establish a likelihood of success on the merits. We will then get a first sense of how presiding Judge J.P. Boulee, a Trump appointee, views the DOJ’s case.
Before then, though, we will know how the Supreme Court views Section 2 challenges to state voting integrity laws, with a decision in Brnovich due in the next month or so.
Political extremism is by definition problematic. Extremism prevents meaningful discussion and debate and it precludes appropriate compromise — something that in a pluralistic society is necessary as only a tyrant can get 100% of what he wants. The rest of us must, discuss, debate, and work with others to find reasonable and workable compromises.
But extremism isn’t simply believing you’re right. Virtually, everyone who has thought about an issue believes that they are right. That’s entirely normal and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Extremism creeps in when you are so sure you’re right that you feel everyone must agree with you, and that anyone who doesn’t must be forced to accept your views. An extremist doesn’t believe he needs to engage in discussion or debate or build support for his ideas by the logic and power of his arguments. An extremist is willing to use the societal levers of power to force compliance. An extremist has no respect for others to see things differently.
We’ve seen extremists kill others that they deem unworthy or to promote their ideology through fear. This, of course, is extremism in its most heinous and obvious form. We’ve also seen extremism when mobs destroy property, kill others, endanger lives, and demand that the rest of us capitulate to their demands as a result of their threats. This too is easy to condemn. But sadly, some won’t condemn this sort of behavior when it is done by people that they see as aligned with their own views.
But there is another more subtle form of extremism that is widely used in America today and stunningly it is used by many who vociferously claim to be fighting against extremism. What is this form of extremism? Labeling everyone with whom you disagree an extremist, and using the levers of societal power to silence, dismiss and marginalize them.
In the extremist’s mind, other views are not merely wrong — they are so wrong and so entirely without merit that the idea must be silenced and the people who hold that idea must be marginalized and punished. Despite all the talk of unity since the election, there is little evidence that unity is actually sought by the extremists. They demand capitulation and compliance.
For the past decade or longer, Americans who believe that a nation must have secure borders and that immigration must be done according to reasonable and fair laws have been routinely called racists and extremists. Many of these positions were bipartisan or mainstream points as recently as a decade ago.
Likewise, Americans who believe that forcibly shutting down the economy and closing schools during the COVID pandemic was unwise, unnecessary, and even unhelpful are routinely dismissed as not caring about health or life, and now even as Neanderthals. Even the science and data that show little if any benefit from the most strict lockdowns is derided and deemed unworthy of public conversation. The extremists decided that such things couldn’t even be discussed by medical doctors and researchers. In the name of science these topics were forbidden — proving that they have no understanding of what science means.
The label “extremist” is not thrown about because millions of Americans are actually fanatical extremists. Generally, their views have some measure of rationality — if you bother to listen. You don’t have to agree with them. You just have to realize that they are not raving lunatics. You might have different priorities and different interpretations of the facts, but that doesn’t mean their views are so utterly stupid that they must be silenced and marginalized.
The truth is the label “extremist” is too often used as a weapon to silence a large segment of the population, or if it cannot silence them, to dismiss them as unworthy of participating in a national debate. Falsely using the label “extremist” to silence, marginalize and delegitimize others is itself an extremist instinct. A rational and reasonable person is willing to discuss and debate the issues. An extremist doesn’t feel the need to discuss or debate because they already know that they are 100% right, that you are 100% wrong, and that you must be silenced.
This is done daily online with ideological bullies like FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The so-called fact checkers label false and misleading almost anything that they disagree with. The “fact checkers” tend to do this zealously to one side, but are more tolerant of the “satirical” or “metaphorical” posts of those they generally agree with. I’ve also noticed that their claims of wanting to provide more “context” is disingenuous because they seem to provide said context mostly for the views with which they disagree and rarely for the ones that support their bias.
Sadly, many of the so-called fact checkers have extremist instincts, and exercise those instincts daily — all while telling us that they are combatting extremism.
The entire point of a debate is to allow both sides to make their best case. If both sides make good cases, great. If one side makes a good case and one does not, that’s good too. It all helps inform the public. But when fact-checkers try to intervene and declare one side is correct, they are simply short-circuiting the debate process. That is far more dangerous than most appreciate — particularly when it is so clearly politically motivated.
I’ve recently seen how this type of extremism can even encourage violence. My mother, also a great grandmother, attended a sign wave during the presidential election, along with about a dozen other senior citizens.
Only a few minutes after gathering, a very angry man in his 20s or 30s stormed over, ripped the signs out of their hands, and shouted threatening profanity while denouncing the senior citizen’s support for the then-current President. My mother asked for her sign back and he hit her so hard that he knocked her to the ground and she lost consciousness. Fortunately, police were nearby and stopped the man and arrested him. My mother has since had surgery to repair her arm that was damaged in the politically motivated attack.
This man was so sure that he was 100% right and that my mother and the others were so completely wrong, that he didn’t need to engage them in a discussion because they were not worthy of a discussion. The online bullies and the media bullies taught him that he needn’t respect people who supported that man. So he decided it was acceptable to steal their signs, physically intimidate them, and assault them.
