Last week, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, two of America’s leading Black elected officials affirmed that the us isn't a racist nation.The first was Senator Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who delivered the GOP response to President Biden’s address to Congress on Wednesday.“Hear me clearly: America isn't a racist country,” Scott said.
He acknowledged that racial bigotry has not been eradicated — indeed, he said, he has himself“experienced the pain of discrimination.” But he insisted that race not be deployed as “a political weapon” which “it’s wrong to undertake to use our painful past to dishonestly pack up debates within the present.”
On Thursday morning, vice chairman Kamala Harris, a liberal Democrat and until recently a California senator, agreed together with her former colleague.Asked during an ABC interview to discuss Scott’s remarks, Harris answered clearly. “First of all, no, I don’t think America may be a racist country,” she said. “But we also do need to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today.”
Her answer came as Scott was being savaged on the left for rejecting the thought that America is fundamentally racist. In progressive strongholds the press, academia, much of social media, and what Howard Dean memorably called “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” the hard-wired racism of America is held to be a basic assumption . When Scott repudiated it, Twitter erupted with such a lot liberal mockery and venom that the racial slur #UncleTim became a trending hashtag.
Nonetheless, Harris made some extent of seconding Scott’s motion. President Biden did an equivalent on Friday. “I don’t think America is racist,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show, “but i feel the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and, before that, slavery, have had a price and that we need to affect it.”Harris, Biden, and Scott are right: While America wont to be a society during which racism was entrenched by habit and enforced by law, and while it still contains people that spew racial bigotry, this is often not a racist country.
Until fairly recently, that might not are a controversial proposition. For the primary decade and a half the 21st century, consistent with Gallup, large majorities of adults consistently said that relations between white and Black Americans were good. That began to vary in 2014, after the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in ny fueled the increase of the Black Lives Matter movement..
When George Floyd was murdered in 2020, support for the movement skyrocketed. Among mainstream journalists and in many professional settings, the assumption that American racism is systemic and largely liable for all racial inequities became unassailable.
But the “misperception that bigotry is everywhere,” to quote Coleman Hughes, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute who writes extensively on race and public policy, is belied by data that “tell a special story: Racism exists, but there has never been less racism than there's now.”
Racist attitudes like opposition to interracial marriage, once pervasive in America, are relegated to the perimeter . Black elected officials, once unprecedented , now exercise power at every level of state , from hall to the White House. Black voters, once ruthlessly suppressed in many nations , today participate in elections at rates adequate to or greater than white voters.
Most Americans are skeptical of the “America-is-racist” narrative that has so captivated liberal and media elites. Liberal demographer and strategist Ruy Teixeira, coauthor of 2002′s prescient “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” has been warning his party that at “the center of gravity of yank public opinion” are convictions that are “clearly at odds” with those of Democratic activists.
one among those convictions, he writes, is that “discrimination and racism are bad but they're not the explanation for all disparities in American society.” Another is that “calling all White race racists … and American society a supremacist society isn't right or fair.” If Democrats hope to carry or expand their narrow congressional majorities in 2022, Teixeira says, it's vital that they “make a conscious effort to steer back to the middle on these cultural issues.
Biden and Harris are making that effort: that's why, faraway from rejecting what Scott said, they repeated it. The president and vice chairman agree that America, for all its racial flaws and grievous history, isn't a racist country. Our national conversation about race remains contentious, but it just got a touch better.
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