Subscribe to the show

Towards a Libertarian Theory of Anti-Racism

The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner offers the contours of a libertarian anti-racist policy agenda


Bob Zadek: Welcome show the longest running live libertarian talk radio show in all of radio. Thank you so much for listening this Sunday morning. This show is in some ways a public service. I would like to spend the hour preparing my friends and listeners this morning for a phrase you will be hearing ad nauseum perhaps for the next four years: “Systemic racism.” Is there racism in America? If so, what institutions are racist? And if there is racism in America, is it systemic? What does “systemic” even mean? What does “racist” mean? These words are used all the time in public discourse, without any common understanding of their meaning.

Systemic Racism Defined

Bob Zadek: Thank you kindly. What our friends out there will learn is that when we libertarians discuss phrases such as racism, we have a far less emotional, more rational, more careful use of the terms. After all, as I am fond of saying, in my professional life, words do matter. When you hear the phrase and you want to help somebody understand the objective meaning of systemic racism, what should people be addressing when they use the phrase? What does the phrase mean?

How to Address Perceived Systemic Racism

Bob Zadek: Today, while we accept that the government was racist in enacting those laws, what do we do about it now, if anything?

Reviewing Specific Legislation that had Disparate Impacts

Bob Zadek: The progressives primarily complain that America is rife with systemic racism. We are not plagued with racism. But there are examples of laws today in the books today, not history going back to the Eisenhower years. Give us a few examples of laws that in terms of effect are racist. You have mentioned many in your book. There are laws today that appear to be non-racist. Are they really racist?

College Admissions and Race

Now Michael, the conversation gets even more difficult when you look at college admissions because it raises so many interesting issues about systemic racism. If we were to examine the SAT, a test designed to help colleges figure out who among their applicants are going to make it through four years of college.First question to you. if you went to examine white versus non-white performance in the SAT, as a statistic, I’m going to ask you the easy question. Which group does better as a race? Whites or blacks?

Racism in the Police Force: Reality Myth, or Somewhere in-between?

Bob Zadek: There has been a lot in the news lately about white police behaving violently. George Floyd, and the like. You and I both know that this is not an example of systemic racism. If systemic racism does exist in police behavior, which it probably does not, how bad an example of it is when we look at the George Floyd type of events?

Hollywood: A Brief Side-Bar

Bob Zadek: You have mentioned movies. The effect of the entertainment industry has been critical in fostering racism. Please explain to the audience how, by the movies and indeed by training films, policemen are almost embedded with racist training by media. Media portrays certain actors in stereotypical ways.

Moral Character & Occupational Licensing

Bob Zadek: In your book, Working Your Way out of Poverty, what are the lessons? What are the libertarian suggestions as to how best to reduce what appears to be racism in America? What is the manual that libertarians would present to society about how to go about fixing whatever appears to be, but is not systemic racism? • host of The Bob Zadek Show on 860AM – The Answer.