Additionally, a week or two before the election, I got a call from a concerned citizen warning me that an extremist group with a history of organizing and promoting mob violence had created an online interactive map that was marked with targets that they were directing their groupies to “visit.” I learned that my name and address were marked on the map as a “target” to help the angry mob find me. Evidently, because I’m a conservative, I am worthy of intimidation, threats and perhaps even violence.
This is extremism at its core. And yet, the self-proclaimed opponents of extremism online and in the media are generally silent. It is now acceptable for people to maintain an “enemies” list for the purpose of preventing political adversaries from finding gainful employment. The people who do this are not silenced or marginalized. But the people they do it to are silenced and marginalized.
We should all stand up for free speech and robust discussion and debate. Let’s oppose violence and intimidation wherever and wherever we see it, and not make excuses for it if its practitioners are sympathetic to us. Likewise, let’s oppose the extremist instinct to silence and marginalize people that we disagree with. Sadly, this form of extremism is alive and well in America and it does great harm to the health of our society.
With the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the tragic death of George Floyd, recent police shootings, and continuing riots all dominating news coverage, it is time to have a serious conversation that honestly examines the situation. To be honest, whatever we are doing right now doesn’t seem to be working — unless the goal is to tear the nation apart.
No reasonable person can watch the video of George Floyd’s arrest and say it was good policing. Likewise, no reasonable person can seriously argue that an officer’s wrongdoing convicts an entire nation of 330 million people. Whatever Chauvin’s motivations may have been, they do not make you or I racists or even complicit. We are each responsible for our own actions — not for the actions of others. But we are responsible as citizens to create a society based in freedom, opportunity and accountability.
The truth is virtually all of America was horrified by the video of George Floyd’s arrest and tragic death. While his condition may have been compromised by an overdose of fentanyl, virtually no one who saw that video thought it was good policing, or that Floyd deserved to die. This fact is proof that America is not broadly or fundamentally racist.
The mad rush to label America a racist nation and to conclude racism is so ingrained in Americans that we are racist even without knowing it is not factual, accurate, fair or reasonable. And perhaps even more troubling, it misdiagnoses the problem and thus won’t correct things. In fact, the so-called cure will only further divide and Balkanize our nation.
The evidence is strong that Americans want justice and opportunity not only for themselves, but for others. In a nation of 330 million people, there are certainly some who are racists. But they are a very small minority. Most Americans properly see racism as loathsome. That is why people of color from all over the world try to make their way to America — they see it as a land of opportunity.
So let’s look for real solutions and leave the slogans out of it. For example, defunding the police will fix nothing. In fact, where police departments have been defunded, crime rates and murders have soared and city councils are scrambling to undo the harm they predictably helped cause by their foolishness.
What might actually help? We now know that Chauvin had 22 complaints filed against him for inappropriate policing tactics. Yet the union backed him and only once was he disciplined — when it now seems clear he shouldn’t have been a police officer. Had he been fired years ago, George Floyd would likely be alive and Chauvin would likely be making a living in some other field for which he was better suited. Perhaps we should look at how public employee unions blindly protect their membership from accountability. We can also look at police training.
Likewise, we must honestly admit that many police officers every year are killed in action — some execution style. And in many of the police shooting cases, the victim fights and/or pulls a weapon. As a society, we should teach and encourage respect for the police and the law.
Some commentators now frequently claim that people of color are more afraid of police than of a criminal trying to gain access to their home. That makes no sense at all. The data is very clear that the overwhelming majority of gun shot victims in the minority community are at the hands of violent felons, not police officers. If there are people of color who are more afraid of police than criminals, it is because media coverage has repeatedly misrepresented the facts and exaggerated the risks. This in turn is likely to increase the very circumstances that could lead to more tragedies.
Injustice occurs when people do things that unfairly harm others. Some of those things may be relatively small — like being cut off in traffic. And some may be quite significant and even tragic, like George Floyd’s treatment. But in a nation of 330 million people, we will experience or see small injustices every day. And we will likely hear of larger more significant injustices every week or month. That’s just a statistical probability in a large, populous nation.
But we seem to have entered a very unhealthy and irrational sphere of thinking where every time an officer shoots a minority that is proof of a broadly racist society. In fact, it is not only the most frequently repeated explanation in the media, we have gotten to the point where reluctance to accept this explanation is itself viewed as racist. We should examine the facts of each case, not merely assume or presume that race was the deciding issue.
If we assume that every slight and every injustice is racially based, we will become more racially divided. If I assume that when I get cut off on the highway by a person of a different race, that it was racially motivated, I’d be wrong almost all the time. They might have been distracted, or not seen me, or misjudged the space available and speed of traffic. But it’s very unlikely that they saw me and thought, “I’m gonna cut that guy off because I hate him for racial reasons!”
As a nation, let’s strive as Martin Luther King encouraged, to judge each other “by the content of their character” rather than the “color of their skin.” Let’s hold police accountable when they act outside the law. But otherwise, let’s respect and honor the law and the police. And let’s not rush to label every error or misdeed a racially motivated attack. Let’s seek to unify and recognize that despite our differences, virtually every America seeks a just and fair society where freedom and opportunity abound and where individuals who break the law are held accountable in accordance with the law.
The “woke” fancy themselves crusaders engaged in a battle against injustice, racism, inequality and other societal ills they believe have held certain people back since before this country was founded. They may look askance these days at the author of the Declaration of Independence but are passionately committed to his thesis that all men and women are not only created equal but, by virtue of their humanity, possess certain rights which the state cannot legitimately take from them.
