U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks with reporters as he transits the subway system beneath the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. April 27, 2021. Photo by Jonathan Ernst /Reuters

Barbara Kay: America is not a racist country and critical race theory is bunk

Sen. Tim Scott refutes the now-widespread belief that racism is America’s defining characteristic

On April 28 U.S. president Joe Biden gave his first address to Congress. It will be remembered less for its content than for Black South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott’s charged words in response to it.

“Hear me clearly,” Scott said. “America is not a racist country.” He didn’t say there is no racism in America. Scott himself has encountered racist behaviour and said so. But he refutes the now-widespread belief that racism is America’s defining characteristic. He sternly rebuked those who use race as “a political weapon,” stating “It’s wrong to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.” This was a gauntlet being thrown down with a clang that could be heard across the nation and beyond. Enough with Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the anger, guilt, resentment and divisiveness it breeds, many observers heard Scott saying.


Scott backed up his optimism with facts: “Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. … Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25 per cent than the top 25 per cent.” He called for “common sense and common ground” to unite Americans because even though Joe Biden is “a good man,” national success “won’t come from Washington schemes.”

Predictably, Scott’s exhortations, rooted in classic liberal principles of personal agency, equal opportunity and optimal individual freedom, aroused hostility from CRT acolytes. Scott noted he has already endured taunts of “Uncle Tom and the N-word” just for being a Black Republican. Following his speech, “Uncle Tim” trended on Twitter and a Texas county chairman of the Democratic Party called Scott an “Oreo” in a Facebook post (he later apologized for it).

When the hearts of influential CRT ideologues who claim to be dedicated to the eradication of a social evil are not gladdened, but embittered by good news, be warned. They are revolutionaries who, through a narrative of perpetual white supremacy and perpetual black oppression, the more alarmist and divisive, the better, seek continuous disruption rather than reform and nation-building. But their tactics, as Scott observed, do not benefit Blacks. Quite the opposite.

In a recently released Manhattan Institute report, titled “The Social Construction of racism in the United States,” professor of politics at the University of London Eric Kaufman observes that concern about racism has risen even as racist attitudes and behaviours have declined. Kaufman found that ideology, along with social media and advanced education, are causal factors in heightened perceptions of racism.

Moreover, CRT can be counter-productive for Blacks’ sense of self-worth. For example, Kaufman found that reading a passage from CRT author Ta-Nehisi Coates “results in a significant 15-point drop in black respondents’ belief that they have control over their lives.” He infers from his findings that CRT is “a poor choice for policymakers seeking to improve outcomes in the black community.” Kaufman concludes, “my survey results indicate that as much as half of reported racism may be ideologically or psychologically conditioned, and the rise in the proportion of Americans claiming racism to be an important problem is largely socially constructed.”

Diversity training based in CRT, now de rigueur in all institutional domains — corporate, governmental, pedagogical and more — perpetuates these negative outcomes. That, at least, is the conclusion arrived at by Columbia University sociologist Musa al Gharbi following a comprehensive review of the data for Heterodox Academy in November, 2020.

Training programs, al Gharbi says, are “overwhelmingly ineffective” in meeting stated goals: “Generally speaking, they do not increase diversity in the workplace, they do not reduce harassment or discrimination, they do not lead to greater intergroup cooperation and cohesion — consequently they do not increase productivity.” He even cites a study concluding that “many of those tasked with ensuring compliance with these training programs recognize them as ineffective.”

Diversity programs adopt a double standard that rebounds negatively on the institutions that embrace them, al Gharbi says. For example, historically marginalized group members are celebrated as important and worthy, while whites, characterized as inherently malicious, are forced to validate them. The result is that “many members from the dominant group walk away from the training believing [they] … are not valued at the institution … reducing their morale and productivity.” This report is well worth reading in full for its exposure of the manifold deficits in the received wisdom on diversity training.

To their credit, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris chose discretion as the better part of valour in responding to Tim Scott’s challenge. Perhaps they have quietly educated themselves on the harms CRT militancy is perpetuating. Both, in media interviews, although hedged thickly with qualifying remarks, repeated the magic words. “I don’t think America is a racist country,” Kamala told ABC’s Good Morning, America. “I don’t think America’s racist,” Biden told NBC’s Today.

In their doubtless calculated agreement with Scott, Biden and Harris sent an unmistakable signal to their far-left wing, for whom the words “racism” and “systemic” are inextricably conjoined, that they prefer a non-ideological approach to this charged issue. That Biden and Harris decided to go the extra mile in repudiating even the word “racist” to describe the nation is a concession to savour for all rational people who are eager to see progress in race relations, but not at the expense of truth and mutual respect.

Tim Scott’s “America is not a racist country” may not achieve the global impact of Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall,” but in this present internal Cold War, any potentially meaningful breach in the stony wall running through a culturally riven America should be recorded as a blessing.