My family is traveling, with our home base in Cincinnati, Ohio this week. Yesterday, we got the opportunity to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located on the riverfront here in Cincinnati. It was sobering, uncomfortable, and inspiring - all at the same time.
Our 20/20 hindsight makes it difficult to understand how slavery was defended. Politicians defended it as right and necessary (and we think that awful politicians are a new invention…). Businessmen claimed it fueled the economy; and, in large part, they were correct. Scientists claimed that people of African descent were inferior; while they were often stronger and more resilient, they drew the short straw when it came to intelligence. That’s why owning them is OK. (Beware of “settled science”…) Even Africans themselves would raid other villages and tribes, capture people to sell to the white man, for their own financial gain.
That being said - the most uncomfortable part of this was how the preachers provided supposedly biblically-based cover for all this. Sermons were preached about the inferiority of those with darker skin, and how they are ordained by God to be subservient to the white man. (This was throughout North, Central, and South America - this isn’t just a U-S-of-A sin.)
Why was that uncomfortable? It’s no secret that I’m a Christian, recently coming on staff with my church. We, as Christians, must be sure that we faithfully divide the Word of Truth so that our ancestors do not look back on us with the same shame I felt when I heard my ancestors. They got it wrong - from the bottom to the top, point-blank, wrong. We are all made in the image of God, not a one of us more or less valuable or worthwhile than another. This does not mean that we completely capitulate to the current cultural zeitgiest, deciding that abortion is A-OK or that the clear prohibition of homosexual behaviors were somehow misconstrued. It means that we, as people of the Word, must make sure that when we stand up and say “thus saith the Lord,” that we’re correct.
The most sobering part of the museum had to be the “modern day slavery” section. I knew that slavery still existed under different names, but the prevalence statistics were quite sobering. (I didn’t memorize them, so I can’t quote them; suffice it to say, unless you’ve looked into it, it’s higher than you think.) We must ensure that, while we’re looking for the best deal, or the least expensive way to get something, that we’re not enabling modern-day slavery. From unfair labor practices (a big reason I’m against illegal immigration, BTW), to excessively cheap textiles, to service staff, to prostitution and pornography - the market for these things are the current demands that run the engine of modern-day slavery.
Now, apart from the statistics I mentioned in the last paragraph (and some of the details of the “regulated” slave trade), none of what I’ve mentioned above was new to me; it was just sobering (and good) to be reminded of it. I was also impressed with the even-handed display explaining the 3/5 compromise. (For those unaware, it was Southerners who wanted slaves counted as whole people; Northerners didn’t want them counted at all, but agreed to 3/5 to placate the South. It was about apportionment of seats as it related to proportional representation, not an indication of one’s humanity.) As with anything, there were a few places where this language was inappropriately applied, but all in all, I was greatly enriched from our visit there.
Let freedom ring; let us Christians amplify the sound, whether others use that freedom to choose the way we hope they would - or not.
These thoughts all center around issues of our current discussions on race relations, Confederate memorials, etc.
People who are not neo-Nazis or white supremacists all believe that they hold to morally reprehensible views. White people who miss an incident and do not immediately decry it should not be assumed to be “with them.” Their numbers are quite small, and while they are being more vocal as of late, we should be thankful they are few.
Lots of folks are opposed to the concepts of “white power,” “white supremacy,” or “white pride.” Lots of folks also find it nearly as reprehensible when you change “white” to any other term. Diversity is great, but our current iteration seems to be focused on our differences more than our similarities; it should rather be focused on a richer unity.
You can be against white supremacists, and against Antifa. You can even believe that we’d all be better off if everyone just stayed home and did things in a way that wouldn’t so easily escalate to violence. And, you can be assured that if you felt the president’s initial remarks were a strong rebuke, you’re not alone.
It would be a lot easier for some of us to be more vocal if we didn’t have this false duality, where to be against one “side” aligns yourself with other. The left has proved themselves the biggest group of sore winners in the world, and any sort of firm, quick “win” in this area will just embolden them to mob-rule their way on top of whatever the next grievous ill they determine. (“THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” - yes, that’s why the founders gave us a republic, if we can keep it…)
I do not believe that race relations, nationwide, are nearly as bad as they’re made out to be whenver these flash points arrive. Regular people should not buy into the divisiveness an excessive focus on these issues can bring; rather, we should each make positive steps to be friendly, understanding, and helpful. Seek out similarities, don’t point out differences.
