During an interview on Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked by John Dickerson about how she reconciles the racism in America’s past with using her career to promote American cxceptionalism internationally.
Rice agreed that “American history was in part shaped at its very beginning by this birth defect of slavery.” She then differed from the 1619 school of thought in how the country should move forward.
Rather than write off the United States as irredeemable due to past atrocities and present imperfections, Rice called for a more constructive framing, looking at the “forward progress of America,” noting, “I want kids to know about Tulsa. I also want them to know what that black community did to overcome that horrible massacre. I want them to know about ’63 in Birmingham, but I want them to know that the mayor of Birmingham today is a black man who grew up in a poor community.”
When Dickerson pushed her to concede to the use of “structural racism,” Rice stated that, while she sees clear “impacts of race” in American society, she objects to the idea that we must “jettison the system” in order to fight racism, because “with all of its problems, having been all over the world and having seen how people deal with difference, I will tell you that America deals with difference better than any country I’ve ever visited.”
Too many conversations in this country focus on the past’s problems without offering any exploration of the very real progress that has been and continues to be made. The only solution offered is tearing down our country’s systems for fundamental political and economic overhaul. Yet focusing on the sins of the past keep our society from recalling the good and working to preserve and enhance it.