Is racism in America today a real or manufactured problem? Was America built on racism? Or in spite of it? Is it racism or culture that causes outcome differences?
Author, playwright, and Chair of the Claremont Institute Thomas Klingenstein answers all of these questions and more in his speech in New York City in June:
His transcript below:
- For many years, racism in America has been, to a very significant degree, a manufactured problem.
- When we speak about race, whether we admit it or not—and we usually don’t—we mean blacks. Black grievance, largely ginned up, provides the fuel for the woke regime.
- The woke Leftists, who lead the Democrats around by a nose ring, want to destroy America.
- We love America; the woke hate America.
- The woke accusation that “America is systemically racist” is manifest nonsense.
- Wokeism is anti-white.
- We owe individual black citizens—as we owe all citizens—fellowship and help when deserving. But to blacks as a group we owe nothing, just as no group is owed anything, nor is any individual owed anything simply by being part of a group.
- The woke Left only incidentally wants to give blacks a hand up; their main goal is power.
- Outcome differences between blacks and others are not due to racism, but to bad decisions on the part of black individuals.
As I just said, racism in America today is, to a very significant degree, a manufactured problem, crafted by woke Leftists in order to overthrow the American way of life.
They claim there exists an intolerable, all-pervasive system of white oppression. They call this “systemic racism,” by which they mean that racism is embedded into every nook and cranny of America life: its institutions, values, customs and language. If you disagree, they cancel you. They may even inflict violence.
The woke tell us that racism has gotten worse, but this is drivel. As everyone can plainly see, the less actual racism there is in America, the more of it the woke Left insists it sees.
The charge of systemic racism is a propaganda trick intended to: Exploit our white guilt, demoralize us, and give moral cover to an anti-American, immoral revolution.
This is no longer the well-intended effort of old school liberals to improve America, but the evil scheme of woke revolutionaries to destroy it.
The woke Left accuse America of being “systemically racist” not because it’s true, nor even because they think it’s true, but because it is the most powerful weapon in their arsenal. After all, if they can convince us that the American way of life really is systemically racist—that is, evil—then we should throw it out.
Of course, America has sinned. Show me country that hasn’t. The fact is, America is as good as it gets.
To the woke Left I say, “if you want to destroy America, then we will fight you and defeat you. America is not yours to destroy.”
The primary goal of the woke regime is group outcome equality.
Most Americans, on the other hand, believe society’s goal should be merit.
These two goals are utterly irreconcilable. You can’t offer admission to college, medical school, law school, flight training, or anything else according to race and other quotas and, at the same time, offer admission according to merit. It’s one or the other: merit or group quotas.
These irreconcilable goals make this struggle a war. It is, thankfully, a cold war, and we should hope it remains cold.
But we should also not lose sight of the fact that the woke Left seeks total victory. Most Americans, and virtually all politicians, fail to notice.
You cannot win a war if you don’t know you are in one.
Blacks commit more than 50% of the violent crime in America; yet are only about 13% of population. The woke tell us this is due to racism, but Americans know better. We know that racism does not cause more crime, or out-of-wedlock births, or lower academic achievement.
We know that patriotism, hard work, personal responsibility, secure borders, and moral virtue are not, as the woke Left contends, racist ideals. Rather, they are the means to a happy, free, and prosperous nation.
We know that, by and large, it is not racism but culture that causes outcome differences.
But the woke make it very difficult for the rest of us to say it, because if it’s culture that explains outcome differences then the blame rests not on whites but on blacks.
If differences in outcome persist, as they will if we remain on the present course, it is near certain the woke leftists will ban the measurement of the relevant statistics—crime rates for example. Naturally, these differences will not disappear just because we stop measuring them. It’s like a young child who puts her hands over eyes, believing the reality in front of her disappears.
The woke say they want to liberate black Americans; the truth is mostly they want to keep blacks on their knees.
Why? To justify their ongoing revolution.
If blacks are on their knees, then the need for radical reform never ends.
The effect of this on actual black communities is disastrous.
The woke Left wants to destroy the traditional mother-father family; yet such families are just what struggling black Americans need most.
The woke openly discourage black Americans from joining the American way of life, teaching them that “white” values are all designed to oppress blacks.
The woke Leftists call for more political programs, including reparations, to reduce outcome differences, even though we know after 60 years and trillions of dollars that such programs only make things worse.