The same people who sneeringly chide that Antifa is the good guys, because “you’re supposed to be anti-fascist,” don’t see to see the irony of massing against an event called a “free speech rally.” Of course, the main issues are a) just because you’re prone to violence doesn’t mean you’re legally allowed to stamp out fascists; and b) who decides who is a fascist? Ditto for the Southern Poverty Law Center and “hate groups;” their lists have long ago outstretched the credulity of any fair-minded individual.
I wonder if, now that our country has recently seen how distasteful racism is, if people understand why Tea Party members were so bothered by that same (proved unfounded) allegation? I wonder if anyone feels that they owe them an apology?
(Some of you may recognize this format as one used by the highly-esteemed and, sadly, now-retired Thomas Sowell. The above is an homage to him and his pithy insights he would share from time to time. Do a search for “thomas sowell random thoughts” if you want to be enlightened.)
We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier, to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these states have even been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these states and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.
…I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife & to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.
I missed this in 2013, and this is not a 3-post series as usual. Instead of writing a lot about each topic, I’ll give a short reason I categorized it where I did. Please make no assumptions or conclusions about what I don’t say; the fact that people are so apt to do that should probably make the “Bad” list, but not this year. Since this is a single post, we’ll lead with…
No Terrorism at World Stage Events - 2014 saw the Winter Olympics in Russia and the World Cup in Brazil. Neither were marred by terrorism.
16 Out of 20 Ain’t Bad - Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood did not want to provide coverage for 4 of the 20 forms of “birth control” mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as they work post-conception (an “abortofacient”). The Supreme Court agreed, in a rare victory for religious freedom.
Plummeting Oil Prices - In spite of the current administration’s best efforts, our economy overcame them. The “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd was vindicated, as an explosion in US oil production caused prices to drop substantially. Fracking has enabled this boom while preserving the environment, and the drop in prices has hit hostile-to-us oil-based economies hard. It’s a big win-win that progressives still can’t throughly grasp.
Republicans Win Control of Congress - This is a qualified “good” entry, assuming that they’ll govern as they ran. Hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?
Tennessee Football Rises - Playing an SEC schedule and non-gimme out-of-conference games with the youngest team in FBS is a recipe for a 3-9 season; the Vols made it 6-6 (and, since this is written after their bowl, 7-6) and have great momentum for 2015.
The Deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner - Neither the Brown nor Garner families had loved ones with them this Christmas that they had last Christmas. There may be speculation as to the incidents surrounding their deaths (and neither are going to trial, so we’ll likely never fully know), but even the public knowing every little detail of what happened will not bring these young men back to their families.
Colorado Going to Pot - The first year’s experiment with legalized marijuana has not gone well. Assurances that children will not be able to easily get it have evaporated, and nearly all the tax money it’s generated has gone to enforcement. Their governor caught some heat for saying that the citizens acted foolishly, but the facts certainly indicate he was correct in his assessment.
Ebola - 2014 was the year Ebola came to America. While there were some ridiculous things with how it was handled, the bad was limited, with some who contracted the disease surviving, and a new set of medical protocols helping to protect those who care for people.
ISIS - Nearly 10 years after being freed, Iraq fell back into enslavement thanks to a group coming in to make a hostile takeover, combined with an army that was not willing to fight for what it had won. Islamic law marches on, while Christians die, in a place where thousands of Americans gave their lives to win freedom.
Russian Aggression Versus Ukraine - Russia invaded and took over part of another sovereign nation. They do not appear to be done yet.
