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Walter Williams: Racism never OK

| Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, 8:03 p.m.
Sarah Jeong
Sarah Jeong

How appropriate would it be for a major publicly held American company to hire a person with a history of having publicly made the following statements and many others like them? (In the interest of brevity, I shall list only three.) “The world could get by just fine with zero black people.” “It’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old black men.” “Are black people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically only being fit to live underground like groveling bilious goblins?”

I think most Americans would find such blatant racism despicable and would condemn any company that knowingly hired such a person. Leftists of every stripe would be in an uproar, demanding the dismissal of such an employee. College students and their professors would picket any company that hired such a person. I could be wrong about this, so I’d truly like any employer who’d hire such a person to come forward.

Most Americans would see such statements as racist, but consider this: Suppose we slightly changed the wording of each statement, replacing the word “black” with “white.” For example, “The world could get by just fine with zero white people.” Would you consider that statement to be just as racist? I would hope you’d answer in the affirmative. They’re all racist statements!

The full scoop on those statements can be found in an excellent essay by William Voegeli, “Racism, Revised,” in the fall edition of the Claremont Review of Books. The racist statements about white people were made by Sarah Jeong, one of the newest members of The New York Times’ editorial board. Jeong attended the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She decided to become a journalist specializing in technology and the internet. She has an active Twitter account with over 97,000 followers.

One person excused Jeong’s tweets by saying they “were not racist” but merely “jokes about white people.” Leftists have been taught utter nonsense by their college professors. The most insidious lesson taught is who can and who cannot be a racist. Jeong was born in South Korea in 1988 and became a U.S. citizen in 2017, so she is a minority. According to the thinking of academia’s intellectual elite, a minority person cannot be a racist. The reason is that minorities don’t have the political, economic and institutional power to adversely affect the lives of whites.

Such reasoning is beyond stupid. Here’s a test. Is the following statement racist? “Jews are money-hungry hustlers.” Before you answer, must you first find out the race of the person making the statement? Would you suggest that it’s not a racist statement if the speaker is black but it is if he’s white?

Voegeli says that calling someone “racist” is one of the most severe accusations that can be made against a person but at the same time is among the vaguest. Years ago, one had to don a hood and robe to be a certified racist. Today, it’s much easier. Tucker Carlson of Fox News questioned whether diversity is all that it’s cracked up to be. He asked: “How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Can you think, for example, of other institutions, such as … marriage or military units, in which the less people have in common the more cohesive they are?” The Washington Post’s media critic declared that it was racist for Carlson to cast doubt on the proposition that diversity is good.

Voegeli’s article is rich with many other examples of how lots of Americans are losing their minds in matters of race . Muhammad Ali had it right when he said: “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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