Is anyone surprised by the recent news that Ibram X. Kendi may be a complete fraud? The New Hanover County Board of Education Republicans certainly are not.
Recently our Board of Education’s decision to temporarily suspend use of Kendi’s book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, in our school curriculum was vindicated by reports that Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University may have mismanaged funds and mistreated staff. It appears that the character of the book’s author is just as objectionable as the book’s contents.
The Kendi news is the latest in a long list of examples demonstrating that the entire antiracism industry is a grift. Earlier this summer, a Florida State University professor and one of the leading academics on systemic racism was fired for decades of fabricating studies. Founders of the Black Lives Matter organization live in luxury, decrying racism and capitalism from their mansions. And questions remain as to what happened to the billions of dollars given to BLM affiliates over the last several years.
Undergirding Kendi’s antiracism framework is the dimwitted assertion that all disparities between groups of people are attributable to discrimination. More men than women in prison? Discrimination! No players under 5’5” in the NBA? Discrimination! As you can see, this theory gets silly quickly. What does Kendi prescribe for this discrimination epidemic? More discrimination! Antiracism for thee but not for me.
Although it is easy to mock such a facile thesis, the effect of this poisonous ideology is no laughing matter. Armed with a seductive philosophy and an obsequious press, the racial grievance cartel marched through society extorting dollars and deference from any individual or business with anything to lose. Dissidents were intimidated; solidarity grew compulsory; oppression became currency. Words like “equity” were reappropriated to traffic toxic ideas into mainstream discourse. Americans were cast as irreversibly bigoted. Racism was deemed too entrenched, too crippling for minorities to thrive.
We conservatives reject that dreary narrative and instead embrace a hopeful vision. We stand for self-reliance, agency, and empowerment. We recognize that artificial victimization demoralizes. We teach our children to make things happen, not just let things happen to them. We celebrate the obstacles overcome and progress earned on race. Our aspiration is captured by Booker T. Washington’s observation that “there is something in human nature which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what color of skin merit is found.” We judge people based on what they do, not who they are.
When will the lesson be learned that distinctions based on race are too dangerous of a tool to be wielded by government or deployed in everyday life? Racial distinctions are bad, and good intentions do not excuse them. We cannot sit idle while insidious ideas we spent centuries eradicating are repackaged as benevolent. Kendi would enable an all-powerful state to implement his vision only to discover that his task of eliminating discrimination has been accomplished and his fantasy of erasing all disparities is impossible. Freedom would be the cost, a dystopia our reward.
Republics survive only as long as its citizens agree on certain fundamental values; political order requires stable civic relations. Racial equality is a universal value, one that has extended the blessings of liberty to all. Although America was not always perfect, we proved redeemable. Kendi’s philosophy is incompatible with the bedrock principle that inclusion in our national community depends on one attribute: citizenship. Kendi owes a debt to this foundation while hacking at its roots. He stands on the shoulders of civil rights giants while gnawing at their ankles.
Principles are easy to recite, but they are difficult to practice (Kendi’s hypocrisy being a good example). Of course, we must speak up when we see injustice. We must act boldly when we encounter racism, from wherever and in whatever form. For what good is the truth if it falls on deaf ears? We proclaim that racism has no home in this country, and Republicans will give it no quarter.
Kendi’s program is discrimination masquerading as empathy. Many well-intentioned Americans fell for the con of Kendi’s antiracism, but America is starting to wake up. New Hanover County has joined the procession of communities around the country that have committed to restoring truth and sanity to education. The American project is to secure the promise of freedom for all. May we be ever vigilant against any effort to undermine it, from wherever it comes.