The Handling of the Death of Michael Brown / The Reaction to the Brown Grand Jury Verdict / The Reaction to the Garner Grand Jury Verdict - Ferguson and Missouri police handled the initial aftermath of Brown’s shooting about as poorly as you could. The riots once the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson were unnecessary and unhelpful (and unwanted by Michael Brown’s family), and the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” gesture would have been impactful had it been based in verified fact (which it was not). This was also the case where “unarmed teen” is supposed to imply harmless, peaceful, law-abiding child, but video showed a certain store owner who would dispute that characterization. Once the Garner verdict came out, there were die-ins all across the country, proving nothing, but inconveniencing people who had nothing to do with anything surrounding the case. Two dead New York policemen and one in Florida, at last reports, still hadn’t brought Michael Brown or Eric Garner back to their families. (If I have a chance, there will be much more on this in my MLK post.)
p.s. ALL lives matter.
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing E-mails - Under oath, and subpoena from Congress, IRS chief Lois Lerner claimed to have lost her e-mail. This was after other e-mails came out that pretty much confirmed their deliberate targeting of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election. While those e-mails were “found” toward the end of the year, this Watergate-esque dodge was pathetic. IT does not work that way, and if it does, those people need to be fired.
Computer Security - This was a bad year for computer security. “HeartBleed,” “Shell Shock,” and “Poodle” were names given to long-existing exploits that were discovered in the software that runs much of the Internet. Target fessed up about how large their breach was, and Home Depot let a lot of customer information get away as well. Finally, targeted attacks released iCloud data from celebrities, while an (internal? North Korean? We don’t know yet…) attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment released salaries, movies, even e-mails among leaders and actors. (Maybe we should sic the Guardians of Peace on the IRS!) Hopefully some good will come of this; if nothing else, it will make people think about security before they trust a “cloud” service with their information.
Kaci Hickox - Kaci is a nurse who was exposed to Ebola. She defied quarantine, though, and created a lot of concern. While she ultimately was not found to have the disease, her foolish, selfish actions stirred up a lot of concern in her community. As a medical professional, she should have known better. But, of course, if she had, then her name wouldn’t be on some random guy’s blog in a year-in-review post, would it?
Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech he delivered as part of the March on Washington. Plans have been made to observe it, but I don’t see how Dr. King’s dream will be furthered by someone else’s narcissistic speech. I also find it highly unlikely that the people who are actually working to further Dr. King’s dream will even be represented tomorrow. Why have we allowed “content of their character” to be replaced by bean-counters and diversity czars?
I heard someone on the radio this afternoon saying that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were consummate capitalists, becoming wealthy off racial agitation because that’s what the free market will support. The more I think, the less I think I can come up with a convincing argument against that view. As such, they should be subject to at least as much derision as those evil CEOs that the left routinely decries. I would suggest they be held in even more derision, as the CEOs generally produce products and jobs that improve people’s lives, not foment racial anger that turns one tragedy into many more.
The wrongs of the past have, for the most part, been righted, at least as much as can be expected from people who have owned no slaves, nor ever consumed water from fountains adorned with “whites only” and “coloreds only” signs. The only people even thinking about race, it seems, are those who continually obsess over it, hurling charges of racism so far and wide that the charge is now more often the punchline of a joke than a substantiated claim. These same people abide racism among their own supporters, many of whom have cross the line of equal rights a long time ago.
For those of you, like me, who believed what you were taught growing up; who believe that when the Declaration of Independence said “all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights;” who believe that the biggest “affirmative” action we can take is leveling the playing field, not tilting it in the other direction; who believe that Jesus died for all mankind, thus demonstrating God’s view of importance - for you, congratulations. You are exactly those of whom Dr. King was dreaming.
For everyone else - just stop. We are the United States of America, but you have been doing your best to make us the Divided States of America. How about expending that energy helping people focus on the opportunity they do have, rather than stirring up anger and rage against perceived* injustices? God has blessed America, and your efforts are keeping people from recognizing and enjoying that blessing for themselves, just so you can look good to the outside world because “you care” and “you’re doing something.” Shame on you.
* I’m being generous; here lately, a better word would be “fabricated”.
Another American election year has come and gone. Four years ago, many thought our nation made a great stride in electing our first black president, and that we had eliminated racism. We didn’t get very far into the following year before we realized that no, there was no substantive change; anyone who was opposed to the president’s policies must be motivated by racism. Would 2012 bring any changes? I believe it did, and not the way we could have predicted at its start.
