David Horowitz throws a cold dash of reality onto the shibboleths of progressive dogma. Are progressives crazy? No, David says, the truth is worse than that.
Perhaps the most common conservative reaction to progressive ideas is one of bewilderment. They’re from a different planet, inhabit an alternate universe; they’re insane! Even moderates employ these phrases to express their inability to understand the progressive mentality. And this is so even in regard to problems like crime that traditionally have provided common ground for partisan factions. Thus, the 1994 Crime Bill – also known as the Clinton Crime Bill and the Biden Crime Bill, was passed by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority in Congress.1 Yet today it is anathema to progressives, who see violent criminals as “victims” of an unjust criminal justice system, and theft as a form of “reparations.” Extreme reversals like this have prompted liberal dissenters like Joe Manchin, Bill Maher and former congressman Harold Ford to express support for conservative concerns that progressives are “out of touch with reality,” and their views “lack common sense.”2
The obvious explanation for progressives’ failure to connect with a reality that even liberals and moderates readily see, is that progressives don’t actually see reality. Ideological blinders block its complexities and frustrate their ability to appreciate the obvious. As Hamlet admonished his courtier friend: “There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
An ideology is like a prism in which some planes simply don’t appear or are so distorted they might as well not. The progressive prism refracts all social issues into three categories of race, gender and class. Complexities like cultural differences between groups, or individual psychologies and behaviors, are not part of the progressive spectrum. Consequently, for progressives they don’t exist, or, if they do, don’t matter and are readily dismissed.
The results of these optic deficiencies are crackpot pronouncements that bewilder the politically incorrect. Certainly the most important (and perhaps the most bizarre) of these pronouncements is the progressive claim that, “America is a white supremacist society, which marginalizes and underserves people of color.” This is the kind of statement the White House makes when explaining its “equity” policies which are designed to correct the injustice.3
But if this description is accurate, how does one explain the stampede of two million people – mainly “of color” – massing at our border to get into a country, which is said to oppress them?4 How would an estimated two million people, 90% of them “people of color,” decide to risk their lives this year alone to break into a white supremacist country that will marginalize, underserve and oppress them?
In a brazen lie on his Inauguration Day, President Biden claimed that “systemic racism touches every facet of American life.”5 It would be his administration’s policy, he promised, to put an end to this alleged injustice – mainly by violating the Constitution and redistributing income and privilege on the basis of race. All “people of color” would be the beneficiaries of this “equity” largesse, while their white-skinned oppressors would be denied the same.6
All this progressive virtue signaling, however, was based on a lie. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly outlaws “systemic racism.” If there were systemic racism touching “every facet of American life,” as Biden claimed, there would be a tsunami of lawsuits leading to billions in damages. There is no such tsunami. In other words, with one exception there is no pervasive systemic racism in American institutions. Progressive equity payoffs are just racist -and illegal – transfers of wealth.
There is one exception. The only real systemic racism in American life is affirmative action. Affirmative action programs required a pass from the Supreme Court precisely because they are racist and therefore unconstitutional. Affirmative action’s discriminatory measures are designed, moreover, to benefit only a handful of select groups of “people of color.” Asians do not quality for affirmative action skin privileges, because they do very well without them.7 The selection of the beneficiary groups was always political. So much for justice.
The spectrum of progressive ideology is always seen by those who are drunk on it as a “hierarchy of oppression.” This so-called hierarchy has been turned into an elaborate and lucrative enterprise, generating mountains of hot air in the academy where it is called the “theory of intersectionality.” This ludicrous exercise in intellectual thumb-sucking assigns levels of oppression to individuals who are alleged to have multiple “oppressed” identities, such as black lesbian females who are said to be more oppressed, for example, than heterosexual black males.
But are they? Are black lesbian females really powerless in 21st Century America? At the bottom of the totem pole? Victims of multiple oppressions? All the founding organizers of Black Lives Matter were able to engage an estimated 40 million supporters in the summer of 2020, and to orchestrate violent attacks on 220 cities,8 and to collect nearly $100 million in donations from America’s richest corporations and celebrities,9 and were officially endorsed by the President of the United States and the Democrat Party.10 All the creators of Black Lives Matter able to accomplish these feats are black lesbians – and proud of it!11 Victims indeed! More accurately: victimizers.
