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Cal Thomas: The hardening bigotry of low expectations


WORLD Radio - Cal Thomas: The hardening bigotry of low expectations

Tim Scott faces renewed opposition from Democrats who are threatened by his message of optimism for America

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks with students during an event discussing Opportunity Zones on Friday, June 30, 2023, in Charleston, S.C. Meg Kinnard via The Associated Press

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, June 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. On May 23rd, a television host on The View criticized Republican Senator and presidential candidate Tim Scott. After a media firestorm erupted, Scott joined the program earlier this week to give his point of view. Here’s a short clip from that conversation.

TIM SCOTT: My grandfather, born in 1921 in Sally, South Carolina, when he was on a sidewalk a white person was coming, he had to step off and not make eye-contact. That man believed then what some doubt now, in the goodness of America, having faith in God, faith in himself, faith in what the future could hold for his kids would unleash opportunities you cannot imagine. So what I’m suggesting is that yesterday’s exception is today’s rule.

HOSTIN: So America has met its promise?

SCOTT: No, The concept of America is that we are going to become a more perfect union.

BROWN: Inspiring words met with resistance. Here’s World Commentator Cal Thomas.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When George W. Bush was running for president in 2000, he spoke to the NAACP’s 91st annual convention where he coined the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

By that he meant the attitude held by some that if one is Black, it automatically means they should not be expected to achieve much in life because so many start off in circumstances that are difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.

Republican Senator and presidential candidate Tim Scott channeled Bush’s statement when he was a recent guest on The View. Scott decided to go on the ABC show after host Joy Behar claimed Scott “doesn’t get” systemic racism.

Scott indeed “gets” racism. He’s been stopped numerous times while driving simply because he is Black. Guards at the U.S. Senate have delayed Scott from entering the building and asked for identification even while he was wearing his Senate pin.

In his appearance on The View, Scott took issue with claims that he and other successful Black Republicans are “the exception and not the rule.” He called that “a dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today.”

Indeed it is, and it’s also a far more subtle and less observable form of racism. If a Black child is told, overtly or covertly, he or she cannot succeed in life, many will internalize that message. Some will use it as an excuse to engage in crime, including the looting of stores and even shootings as we constantly witness in some of our major cities. Others will simply give up, or drop out of school, dooming far too many to a life of failure and antisocial behavior.

Scott tried to present evidence that despite racism, which he acknowledges exists, there are growing numbers of Black people who are succeeding and ought to be seen not as exceptions, but examples for others to follow. He pointed out, “The fact of the matter is we’ve had an African American president, African American vice president, we’ve had two African Americans to be secretaries of state. In my home city, the police chief is an African American who’s now running for mayor.”

These facts don’t matter to the left because a change in attitude would require a change in policies. Freeing Black children from poorly performing schools would be a meaningful first step, something Scott has long advocated and the left opposes.

This latest dustup reminds me of a visit I made with Rev. Jesse Jackson. While at an all-Black middle school in the mid 1980s, Jackson told the young people not to have babies until they are married, stay off drugs and study hard. Any conservative could have given that speech. I recall urging him to speak less of politics and more about what he told those students. Alas, he did not follow my advice, but his challenge to those students was one more of them need to hear.

I’m Cal Thomas.

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