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.)
Again this year, I’m combining my thoughts on these two days into one column. (If you’d like, you can review 2005’s combined entry and 2004’s entries for MLK’s birthday and the sanctity of human life.) Much has happened over the past year in the realm of life issues and race relations, and I’d like to take a look back to see what we can learn from these recent happenings.
Recently, discussion on abortion has come to the forefront, thanks to the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. The people on the left like to pitch this as a case of women’s rights, but the issue before the Supreme Court is even more basic than that. That question is, “Is there a right to ‘privacy’ in the Constitution?” In the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court “found” this previously unrecognized right deep within a “penumbra” in our nearly 200-year-old Constitution. In this specific case, we learn that the Constitution prohibits states from having laws prohibiting the sale of contraceptives. (I’m curious as to whether any people have appealed laws against other types of drugs, citing this precedent.) Based on the faulty logic of Griswold, the 1973 case Roe v. Wade struck down all restrictions on abortion, viewing it as just another contraceptive method.
In last year’s entry, I dealt with the medical advances over the intervening 30 years since Roe was decided. I will, though, give you a link to one of the best abortion information resources I’ve seen - Abortion Facts. This site has links and information on almost every aspect of reproductive health, from a worldview that values life and realizes the negative effect that abortion has had not only on the babies that die each day, but on our society’s view of life, women, and appropriate sexual behavior. Also, a startling statistic from the New York Daily News - for every 100 births in NYC last year, 74 abortions were performed. That’s 42.5%!
Back in March 2005, we had another fight regarding life, this time on the other side with Terri Schiavo, a lady who had been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state for several years, but who had not recorded her wishes before she died. Her husband Michael claims that she had said that she would not have wanted heroic measures used to prolong her life, and that her current nature of medical care constituted “heroic” measures. He petitioned the court to order her nursing home to remove the feeding tube that was giving her food and water. On the other side, Terri’s parents did not feel that their daughter would want to starve to death; rather, they wanted Michael to divorce Terri, at which point they would become the ones responsible for continuing her care. (Of course, had he divorced her, he wouldn’t get any insurance money… Hmmm…) Astoundingly, Michael won, and Terri was starved to death, passing away on March 31st. He claims that it was what she would have wanted - but, sadly, she’s not here to present her side. (Here’s a link to the entry I wrote at the time about Terri and her case.)
This is the case where the “pro-choice” movement morphed into the “pro-death” movement. Their true beliefs about their opinion of human life was on display for all to see. Terri Schiavo had made her choice. Choosing not to have a living will means that her care would fall back to normal medical processes - every attempt to save her life would be made. The “pro-choice” crowd, though, ignoring her choice, sided with her adulterous husband in his quest for her death. I guess they’re pro-choice, as long as the choice is death.
On January 28th, 2005, Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as only the second black (and first black female) Secretary of State. It is interesting that, for all the lip service the Democrats give to people of color, it was a Republican President who has appointed both black Secretaries of State our nation has had. Throughout this past year, she has been quite busy, working hard to act as this country’s face to the rest of the world. She is presiding over the difficult diplomatic processes with North Korea and Iran, two rogue countries that are dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons.
