Conservatives Think Racism Is Dead. They’re Wrong.

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from New York Magazine,

Fifty years after the March on Washington, no major faction in American life disagrees with Martin Luther King Jr. or the evil of state-sponsored racial apartheid. The terms of the racial debate have shifted massively in liberals’ favor. The conservative stance on racial questions in 2013 is vastly more benign that it was in 1963. It is not, however, completely benign.

National Review’s editorial today pithily summarizes the contemporary line of the conservative movement on civil rights. The civil-rights movement was wonderful. It even concedes, as right-wingers usually fail to do, that the old generation of conservatives wrongly opposed that movement. (“Too many conservatives and libertarians, including the editors of this magazine, missed all of this at the time.”) But it proceeds to argue the evils the civil-rights movement fought against have been “vanquished,” and those that remain are “lousy schools, a thriving drug trade and a misguided governmental response, the collapse of marriage.”

NR’s contemporary position is vastly less inhumane than its old one. One could even argue that NR was wrong then to blame African-Americans for their troubles but is correct to do so today. But NR’s current summary of the afflictions facing black America has some notable absences. One is the economic legacy of centuries of slavery and formal racial discrimination, which left in place a deep residential, social, and financial residue.

Another is continuing racial discrimination. There are many studies quantifying the fact that Americans still judge other people in part by the color of their skin. Conscious racial discrimination may be legally prohibited, and informal expressions of racism essentially banned from polite society, but unconscious racial stereotypes live on. A pile of studies and experiments show that black job applicants receive lower consideration than equally qualified white ones. This remains one of those findings that conservative discourse continues not to acknowledge.

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