Nikki Haley Doubles Down On False Claim That America Has ‘Never Been A Racist County’

Nikki Haley Doubles Down On False Claim That America Has ‘Never Been A Racist County’

Republican presidential candidate, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, greets people during a campaign event held at the Alpine Grove Event Center on January 18, 2024, in Hollis, New Hampshire. | Source: Joe Raedle / Getty

Here’s the thing: Conservatives either intentionally or unintentionally view the issue of racism in an overly simplistic way. If a white person didn’t use a slur, nothing racist happened. If Black people aren’t being legally segregated anymore then they don’t face racism. If Black people say derogatory things about white people, it’s equivalent to Jim Crow.

Viewing racism in this myopic way serves a purpose. It keeps the conversation narrow and manageable for white sensibilities. It takes all of the critical thinking out of itthus the real reason they oppose critical race theory. They need discussions on racism in and out of the classroom to be as limited as possible. We certainly can’t talk about systemic racism, not because it isn’t demonstrably real, but because it’s too deep a dive into something right-wingers don’t want to talk about in the first place. Talking about systemic racism means calling America’s entire founding and history into question. They can’t have that—and it’s what happens when we talk about racism for too long.

Nikki Haley has effectively locked herself into a position where her campaign is being spent talking about racism for too long. Now, she has to explain at length why America isn’t and has never been a racist country—and it’s only making her sound more and more ridiculous.

Haley made herself look silly when she avoided naming slavery as the main cause of the Civil War. She essentially doubled down on that display of emotionally fragile idiocrasy when she claimed on Fox News that America was “never” a racist country. Now, Haley is on CNN twisting herself into a noose knot trying to make her recent comments on racism make sense. (Spoiler alert: They still didn’t.)

During a recent CNN Townhall, host Jake Tapper asked Haley about her comments on Fox, and she responded by attempting to strawman her way into giving a reasonable answer.

“We had plenty of racism that we had to deal with, but my parents never said we lived in a racist country, and I’m so thankful they didn’t,” Haley said. “Because for every brown and Black child out there, if you tell them they live or were born in a racist country, you’re immediately telling them they don’t have a chance.”

Yeeeeah—no. Haley needs to stop trying to speak for “brown and Black” people everywhere because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. It has always been common for Black people to be open about how racist America is. It’s equally as common for Black people to instill perseverance into their children. We don’t tell our youth they “don’t have a chance” because America is a racist country, we tell them to strive and achieve in spite of it. It was even common to say in Black households that we have to work twice as hard as white people to achieve what they do, and while that might be a debatable sentiment, it’s one that implies we’re still expected to succeed in a racist country. We still have a chance.

Again, Haley dug herself into a hole, and now she’s having to do what conservatives often do when they need to fit their narratives on race make sense: they’re adding things that aren’t there.

When we say “Black lives matter,” they hear, “ONLY Black lives matter,” because that would make for a more convenient argument. CRT is simply an academic framework through which we can examine racism on a systemic level, but it’s easier to dismiss if you lie and say it teaches that white people are inherently racist and that today’s white people are responsible for America’s racist past. And Nikki Haley needs “America is a racist country” to translate to “brown and Black kids don’t have a chance”—despite virtually no one expressing that belief—because it makes her argument plausible (to white people). 

Earlier in the interview, Haley did another thing conservatives often do, which is designate themselves the speakers for the Founding Fathers, who haven’t been alive for centuries to speak for themselves. This way, Haley can make them out to be noble fighters for equality who had the “intent” to put an end to slavery—while owning slaves.

“The intent was to do the right thing,” Haley said of America’s founding. “Now, did they have to go fix it along the way? Yes, but I don’t think the intent was ever that we were going to be a racist country.”

Haley, like other conservative revisionists of history, wants us to believe that it was always the plan for slavery to come to an end despite the fact that the strong majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, nearly half the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and eight of the first 12 presidents owned Black people, who were forced to work for free through the threat of terror, bodily harm and death.

It took more than a century after the signing of the Declaration of Independence for the Emancipation Proclamation to be signed and another century after that for the 1964 Civil Rights Act to be signed. If there was always “intent to do the right thing,” why was the overwhelming majority of this country’s existence spent doing the wrong thing?

Maybe it’s just a racist country.


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