Once September rolled around, though, we saw something much less inspiring. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, destroying Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi and, though it only hit New Orleans, Louisiana with a glancing blow, the water broke some of the levees around the city, and it flooded. We heard reports of stacks of bodies, rapes, and rampant looting. (Thankfully, all but the looting seems to have been vastly overreported.) Then, we have the ridiculous outburst from Kanye West during a Katrina fundraising special, claiming that our President doesn’t care about black people. Preposterous! And, during a time of national disaster, an irresponsible and disrespetful thing to do. Seems it was all a publicity stunt - his album came out a few weeks later, and his name was fresh on people’s minds. So, he basically exploited the same people he claimed President Bush didn’t care about. Definitely not a high point…
To wrap up our mini year-in-review, let’s come back to the recently completed Alito hearings. Aspersions were cast on Judge Alito’s character because he had been a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), and that group had written that it opposed allowing minorities and women into Princeton. The only problem is that those lines came from a parody that was published in the Princeton student newspaper. (Look for the quotes from Dinesh D’Souza in that article.) Turns out, CAP was also concerned about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program being banished from Princeton, and that is why Justice-to-Be Alito had joined the group. The group did oppose quotas of minority/female admissions, and they also opposed lowered admissions standards for minority/female admissions - but, they were not opposed to minorities or women based on their race or gender. (And, this insinuation from the left is getting more than a little insulting!) Also, during the hearings, one of the committee members said that they couldn’t think of a single decision that Judge Alito had made that was beneficial to minorities. However, this article, written in November of 2005, shows his belief that all people are equal under the law, no matter what their skin color.
Our nation misses Dr. King’s guidance. He believed that, just as God sees us all as people, men should look at men with color-blind eyes as well. I hope that, over the next few years, less focus will be placed on divisive things. And, I hope that minorities realize that while one group emphasizes our differences, there is another group that has accepted those of whatever color, and encourage them to do the things that will improve their lives.
First up is the sanctity of human life. Dictionary.com defines sanctity (definition 2) as “The quality or condition of being considered sacred; inviolability.” What this means is that human life is sacred - something that is to be valued, and not to be taken lightly. It also means that life is not ours to create (ever, outside of the God-given means) or to destroy (save for the Biblically-based governmental duties of defense and punishment). There is encouraging news on the abortion front - Norma McCorvey, “Roe” in the (in)famous Roe v. Wade case, has entered a petition to the Supreme Court to review her case in light of new medical evidence of the effects of abortion on the women who have them. Together with Operation Outcry, which has compiled quite an array of statistics on medical issues with abortion, she hopes to get that ruling reversed. As an original petitioner in the case, she is in the unique position of being able to do this, and more details, including the briefs that were filed, can be found here.
There are others who have recently written about abortion as well. Chuck Colson’s recent article entitled Destroying Abortion Myths demonstrates that they hysterical “dangerous back-ally abortion” crowd actually made up their statistics. (And they say Bush lied and people died? How about “NOW lied, babies died”?) Marvin Olasky compares two tidal waves: the tsunami and abortion. (Did you know that as many people as died in that tsunami are killed every few months before they breathe their first breath?) Another site is Right Thinking Girl’s entry A Woman’s Right to Choose - it illustrates the absurdity of the “fetus as property” argument. I’ve also been active in the comments for this entry, in which folks have been debating the issue from pretty much all sides - my entries are the ones from “Daniel”. (Be warned, some comments may contain strong language.) And finally, this isn’t recent, but my entry about abortion being a bad idea whose time has passed still lays out, from a non-religious perspective, why abortion is wrong.
The numbers of abortions that have been performed is staggering - the latest numbers from Census 2000 show blacks as 11.4% of the population, but the CDC’s “Abortion Facts” website’s numbers show blacks have 33.9% of the abortions in this country. That means that blacks are overrepresented in abortion by 200%. This is not good, and (as we segue into the MLK portion of this entry) it’s something I think Dr. King would have worked to end. So much of his dream has been fufilled, but I believe he would be horrified at these statistics. The people for whom Dr. King gave his life working for (and, lost his life as part of that work) aren’t being killed and suppressed by the “white man” anymore. Take this abortion statistic together with gang and prostitution statistics, and you see that they’re suppressing and killing off themselves!
Dr. King’s legacy has been hijacked by the pseudo-civil-rights activists of our day. His was a message of peace, and of equality; not of opression, not of violence, and not of reversing the inequality. Though he was taken from us much too soon, his work endures - and to hear gay marriage proponents use his words in support of their agenda must make him look down on us and shake his head. His dream of equality in all areas, but especially economically, is beginning to be realized.