The federal government has spent tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars on fatuous intersectionality projects without managing to provide a reasonable explanation of what constitutes “oppression” in a free society, or how individuals can be trapped at various levels of a “hierarchy” in a nation in which everyone has equal rights by law.
However vacuous, the term “oppression” still has a powerful emotional charge, which is why radicals who are determined to demonize Americans and dismantle their society find it so useful as a weapon. “Oppression” is an ancient term with a distinctive etymology which provides its emotional power. Twenty-five hundred years ago the Jews were oppressed as slaves in Egypt. The story of their oppression and exodus to freedom has been memorialized and celebrated in the foundational literature of Western Civilization.
The noun “oppression” derives its power from these antecedents. When we say the heat is “oppressive,” it has a specific meaning: it’s time to get out of the sun. No group in America – except children of abusive parents and the victims of sex traffickers and slavers – is oppressed. No racial, gender or economic group is oppressed. If they are, where is the exodus?
Are black Americans marginalized? Blacks have been the center of the nation’s attention since the civil rights movement of the 1950s. Although comprising only 13% of the population they have been able to assert themselves as an unrivalled force in the nation’s media, music and entertainment cultures. Through their dominant roles in sports, black athletes have provided icons and role models for generations of America’s youth – black and white. How marginal is that?
Are black Americans underserved? In fact they have been the focus of federal support and privileges amounting to trillions of dollars –more than any other ethnic or racial group. From the point of view of opportunities and benefactions offered to particular groups, there is no greater “skin privilege” than being black.
Intersectional hierarchies with an oppressor caste of white males at the top are a progressive illusion. There is no such closed social hierarchy possible in America. The alleged oppressor caste – white males – are only about a third of the population. The putative victims of their oppression not only outnumber them 2-1, they are endowed with the same rights. So how are white males able to control and oppress them? Women preside over courts, run major law enforcement agencies, occupy the vice presidency, sit on the Supreme Court, are the most powerful members of the House of Representatives, have chaired both political parties, and are the chief executives of large American cities. If there hasn’t been a female president yet, whose fault is that? Clearly not white males.
Is there a glass ceiling for women? The adjective itself is a giveaway that there is not. If the ceiling is invisible, it’s because it doesn’t exist. The gender-wage-gap is a long-disproven fiction. Wage discrimination against women was outlawed as a practice nearly 60 years ago by the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 1963 – passed by a Congress almost exclusively male. If such a gap existed, and wasn’t outlawed, the remedy would be to do what the Jews and the Irish did when prejudice made them social pariahs. They built their own institutions.
Do women have the resources to create their own economies? Indeed, they do. In America, women’s wealth amounts to $11 trillion, more than enough to build equal pay for equal work institutions if the law didn’t already require it.13
What is true for glass ceilings is also true for concepts like “unconscious racism” and “unintentional racism,” weasel words deployed to justify the aggressive racism of the diversity industry. If the racism is unconscious and unintentional, then it is in the eye of the beholder.
These “triggering” moments are not oppressions of groups trapped in a rigid hierarchy from which they cannot escape. If too many black Americans are poor, the source of their poverty is themselves. In fact, only 20% of blacks are poor.14 Better if it were less, but that figure poses the question: If 80% of blacks are not poor, how can racism be the explanation for the failure of 20% to avail themselves of the advantages that are open to the 80%? Especially when there are millions of people here illegally, who don’t speak the language and still manage to earn a decent living.
Among the more obvious holes in the progressive world view is the fact that there is no place for history, except as a locus of bad practices which can be manipulated to indict the present. The fact that American slaves were first enslaved by black Africans who sold them at auctions in Africa, and that white Americans died in the hundreds of thousands to free blacks, and also inspired a global movement for equal rights, is either missing from progressive narratives, or disparaged.
The progressive outlook also has no place for the crucial roles that psychology, family structure, or criminal behavior play in the destinies not only of individuals but of groups. E.g., if inner cities lack amenities, it is because criminals “of color” scare legitimate businesses and services away. The progressive outlook also has no room for the idea that attitudes can change and not only under threat. Above all, it has no appreciation for the long-term benefits of a society, like America’s, which fosters upward mobility and was dedicated in its founding in a hierarchical world to provide equal rights for all.
