A Reply to Mario Loyola: Left-Wing Policies Are Not ‘Systemic Racism’ | National Review

The Absurdity of Ibram X. Kendi’s Receiving a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant | National Review

Ibram X. Kendi on CBS This Morning in 2019. (CBS This Morning/via YouTube)

Yesterday’s piece from Mario Loyola, “The Race-Marxists Finally Went Too Far,” makes a number of important points, describing how the cultural Left’s assault on American institutions and history is beginning to provoke a political backlash across the country. Loyola catalogues how left-wing ideologies like critical race theory pose a serious threat to the traditional American understanding of core principles such as equality under the law, specifically calling out Ibram X. Kendi’s notorious expansion of the definition of racism to include anything that produces disparate outcomes between different racial groups — a definition of virtually limitless application. 

“The gigantic obstacle standing in the way of this twisted and dystopian vision of ‘equity’ is none other than the principle of ‘equality,’” Loyola writes. “Enshrined in the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the principle of equality before the law requires that the same laws be applied to everyone in the same way.” 

That’s exactly right, and well said. But then, in the last few paragraphs, Loyola’s argument loses its way:

There is systemic racism in America, but it has little to do with police procedures or practice. What drives disproportionate encounters with police is the same as what drives urban blight, low educational attainment, and low labor-force participation. It is the systemic racism of social-welfare and minimum-wage laws that have grossly disparate impacts on social mobility for blacks and Hispanics. Programs designed to shield them from the ravages of a competitive economy in fact do little more than exclude them from its benefits, trapping them in cycles of dependency on ruling elites.

I understand the point that Loyola is trying to make — badly designed welfare programs from the Great Society, burdensome job-killing regulatory policies, and a failing public-school system propped up by overpowerful teachers’ unions all are powerful examples of how progressive policies hurt nonwhite Americans. But that does not mean that such policies are examples of systemic racism, and to argue this is to actually accept the racialized outcome-oriented framework offered by Ibram X. Kendi and other critical race theorists.

Bad policies are bad policies, and most — perhaps all — bad policies are worse for some groups than they are for others. But the disparate impact of bad policies does not make them guilty of “systemic racism,” unless one is a Kendi-ist and believes that all policies with disparate impacts are systemically racist. And in that case, Kendi is right about all of the policies that he decries as racist, too. We don’t get to pick and choose here: Either disparate racial impact proves systemic racism, or it doesn’t. Loyola may be attempting to hoist the Left on its own petard, but his argument is actually acquiescing to an incredibly poisonous broader left-wing framework.

It is a long-standing right-wing trope to assert that “Democrats are the real racists.” There is a legitimate version of this argument, of course — there is only one major political party pushing for neo-segregationist policies and assigning children value based on the color of their skin in schools, and it’s not the GOP. But this line of reasoning can quickly become counterproductive; conservatives should be fighting the Left’s obsession with viewing everything through the lens of race and racism, rather than merely trying to reframe it in opposing terms. Unfortunately, Loyola embraces this argument in the second-to-last paragraph of his article:

With the best of intentions, Democrats have managed to resurrect a version of the Three-Fifths Clause, increasing their voting power in proportion to the number of blacks who depend on them, a consistent feature of Democratic politics going from the present day back through segregation, Reconstruction, and slavery, to the founding of the Republic.

There are better ways to criticize critical race theory and the insanity of left-wing cultural ideology than describing it as a version of the Three-Fifths Clause. More important, however, such arguments are tantamount to sawing off the branch we’re sitting on, actively arguing that America is racist to own the libs. In fact, the truth is much simpler: There is no systemic racism in America today, period. Now more than ever, conservatives must be unapologetic in defending that position.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.