In a Politico article Sean McElwee of Demos argues that, in the words of his title, “ Millennials Are More Racist Than You Think .” In fact, the Pew study he cites shows the contrary and reflects on his own race-tainted ideology.
Using Pew data, McElwee acknowledges that Millennials [those born after 1980] “are indeed less likely than baby boomers to say that more people of different races marrying each other is a change for the worse (6 percent compared to 14 percent).” Further, he notes that 92 percent of Millennials are okay with interracial dating.
However, he notes that by both these measures Millennials are pretty much on par with GenXers, those born from 1965 through 1980. So what? You’d think two generations that are more tolerant than the previous ones would be occasion for applause.
So where’s the racism? McElwee tells us that questions like the above “don’t really say anything about racial justice” and that Millennials “simply ignore structural racism rather than try to fix it.”
McElwee complains that to the question, “How much needs to be done in order to achieve Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality?” the opinions of white Millennials are little different from those of previous generations—42 percent of them answer “a lot” compared to 41 percent of white GenXers and 44 percent of white baby boomers, those born from 1946 through 1964.
McElwee then lets his full dogma spill out. He supports his contention by citing the work of Professor Spencer Piston who “examined a tax on millionaires, affirmative action, a limit to campaign contributions and a battery of questions that measure egalitarianism.” The professor found that young whites were not enamored of those policies, evidence for McElwee that they are racists. And McElwee is even more depressed because in the Pew data “there is also evidence that young blacks are more racially conservative than their parents, as they are less likely to support government aid to blacks.”
So the racism is really in McElwee’s ideology. To begin with, the policies of race-based privileges and handouts run completely contrary to King’s goal of a world in which individuals “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Those policies have encouraged in many blacks an entitlement mentality with a resentment at having to earn their way in the world rather and having the world given to them. Affirmative action policies and the ideology that goes with them have discouraged entrepreneurship and personal responsibility.
McElwee mentions the problem of “deep disparities in criminal justice” faced by blacks. Let’s grant that there are problems: the drug war hasn't helped poor blacks, that's for sure. But let's take note of the elephant in the room: disproportionate black involvement in violent crime. Since King’s inspiring speech five decades ago, over 400,000 blacks have been murdered mostly by other blacks. Blacks make up 12 percent of America’s population. Half of murder victims are blacks. About 38 percent of the murders are committed by blacks, with about one-third committed by whites and most of the rest by assailants of unknown race.
The deep racial problems in this country today are no longer the result of Southern bigots or Klan members but, rather, they are caused the ideology accepted by leftists like McElwee and promoted by race hustlers like Al Sharpton—as well as by the man Sharpton has visited in the White House over 60 times: President Obama.
Pew data also show that Millennials are very cynical about politics and politicians. For example, half of millennials consider themselves political independents, compared to only 37 percent of baby boomers, and only 31 percent believe there is a big difference between Republicans and Democrats, compared to 49 percent of boomers. Millennials overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008 but, like much of the country, have become disillusioned with him.
The fact that Millennials are anything but naïve means there is a good chance today that they will challenge that leftist racial orthodoxy. Rather than being more racist, as McElwee assets, they could help turn the country away from that collectivist orthodoxy and in the direction of King’s dream, so that individuals “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and so that our characters will manifest the best in all of us.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.