The fight against a master race in World War II had a profound but little appreciated effect on white attitudes – one that triggered the greatest social revolution in human history. This revolution was aided by the mass migration of blacks from the rural South, which had high rates of poverty for all races, to the industrial North.15
Between 1940 and 1950 the earnings of the average black male increased 75%, which was about twice the rate at which white incomes grew.16 This was before the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Great Society welfare programs that, in any case, failed to reduce poverty at all. Between 1940 and 1960, black incomes for males and females more than doubled.17 By 1971, oppressed, marginalized and underserved black couples with two working spouses were earning 5 percent more than white couples of the same description in every part of the United States except the South.18
Inflation-adjusted per capita black income in 1973 was more than 125 percent higher than twenty-five years earlier.19 Since 1981, black families with two college-educated, working spouses have earned slightly more than white families of the same description in every age group and in every region of the country.20
Why have 20% of the black population failed to climb out of poverty, while 80% have succeeded? Here are some statistics that help to explain. In 2019 the poverty rate in traditional two-parent families of all races was 4.0 percent, compared with 22.2 percent in families headed by a female with no adult male present.
Why are 70% of black families in inner cities single-parent, female-headed households?21 Because 60 years ago progressives devised a welfare system that disqualifies families with a father in the house from receiving welfare benefits. The progressive ideological prism has no window for this, so for 60 years progressives have blocked every change to the system that would free black welfare families from poverty. Progressive ideology – not race – is the oppressor of black poor people in America.
The statistics show that income equality is within the power of blacks to achieve by themselves. Whites are richer not because they oppress blacks but because whites are more successful at forming traditional nuclear families and completing a college education. The educational system is public and largely free, especially to government-privileged minorities. Black failure is concentrated in urban centers where minorities are a majority and blacks occupy positions of power in private philanthropies, public institutions and governments.
In this situation, the chief obstacle to black Americans’ success is the epidemic of anti-white racism present in the Biden White House, the Democrat Party, the Black Lives Matter movement, the leftwing media and corporate culture, universities, philanthropic institutions, the Diversity Industry and the K-12 teacher unions. The sinister message to blacks from all these race-infected institutions is: You don’t control your destiny, racist whites do.
This lie has planted the seeds of violent hatred, triggering a national crime wave whose perpetrators (and victims, ironically) are mainly black. Why are black racists targeting Asians? Because Asians have shown that a minority that suffers persecution can succeed if it embraces the right values. Asians are in fact the richest ethnic group in America – significantly richer than whites.22
The chief effect of anti-white racism is to inculcate a sense of powerlessness among blacks that feeds the hate and encourages them to put their faith in the corrupt urban leaders who have lined their own pockets with trillions of federal dollars intended to advance black interests. Al Sharpton and ambulance-chaser Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Black Lives Matter’s fake martyrs, come immediately to mind.23
There is no hierarchy of oppression in America. But there are such hierarchies in the socialist societies admired by progressives – Cuba, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Russia. The social hierarchy in these progressive countries is determined by the hierarchy in the ruling party that bills itself as the savior of the people, which is precisely how progressives see themselves.
1 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/103-1994/h416; https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/103-1994/s295
10 https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/organizations/blms-close-ties-to-the-democratic-party; https://archives.frontpagemag.com/fpm/dems-officially-endorse-anti-cop-blacklivesmatter-matthew-vadum/
11 https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/alicia-garza; https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/patrisse-cullors; https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/opal-tometi
12 https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/organizations/gender-pay-gap; https://www.dailywire.com/news/7-facts-show-women-are-not-victims-pay-amanda-prestigiacomo
16 Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), pp. 81-82.
18 Thomas Sowell, The Economics and Politics of Race (New York: Quill, 1983), pp. 190-
20 Tony Snow, “Blacks Should Not Abandon King’s Dream,” Conservative Chronicle (September 7, 1994), p. 28; (2) Walter E. Williams, “White People Are Divine,” More Liberty Means Less Government (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1999), p. 6.
23 David Horowitz, I Can’t Breathe: How a Racial Hoax is Killing America, 2021