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Is "Antiracism" Worse than Racism Itself?
And Are Policies Aimed at Helping Minorities Actually Doing More Harm than Good?
Never underestimate how far white liberals will go to show how much they care about minorities. That sounds like a good thing; decent people want to find ways to make up for what black people and others have historically gone through in this country. So let’s stipulate that their intentions are good. The problem is that a lot of what they do doesn’t actually help people of color — it hurts them.
Jason Riley wrote about this the other day in his Wall Street Journal column. He begins by telling us about an academic conference he recently attended, where he heard a professor say that “antiracism” and the policies that flow from it are a much bigger problem today that racism itself. “Some might dismiss that observation as hyperbole,” Riley tells us, “but examples keep piling up.”
Then he goes on to list a few of those examples. “Living-wage mandates price poor minorities who are desperate for employment out of jobs. Bail-reform measures make bad neighborhoods even more dangerous by going easy on repeat offenders. Affirmative-action admissions policies in higher education boost dropout rates by mismatching black students with schools in the name of diversity. Open-space zoning laws, supported by environmental zealots, have limited the construction of affordable homes and thereby decimated the black population of major cities, such as San Francisco. It’s a long and depressing list.”
You know that old saying … “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” So why do otherwise smart people come up with the kind of ideas that do so much harm to the people they say they’re trying to help?
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Here’s one reason: They do it to feel good, to feel noble … about themselves. They do it to separate themselves from a lot of other white people who they see as bigots. They do it to make sure everybody knows that they’re nothing like those other white people. It’s what Shelby Steele, the black intellectual, describes as white people showing their “good racial manners.”
And now we have a study that shows more damage the equity left is doing to the people they say they want to help. It’s about kids in school and shows a 56% increase in “classroom disruptions from student misconduct” compared with a typical school year before the pandemic. There’s also been a 49% rise in “rowdiness outside of the classroom,” in places such as cafeterias or hallways. Actual “physical attacks or fights between students” are up by one-third, and threats of the same have increased 36%.
As Riley tells us, “Under President Obama, the Education Department released a study showing that black students are suspended from school at higher rates than white students and concluded that the only possible reason for the disparity was racism. Similar studies have shown that whites are suspended at higher rates than Asians, but progressives stop reading after they find the statistic that fits their preferred narrative. Thus, the administration subsequently issued letters of guidance to school districts that said federal officials would consider higher school-discipline rates among blacks to be evidence of racial discrimination. … The response, predictably, was a reduction in suspensions, which led to more disruption and bullying and to students feeling less safe—especially black students.”
The Trump administration revoked the Obama-era guidance, but President Biden is bringing back those old guidelines.
“In July of last year,” Riley reports, “the Biden administration issued its own ‘guidance’ urging schools to discipline students in a ‘nondiscriminatory manner,’ by which it means basing suspension decisions on racial balance instead of behavior and the welfare of students who are in school to learn.”
“The likely problem isn’t that school discipline policies are too harsh but that they’re too lax. Better to teach children to behave before they leave school and face far harsher consequences for making bad decisions as adults,” Riley says.
But, “Like so much of the utopian equity agenda, good intentions matter more than results, even if those results leave the intended beneficiaries worse off,” Jason Riley concludes.
But at least those well-intentioned liberal elites can feel better about themselves. And when you cut through all those good intentions and all that white liberal guilt … feeling better about themselves is what really matters, right?