Don’t be fooled. It’s all part of an immense power grab by those seeking to remake the nation according to the ideas of certain 19th-century European white males who believed the highest, best use of power was to assure that goods and services—as well as the capital needed to produce them—are not allocated through the free market but “From each according to their ability, to each according to his needs.”
The decision to wrap those ideas up in a contemporary campaign against racism—one that depends on people not seeing their peers as equals regardless of color and on affirmative denunciations of anything remotely “racist”—is a neat trick designed to keep the well-intentioned from becoming suspicious. The United States is probably the single place where, considering our size, population and multi-ethnic character, race matters least. America is a place where anyone can succeed and where success is still considered something to be emulated rather than envied, progressive rhetoric aside. If racism still formed a kind of communal chain holding certain people down, it would have been foolhardy for the GOP leadership to choose Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to deliver Wednesday’s televised response to President Joe Biden‘s address to a joint session of Congress.
Sen. Scott’s success in business and politics, to which he himself alludes repeatedly, is a matter of character. Not just his own but his mother’s, her parents’ and that of several mentors he encountered along the path of life. His experience is quintessentially American—in the best of all possible ways.
So why did the woke remain silent when, moments after the speech ended, Scott began to trend on Twitter as “Uncle Tim”—an ugly phrase, meant to convey the stereotypical image of a black man happily subservient to white people?
It’s a slur all right, grounded in race. It suggests Sen. Scott is somehow a pawn of white men and women rather than a person of strength and independent mind who can judge for himself the best way to go through life.
Why have so few denounced the racist pillorying of a black, Republican United States senator? Why hasn’t the White House press corps asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki if President Joe Biden condemns those referring to Sen. Scott as “Uncle Tim?” Why haven’t Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi been asked whether they consider it an appropriate way to characterize one of their congressional colleagues? It’s not as though questions like these would break new ground. The Washington press corps hounded Donald Trump with them throughout his four years in office. Why is it silent now?
The same is true of the talking heads, whose nightly virtue signals to America about what is and is not racist dictate how the public should feel about every event, politician or piece of legislation. They too have had little to say about the “Uncle Tim” smear—just as they and their predecessors remained silent when similar slurs were hurled at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and other prominent black conservatives. Some of my fellow political reporters and columnists still deny that a notorious incident from the days before camera phones when someone tossed Oreos—black on the outside, white on the inside—at former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele even happened.
If the woke were as anti-racist as they claim, they’d be rushing to Sen. Scott’s defense. “A disagreement with him over ideas is not an excuse to pejoratively invoke the color of his skin,” they might say if they were honest. They haven’t, which is legitimate grounds to wonder about their integrity—on race and everything else. Are their sentiments genuine or are we just being played?
How this pernicious ideology rejects rational inquiry and objective truth.
On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” The order contained the kind of emotionally charged language about critical race theory that is seldom seen in these legalistic documents: “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”
The order quoted from training materials being used by government agencies and from statements of the agencies themselves, such as this from the Treasury Department: “Virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.” The department, according to the order, “instructed small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid ‘narratives’ that Americans should ‘be more color-blind’ or ‘let people’s skills and personalities be what differentiates them.’” Trump’s order was revoked by President Biden on his first day in office.
By this time, however, the ideas that had prompted Trump’s concerns had already begun to disturb the lives of the American people who encountered them. In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on December 20, 2020, Gabrielle Clark, the mother of William Clark, a twelfth-grader in a Nevada charter school, complained about the school’s refusal to accept her son’s objection to what was being taught in a recently revised civics course. Ms. Clark, a widow, is black. Her son’s father, however, was white, and her son was light-skinned enough to be considered white.
In her complaint, Clark stated that a new curriculum at William’s school “inserted consciousness raising and conditioning exercises under the banner of ‘Intersectionality’ and ‘Critical Race Theory.’” “The lesson categorized certain racial and religious identities as inherently ‘oppressive,’ . . . and instructed pupils including William Clark who fell into these categories to accept the label ‘oppressor.’”
Despite Clark’s and her son’s objections to what he was being required to admit about himself and his racial heritage, the school insisted that he take this course and gave him a failing grade — imperiling his chances for college admission — because of his refusal to admit that he harbored the views that were being pressed upon the class.
The remarkable thing about the school’s attitude was its refusal to recognize a student’s objection to the characterization of his personal views. As we will see, this is an insignia of what is now called critical race theory (CRT), which for reasons outlined below will not — actually cannot — accept any white person’s view that he or she is not a racist or oppressor.
Bari Weiss is a former employee of the New York Times, a highly educated and successful writer, who resigned from the staff of the Times in July 2020, with a letter to the publisher complaining of the development within the paper’s staff of a “consensus” that “truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job it is to inform everyone else.” Although Weiss has never publicly identified the “orthodoxy” she described in the letter, it is clear from her actions later that it is the same “divisive concepts” identified by Trump in his executive order and described in Gabrielle Clark’s complaint.
Since then, Weiss has taken up the cause of showing how widespread and dangerous these ideas have become. In a memorandum to her mailing list on March 10 this year, Weiss described the predicament of affluent parents in Los Angeles who see their children being indoctrinated with ideas about critical race theory but don’t protest, for fear of being called racists themselves.
