Where have the honest liberals gone?

Many people are learning for the first time that the government has been paying “diversity consultants” to teach employees that the U.S. is inherently racist. But what’s also been revealed is the dwindling number of Stanley Crouches on the political left who are willing to call out today’s Derrick Bells. Progressives have succeeded in bringing into the mainstream a school of thought once relegated to the fringes of the academy. There is no shortage of conservatives willing to push back against this pernicious nonsense, but where have the honest liberals gone?

In 1989, Randall Kennedy, a black professor at Harvard Law School, published a devastating law-review article on the “empirical weaknesses and inflated rhetoric” of critical race theorists. He also noted their “strategic use of accusations of prejudice.” Toward the end, Mr. Kennedy revealed that black colleagues who had seen earlier drafts of the article urged him not to publish it. They feared that it might undermine their arguments for racial preferences in hiring. Mr. Kennedy suggested that they come up with better arguments.

Liberal black elites claim to speak on behalf of everyday blacks when in reality they are just speaking for themselves. School choice and crime control are two obvious examples. Blacks favor charter schools and putting more police in their neighborhoods, while civil-rights leaders call for charter-school moratoriums and reduced funding for law enforcement. Nor is this divide a new phenomenon. In 1993, a Gallup poll found that 75% of black respondents wanted more cops on the street; 82% said that the criminal-justice system didn’t treat offenders harshly enough; and 68% favored building more prisons so that longer sentences could be handed out.