We have now reached the point in American life where in our racially divided society, there is a quick get-out-of-jail-free card, so long as you are a member of an intersectional group.
If you’ve done something wrong, if you are accused of corruption, or if you are accused of some sort of malfeasance, your get-out-of-jail-free card is, “You’re attacking me because I’m black.”
This has significant ramifications for American public life. The simple fact of the matter is that in a meritocracy, we should be able to point out when you are corrupt or when you have failed. If every defense to failure is that the system itself is biased against you, that means failure will continue.
This is true system-wide, everywhere — from politics to administration, from the business world to the educational world. When Claudine Gay gets fired from Harvard University, the basic idea is that it must be a racist system that got her fired.
There is now no way to hold people accountable if they are from a minority race. If, for example, you’re a politician and it turns out you’re deeply corrupt, and your first move is to claim America is racist because that’s why you’re being targeted — if that’s believed — there is no way to get rid of corrupt officials so long as they are of minority status.
Once that standard is created and the basic idea becomes that certain people in our society have a get-out-of-jail-free card and others do not, then all standards collapse because a double standard is no standard at all.
The latest iteration of this particular foolish, divisive defense comes courtesy of a person named Tiffany Henyard. You might not have heard of Tiffany Henyard, but this is a burgeoning story about a small town mayor in Dolton, Illinois — a town of 20,000 people — who’s been alleged to have engaged in significant corruption on a vast scale.
This story was reported in the UK Daily Mail:
The first female mayor of a tiny Illinois village slammed her critics at a public meeting after she caused outrage by taking a $300,000 salary. Glamorous Tiffany Henyard was elected leader of Dolton, a village of 20,000, in 2021, but has since come under fire for what many see as her excessive spending. … She regularly engages the services of a professional hair and makeup team and stylist before public appearances and photo shoots for the county’s taxpayer-funded billboards, which often feature the 40-year-old in what some see as shameless self-promotion.
Henyard has proposed a new law that would cap the next mayor’s salary at $25,000, unless she herself is the new mayor, a proposal many have deemed illegal.
“The scandal is just the latest to hit the beleaguered mayor, after she was slammed for hiring her former campaign worker as the town’s code enforcement officer despite the fact he is a convicted child rapist,” the Daily Mail continued.
Now she is now being investigated for all of this. Her defense is a defense that has become the all-purpose defense for an enormous number of people in our post-George Floyd society.
She spoke about her alleged corruption and the reasons why she’s being targeted, saying, “You all should be ashamed of yourselves because you are all black. You are all black! And you all sitting up here beating and attacking a black woman that’s in power. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Now again, the basic idea here is that even if a black person is asking this particular mayor about her corruption, it must be because they’re a race traitor of some sort.
If basic standards of meritocracy and decency are to be put aside in favor of claims that any critique is rooted in race, that means there can’t be any meritocracy anymore — which, of course, is the basic idea that social justice can only be established by getting rid of baseline standards of competency.
We see this across the board in the United States in a wide variety of places. Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago was questioned over his handling of the huge migrant crisis that has hit the city of Chicago, along with the crime crisis, along with the issues of economic problems in the city. His answer was, I’m a black man with a black wife and black kids. How dare you attack me?
This mentality is horrifyingly bad for the country. What does the race of his wife and his children have to do with anything? The reasoning is: You can’t critique me because I am citing my race.
He’s following in the footsteps of Lori Lightfoot, who was recently ousted as mayor of Chicago after one short term because she was a terrible mayor. But she also happened to be a black lesbian. She claimed that she had been ousted, not because she was terrible at her job, but because she was black. When asked after the election if she lost because of her race in a city like Chicago, which is heavily minority, she said, “I’m a black woman in America.”
In 2023, Lightfoot said in an interview with the New Yorker prior to the election, “And, look, also, I am a Black woman — let’s not forget … Certain folks, frankly, don’t support us in leadership roles. … The same forces that didn’t want Harold Washington to succeed, they’re still here.”
She was referring to Chicago’s first black mayor.
This sort of excuse-making is a way of lowering standards of performance for everyone.
Again, we see it across the board. Fani Willis, who’s the D.A. currently going after Donald Trump in Georgia, has spoken of how racism was behind all the accusations targeting her.
The answer to every question about impropriety is now race in America. So long as you are able to play that card — and it’s a dangerous card to play — it undermines standards of stability, decency, and performance in literally every industry.