When the woke are pressuring us to continue to adopt such programs we must say: “We will not surrender to your extortion.”
Woke mayors in big cities rope off violent neighborhoods, make the police back off, and let criminal blacks shoot each other. Predictably, innocent blacks suffer most. This is callous indifference of a high order.
The woke Leftists assault our history: they make it a story of nonstop, hateful racist oppression to fan the flames of resentment.
At the same time, their revisionist so-called “history” overstates black accomplishments to give self-esteem to black students.
But no one, least of all blacks, are fooled. We all know genuine self-esteem can only be earned.
When we teach about America to our children of any race, we must keep in mind that one day we may need them to cross a foreign beach while exposed to enemy bullets raining down on them from above. For that our children must learn to love and cherish their country.
The woke tell young black Americans they cannot succeed in America because there is so much racism.
This is perhaps the cruelest part of the woke Left’s agenda: to actively discourage children from pursuing a life of moral, spiritual, and cultural excellence.
If we cannot say these things, then we’re abandoning the civilization which we have a duty to carry forward, a duty imposed by our glorious past, which includes the story of the many men who died under that hail of bullets from above while crossing exposed beaches at Normandy.
In order to stay in power, the woke Leftists must continually remind white Americans how racist they are. So, every year or so there is a big racial incident—some invented, some not.
The case of Jussie Smollett is an example of the invented kind. An actual incident was that of George Floyd. What supposedly justified the Floyd riots was based on three lies piled on top of each other: Floyd’s death was the work of a racist cop, white police look to kill blacks, and America is racist.
In this case, as with all others, most of us confessed our sins of racism and announced in the most earnest of tones that at long last we need an honest reckoning with our racist past. And this time we really meant it.
To my fellow Americans, I say “I cannot prove to you that America is not racist. But perhaps you can prove it me. Are you racist? Your friends, neighbors, churches, and police forces? Is the traditional mother/father family racist? A country with borders? How about patriotism, hard work, colorblindness, punctuality, and responsibility?” Are these racist? The answers to these questions, even by most Democrats, will almost always be “no.”
We must not buckle when they call us “racist.” If they call you “racist” tell them that is “horse manure.” Don’t debate them. They don’t want to debate; they want to criminalize debate.
Part of convincing us that we are racist requires that we swallow one of the Biden administration’s biggest lies: America is about to be run over by white supremacists.
Now, do you know a single white supremacist in a position of power in America? Indeed, do you know a single white supremacist anywhere? I don’t, and I bet neither do you.
But beware: the woke Left will take every opportunity to bait Americans into acts the wokes can characterize as the work of white supremacists. And then crush them.
But the woke Leftists are playing with fire.
It’s clear to all who have eyes to see that wokeism is an attack on white males. But white males are sick and tired of the trillions being spent on civil rights to negative effect. Sick and tired as well of shakedown artists like Al Sharpton and Ibram Kendi. Of having their values mocked, and of being endlessly accused of “racism” and “white privilege,” as they see their children being taught that they are white oppressors and America is evil. This is an explosive combination.
Over our history we have vanquished many enemies, most notably the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. But we are losing the peace.
We have allowed totalitarianism to be imposed from within.
Our Republic was formally birthed in 1776, but it was thousands of years in the making. Our founders stood on the shoulders of many who had preceded them.
Colorblindness; freedom of speech, conscience and association; a government of laws, not of men; separation of church and state; a military subject to civil authority; the nation state to name just a handful—these are monuments to moral and political wisdom that took centuries to be achieved.
But they are being ripped apart by fanatics who believe that the mere accusation of “systemic racism” will bring us to our knees. If we don’t fight back, we will be brought to our knees. Thousands of years of building, possibly gone in a single generation.
Fortunately, there are many patriotic Americans, Democrats as well as Republicans, who know that America is a gift to the world. There are many who know that America was built not on racism, but in spite of it.
There are many who cherish America’s traditions and are grateful to have inherited them.
There are many who understand that our challenge today was Lincoln’s challenge: increased devotion to the principles of the founding. They know that these principles are the best antidote to racism. And they know as well that America fights for these principles on behalf of people everywhere.
Who will support the many? I will. And I am confident you will.
We rightly love America; the woke Leftists hate it, but they have the upper hand. It’s that simple and that dangerous.
Thank you very much.