Fox News host Martha MacCallum challenged the “whiteness assumptions” provided as part of a learning tool at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“The individual is the primary unit, self-reliance. Wife is a homemaker and subordinate to the husband. Christianity is the norm. If you didn’t meet your goals, you didn’t work hard enough. Hard work is the key to success. Last but not least, steak and potatoes, ‘bland is best,'” she read from the list.
“I’m glad they took it down because that obviously means they recognize how awful this thing came across. What are your thoughts when you see that? What were they thinking?” MacCallum asked her two guests, New Leaders Council Senior Fellow Richard Fowler and American Enterprise Institute’s Marc Thiessen.
Fowler stopped short of defending the graphic but said that the larger goal — inspiring a broader conversation about race in America — was a worthy goal.
“One of the things that’s really important is talking about and engaging in conversations in the countries around white privilege and what it means and the tool talks about what white privilege means and it defines it as an inherent advantage possessed by white individuals because of the historics, the history of the United States and the bias and history of racism and violence,” Fowler explained.
MacCallum pushed back, flipping the narrative on its head, “Can you imagine, Richard, if someone took other races and tried to say these are the things that they look like and sound like? Here is how you know when you find someone like this because this is the kind of stuff they think and believe? I mean, that is — that is unbelievable. I saw lots of that kind of tone as I went through this, and I find it really — it’s offensive.”
Thiessen appeared to agree with MacCallum, calling the learning tool a “racist document,” adding, “If you show this document to David Duke he would endorse every word of it.”
MacCallum responded with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who said, “We strive for the day and we don’t talk about white power and black power, we talk about human power and God’s power.”
Thiessen argued then that the museum’s learning tool was an outright rejection of Dr. King’s rhetoric, adding, “When he gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, he said that, ‘I have a dream, my dream is rooted in the American Dream.’ Which is defined by the characteristics which they say are white characteristics, self-reliance, hard work. My dream is that my children and grandchildren will be judged by their content of the character and not the color of their skin.”
Fowler concluded that he believed hard work should pay off for those who were willing to make the effort, adding that historically, African Americans who worked hard still found themselves “behind the lines in inequitable situations.”