America and China are engaged in an epic struggle that will determine the survival of democracy.
China has assets — a population four times larger, a sense of ascendancy, and an economy that generates massive savings to finance new technology and overseas investment.
All make imperative President Joe Biden’s quest to build a western alliance, but China can boast that its autocratic capitalism better delivers social order and prosperity. It can also point to racial strife here, a powerful antidote to America’s moral appeals.
Democracy is expensive. The COVID-19 vaccines demonstrated the American system could deliver quickly in a crisis but lacking a wolf at the door, so much we agree should be done takes years instead of months. We bicker in the courts and congress through social media and cable networks.
Spirited debate is how democracies find pragmatic solutions. Still, obstructionism is too often resolved by spending too much to obtain too little—consider the high cost of building a subway station in New York — and leaves us impotent.
Mr. Biden scolds Russia and China for cyberattacks but requires businesses to pay hackers’ ransom because he lacks the courage or the Defense Department’s means to retaliate.
America is a tarnished example to the world because we have abandoned our soul to false intellectuals — the 1619 Project and critical race theory.
The American Revolution was not primarily fought to elevate Enlightenment ideals to practical application, but neither was it to institutionalize slavery.
George Washington and his allies fought the French and Indian War (1753-1763), anticipating great wealth through western expansion. That conflict was part of a global contest between Britain and France that left London deeply in debt. Afterward, Britain needed to limit the burden of colonial defense through taxes (Sugar Act, 1764) and halting western expansion (Proclamation of 1763).
Americans felt violated and stifled. The polemics about liberty, imported from the European Enlightenment, cultivated the imagination of intellectuals like Thomas Jefferson, but visions of empire in the Ohio valley motivated George Washington.
From the rubble came a debt to liberal ideals and by practical necessity, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and ordinary citizens’ claim on the government to serve their freedom and prosperity, not a hereditary aristocracy.
The Revolution created the national myth of freedom and equality — that America increasingly accomplishes. In the words of Hoover Institute fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali — a Black raised in Africa and the Middle East and who came here — “America is the best place on the planet to be black, female, gay, trans….”
Ignoring all this, the 1619 Project is a sin against truth and provides false scaffolding for critical race theory.
CRT holds that Whites are racist from childhood and implies all Black disappointments have a White racist origin. No amount of affirmative action or other government remedies can resolve systemic racism. It requires not just American governance and business to be reformed but that Whites — particularly White males — become the object of systemic discrimination.
That is the new racism extremist in Black Lives Matters peddle. Ministers that hang BLM banners make their church the new millennia’s slave hulls.
Anyone who has labored in the classroom knows adolescents have many distractions. We will always have great men and women who found their calling as children — Clarence Thomas and Greta Thunberg — but systematic encouragement is more generally required to accomplish the most desired characteristics of tolerance, self-reliance, and accountability.
The victimization cult CRT begets black youth of the necessity to become fully formed adults. It breeds entitlement that only validates the worst racial prejudices of the 18th and 19th Centuries and 20th Century outcomes.
Consider the White accountant whose son is denied admission to an elite Boston high school to satisfy racial goals. Will he hire a Black contractor for an addition to his house?
Singling out Asians as honorary Whites when they outperform lays bare the evil, self-directed intent to impose new racism.
Too many of our resources are devoted to racial quotas that the Biden administration now seeks to embed in all aspects of public policy — from support for farmers and small businesses to appointments to the National Academy of Sciences.
Worse, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Education have gone woke. And CRT is under attack by state legislators who realize left unchecked; its venom will create a disaffected generation and a nation without a mission.
We can’t compete with the Chinese and lead a western alliance obsessed with false demons.
I wonder how Black Lives Matter will like the racism imposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
• Peter Morici is an economist and emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland and a national columnist.