A long-standing liberal tenet — that we should condemn all forms of prejudice and discrimination equally — came under attack in the 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson decided that equal opportunity was outdated: he said the new goal should be equal outcomes.
Ironically, this new thinking, which has since become a staple of liberal thought, was announced at the very moment when equal opportunity was finally emerging, thanks to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Affirmative action, and the quotas which it entailed, was the start of legally discriminating against white people. Today the idea of justifying racism against whites is expressed in many government policies, most of which have nothing to do with affirmative action.
The New York State Department of Health issued in late December a new policy on the distribution of anti-COVID treatments. It stated that "non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor" for the virus, meaning that white people have been shoved to the back of the line.
A doctor who justified the racism said that blacks and Hispanics were harder hit with COVID, which is true. It is also true that being overweight makes it more likely that one will acquire COVID, and both minority groups are more likely to be overweight than whites. Is that a function of racism, or is it a volitional outcome?
At the federal level, the Biden Administration had been in office for just a month before it hit the ground running, going after white people. The COVID-19 relief bill offered debt forgiveness to farmers, provided they were not white. Recipients had to be "Black/African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islanders."
Biden also punished white business owners. He explicitly said that his "priority will be black, Latino, Asian and Native-American-owned businesses" and "women-owned businesses." Most white men also got the shaft when Biden said that restaurant owners would get priority in receiving federal funds if they were women, veterans and members of "socially and economically disadvantaged" groups.
These policies are a back-door way of granting reparations. Biden knows that the subject of reparations is divisive, so he is enlisting the support of the administrative state to accomplish this end.
It is not just in government where racism prevails against white people. Woke corporations have gotten into the act as well.
At American Express, complaints by white employees surfaced after it was announced that "marginalized" workers would be given priority over "privileged" employees determining promotions. Critical race theory training sessions have convinced white workers that they are likely to be passed over for a promotion — no matter how competent they are — to satisfy this new policy. Some have quit as a result.
Making white people today pay for the sins of white people yesterday can run into problems with the courts. In October, a former senior officer at a North Carolina-health based care organization won $10 million when a jury found that his sex and race illegally led to his termination: he was canned so that a "more diverse" workforce could be achieved. Imagine trying that in the NBA — firing black basketball players so that more Pacific Islanders can play.
In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that white firefighters were discriminated against when a test was discarded after blacks didn't do too well on it: eliminating the test prevented the white guys from being eligible for promotion. The decision, Ricci v. DeStefano, came about when Frank Ricci sought to get a promotion but was denied even though he scored sixth highest on the test out of 118-test takers. He was so determined to succeed that he quit his second job so he could enlist in preparatory courses to pass the test. A dyslexic, he paid $1,000 to have textbooks read onto audiotapes.
In 2017, a poll found that 55 percent of white people believed there was discrimination against white people in America. Similarly, in 2011, researchers at Harvard Business School and Tufts University revealed that many whites believe "reverse racism" is a real problem. Yet there is precious little being said about this issue by the media, never mind activist organizations.
What is driving this condition? Elites believe that the best way to achieve racial equality is by mandating equal outcomes. They are thrice wrong: such attempts create a white backlash; they will never substantially yield black progress; and they deflect attention away from the root causes of racial inequality.
The latter have less to do with discrimination today than they do a host of serious familial and behavioral problems in the black community. Every honest person who has studied this issue knows this to be true, but most are afraid to say so. The failure of the ruling class to admit to this, and to act on it, is the number-one reason we have this problem today.
In the end, whitey really is the problem, but not for the reasons attributed to him.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of nine books and many articles.