However, popular black culture does not encourage activities that lead to prosperity. When was the last time you heard a rapper rap about his mutual funds, 401K, or real estate investments? How about consumable goods (cars, electronics, etc.)? I’ll give you a hint - one of those is a lot better at building long-term wealth than the other. Bill Cosby is taking a lot of flak for his comments that have been critical of the culture. I’m glad he’s saying these things, because he has a lot of respect from folks in the black community. Maybe if the message comes from someone who is so respected, it will sink in. Children who are trying hard to achieve shouldn’t be ostracized from their peers and accused of “acting white.” Learning to speak the language properly isn’t selling out, it’s setting yourself up for success. (Now, since I’m not black, I guess I should interject here that I know plenty of white people who are foolish with their money, and whose grasp of the English language is less than it should be. I also know plenty of black people, some my very good friends, who do not conform to the pop culture image with which they’re bombarded on a daily basis.)
By realizing how precious life is, defending those who are defenseless, and empowering people to make their own destiny, we will honor not only Dr. King, but all those who follow after us. May the next generation look at us and say, “You know, they figured it out, and they lived it the way they should.”
John Kerry - I can’t believe that we have an anti-war activist running for President who is actually being taken seriously. I also can’t believe that the self-same anti-war activist is running for President on his war record. I guess now that the military is back in vogue, the Democrats like it.
Gov. Jim McGreevey - At least he has more respect for the state of New Jersey that Bill Clinton had for the nation. Although it’s now coming out (no pun intended) that the cause is corruption more than his penchant for those of like gender, his stepping down is the right decision. (He is muddying the issue with his “I am a gay American” schtick - that link has a very interesting take on that part of the situation.) I think he should step down immediately, though, rather than his political ploy of not stepping down until after the election.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth - Keep on keepin’ on. McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional, and will be ruled as such by the time the next election rolls around. It’s amazing that no one was upset when these 527 groups accused President Bush of poisoning pregnant women (a charge that is repeated on the Democrats’ own web site [scroll to the bottom]), but let them use facts to challenge something a Senator says, and now they need to shut up. (Still no call for moveon.org to stop their ads…)
President Bush vs. Catwoman - Sharon Stone recently said that because of President Bush, there wasn’t a lesbian kiss between she and Halle Berry in the movie Catwoman. I’m not quite sure I buy that - why would arch-enemies be kissing in the first place? And, if our President could control Hollywood, wouldn’t he be using that control to silence the hateful drivel from Michael Moore and his ilk? Sharon Stone has had plenty of opportunities to play oversexed bisexual characters (in fact, wasn’t that her first big role, in Basic Instinct?).
Thomas Sowell had two great columns this week, addressing what he calls the “grand fallacy” of our times. In Part 1, he exposes the fallacy of the belief that “equal opportunity = equal results.” And, in Part 2, he shows the danger of how preconceptions plus statistics equals “proof,” and puts the burden of proof off on the accused, instead of the accuser. As always, an excellent read.
Just one parting note - our next-door neighbors and great friends for over three years are moving on to California. Have a safe trip, guys!
Recently, there have been quite a few “groups” getting offended about things that other people do. Let me say up front that I have no problems with any individual person; however, I do not like the whole “group” concept, where a couple of loud-mouthed members of said group purport to speak for every member. That being said…
Some American Indians are upset about OutKast’s performance at the Grammys - here’s an article from CNN about it. OutKast has made their career being off-centre - a creative show like the one they put on at the Grammys shouldn’t be that unexpected. I saw the show, and there was nothing offensive in it to me (other than the fact that I’ve heard “Hey Ya” so many times I’m sick of it).
Some Jews are upset about The Passion of the Christ - they feel that it will incite hate for Jews. First of all, the movie is historical. If the Jews didn’t want this stuff being shown, they should’ve been nicer to Jesus 2,000 years ago. Secondly, the events portrayed in this film occurred 2,000 years ago - no one in their right mind would hold someone of Jewish descent responsible for something their ancestors did 2,000 years prior.
