Not a Bright Future for Liberty When Political Foes Are Always ‘Racists’

Published in Communicating Liberty .

When accusations of racism are allowed to persist at the highest levels of politics, none of us are safe. In an age of corporate censorship and government overreach, this favorite tactic of both the left and right isn’t being called out enough.

It used to be that political correctness was a momentary nuisance to be shrugged off. Now the whole political environment and most of the mainstream culture is awash in it. More and more, however, the right is joining in with the left, unable or unwilling to stand up to this affront to liberty.

Last month, President Donald Trump tweeted that Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg was a “TOTAL RACIST” after audio leaked of Bloomberg speaking in support of stop-and-frisk, a policing practice also supported by Trump. Trump quickly deleted the tweet, but his associated campaign account kept up the attack.

If Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is a racist, then it should be very difficult to find someone who is not.

What’s critical to understand is, the tandem powers of corporations and the state are quickly becoming enforcers of this ridiculous standard. Be it a fine, jail time, being banned from social media or losing a bank account, more people are likely to face some consequence for “hate” or “racism” in the future.

There are many who are inclined to agree with this, but they quibble and say that racism largely exists in systems rather than people. That supposedly moderate position, however, inevitably fuels hysteria over such bogeymen as “white privilege,” “cultural appropriation,” and the like.

Unfortunately, the libertarian publication Reason just let the allegation that Bloomberg is “racist” stand without any pushback. It’s a missed opportunity and represents an underestimation of the threat to liberty posed by normalization of this sort of attack.

Let’s look at Bloomberg’s 2015 speech to the Aspen Institute that has been so controversial in recent days, in both left and right circles.

“Ninety-five percent of your murders, murderers and murder victims, fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg only slightly overstates the statistics, which do show suspects and victims are non-white 94 percent of the time. Bloomberg continues:

“Put the cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods,” he says. “One of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.”

Obviously, the marijuana issue stands out. That’s a policy debate. But saying “minority neighborhoods” are “where the crime is” is not racist unless facts are racist.

Bloomberg then says, “throw them up against the walls and frisk them,” to get guns off the streets.

Putting stop-and-frisk and gun control aside as debatable policies, his language here is reckless, and of course police abuse exists. But again, there’s no racism to be found, unless it’s also fair to say New York City murders are racist since 94 percent of victims are non-white, even as 94 percent of suspects are non-white.

As long as phony charges of racism persist and become normalized, there won’t just be a greater risk of corporate and government enforcement of these flimsy standards. We can also expect that fewer and fewer people will be willing to discuss and work on the problems of concentrated violent crime in the country.

Liberty will suffer, and state power will thrive if this trend continues.

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