Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Talk of ‘Implicit Bias’ Should Scare Every American

Clinton campaigning in Wasgington in March. (Reuters photo: Mario Anzuoni)
This is a road we don’t want to travel.

You’re guilty and you don’t know it. Sure, you think you’re a decent person who treats people fairly, judging them on the content of their character and not the color of the skin. But let’s face it: You’re deluded. Especially if you happen to be white, you’re biased and you don’t even know it. You’re unaware of your own privilege, and of the extent to which your beliefs, speech, and even mannerisms oppress people of color. It’s time to confess. It’s time to be re-educated. It’s time to rid yourself of your false consciousness.

This is the message of the modern campus radical, of the diversity trainer, and, increasingly, of the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Like many of the most dangerous progressive ideas, “implicit bias” or “unconscious racism” seems reasonable enough at first glance: Aren’t we all shaped by our environment and upbringing to make snap judgments about people? Aren’t those judgments often wrong? Couldn’t we all use exposure to different cultures and ideas to help us get past preconceived notions and casual bigotries? What could be wrong with that?

Indeed, in the debate Monday night, Clinton framed her discussion of “implicit bias” as a malady we all suffer from, telling Lester Holt: “I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other.” Well, yes, too many people do jump to conclusions. So, what’s the solution, Hillary?

When it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers.

Wait. What? If we’re all biased, who’s training whom? Let’s be very clear: When it moves from abstract to concrete, all this talk about “implicit bias” gets very sinister, very quickly. It allows radicals to indict entire communities as bigoted, it relieves them of the obligation of actually proving their case, and it allows them to use virtually any negative event as a pretext for enforcing their ideological agenda.

Is this overblown? Well, let’s look at how Clinton has used “implicit bias” to deal with a specific incident: the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla.:

This is extraordinarily irresponsible. How does Hillary possibly know that Crutcher’s shooting had anything at all to do with race? I don’t recall her being in Tulsa that night. There is no “we” about a police officer’s decision to pull the trigger. So why are we talking about collective guilt?

Ah, but that’s the magic of “implicit bias” and “unconscious racism.” Skepticism of its existence is proof of its existence, and you can just “know” that Crutcher or Philando Castile or Michael Brown or Keith Scott would be alive today if they had been white. In other words, the very existence of the incident proves the racism. The denials of racism prove the racism. And everyone who’s “keeping score” or “gets it” knows the real truth.

#related#Indeed, it is this politicized metaphysical certainty that breeds premature calls for “justice” and for “retraining.” If you don’t believe what the radicals think you should believe, you must be taught to believe something different — on the government’s dime, of course. Hillary wants to fund the retraining, and the NAACP wants to make it mandatory — complete with sanctions if your perceived biases don’t disappear.

How will the thought police know the actual police are biased? If they don’t believe the “right” things. Spend any time on campus, in diversity training, or on progressive websites, and you’ll see that disagreement with leftist cultural critiques is all the proof anyone needs of racism and other forms of bigotry. Evidence, experience, and probabilities are completely irrelevant when it comes time to cleanse the mind of “bias.”

There are those on the Left who simply refuse to look at a case on the facts. They insist that they have knowledge about the inner lives and motivations of the relevant parties that is unknown even to the parties themselves. They use this alleged knowledge to stoke unrest and violate civil liberties. And they have an ally in Hillary Clinton. She’ll fund all the re-education we need.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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