Tim Scott’s powerful response to Joe Biden’s address to Congress has forced both Biden and Kamala Harris to reject a core belief of the BLM movement and the American left. Both the president and the vice president have now stated that the American people are not racist.
Biden said this:
No, I don’t think the American people are racist, but I think after 400 years, African-Americans have been left in a position where they are so far behind the eight-ball in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity. I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and before that, slavery, has had a cost, and we have to deal with it.
Here are my thoughts about Biden’s statement:
First, if Biden doesn’t believe the American people are racist, he should do everything in his power to make sure the federal government doesn’t promote the contrary view — that Americans are racist. Racism is evil. Accordingly, it’s hard to imagine any doctrine more demoralizing to the nation than the belief that Americans are racist and/or that Whites should be ashamed of their race.
It’s Biden’s patriotic duty, therefore, to make sure the government isn’t on the wrong side of this question. For example, federal money must not be granted to any school district that teaches students that Americans are racist or that shames students for being white. To the contrary, the federal government should investigate schools accused of demeaning students on account of their race.
Now that Biden is on record that Americans aren’t racist, let’s see him act as though he actually believes this.
Second, America has been “dealing” for decades with the effects of slavery and Jim Crow on African-American education, health, and opportunity. Welfare checks go to Blacks to a disproportionate degree. In terms of health, Blacks benefit to a disproportionate extent from free care (Medicaid) and from subsidized care (the Affordable Care Act).
In terms of education and opportunity, Blacks receive preferential admission to American colleges and universities — elite and otherwise (although whether this helps them is debatable). It’s true, though, that at the K-12 level, Blacks, to a disproportionate degree, receive an inadequate education from America’s public schools.
That’s why Biden should immediately try to break the stranglehold of public schools on the education of Blacks (and others). He should support school choice, including voucher programs and charter schools.
In addition, Biden should ensure that under his leadership ( unlike Obama’s), the federal government does nothing to undermine the ability of teachers to discipline students for disruptive behavior. Black students (and others) are deprived of their full educational opportunities when teachers are deterred from taking disciplinary action because the government is looking over their shoulder to make sure discipline is meted out based not on behavior, but on considerations of race.
Third, slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago. It has been half a century since Jim Crow prevailed.
African-Americans have taken advantage in vast numbers of having obtained equality under the law. This would not have happened if the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow had, in Biden’s words, “left [them] in a position where they are so far behind the eight-ball.”
Thus, we must consider the possibility that those who are “behind the eight-ball” have left themselves behind — by declining to do the things that other Blacks (and members of other groups that began their time in America in a disadvantaged condition) have done to get ahead. If Biden wants to confer additional benefits on Blacks who are left behind, he should show that their status, somehow, is the result of slavery and Jim Crow, rather than the result of their decisions and their behavior.
It’s neither a showing he can make, nor one he’s interested in attempting.