One common theme on the left and in most of the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) is that the administration of President Trump has emboldened bigots and spread racism around the nation like a plague. The haters are on the rise and the Klan is teaming up with the Neonazis to come for us all. But is that really true? Is racial intolerance truly on the rise? The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-becker is forced to examine a recent study showing that the opposite is true. Racist views are on the decline. But he’s not going to be letting Donald Trump off the hook that easily.
A new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania suggests there is room for doubt, despite rising incidents of hate crimes, notably in the very counties that hosted a Trump rally in 2016.
Racial prejudice has not increased among white Americans since the explosive 2016 election, argues political scientist Daniel J. Hopkins. It has actually decreased by some measures, he found, possibly as a reaction to Trump’s unexpected ascension to the White House.
Hopkins told The Washington Post that the results initially surprised him. Upon reflection, however, “it’s quite conceivable that Trump has simultaneously galvanized a small number of highly prejudiced white Americans while also pushing millions more to affirm that they are not as prejudiced,” he argued.
So let me get this straight. If the study had shown that racial prejudice was increasing, it would have been blamed on Trump for fanning the flames. (Which is the premise that Stanley-becker starts off the column with.) But if it decreases, it’s in reaction to Trump’s racism. Do I have that right?
We shouldn’t have expected much more from this particular WaPo reporter I suppose. He kicks off the column by seeking to list a series of Trump’s supposedly “racist” actions and comments. Of course, he includes the long disproven claim about the President saying there were “very fine people” among the white supremacists and Nazis that showed up in Charlottesville, despite that being the precise opposite of what he said. In fact, this lie has been repeatedly shot down at outlets including Real Clear Politics and Politifact, but reporters at the Washington Post and on CNN continue to propagate it.
Racism is on the decline in the United States and has been for decades. But it still exists because mankind evolved in systems that were largely open to and steeped in racism because so many groups were isolated. And when they began to migrate and run into each other things often didn’t go well. But we need to be clear that we’re talking about the United States here because racism is still rampant in many other countries. It’s just that our media doesn’t like to discuss that as much. (Try going to South Korea or Japan and marrying one of the native girls there if you aren’t from that country yourself and see what happens.) So we’re getting better, probably because of the level of racial diversity in the United States. Canada, by comparison, where everyone is supposedly so nice and tolerant, is nearly 80% white. It’s probably a lot easier to avoid racial conflict when there so little racial crossover.
For what it’s worth, you can put aside Stanley-becker’s theory that “it’s all Trump’s fault no matter what the study results were” and focus on the good news. Despite what you see on cable news pretty much 24/7, racism is still on the decline. And I’m guessing it will continue to decline until future generations are left wondering what all the fuss was about back in the 20th century.