Pete Buttigieg bends to pressure & says sorry for his ‘racist’ comments, but it benefits neither him nor black community
“What I said in that comment before I became mayor does not reflect the totality of my understanding then and certainly now about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today,” Buttigieg told reporters on Wednesday in Iowa, giving them the “I was a different person” spiel so often deployed to assuage such controversies.
Pete Buttigieg: "What I said in that comment before I became mayor does not reflect the totality of my understanding then and certainly now about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today." pic.twitter.com/eJ64KqLmKs— The Hill (@thehill) November 27, 2019
Translated from politician-speak, Buttigieg was apologizing for a remark he made in 2011, when he suggested that minority students in America struggle in school because they don’t have any positive role models spurring them on. “There isn’t somebody they know personally who testifies to the value of education,” he said at the time.
Buttigieg didn’t have a Road to Damascus moment and repudiate his 2011 comments out of the goodness of his heart – indeed politicians never do. Instead he did so after Michael Harriot, a writer with black-focused blog the Root, called him out as a “lying MF,” pointing to racism and underfunding as better explanations for the dire state of black education in America. He also made the apology amid cratering black support, with a national Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday putting his support among black Democrats at four percent. Some earlier polls put that figure at a fat zero percent.
There is truth to both Harriot and Buttigieg’s comments. Harriot is right in saying that minority schools receive $23 billion less in annual funding than schools in predominantly white districts. But Buttigieg’s comments have been made before. African-American author Jason L. Riley and scholar John McWorter have both pointed to anti-educational attitudes within their own community as the main factor holding back young black students. A lack of black teachers has also been highlighted as a root cause of the “black learning gap.”Also on rt.com ‘Pete Buttigieg is a lying MF’ trends on Twitter after column on past ‘racism’ goes viral
Still, Buttigieg was flayed alive by Harriot, who portrayed the 2020 candidate (arguably accurately) as a privately-educated city-slicking white boy unqualified to speak on racial issues. Describing himself as a “thorn in the side of white supremacy,” Harriot’s back catalog of articles focus exclusively on white/black conflict in the US. Unsurprisingly, white people are usually to blame for everything.
Buttigieg’s apology – made in the most politically correct terminology the English language has to offer – will change nothing. It will not endear him to African-Americans who view him as completely out of touch, and it will not please writers like Harriot, who make a living calling out racism – real or imagined.
Apologizing to the professionally outraged never works. Just ask any celebrity ‘canceled’ for controversial comments. Or ask Joe Biden, who has spent much of his 2020 campaign apologizing for his past ‘progressive for their time’ statements on race and race relations. Biden has repeatedly apologized, and his critics have repeatedly dug up fresh scandal to feed the outrage machine.Also on rt.com Carson King scandal: Why ‘cancel culture’ is a plague on our society
Harriot neglected to mention Buttigieg’s lengthy plan to invest in “the empowerment” of black America. While this plan may never come to fruition, the decision to pillory Buttigieg for past slips of the tongue instead of present action is emblematic of the ‘cancel culture’ phenomenon plaguing American public discourse. With the goalposts of the social justice movement constantly shifting, anyone can be next on the chopping block, even someone as squeaky-clean as ‘Mayor Pete’.
However, cancel culture can’t be blamed for Buttigieg’s nonexistent black support. Nor will apologizing win him votes he never had in the first place.
When Buttigieg was grilled this summer on racial issues by an African-American woman in his home city of South Bend, Indiana – after a police officer shot a black man dead – he replied “Ma’am, I’m not asking for your vote.”
If the latest polls are anything to go by, he won’t get it either.
By Graham Dockery, RT
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.