In its way, this is as extraordinary as Trump’s executive order and the refusal of William Clark’s school to accept his protest that he is not a racist. This Los Angeles parents’ group, Weiss wrote, “is one of many organizing quietly around the country to fight what it describes as an ideological movement that has taken over their schools. . . . They are all eager for their story to be told — but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.” Another said her son begged her not to talk to Weiss. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”
In February 2021, Jodi Shaw, a white female employee of Smith College, resigned, accusing the school of creating a “racially hostile environment” for white people. The incident that produced this reaction occurred in 2018, when a black student was found eating her lunch in a room that was not supposed to be in use. The janitor and the security staff, both white, had advised her to leave and, according to all reports, had acted properly. They were dismissed by the school after the student’s complaint of racism. The school then began a series of initiatives that were intended to eliminate “systemic racism” on campus.
This was not the end of the matter. On March 22, 2021, an organization called “1776 Unites” also wrote a letter to Smith president Kathleen McCartney:
We, the undersigned, are writing as Black Americans to express our outrage at the treatment of the service workers of Smith College. . . . Before investigating the facts, Smith College assumed that every one of the people who prepare its food and clean its facilities was guilty of the vile sin of racism and forced them to publicly ‘cleanse’ themselves through a series of humiliating exercises in order to keep their jobs. Smith College offered no public apology to the falsely accused and merely doubled down on the shaming of its most vulnerable employees.”
For purposes of this essay, the key element in the Smith episode is the failure of the college president to apologize publicly or privately to Jodi Shaw or the white service workers who lost their jobs without good reason. It reflects an uncompromising and unreasoning attitude that accompanies every example of how critical race theory is implemented. No quarter is given, as though no wrong was actually done. It’s as though the individuals involved are not of any importance — just the principle that “racial justice” be achieved. This is a characteristic of totalitarian ideas, and hostile to the concern for individuals that has always characterized classical liberal thinking in the United States.
Why This Is Different
What is happening in the U.S. today, however, is different from ordinary leftist bias. Even where the progressive Left is dominant, its members usually claim that open debate is a good thing. This is not the case with programs like critical race theory. There, as in the examples above, reason and compromise are abjured.
Where did this attitude come from?
It would not be surprising to find in this a link to Marxism, a belief system that does not depend on facts or evidence but asserts that capitalism is at the root of society’s evils, including racism. It’s likely that what we are seeing in the rise of critical race theory is a transmuted form of Marxism, characterized by the same rigidity of outlook but with an updated or modernized complaint about the society and social system it is attacking.
In Cynical Theories, a book on the rise of CRT, authors Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay lay the ultimate responsibility for the rigidity of CRT and related ideas at the door of an academic community that has become enthralled to a new philosophy called “postmodernism.”
A New Secular Religion Evolves
“Postmodernism first burst onto the intellectual scene in the late 1960s,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write, “and quickly became wildly fashionable among leftist and left-leaning academics.” In principle, it denied that truth was discoverable through reason and emphasized the importance of ideology. “The idea that we can come to know objective reality and that what we call ‘truth’ in some way corresponds to it were placed on the chopping block.”
This cynical view turned activist in the 1980s. Postmodernists tried to use this philosophy for “activism on behalf of women and LGBT and, in the United States, the Civil Rights movement . . . just as disillusionment with Marxism — until then, the main, longstanding leftist social-justice cause — was spreading through the political and cultural left. Given the catastrophic results of communism everywhere it had been put into practice, this disillusionment was well founded and radically altered the worldviews of leftist cultural elites.”
It is ironic that although American progressives have eschewed Marxism and its offshoots for well over a century, they should now have fallen in love with a successor to Marxism that is at least as radical and intractable. The difference is that critical race theory and related notions present themselves not as political theories but as purely social ideas.
Many things changed as postmodern theory turned to activism. Pluckrose and Lindsay write that
teaching became a political act. . . . In subjects ranging from gender studies to English literature, it is now perfectly acceptable to state a theoretical position and then use that lens to examine the material, without making any attempt to falsify one’s interpretation by including disconfirming evidence or alternative explanations. Now, scholars can openly declare themselves to be activists and teach activism in courses that require students to accept the ideological basis of Social Justice as true and produce work that supports it.
Obviously, where CRT is taught, it seals off all counterarguments and requires that whites accept the views of nonwhites about the realities of what nonwhites have experienced. No one, CRT proponents argue, who has not actually experienced racism as a black or brown person can claim not to be a racist, because no one who has not experienced racism can fully comprehend what it means.
This attitude inverts the truth, disrupts honest discussion between races, and denies any role for reason. In other words, the more a white person denounces racism and claims not to be a racist, the clearer it is, in critical race theory, that he or she is a racist. It should be obvious how this deceptive argument might be persuasive with young people in elementary school, high school, and even college who have not experienced much of the world and are taken in by this kind of argumentation from teachers or professors.
Wokeness and Reason
The denial of any role for reason or evidence appears to be at the very root of Marxism, postmodernism, CRT, and “wokeness.”