Some blacks are upset about a whites-only scholarship at a Rhode Island university - here’s an article from CNN about that. I love this story. These kids set up a scholarship which is merit-based; you’ve really got to be sharp to be the recipient of this $250 grant. Then, they add one final caveat - you have to be white. This is a very creative way to show the lunacy of race-based preferences - although I fear the lesson will be lost in the hysteria of many.
The bottom line is this… In a free country such as this, you do not have the right to not be offended. Matters of morality are one thing, but none of these incidents are moral situations. These are a symptom of our group-minded, victim-mentality culture, where people aren’t individuals, they’re members of a group. These loud-mouths have complacent amplifiers in today’s media, who broadcast their claims as fact, while often not applying common sense to the situation. I’m of Irish descent - am I offended when people make jokes about Irish people? Of course not. Thick skin is a wonderful thing - I wish these folks would grow some, and let the individuals decide for themselves whether they’re going to be offended by something.
On a slightly different note… Thomas Sowell, a great columnist, occasionally writes a column he calls “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene”. That title is a link to his latest one, but I’ve just got to share a couple of them here. (These are quoted verbatim from him.)
Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.
It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer “universal health care.”
Today is the day this year we set aside to remember the civil rights work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As I look at the landscape of civil rights today, we truly have come a long way in the 41 years since King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. However, Dr. King’s vision of a land where people are judged not on the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, has not yet come to fruition. Sure, we have all sorts of “minorities” in leadership positions in various organizations, and many of some of the highest paid individuals in our country, professional athletes, are not white. But, the very fact that we know these such things (and routinely hear them) is proof that, were he still here, I believe Dr. King would tell us that we’ve gotten it wrong.
Racial quotas, affirmative action, and other similar programs are “race-based” programs, meaning they use race as a major (and, in some cases, the only) factor in determining preferential treatment. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld that the University of Michigan Law School could give points towards admission for people who were not white. Oddly enough, there is one minority that does not get extra points under this system - people of Asian descent. In the strange world we live in, the Supreme Court said this was fair. And, as anyone who has done business with a government contract knows, preference is often given to “minority-owned businesses”, and these contracts often stipulate a percentage of employees that must be non-white.
My biggest problem with these sorts of policies is that they seem to be rooted in a victim mentality, a system set up by the descendants of an oppressed people to oppress the descendants of their once-oppressors. We hear noble phrases like “We’re just leveling the playing field” and “We’re making up for lost time,” but what is actually happening is a very subtle racism. Minorities are viewed as incapable of making it on their own, so the playing field is actually tilted in their direction. One of the reasons supporters of these sorts of programs cite is the lower level of education that is attained in poorer neighborhoods. But, trying to “balance” the results is attacking the problem from the wrong side. The answer is not feel-good social policies and lip service, while displaying a racist tone that tells minorities that they can’t make it on their own.
The only way that Dr. King’s dream will be fulfilled is for us as a nation to stop looking at race. Take it off college and work applications (notice it’s rarely on resumes today). Take it out of government contracts, school student balancing programs, and other social programs. The only organization that should still care about race is the police, who are responsible for assembling physical descriptions to identify people. Although things are much better for minorities than they were 40 years ago, I believe the time has come (well, really, has long ago come) to eliminate this focus on race. America is the land of opportunity - people of every race, creed, and gender have the opportunity to make a better life for their families. We’re long removed from the days of slavery, and we’re decades removed from separate water fountains and back-of-the-bus policies.
Let’s work together to make this a country where it doesn’t matter what sort of racial makeup you have in a classroom - a country where the NAACP doesn’t sit and count black actors on prime-time TV - a country where folks don’t feel they even need an organization called NAACP - a country where we eliminate racism from our hearts, not just our actions. This is Dr. King’s dream, and I believe it can be fulfilled in our lifetime.