Wednesday, February 8, 2023

American Society Is Rigged But Not in the Way Tucker Carlson Imagines

Just when it seemed like 2020 couldn’t get any worse, a horrific video of the killing of a handcuffed and helpless Minnesota black man by a police officer emerged. (See here and here.) Sadly, a series of destructive riots has followed this horrible incident.  

The image that leads this post pretty much captures your author’s sentiments perfectly, and having thus put my cards on the table, we can proceed. As a foil to illuminate this discussion, I’ll ask you to watch this video in which Fox News host Tucker Carlson attempts to build the case that American society is rigged against law-abiding citizens and in favor of rioters.

Like most sophistry, there are elements of truth to Carlson’s line of thought. I certainly agree that Americans are over-regulated. I also agree with sentiments expressed by the elderly black man from the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Finally, I also agree with Carlson that the American system is rigged – but not in the way he suggests.

The American system actually is rigged in favor of people like Carlson himself.

His bio reveals that he graduated from La Jolla Country Day school and later from an elite liberal arts college. There is nothing wrong with that, and I of course support the right of all families to choose the best education for their children. Carlson’s odd brand of living like an elite but talking like a populist is not my personal cup of tea, but we live in a free country and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

It takes a lot of hutzpah, however, for a multimillionaire son of a U.S. ambassador to claim that American society is rigged against law-abiding citizens such as himself. Alas, we have now reached peak grievance politics and apparently everyone is getting in on the act.

The rigging on the American system starts early with schools, and it is rigged against the poor. Minnesota, for instance, is infamous for one of the largest black-white achievement gaps in the country.

To their credit, several police unions have expressed disapproval of the conduct of the Minneapolis officers, but their outrage is a day late and a dollar short. Multiple officers involved had previous brutality complaints filed against them. Police union contracts and the doctrine of qualified immunity deserve scrutiny and debate.

So, too, do ZIP-code based school assignment, rubber rooms, and an education system profoundly tilted in favor of the wealthy in both the public and private sphere.

None of these things excuse the wanton acts of destruction seen in Minneapolis or elsewhere in the least. The authorities should take appropriate action to prevent the loss of life and property. When the smoke clears, we should rededicate ourselves to expanding the promise of the American dream by removing structural barriers to equality of opportunity, the impartiality of our justice system and the rule of law.

We are better than every bit of this.

This piece first ran here at RedefinEd.

Matthew Ladner
Matthew Ladner is executive editor of redefinED. He has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform, and his articles have appeared in Education Next; the Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice; and the British Journal of Political Science. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received a master's degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Houston. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and three children.


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