Antiracism Is Racist On Its Own Terms | Opinion

Perhaps the central animating principle underlying the Woke agenda is that equity in outcomes must supplant equality in rights, treatment under the law and general life opportunities.

The Woke ideal is for all to be represented in every aspect of society proportional to their group—the diversity of skills, abilities, interests and myriad other factors inherent to every individual be damned. All policies must revolve around this singularly preeminent goal.

At least this is what the Woke tell us.

So-called "antiracism" is at the core of the Wokeism that has overtaken much of the federal government, our corporate boardrooms and our schools. Antiracists suggest that one can judge a policy as antiracist by whether such policy contributes to achieving "equity"—and a person as antiracist by whether he actively supports such policy. Get with the Woke program, in other words, or you are "Jim Eagle." In some ways, then, antiracism might be thought of more as a tactic to bully people into submission to racialist progressivism than it is a true philosophy or worldview.

But for the sake of argument, let's entertain the antiracists' stated views. Let's also set aside that alongside Woke true believers are cynics who likely believe they can exploit Wokeism to accrue more power, narrow opportunists who think they can profit by aligning themselves with the Woke and cowards generally fearful of the vengeful Woke mob.

Antiracists believe it is wholly justifiable to engage in outright discrimination and bigotry—abrogating rights, treating us as unequal under the law and rigging opportunities—to the extent it advances the cause of "equity." This experiment in social engineering is a recipe for disaster, eroding liberty and justice, fomenting societal rancor and division, and ultimately leaving us a poorer, less secure country.

But even setting these points aside, there is a fatal flaw among the antiracists that ought to be emphasized: Antiracists are racist on their own terms to the extent their favored policies contribute to inequity. In fact, many such policies seemingly will, and historically have.

Consider policing, for example. Antiracists see the criminal justice system as systemically racist, in large part because minorities are incarcerated at disproportionate rates—rejecting or ignoring that those rates might reflect disproportionate underlying criminal activity. Therefore, antiracists argue that equity demands a raft of policies aimed at weakening the power of police forces, up to and sometimes including abolishing them outright. But it is only logical that if the authorities are to back off, if not disband altogether, then crime-ridden areas will get significantly worse.

It is too soon to know whether 2020 is a historical outlier, but over the last year, as antiracism rampaged through American society in an anti-cultural revolution, violent crime—and, in particular, homicide rates—rose at historic rates. Was this a matter of correlation, causation or just a blip? Time will tell. We do know that while the American sociopolitical atmosphere remains charged with antiracism, the Biden administration is signaling a return to consent decrees that may well have the effect of hamstringing police departments. Cops have recently been demonized by large swaths of the political class, and there is anecdotal evidence suggesting many may have been tactically backing off, given the hostile climate. Similarly, the New York Police Department is seeing a mass of retirements.

Mercifully, the dramatic rise in violent crime we are witnessing comes from a historically low base. Violent crime has, overall, declined significantly over the last several decades. While there are many contributors, it stands to reason that among the most influential were policies diametrically opposed to the current antiracist agenda, including the embrace of "broken-windows policing," increases in the size of police forces and keeping criminals off the streets and behind bars. It stands to reason that a reversal of these policies may well disproportionately punish those in high-crime areas, often with large minority populations, thus generating greater inequity.

Ibram X. Kendi in March 2020
Ibram X. Kendi in March 2020 Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Next, consider immigration. As with policing, some antiracists cast belief in and policies that limit immigration as inherently racist. Never mind that sovereign nations must necessarily discriminate in terms of who they allow in, and on what terms, if they are to remain definitionally sovereign. As with policing, some Wokesters support policies up to and sometimes including abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Set aside that illegal immigration has been a contributor to crime and violence, particularly in the largely urban, disproportionately minority areas where such aliens settle. Ignore that the influx of illegal immigrants, enabled by open-borders policies, drives down wages for legal American low-skilled workers, including blacks and Hispanics. That is, illegal immigration overall contributes to more crime, and less pay, for minorities. Is this "equity?"

Antiracists also oppose capitalism itself. Ibram X. Kendi, perhaps the nation's most prominent "antiracist," says that "to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist." This view may stem in part from the upside-down, ahistorical narrative—as put forth in The New York Times' pernicious "1619 Project," for example—that slavery was a capitalist institution. Setting aside that in practice, many of the world's socialist regimes have proven uniquely bigoted, capitalism tends to punish discrimination and reward people regardless of their skin color. Socialism tends to generate pervasive inequity—a cadre of ultra-rich elites, and a mass of impoverished humanity. As the late Walter Williams wrote: "Before the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man," creating and perpetuating inequity. Conversely, "Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one's fellow man." Perhaps the antiracists believe that a return to "looting, plundering and enslaving," if done by and to the "right" people, is "equitable"—but in practice, regimes encouraging such behavior are always rife with inequity, if they are to even survive in the first instance.

Last, consider schools. Teachers' unions would likely rank among the Wokest of institutions. Yet the likes of the "anti-racist" American Federation of Teachers (AFT) backs policies that disproportionately punish those living in the worst school districts, often in urban areas with large minority populations. AFT opposes school choice and has worked tooth and nail against opening public schools during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic in spite of The Science. Who has been hurt most by such policies? Obviously, those mired in the worst school districts. This is to say nothing of the recent push, under the banner of "equity," to willfully dumb down and hyper-politicize mathematics. Such policies may well stunt the growth of talented children of all colors stuck in public schools, while the elites can always avoid the insanity by sending their kids to private schools.

And that is the crux of the matter. The aforementioned "antiracist" policies will exacerbate the gap between the Ruling Class and everyone else, including minorities. While the Ruling Class is most insulated from the consequences of such policies—it already resides in safe communities, benefits from cheap illegal labor, can afford the costs of regressive socialism and sends its kids to tony schools—the purported beneficiaries will suffer most acutely.

That virtually every major inner city in America, almost universally Democrat-run for the better part of 60 years, has embraced an agenda in line with the Woke, with little to show for it but a generational cycle of poverty, violence and antisocial pathologies, is a testament to that.

If antiracists judge racism on the basis of unequal outcomes, their favored policies have proven to be systemically racist. And antiracism is, on its own terms, therefore racist as well.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.