Shelby Steele: Claims of 'systemic racism' are 'expanding the territory of entitlement'

Author and documentarian Shelby Steele, a Hoover Institution fellow, discussed why he believes the new widespread claims of "systemic racism" in American culture are "expanding the territory of entitlement."

Steele, author of the tome "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era" and "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country," joined Mark Levin for an interview airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on "Life Liberty & Levin," in which he expounded on that topic.

Levin asked Steele about the growing protests mixed with unrest in "mostly Democrat, one-party cities; mostly Democrat, one-party states," and the fact that top Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Joe Biden "barely acknowledge" the rioting and looting going on.

"You see the media that report that most of this is peaceful and you see the allegation: systemic racism," Levin said.

Steele, 74, said that when he was growing up during the Civil Rights movement, the goal of that movement was clear -- often a landmark piece of legislation or a new, "concrete" societal change.


In contrast, he said the current "insurrection" appears to be "unclear [and] unmotivated by anything that it says itself."

"The whole incident of murder is sort of a metaphor for the civil rights agenda and the grievance industry agenda. Here's somebody that's utter, complete, innocent who is tortured to death," he said.

"The excitement that that triggers on the left in America is [what] validates their claims that America is a wretched country -- that they must get recourse for what goes on. So it feeds this old model of operation that we've developed that America is 'guilty of racism', 'guilty of this sin' and 'has been for four centuries,' and minorities are victims who are entitled."

He said that, in turn, that sentiment turns into a collective demand for "more" of something.

"We want more -- we want the society to give us more -- to help us -- society is responsible for us," he said of the protesters' demands boiled down to a basic ideal.


"And so when people start to talk about systemic racism built into the system, what they're really doing is expanding the territory of 'entitlement,'" Steele said.

"[I]t's a corruption because the truth of the matter is, blacks have never been less oppressed than they are today. Opportunity is around every corner," he explained, adding that the activists in this case rarely make time for self-reflection.

Steele asked rhetorically whether those who feel oppressed or underprivileged have taken "some responsibility" and taking positive action like examining the education system in their neighborhoods or whether they are pursuing a tangible goal for their life.

"Or are you saying I'm a victim and I'm owed and the entitlement is inadequate?" he said.