It is both stunning and appalling that critical race theory, a belief system that denies the values that have come down to us from the Enlightenment, can gain ground in 21st-century America. The pessimistic view is that societies, even those well-educated and culturally advanced, sometimes spin out of control over ideas that in retrospect seem lunatic. That happened in Germany in the last century. The support for unreason today in the academy, among university students, and in media such as the New York Times is a truly bad sign.
On the other hand, most Americans are not yet aware of what is happening among the elites and the threat it ultimately poses to democracy. When they realize what is being taught to their children, by large corporations to their staffs, or to the federal workforce, there could well be the kind of reaction that prompted Trump’s executive order. Until then, it remains a hope.
If approved, rule would funnel federal money to antiracist groups
The Biden administration this week proposed a rule that would encourage public schools to adopt radical, racially driven curricula in American history and civics classes.
The Department of Education on Monday proposed a rule that would prioritize federal funding for education groups that help schools develop and implement antiracist teaching standards. If the rule takes effect, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education would increase grants to woke groups across the country.
School districts in recent months have increased their efforts to weave critical race theory—the idea that America’s political and economic systems are inherently racist—into K-12 curriculum standards. The Education Department’s proposal signals the Biden administration’s support for this trend.
The rule would allocate federal funding for education contractors who work to “improve” K-12 curriculum by promoting “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices.” The rule would also require the Education Department to encourage social studies curricula that teach students about “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.”
The Education Department claims that the coronavirus pandemic and “ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism” make changes to the education system necessary. The proposal cites the New York Times‘s 1619 Project and antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi’s criticisms of American education.
“Schools across the country are working to incorporate antiracist practices into teaching and learning,” the proposal reads. “It is critical that the teaching of American history and civics creates learning experiences that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.”
The proposal will undergo a month-long notice-and-comment period, during which interested parties can submit questions on the rule to the department. The department must respond to each individual comment prior to releasing a final draft of the rule, which can take months or even years depending on the number of comments received.
Christopher Rufo, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow who has documented the antiracist push in schools and federal institutions, told the Washington Free Beacon that this decision shows the Biden administration’s true colors.
“President Biden is structuring the Department of Education’s programs to incentivize critical race theory in America’s public schools,” Rufo said. “Biden campaigned as a moderate, but this decision would bring a radical and unpopular ideology into the classroom. The federal government should reject the principles of race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation, not encourage them in the public education system.”
The Biden administration’s move follows national trends to weave anti-American ideology into public schools. The Illinois State Board of Education in February approved a set of learning standards that asks teachers to “mitigate” behaviors that stem from “Eurocentrism” and “unearned privilege.”
California has considered adopting standards that teach kids to “resist” Christianity and other elements of the “Eurocentric neocolonial condition.” And the North Carolina State Board of Education in February adopted a new set of K-12 history curriculum that teaches high schoolers to “compare how some groups in American society have benefited from economic policies while other groups have been systematically denied the same benefits.”
Americans are now trained to see racism everywhere, even where it doesn't exist.
One high school in Oregon postponed a vote last week on whether to change its mascot from the Trojan to the Evergreens over concerns the imagery of lush timber was racist.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School, named after the prominent black activist and journalist who documented lynching in the post-Civil War era, was considering a mascot change to adopt a symbol more representative of its connection to the community. Board members complained, however, that evergreen trees would conjure up imagery invoking the brutal execution of African-Americans.
“I think everyone comes with blind spots and I think that might’ve been a really big blind spot,” said Director Michelle DePass at the school board meeting.
The episode is emblematic of how the country has come to see race, viewing minorities deemed oppressed by the woke left as fragile special-interest groups that Americans must hold a religious commitment to buttress in the moral righteousness of “antiracism.” Everywhere, Americans are explicitly reminded of the racial inequities among minority groups as evidence of their inherent racism and the nation’s irredeemably racist past — and present.
Starting at an early age, Americans are barraged with statistics and anecdotes, about everything from income to health status, that are always broken down by race to highlight disparities that victimize minorities and define their destiny as one determined by racist circumstance over personal responsibility. This ideology of abject victimhood taught in classrooms, newsrooms, and boardrooms after being bred for an entire generation on left-wing university campuses has now produced a nation dangerously constrained by a toxic obsession with race.
Under this doctrine, anything and everything must be vetted by 21st-century standards of cultural acceptance to root out the poisonous racism. This obsession, however, is the root of American demise. A nation primed to think only about race will only think about race.
Americans are now trained to see racism in everything, even where it doesn’t exist. Trees are racist. Hiking is racist. Your cereal box is racist. Your depictions of Santa Claus and Jesus are racist. Claiming otherwise to any of it is also racist.
Minorities are trained to see themselves as hopelessly oppressed and facing endless aggressions at every turn. Every slightest impolite infraction can earn the morally indignant condemnation as racist, wrecking the perpetrator as a villain responsible for deep personal trauma. The so-called trauma, however, is merely a preconception inculcated by years of woke indoctrination.
None of this is to say racism doesn’t exist. Americans can and should recognize there are racial tensions that need to be addressed. The radical obsession with defining every aspect of the modern culture through the exhaustive lens of “antiracism,” however, has only led tensions to new heights while deceiving millions of well-meaning Americans who are terrified of the racist label and roping them into the effort. And “antiracism,” weaponized by the political left to pursue political ends through intimidation of their opponents, has stifled debate, driven division, and merely created a different kind of racism.
