(CITY JOURNAL) -- Democratic accusations that America is endemically racist are becoming ever more frequent and strident. At the last presidential debate, Pete Buttigieg announced that “systemic racism” will “be with us” regardless of who wins the presidency; Beto O’Rourke claimed that racism in America is “foundational” and that people of color were under “mortal threat” from the “white supremacist in the White House”; Julián Castro denounced the growing threat of “white supremacy”; and Cory Booker called for “attacking systemic racism,” especially in the “racially biased” criminal-justice system.
At the same time, the allowable explanations for racial disparities have shrunk to one: that self-same racism. During this month’s debate, Joe Biden tried to suggest that some poor parents could benefit from instruction regarding optimal child-rearing practices: “We [should] bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t want — they don’t know quite what to do,” he said. Biden was invoking one of the Obama administration’s key anti-poverty initiatives. Home-visiting programs pair nurses and other social service workers with pregnant women and new mothers to teach them parenting skills. Progressive activists have demanded and won hundreds of millions of federal dollars for such programs, yet pundits have denounced Biden’s “horrifyingly racist answer,” in the words of The Intercept, and called for him to pull out of the presidential primary because of it. Buttigieg sniffed that Biden’s statement was “well-intentioned” but “bad,” since it ignored the fact that “racial inequity” in this country was “put into place on purpose.”