“Africa has the fastest-growing number of immigrants in the United States, according to …U.S. Census Bureau data…The number of African migrants grew at a rate of almost 50 percent from 2010 to 2018. This is more than double the growth rate of migration to the U.S. from Asia, South America or the Caribbean.” — “African migration to the United States is the fastest-rising—in spite of Trump,” Quartz Africa, Oct. 14, 2019
“Nation-wide protests weeks after George Floyd’s murder turned into a movement to destroy a nation. Parading as an attack on racial injustice, the movement has turned into an obliteration of history… Whether they come for statues today or people tomorrow, the goal of any extremist movement is to rewrite the narrative by obliterating any other narrative. The goal of this current movement is no different. It isn’t just to level racial injustice; it’s to level America.” — Shireen Qudosi, “The Movement to Destroy a Nation,” June 24, 2020
For well more than the last half-century, the United States has arguably been the most remarkable—and certainly the most powerful and prosperous—country on the face of the globe, a magnet for immigrants around the world, wishing to partake in the material plenty and political and intellectual liberty it can provide.
In many ways, it has been an inspiring—if not unblemished—model, showing how widely disparate societal elements can be synthesized into a functioning and cohesive entity, welding broad ethnic diversity, social tolerance, religious freedom and individual liberties into a binding sense of national identity, which helped propel a highly effective and inclusive sociopolitical unit.
Indeed, in a relatively short space of time (in historical terms), it quickly overtook older and more established nations in Europe, outstripping them with regard to political power, military prowess and economic prosperity.
In essence, this success was fueled by an ethos of rugged individualism, self-reliance and personal responsibility. It fostered a sense of national exceptionalism and propelled it to rarely surpassed heights of achievement in virtually every field of human endeavor.
Doctrine of endeavor vs. doctrine of envy
Yet now, almost inconceivably, we watch as across the country seemingly ever greater circles of Americans seem swept up in a movement bent on jettisoning a paradigm that brought such resounding success, while enthusiastically embracing one that has wrought failure and deprivation wherever its implementation has been attempted: From Venezuela of today and Chile and Argentina of yesteryear, via pre-Margaret Thatcher U.K. (with omnipotent labor unions, soaring inflation and unemployment—”stagflation”—precipitating the need for an emergency IMF bailout) to the collapse and breakup of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact bloc, under the crushing poverty it brought to the citizens of the USSR and its East European allies.
It is a movement that has supplanted a doctrine of endeavor with a doctrine of envy—whereby success and achievement of others that surpass that of themselves are not perceived as a product of effort and enterprise, of toil and talent, of diligence and determination. Instead, it is being portrayed as ill-gotten fruits of cunning and corruption, mendacity and malfeasance, discrimination and duplicity.
The purported rationale for the movement is opposition to ongoing institutionalized discrimination against non-white minorities in the U.S., particularly black Americans. The banner, around which its members rally, is the alleged inherent privilege enjoyed by whites in the U.S. at the expense of other ethnic groups, and its battle cry, urging action, is to purge the ostensible prevalence of enduring “white supremacy.”
Destruction as a means to achieve equality?
It is a movement that has co-opted destruction as a means to achieve equality. For it is only by destroying what some have, and others do not, that the gaping gap, between those allegedly unfairly privileged and those commensurately unfairly deprived, can be narrowed.
There are, of course, myriad examples of impressive accomplishment and success by non-white minorities, including blacks, which are difficult to reconcile with the accusation of perennial and pervasive prejudice and ubiquitous denial of opportunity from ethnic groups with darker skin tones.
Thus, not only has a black American been elected (and reelected) to the highest office in the country, but blacks have reached the pinnacle of achievement in both public and professional spheres. Indeed, black Americans have served as the head of the U.S. military; as secretaries of state, as attorneys-general, as national security advisors, as U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations and in numerous Cabinet positions, including those of secretary of homeland security, education, energy, commerce, labor, transportation, health and human services and housing and urban development, in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Hundreds of black Americans have reached the most senior rank of general (in the U.S. Army and Air Force), and admiral (in the U.S. Navy), commanding thousands of troops (including white Americans), ordering them into combat and the possible sacrifice of their very lives.
Black participation and representation
In the legislature, while it is true that black Americans are significantly underrepresented in the Senate (only three out of 100), in the House of Representatives they comprise almost 12 percent of the members, closely reflecting their percentage in the total population.
Moreover, these numbers should be viewed against the backdrop of the unfolding development in the makeup of Congress. Indeed, for the last two decades, there has been a steady increase in its ethnic/racial diversity—with the 2020 Congress being the most racially and ethnically diverse ever.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Congressional Research Service, one hundred and sixteen lawmakers today are non-white. This represents an 84 percent increase over the 107th Congress of 2001-03, which had 63 minority members.
Black Americans have excelled—arguably, have dominated—the entertainment and sports industry, and have been admired, even idolized, by millions, including white Americans, accumulating fortunes most can only dream of.
Dozens of black actors and artists have won Hollywood’s highest honor, the Oscar, and many more have been nominated for Academy Awards.
At the state level, there is a long list of non-white Americans—including black Americans—who have been elected to the top two gubernatorial positions of governor and lieutenant governor across a wide range of states, on behalf of both the Democratic and the Republican parties.
Black mayors and police chiefs
At the municipal level, thirty-nine of the 100 largest cities in the country have elected black mayors. In 2020, black Americans serve as mayors in almost 40 cities with a population of more than 40,000, almost 45 percent of them in cities with white majorities (including Washington, D.C., Chicago and Dallas).