The debate over voter ID requirements included in the recent Republican-passed Georgia voting bill provides a perfect illustration of today’s racism infecting woke corporatists and the Democratic Party, which claim — in the name of antiracism of course — that mandated identification requirements for ballot access are too difficult for minorities to comply with.
And then there’s affirmative action and the push for reparations, endorsed by the Democratic Party, which claims minorities aren’t capable of achieving of the American dream without white saviors and billions in special assistance.
Race relations under the mandated lens of antiracism aren’t getting any better. On that, nearly all Americans agree. According to Gallup, in 2008, the year Americans elected their first black president, 70 percent of white adults and 61 percent of black adults said race relations were either “very” or “somewhat good.” Only 46 percent of white adults and 36 percent of black adults said the same in 2020.
If last year’s radical acceleration of antiracism in the culture war has taught us nothing else, it’s that the colorblind approach was likely the right one. The opposite has shown to be an aggressive form of racism featuring the bigotry of low expectations cloaked in the moral righteousness of social justice.
In its first-of-its-kind “whole-of-DHS” Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA) report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides a comprehensive look at the major domestic threats to the American homeland. Among them, it cites: Cyber, Foreign Influence Activity, Economic Security, Terrorism, Transnational Criminal Organization, Illegal Immigration, and Natural Disasters.
Unfortunately, the majority of media has only focused on one subset of one of those threat categories – White Supremacists. Right-wing extremism is a serious and growing danger, as highlighted today by the FBI’s arrest of several “militia members” for plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Governor.
However, the media ignores the DHS report’s concerns that this threat is also being exacerbated and fuelled by the violent racial chaos incited by the radical Left.
By exclusively and selectively highlighting one clause, in one line, in the 25-page report, the media made it appear this was the only threat in the entire report. Instead, it is only one part of a large range of domestic threats the report covers. More importantly, the media totally ignores DHS report’s concern over how recent anti-police and racial rioting may fuel and provide cover for violence in these other groups.
In context, the report states that “Ideologically motivated lone offenders and small groups pose the most likely terrorist threat to the Homeland, with Domestic Violent Extremists presenting the most persistent and lethal threat.”
It then goes on to note that, “Among DVEs [Domestic Violent Extremists], racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists—specifically white supremacist extremists (WSEs)—will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.”
The HTA continues by saying, “Spikes in other DVE threats probably will depend on political or social issues that often mobilize other ideological actors to violence, such as immigration, environmental, and police-related policy issues.”
This means that domestic extremists other than White Supremacists – such as Leftist environmental or pro-immigrant and anti-police extremists, could pose a greater threat, depending on circumstances.
To support its assessment on WSEs, DHS focuses on life-threatening homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) attacks in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019 – a fairly limited timeframe and crime definition. Excluded from this are violent, yet, not immediately “life-threatening” incidents such as riots.
Of these past two years, the report says, “2019 was the most lethal year for domestic violent extremism in the United States since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.” According to the DHS data, Violent Extremists conducted 16 attacks, killing 48 people. Of those, “WSEs conducted half of all lethal attacks (8 of 16), resulting in the majority of deaths (39 of 48).”
While all killings are tragic, these numbers are far less dramatic considering that over 500 people have been murdered on the streets of Chicago so far this year.
Still, the threat is real, and should not be ignored.
What should also not be ignored are the next bullets in the report about how “Other racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists [other than White Supremacists] could seek to exploit concerns about social injustice issues to incite violence and exploit otherwise peaceful protests movements.”
This appears to refer to how the current wave of violent, unchecked Leftist BLM/Antifa racial and anti-police protests and riots are encouraging and inciting others to violence as well, while also being pushed by foreign state actors.
The HTA states:
ANOTHER MOTIVATING FORCE BEHIND DOMESTIC TERRORISM THAT ALSO POSES A THREAT TO THE HOMELAND IS ANTI-GOVERNMENT/ANTI-AUTHORITY VIOLENT EXTREMISM.
Yes, DHS rightly notes that a subgroup of American extremists, White Supremacists, pose a significant threat of lethal attacks in the U.S., but they are far from the only threat, as the media has portrayed.
Meanwhile, the media ignores DHS concerns about the significant role that current Leftist-incited chaos, rioting, and violence are playing in increasing all these threats.
The founder of the first modern police department suggests a path forward.
The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the riots and anti-riot police actions that followed them, have made new radical libertarians out of some of our friends on the left, who are demanding the defunding and abolition of city police departments. As Dan McLaughlin points out, their cheerleaders in the media are undertaking yogic exertions to pretend that left-wing radicals proposing to abolish city police departments are not left-wing radicals proposing to abolish city police departments. Apparently, we are to apply the Selena Zito method and take them seriously but not literally.
There is someone we might consult about a plausible police-reform agenda: the founding father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel.
