| June 22, 2020 01:25 PM
America’s universities bequeathed the post-George Floyd protests to the country. The protesters, whether peaceful or violent, have justified their actions by denouncing systemic racism in law enforcement and the country as a whole. The basis for their mass grievance is that America is a racist country.
Amid the chaos, the leaders of the Claremont Institute, a California-based think tank, asked an important question: “Why is it that so many of our citizens believe that America is racist to its core?” The answer actually is quite straightforward. They explained:
“Because this lie has been preached by our universities and media like the Gospel for a generation. From there, it has traveled throughout society, particularly among the elite. Even most leaders on the Right are unwilling to refute this destructive untruth. In failing to do so, they promote the falsehood, the riots that it has engendered, and ultimately America’s destruction. This is to say, the riots are the handiwork of the elite.”
Indeed, universities, especially the elite universities, sowed the seeds of the current convulsions by having peddled for decades the myth that this country is racist. These universities were not the only institutions to do so, but they bear an extraordinary amount of responsibility.
One might think that higher learning should be about the acquisition of knowledge, but elite universities made clear long ago that the most coveted prize was diversity as practiced through identity politics.
Students showing up on campus learn quickly that to be without traditionally desirable qualities such as courage, loyalty, honor, or virtue is of little consequence. Being labeled a racist, however, is tantamount to social and potentially career suicide. Since one could easily be labeled a racist without actually being one, white students usually play it safe by expressing contrition or remorse for their privileged status afforded by what they are told is a racist country.
The racism practiced by the universities themselves is glaringly obvious as well. A lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit organization, against Harvard University has revealed a sordid and sophisticated scheme of racial discrimination directed by Harvard against Asian applicants for decades.
Yet Harvard shamelessly justifies its racism by insisting that it has every right to create a “diverse” student body. Having too many qualified Asian American students would thwart that goal. In this paradigm, racial minorities contribute to diversity by bringing distinct racial perspectives, and white people generally have little to contribute except to learn from the experiences of others who rank higher on the diversity totem pole.
In this paradigm, other things are obvious as well. Standing up for America? Don’t bother. Objecting to the absurdity of identity politics? Too risky. Saying out loud that race or ethnicity is not destiny? Not worth the backlash.
Over time, enough students educated in this fashion come to believe that America is actually racist and that everything in daily or political life ultimately must be viewed through the lens of racism. When they graduate, many of them work in the media, on Wall Street, or for large tech giants. Many of them have been out protesting in recent weeks, as surveys show that white people participating in protests are overwhelmingly young and well-educated. They are proud to support Black Lives Matter, the activists spearheading the protests, but their fancy education has rendered them unable to defend the utter absurdity of the movement’s current mantra: Defund the police.
Meanwhile, because privileged white people have been told repeatedly for generations that they’re inherently uninteresting, many have now taken to trying to make themselves more interesting by rioting. Fighting violently for a black cause is their path to racial redemption. Ironically, peaceful black activists lament and resent the destructive effect such actions have on their movement.
As policymakers are now rightly discussing sensible structural police reform, the disastrous results of how universities educate youth are blowing up (at times literally) in cities, towns, and communities across the country.
For those who do not believe America is racist, the current crisis has made clear that structural reforms to this country’s higher education are direly needed.