We are at a point in this country where the accusation of racism is a joke. (Read that closely - the accusation is the joke.) “I don’t like my coffee black.” “RACIST!” (As it happens, I do, SO THERE!) There’s even an entire meme based around it. More and more Americans are seeing these overhyped charges of racism, looking at the actual thing accused, and realizing that the racism just isn’t there. Noticing differences among ethnicities and cultures is not racist; in fact, if we don’t notice these differences, how in the world are we going to incorporate them into the American melting pot/salad bowl?
Alfonzo Rachel, host of ZoNation, made an interesting point in his video released after the Republican National Convention in September. The whole thing’s good, but the crazy part starts at 3:01.
If you can’t watch the video, it’s a clip of MSNBC’s convention coverage, starting with a soliloquy from Touré.
But more to what I want to talk about - two main points. You know, he loves this line of “our rights come from God and nature” which is so offensive to so much of America, because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature. They were not recognized by the natural order of America, they come from the government and from legislation that happened in relatively recent history in America. So that line just bothers me to my core.
You want to talk about offensive lines, sir? You just dropped one. That has got to be some of the most ridiculous talk I have ever heard. It’s almost like you believe that the Constitution created God! God-given rights are rights whether a government recognizes them or not, and this is not limited to America; our founders merely recognized these rights that are inherent to all humans.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I’ve been to Georgia and Mississippi pretty recently, and I’m pretty sure I saw people of all races living, working, and playing together harmoniously. I don’t see anything in that speech about government being the grantor of rights; in fact, it almost looks like he’s referencing the white-guy-written Declaration of Independence as if it’s a good thing. Huh. If Touré wants to stand on the shoulders of a legacy, it certainly isn’t Dr. King’s.
The race card has been overplayed, to the point where it has lost its value. That, I believe, is a good thing; the only people keeping racism alive in this country today are those who claim to see it lurking in the shadows of every conservative’s innocent words. However, these continued accusations run the risk of causing a backlash, and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s a guy I know who says “If I’m going to be accused of something, I want to be guilty;” if the innocent are going to be accused of racism, they may find little motivation to even try to be sensitive of those of other ethnicities or cultures. This could lead to the further coarsening of our societal debates, which would be a bad thing.
May modern-day racists continue to be exposed for the fools that they are, as the rest of us see Dr. King’s dream lived out in our nation.
Did Bob Costas really refer to a black European Olympics medalist as an “African-American?” What kind of mindless politically correct stupidity is that?
And while we’re on the subject, if an “African-American” who is actually from the United States wins a medal, how do the Olympics officials decide which African country gets to share the credit for that medal? Just wondering.
Still more … if an African-American wins a gold medal, what national anthem do they play? Have they created some kind of medley?
One of the funniest things I remember was hearing someone referring to a person from Africa as an “African-American African.” It certainly does seem that, when exposed to global culture, the American PC-ese seems to range from misguided to offensive. The same people who cry the loudest over discrimination over ethnic origin are also the same people who make sure we can’t look past ethnic origin, thereby making all people equal.
Somewhere, we seem to have swallowed whole the lie that what someone else says about us has to be true. If someone calls you ugly, are you ugly? If someone calls you mean, are you mean? If things worked like that, I’d just pay someone to call me a 6-foot, 3-inch Harrison Ford look-a-like!
Now, I’m not ignoring our country’s trouble past when it comes to true equality, but I’m also not convinced that affirmative action and political correctness have gotten us any closer to that equality. To suggest that someone be color-blind is ridiculous; on the other hand, differences are not generally liabilities. This infatuation with words, though, is a trickier thing. Freedom of speech is important, as evidenced by its being enshrined as Article 1 in the Bill of Rights, yet political correctness is the complete opposite of this. If jerks are not allowed to say jerky things, how do you know who the jerks are? I’m certainly not advocating being personally offensive to another individual; there are standards of decorum, manners, and courtesy for that. (See “jerk” in the prior sentence.) Hate speech, political speech, religious speech - it’s all speech, and it gives the hearer an idea of what is in the speakers’ heart.