Police departments as we know them today are a relatively new kind of agency. We have had courts, sheriffs, bailiffs, etc., for a long time, but the first modern police department did not exist until Peel organized the Metropolitan Police in London in 1829. It is to Peel that we owe the modern notion of “policing with consent,” the principle that police agencies operate legitimately only where they operate with the consent of those subject to their powers. The situation in Minneapolis and elsewhere suggests that the local police agencies have lost the confidence of at least a portion of those to whom they are responsible, and that their legitimacy is therefore in question. If there is anything at all of substance to these riots and the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi kneeling in kente cloth (“dressing up like a Wakandan chess set” in the low-pH assessment of screenwriter Eric Haywood), then that question of legitimacy is it.
(It may be that the riots are only tangentially related to any real policy agenda and are instead simply a manifestation of the ancient instinct to conduct penitential rites during a plague. That’s my read.)
Peel’s nine principles of policing articulate more of a reform agenda than the would-be reformers do. We should consult them.
Peel insisted that civil police were to be understood as a more liberal alternative to (attn: Senator Cotton) using military forces to quell disorder and relying on excessive punishment to terrorize the citizenry into submission, which had been the previous model. We have strayed far from that ideal, not only in relying on the threat of military force during the recent episodes of political violence but also in reshaping our municipal police departments to look and think more like military units than civil authorities. We have given the police military weapons and military uniforms, the results of which have ranged from the ridiculous (the SWAT team in my hometown of Lubbock, Texas, skulking around in woodland camouflage when answering a domestic call in a famously treeless environment) to the dystopian (riot police dressed up like extras from Starship Troopers, that great American testament to aspirational fascism). We arm the police like soldiers and we dress them up like soldiers, and we tell them they are at war — with drugs, with crime, but, ultimately, with the citizens they purport to serve.
And what was Joe Biden’s famous crime bill if not a semi-hysterical attempt to impose through the terror of severe punishment that which could not be achieved through other means?
Peel believed that “the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives” and that the police must “use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.”
(The “Peelian Principles,” from which I am quoting, may not have been put on paper by Peel himself.)
The death of George Floyd did not result from the “minimum degree of force which is necessary,” or anything close to that. The more general problem is that the police are not generally trusted to ethically and intelligently determine what the appropriate minimum degree of necessary force is and surely do not universally deserve such trust, as many police departments have demonstrated on many occasions.
Peel advised that the confidence and consent of the public were to be gained “not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy . . . by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.” The word “courtesy” stands out in those sentences. You can have courtesy, or you can have a state of “war” — it is difficult to have both at the same time.
And that may help us to understand why many police critics remain unmoved by data suggesting that there is no obvious widespread racial disparity in the use of deadly force by police; unjust police killings, this line of criticism holds, are only part of a larger pattern of targeting and mistreating African Americans that ranges from disrespect and discourtesy to racial profiling, and so the (contested) data on deaths do not reflect the more general facts of the case. If George Floyd had survived his ordeal, the behavior of the police would not have been any less wrong — it would only have produced a less shocking and dramatic outcome.
That kind of behavior comes from a bunker mentality, an us-and-them view of the world. Peel’s advice foresaw this as well: “The police are the public and . . . the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” We no longer even pay lip service to the notion that the police are the public and the public are the police, as attested to by such developments as “qualified immunity” and laws establishing that assaulting a member of the general public is a less serious offense than assaulting a police officer. We have taken a civil office and made a kind of caste of it.
The final Peelian Principle: “To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.”
Pundits who spend their time on cable news wondering why so many Americans have tuned out their “country over party!” talk need look no further than at an excellent piece in today’s New York Times, in which Trip Gabriel correctly describes the turn of events that led to Ralph Northam keeping his job as governor of Virginia:
Party officials and analysts in Virginia said Mr. Northam owed his political survival to fortuitous events as well as his own efforts.
Just days after the surfacing of Mr. Northam’s 1984 yearbook photo — with one figure in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes — the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, was accused of sexual abuse by two women, which he denied. Before the week was out, Attorney General Mark R. Herring acknowledged he had worn blackface as a college student.
With the state’s top three Democrats compromised, the desire to force them from office and make way for the Republican next in line lost appeal to many in the party.
This is exactly correct. Effectively, the Democratic party and its allies took the view that the alleged bad behavior of one top Democrat was terrible and should lead to immediate resignation, but that the alleged bad behavior of all the top Democrats was worth ignoring in case the Republican party gain an advantage. Or, to put it mathematically, Democrats in Virginia decided that one was a bigger number than three. Had Northam been the only top Democrat who was embroiled in scandal, he’d likely have gone. But, because all of them were embroiled in scandal, doing something about it “lost appeal to many in the party.”
Later in the piece, Gabriel makes it clear that, for many Virginia Democrats, the issues were simply more important:
“The liberal groups that should have continued to put pressure on Governor Northam for this scandal made the political calculation that it was better for their self-interest to shut up about it,” said Will Ritter, a Republican strategist in the state.
Whatever doubts that lingered with Democratic voters about state leadership were largely banished in the summer, when the governor called the Legislature back to Richmond to pass gun restrictions after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31.
I read the calls for Northam’s resignation, many of which accused the man of no less a crime than having reopened the wounds of slavery, segregation, and the Civil War. It is interesting to learn that these infractions can be forgiven if one organizes a symbolic special session on a hot-button issue.
Why do so many people stick with Trump despite his terrible behavior? Why won’t Republicans put “country over party?” Why is the specter of the other side so powerful relative to the realities of one’s own? Virginia Democrats know the answers to these questions. And they ain’t pretty. I wish devoutly that it were not, but this is the age we live in, and its failings are by no means limited to one side.