Significantly, black Americans have, paradoxically—the less charitable might say, perversely—over the decades, voted consistently to sustain the rule of Democratic politicians who brought decades of deprivation, delinquency and decay to the cities they controlled. Indeed, all of the cities designated as the 10 most dangerous in the United States—with the sole exception of one (Indianapolis)—have been under the almost total dominance of mayors (a good number of them black Americans), affiliated with the Democratic Party—seemingly dooming themselves to an ongoing cycle of peril, penury and privation.
Blacks make up the second-largest ethnic group in police forces nationwide, comprising almost 13 percent, closely mirroring the proportion of blacks in the total population. Some sources estimate black participation in law enforcement at 15 percent, higher than the share of blacks in the overall U.S. population.
Significantly, in both Minneapolis and Seattle, the cities in which the incidents of police slayings of black men sparked the current uproar, the police chiefs were black officers, Medaria Arradondo and Carmen Best, serving under Democrat-affiliated mayors, Jacob Frey and Jenny Durkan.
“White supremacy” doctrine sits uneasily with the facts
It is difficult to reconcile allegations of anti-black prejudice with the evident enthusiasm of black Africans to make their way to the United States. Indeed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Africa has the fastest-growing number of immigrants to the United States. Thus, the number of African migrants reportedly grew at a rate of almost 50 percent from 2010 to 2018—more than double the growth rate of migration to America from Asia, South America or the Caribbean.
Moreover, the claim of white supremacy sits even more uneasily when one analyzes the socioeconomic performance of other non-white ethnic minorities, who regularly do better than the national average in terms of income and educational qualifications.
According to a 2017 Pew Research Center analysis, “The U.S. Asian population does well on measures of economic well-being compared with the U.S. population as a whole … .”
Earlier Pew studies show that American Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos and Chinese all significantly surpass the national average for household income and attainment of higher education.
Perhaps of particular note are the Indian Americans, arguably the most successful ethnic group in the U.S., with a median household income almost 90 percent higher than the median income for the general American population. Likewise, an Indian American is almost two and a half times more likely to have a university education, almost twice as likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree and almost four times likely to achieve an advanced degree. Similarly, Indian Americans are less than half as likely to live in poverty as the general U.S. population.
Given the fact that Indian Americans are discernibly non-white (probably more so than most other ethnic minorities), it is hard to square their impressive success with a doctrine of ubiquitous “white supremacy” and pervasive bigotry against non-whites.
Redefining racism—to include non-racism?
Confronted by the myriad examples of non-white Americans’ success and access to positions of power, “white supremacy” theorists have had to regroup and redraw the battle lines by restructuring the definition of racism.
This has led to inserting into the public debate terms like “systemic racism” and distinctly oxymoronic epithets like “color-blind racism.”
Incredibly, within the framework of these “intellectual constructs” (for want of a better word), racism was no longer a precondition for … racism.
Indeed, this has birthed a genre of publications, such as a book bearing the perplexing—seemingly self-contradictory—title of Racism Without Racists, which seems to imply that things exist even though they do not—or at least, their constituent elements do not. Thus, according to one review, the book “helps us to understand … the persistence of a color-coded system of inequality, even though most whites insist that race is no longer relevant.”
The fundamental assumption underlying “systemic racism” and “color-blind racism” is that, even without formally explicit, institutionalized provisions for racial discrimination (or even without intentional and conscious informal prejudices), overarching societal systems/structures embody enduring ethnoracial biases. These biases are the precipitate of historical events and processes, and operate to obstruct egalitarian pan-ethnic opportunity for socioeconomic advancement.
Thus, every adverse encounter experienced by black Americans can be ascribed to some element of “systemic racism” lingering on from bygone days in an essentially “white privilege”-oriented culture.
The problem with the “systemic/color-blind racism” proposition is it that it can explain everything … and nothing.
After all, it can account for every failure of black Americans, on the one hand, and for none of the successes of other non-white Americans, on the other.
Indeed, to adopt this line of thought would surely compel us to adopt a doctrine of Hindu supremacy to explain the extraordinary success of dark-skinned Indian Americans. Or am I missing something here?
The movement to de-Americanize America
The notion of “systemic racism,” fed by the belief that persistent remnants of “white Privilege,” even “white supremacy,” permeates the very fabric of American society, frequently determining the outcome of a wide range of societal interactions, mandating the need to question the very foundations of the national ethos.
After all, it was—according to the “systemic racism” narrative—those foundations that fostered, or at least facilitated, the onerous and oppressive obstacles that obstruct black advancement and achievement today. So, in order to obviate those obstacles, the societal foundations must be radically changed, which inevitably calls for the discrediting of the value and merit of core elements of that national ethos.
Accordingly, manifestly race-neutral ideas must be tainted with pejorative racist shades. Thus, concepts such as individualism, objectivity and perfectionism (aspiring for excellence) are being branded as elements comprising “White Supremacy Culture,” whose removal/replacement is perceived as essential for dismantling racism—and are being inserted as such into school curricula.
This compulsion to excoriate and eradicate the very elements that made America America brings us full circle back to the introductory excerpt by Muslim-American writer Shireen Qudosi at the start of this essay. She cautioned that the ongoing nationwide protests have: “turned into a movement to destroy a nation. Parading as an attack on racial injustice, the movement has turned into an obliteration of history. … Whether they come for statues today or people tomorrow, the goal of any extremist movement is to rewrite the narrative by obliterating any other narrative. The goal of this current movement is no different. It isn’t just to level racial injustice; it’s to level America.”
We are left to hope that this shrill warning will not be ignored … or heeded too late.
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
Be a part of our community
JNS serves as the central hub for a thriving community of readers who appreciate the invaluable context our coverage offers on Israel and their Jewish world.
Please join our community and help support our unique brand of Jewish journalism that makes sense.