And then - if a violation of the PC speech codes occurs, we get the calls for an apology. This, too, violates the principles of free speech; how “free” is speech that is demanded? If the offended party were to simply register their offense, then if the offending party cared that they had been offensive, they could choose to offer an apology. When was the last time you heard a demanded apology that was worth the time it took to listen to it? “I’m sorry IF you got offended by what I said” - that’s not an apology for saying the words, it’s an apology for the offense! It’s almost like we’re still in grade school. “Now, say you’re sorry, Timmy…”
I also worry about generations reared with this viewpoint; if we’re not tough enough to withstand words that we don’t like, how in the world are we going to face down real evil? I believe there is a better way to handle that. If the words bother you, determine why they bother you; are they offensive words, do they point out your shortcomings, etc. Once you determine the source of the offense, you will know if you are dealing with a “the truth hurts” scenario, a “this person is a jerk” scenario, or a “that was unfair / inaccurate” scenario. You can then ignore the speech, change your ways, or register your offense, and move on. It’s a much more productive way to deal with words that tried to hurt you.
I’ll wrap up with this; if you regularly hear “racist dog-whistles” coming from your opponents, your opponents likely aren’t the problem.
This past weekend during Sunday School, we briefly discussed the raid of the polygamist compound in Texas. During this discussion, one very good point was raised - those handling this situation need wisdom. Previously decided cases hold a lot of weight in the judicial realm, and while, by all accounts, what was going on at that ranch was illegal and immoral, they are claiming it is part of their religion. It is good that those people have been stopped - however, what is to stop the government from deciding that something most mainstream churches do is illegal?
That led the discussion to this story about a photographer in Albuquerque, New Mexico who refused to photograph a “commitment ceremony” between two people of the same gender. There are lots of ironies in this story, and I would expect that this decision would be quickly vacated / overturned / made null. Can you really legally force someone to photograph an event that’s illegal by nature? However, if it stands, there are much more troubling questions, some of which we have already seen. In California, a Catholic-run hospital was sued for refusing to perform gender reassignment surgery, and the state has sued the US government over a provision that strips Federal funds from states that force medical practitioners to perform or refer abortions.
During the course of the discussion, I took the (somewhat unpopular) opinion that a business should have the right to refuse service to whomever the business owner wanted. (I also did that a bit strongly at one point - if you’re reading this, sorry about that.) Someone asked “What if they say they’re not going to serve Jews?” My reply was that, if that was their stance, the word would get out, and those who found that abhorrent would also not patronize them, and they would go out of business. (And yes, I think I did actually use the word “abhorrent” in class… heh…) In further discussions with other people, including my wife, my position continued to be unpopular. I heard things like “What about people in the South not serving blacks?” and “I just think discrimination is wrong.”
I still cannot see the government requiring a private business to serve, sell, or perform any good, service, or person that the owner does not want. Why should I invest my money and time in an enterprise if the government is going to come and mandate to me how I do it? However, by the same token, I also feel that racial discrimination is bad. However, for anyone to say, unqualified, that “discrimination” is wrong simply doesn’t realize how much discrimination occurs on a day-to-day basis.
Let’s imagine I’m a photographer. I don’t like trying to get kids posed for a picture, so I create a policy of no more than one child per pose. That’s discrimination - I am discriminating against large families (though not completely - they’re just not going to get an entire family portrait from me). Maybe I don’t want to photograph some people because I feel they’re unattractive - do “Uglo-Americans” have a right to have me photograph them? Maybe I’m a really popular photographer, and I can’t be in two places at once. I’ll have to be discriminating in how I set up my schedule. There simply isn’t a scenario that convinces me that the government has an overriding interest in forcing me to photograph someone I don’t want to. The “right to photography” is nowhere in the Constitution.
Now - let’s put the brakes on that and look at the government. While I believe that a business owner has the right to discriminate pretty much however he or she feels like, I also just as strongly believe that the government should not be in the discrimination business. Equal protection under the law should be just that - equal. Firefighters should (and do) respond just as quickly to fires in desirable neighborhoods as they do to fires in undesirable neighborhoods. Everyone should (and does) have access to their legislators, and the right to vote for the ones they think will best represent them. Everyone should have access to government-run educational facilities, with the same requirements for everyone. (OK, we need to work on that last one…) The bottom line is, government should not discriminate on anything other than merit and scarcity (i.e., we can’t give everyone $1k if we don’t have it).