On Tuesday night my CNN colleague Chris Cuomo correctly asserted that I, and people like me, embrace terms such as “nationalist” and “America First” — phrases that are, in his view, “stained.” He challenged me to provide an example of “nationalism that was positive and not oppressive to another.” My immediate answer was “American nationalism,” to which he responded, “There’s no American nationalism.”
It is abundantly clear, of course, that American nationalism is a real thing. We can consider, of course, the merits of this ideology, but we cannot honestly litigate its existence. Our TV debate that night revealed a foundational chasm that is magnified in our political discourse. For those of us embedded in the widespread 2016 movement toward sovereignty, a muscular return to nationalism forms a prerequisite for economic fairness and the diffusion of power. Conversely, the “resistance” views nationalism as a retrograde parochialism that usurps the allegedly enlightened internationalism that has dominated policy and thinking among elites of government, big business, academia, and the media for several decades.
But instead of confronting American nationalism on its actual tenets, the Democratic Party and mainstream media complex smear the movement as inherently racist and evocative of oppressive fascism. For example, permissive immigration advocates assail U.S. border enforcement as intrinsically racist. During that CNN discussion, my colleague Angela Rye insisted that the motivations of people — like me — who desire stronger border protection flow from “fear that white people are losing their power in this country. That is what is driving this. White fear. What is what is driving this. It is racism.”
In addition to slandering me, a Hispanic and immigrant son, as motivated by “white fear,” Miss Rye’s diatribe conveniently overlooks the clear reality that America is not a race. American citizenship pays no regard at all to color. In point of fact, protecting America from illegal alien trespassers proves particularly crucial for Americans of color, who suffer disproportionately from the ravages of mass illegal immigration, including unfair labor market competition and totally preventable street crime from dangerous troublemakers mixed among the migrants.
Rye then extended the verbal attacks. She echoed the alarmism of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, warning that, by operating detention facilities for border trespassers, America heads down a road that leads to “death camps” like those operated by Nazi Germany. I wish that such inane hyperbole could be dismissed as a radical outlier but, in fact, such comparisons have become all too common in the mainstream media since President Trump’s election. For example, MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch admonished “Morning Joe” viewers that “if you vote for Trump then you the voter – you, not Trump – are standing at the border like Nazis.”
In this effort, agents of the left deliberately conflate American nationalism with the rancid ethno-fascist history of the Axis powers. The latter built political bonds based on blood and soil, focusing on racial purity and cross-border military conquest. In direct contravention to such evil, American nationalism discounts heritage and genetics. As a nation of immigrants, our founding instead focused almost totally on shared beliefs, on our creed as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence: “we hold these truths…” There is no DNA test for American nationalism; it is, rather, a commonality of believers. Among these beliefs are the principles of pluralism, religious liberty, free-market economics, respect for our Constitution, and reverence for our great flag.
In addition, quite unlike the expansionist ethos of ethno-fascism, American nationalism, properly understood, seeks protection of our interests with a minimum of U.S. intervention abroad. Whereas actual fascists overrun borders and abuse the prerogatives of sovereign nations, our nationalism strives to protect the integrity of our borders. In such efforts, we fulfill the teachings of a very famous nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi. As leader of the Indian Nationalist Movement, he once remarked that “our nationalism can be no peril to other nations inasmuch as we will exploit none, just as we will allow none to exploit us.”
America First stipulates that we, like any proud people, place our country’s own self-interest before the goals of multinational structures. I believe this aspect of American nationalism drives much of the visceral disdain displayed by the globalist elites. Luminaries of media and big business, for example, have thrived in a multilateral world, and largely find stronger bonds with journalists or executives in Paris, France than with the people of Paris, Texas. These cronies, therefore, recoil at the notion of enlightened nationalism and consequently seek to delegitimize it as somehow racist and despotic.
But these privileged influencers should stop this dishonest disparagement. They should also look beyond their narrow self-interest and instead acknowledge the incredible benefits both here and abroad from an America motivated by a rational, mature, and edified self-interest. To channel Teri Hatcher’s famous breakup line to Jerry Seinfeld way back in 1993: American nationalism: It’s real … and it’s spectacular!
President Obama misunderstands the country, not the other way around.
By Kevin D. Williamson • National Review
Race makes people crazy, but often not in the way you’d expect. A nation watched wide-eyed as Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC complained that the Star Wars franchise was racist because the major villain is “black.” Darth Vader is black in the sense that Johnny Cash or Ben Roethlisberger or certain figures from Arthurian legend are “black” — white guys in black outfits — so people kept waiting for Harris-Perry, “America’s foremost public intellectual,” to crack and let us know that she was joking. But she wasn’t joking.
One cannot imagine what she’d make of that Adolf Hitler/Darth Vader episode of “Epic Rap Battles of History,” in which the Nazi dismisses the Sith and his off-brand Stormtroopers: “You leading an army of white men? Disgraceful.” And, of course, in the latest installment, The Force Awakens, one of those white men turns out to have the black face of English actor John Boyega.
This isn’t the sort of thing that drives people nuts: If you’re breaking down the hidden racial significance of Darth Vader’s black armor, you’re already there. Continue reading