With all the recent race clanging on MSNBC and other cable news networks, now’s probably a good time to remind everyone that America is among the least racist countries in the world.
I know this statement will be shocking news to regular viewers of “PoliticsNation,” but it also has the quality of being true.
From 2010 to 2014, the World Values Survey asked residents in over 50 countries who they would not want as neighbors. Just over five percent of respondents in the United States said “people of a difference race.” That’s far more tolerant a response than citizens of most European, African and Asian countries gave. As a comparison, 15 percent of Germans, 41 percent of Indians and 22 percent of Japanese said they wouldn’t want to live next to “people of a different race.” The Washington Post depicted the results in a useful chart.
The survey is probably not a perfect indicator of how pervasive racism is in a given society, but the results do correlate with what we know anecdotally. Take, for instance, the fact that America elected and then re-elected a black man for president.
Yes, I know. Some in the civil rights industry like to argue that this doesn’t mean anything. But of course it does. Blacks make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. There aren’t too many examples of a democratic country electing someone from such a distinct and previously persecuted minority to their top office.
It is totally impossible, for instance, to imagine a person of color being elected to lead any major country in Europe, at least anytime in the near future. Same with Canada. Same with a racial or religious minority anywhere in Asia or Africa. Perhaps there are examples of leaders from minority groups being elected in free and open elections to the top office of the land in a few countries, but none come immediately to mind. Even the white interim president of Zambia doesn’t exactly qualify because he wasn’t elected to the post. The point is, if it is not unprecedented, it is pretty rare. It means something that the United States elected an African-American president.
The United States is also a country where seven of the eight most powerful celebrities, according to Forbes, are African-American. That’s an amazing statistic — one also not indicative of a virulently racist society. Ayatollah Khamenei may attack America on Twitter as a racist country over the recent events in Ferguson, but I can assure you the most powerful celebrities in Iran aren’t Jewish.
If the best examples Al Sharpton can draw upon to prove America is a place where black people are routinely killed by cops without punishment are the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, then it just shows you how weak his narrative is.
We don’t have cameras to know exactly what went on in Ferguson, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that Officer Darren Wilson didn’t randomly shoot and kill Michael Brown for kicks and giggles. The Garner case appears far more problematic in terms of how the police acted, but even Garner’s family doesn’t think what happened had a racial component.
Cops sometimes overreact and there are probably too many police shooting deaths in the United States, but the Brown and Garner cases hardly demonstrate that racist cops are regularly and deliberately killing African-Americans with impunity.
None of this is to say that there is no racism in America anymore or that terribly racist events never occur here. There is and they sometimes do. We need and can do better as a country, but we also ought to put things in perspective. We have come a long way since the 1950s. Far from being a bastion of racism, America today is in fact one of the least racist countries in the world.