But, in reality, this isn’t the way it is; I alluded to it above regarding education. When the government starts trying to play identity games, “level the playing field,” or any other sort of tinkering, they invariably get it wrong. According to the NM government, this photographer “violated human rights” by refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Would the pastors of my church be guilty of the same if they refused to officiate one? In finding this photographer guilty of discrimination, the state is, in effect, discriminating against her free exercise of religion. (See? Every choice is discrimination!) This is the danger of giving the government the power to decide what’s “good” discrimination versus what’s “bad” discrimination.
The solution? From my view, I believe that there are very powerful forces at work in the economic marketplace. Eliminating “Jim Crow” laws was a good thing - they were a violation of the equal protection clause. Forcing state-run universities to integrate was a good thing - again, equal access to government resources. Forcing businesses to cater to those to whom they do not wish to cater? That’s bad. Sure, I believe that businesses shouldn’t discriminate based on race - but is it the government’s place to tell them they can’t? Some people think that discrimination based on gender is wrong; in fact, a few years back, there was a big kerfuffle over Augusta National not allowing women to become members. How many of those people would advocate my joining Curves? It’s all perspective, and because one person’s perspective may be different than another’s, the government should stay out of it.
To me, this is a heart thing. Sure, you can pass a law and make people comply, but all you’ve done is made people upset by forcing them to do something that they didn’t want to do. I believe in giving people enough rope so that they can hang themselves (figuratively speaking, of course) - if someone wants to open a racially-discriminatory business, that’s their own stupidity in eliminating a big chunk of their potential customer base. If someone wants to open the “No Purple Pants Club” and refuse to admit anyone wearing purple pants - well, it’s their money and time they’re pouring into the business. And, if someone wants to refuse to provide their goods and services to those they find morally reprehensible, more power to 'em.
In each of these cases, one of two things will happen. One, they may flourish as a business, which will prove there was a market for their goods and services, even without the people they excluded. Two, they will fail, and learn via the “school of hard knocks” that they shouldn’t restrict their pool of potential customers. Either way, the business owner gets out of his business exactly what he put into it, and I really don’t have a problem with that.
There just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Sadly, one of the casualties is original content for my blog (although I am working on something that I hope to have ready in a few days). Until then, here’s another round-up of interesting things I found scattered around the web.
First up, from the American Thinker, we have Randall Hoven with “Media Dishonesty Matters.” In this tome, he details 101 incidents of plagiarism, failure to disclose conflicts of interest, and instances of journalists creating news out of thin air. This should probably count as three or four links, but we’ll keep pressing on.
Next up, LaShawn Barber asks Barack Obama this pointed question - “What Faith Is This?” He has claimed that his faith guides his public life, yet he voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion. That’s a good question.
Moving on, Dennis Prager of TownHall.com (among other places) asks another, somewhat rhetorical question - “So What?” In it, he, a devout Jew, explains why he is not offended in the least over Ann Coulter’s latest statement that Jews need to be “perfected” by accepting Christ. He also explains why labeling her statements as anti-Semitism does a disservice to the efforts to eliminate anti-Semitism.
Finally, I usually wrap up with some humor - but this one will inspire a different emotion. I may be the last person in the world to find out about this song, but I’ve got to share it. Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” is a tribute to men and women in uniform, and is a tear-jerking classic.
This year, the usual combined weekend of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday followed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is not combined, as the third Monday of January precedes the third Sunday by 6 days. Plus, this year provided lots of content on both topics, so the usual combined column will be split.
Sadly, racial issues were front and center during the past year. In May, the residents of New Orleans, Louisiana re-elected Ray Nagin, the governor during Hurricane Katrina. Like Dr. King, he had a dream too. His was nowhere near as admirable, though; he wanted New Orleans rebuilt as a “Chocolate City”. Although he apologized for that comment, regular readers will know what I think about apologies (and non-regulars can learn here). Comments such as this only serve to deepen racial divides, not contribute to Dr. King’s vision of a nation where race is not even a concern.
In May, the “Day Without Immigrants” attempted to paint those who are opposed to illegal immigration as racists, rather than fans of enforcing our existing laws. I’ve written about this recently (see the 2006 Year in Review: The Ridiculous), so I won’t expound on this too much here. These folks are attempting to equate their plight with those of blacks, using the same language. However, the truth of their situation is that they are here illegally, and as such have no standing to demand rights and treatment of American citizens. There is a way for non-Americans to become Americans, and cutting in line in front of those who are observing the law is not that way.
Come November, Michael Richards went off on a racial rant during a stand-up comedy show. This was followed by, you guessed it, apology after apology upon apology, with a side helping of apology. And again, these ring hollow with me. Richards’ racism shows what can happen in today’s environment of focusing on race and stereotypes - even a successful actor such as he can still harbor these feelings. Like Nagin’s apology, his apology does not erase the window into the soul that his words provided. The words themselves are not the problem; the attitude behind them are. (Let me be clear - I’m not against apologizing to someone if you personally hurt them. Not all apologies are as useless as the two I’ve described above.)
Wrapping up earlier this month, the Duke rape case carried immense racial undertones. Many people were quick to believe the story, especially since the accuser was a poor black woman, and the people she was accusing were rich, privileged white men. Now, it turns out that the plentiful DNA evidence collected from the accuser exonerates the lacrosse players. When this story broke, several people suggested it was a ploy by the District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was up for re-election, to pander to the black voters in Durham, North Carolina. Even now, the accuser’s family are still buying into the hype. The accuser’s cousin was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago, and here’s part of what she said, with the highlighting added by me… (In the transcript of the entire show, do a search for “UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE” to find the beginning of this interview.)
It’s unfortunate that it’s turned into race. But it’s always been there. It sensationalizes the story. You know, it’s got class and it’s got race in it. And I think from day one, a lot of people felt that these were privileged young white boys, who felt like they could treat these young women, strippers or not - I think they had the mentality that they were superior to these young women. And I think that’s unfortunate. And I think that that’s just the world we live in.
Read the part I highlighted - even though these guys have been found guilty of nothing, they’re still privileged white boys who were superior to the others! And that’s just “the world we live in.” Incredible! I do agree with her conclusion, though - it is truly unfortunate.
But, these prove that racism is still a problem, right? I’m not so sure. Sure, there are still racists of every color, and there always will be; that’s one of the pitfalls of a free society. But, people do not have to be hyper-sensitive over racial issues, either - that is a conscious choice, although our current society has some pretty strong conditioning towards that sensitivity.
Let me wrap up by sharing my personal observations, based on data from Census 2000. I’m white, and I’ve lived as a minority for the past 9 years in Montgomery, Alabama. This city is 50% black, 47% white. (Subtract “Hispanic origin” from White - they’re counted both places.) For the next 4 years, I’ll be living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city that is 40% Hispanic, 32% white, 3% black. In Montgomery, I’ve rarely felt unwelcome. When we go out to parks or the mall, nearly everyone I meet is friendly, no matter their skin color. We’ll talk about our families, or crazy things our kids do. Sometimes, we’ll even discuss contentious things, like the war in Iraq. Depeche Mode said it more than 20 years ago - people are people.
The only exception to this was in some stores and restaurants. Usually, this was just unfriendly service - and, this can’t all be blamed on racial differences, as I’ve had woeful service from all races. The most offensive time (to me) was the store where two black customers in line behind me were checked out before me. In these cases, though, did I call my local city commissioner, or the media? Nope - I just kept my feet and dollars away from those establishments. That’s the way a free society works - you’re free to be a jerk, and I’m free to not give you my money.
I’m looking forward to Albuquerque. I’m not there yet, so I can’t say this for certain, but I’m pretty sure that most folks out there are friendly as well. As we go around the parks, malls, restaurants, and churches of that city, we will meet Americans just like us - folks who want a safe nation, clean streets, and the best for their children. Apart from some loudmouths, Dr. King’s dream is being realized every day; hopefully, common sense will begin to prevail among all the races, and the “racial offense” industry will begin to wither. If the money spent on trying to make people apologize or comply with some minutia of the law was instead spent on positive things, this nation would be much better off.
(To read previous years’ columns, select the “Race” category from the sidebar.)