Racism qua social justice has become a front-and-center issue in American society. I’ve written on the topic before, attempting to apply a Christian worldview to the subject, but there’s more to the story.
American culture, at least if Big Media is to be believed, doesn’t seem to have made much progress in recent weeks. Tensions remain high and, sadly, new incidents of police actions involving white officers and black individuals have occurred, which fan the flame of frustration among black citizens in particular.
And there’s another influence afoot. You don’t have to buy into conspiracy theories to conclude that certain groups, Left and Right, want to keep this issue raging because in their view it helps move them toward their political goals. This perhaps is especially the case in 2020, a presidential election year in the United States.
Insofar as the topic—race, racism, social justice—is raised, comments seem to be one-sided rather than conversations, which may generate more heat than light. Examples might be the broadsides now offered regularly by celebrities and sports figures, whether on social media or covered in “the news.” Some are just virtue signaling. Some hold deep convictions and make strong comments, which is their right to make in a free society, but not much give-and-take is encouraged or is yet possible.
A number of barriers stand in the way of conversations about race, racism, or social justice right. In no particular order:
- Nuance seems to have been lost. It’s all or none. You’re for me or against me. Either you agree with me or forget it, it’s not worth my time to talk with you. Cancel culturecan take over here.
- Feelings not facts rule the landscape. Much of what’s being promoted on Big Media, let alone Social Media, is about emotion, passion, or “righteous anger” rather than evidence or history (in fact some of the worst arguments are ahistorical, like the idea the USA was founded upon white supremacyand has been ipso facto about slavery from the beginning, which in this view was 1619 not 1776).
- Reductionism is the prime directive, meaning everything is now about race. This is the erroneous idea that everyone is a racist, and sooner or later racist ideas, generally white supremacy, are somehow involved in the structure and function of American society.
- Arguing America, the least racist society in history, is about nothing but racism ignores progress. The USA did fight a Civil War to end slavery, Jim Crow segregation laws were largely ended by the Civil Rights Movement, and the USA elected to its highest office a person from a formerly rejected race. There is now plenty of case law and cultural support for black Americans, such that nothing really stands in the way of any given person working to pursue opportunities.
- There is an enormous difference between the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement today and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Indeed, the BLM leaders today are not in the same league with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. BLM is an organization given to Marxist ideas, anti-American perspectives, and a comfort zone with violent protest, whereas Martin Luther King Jr’s approach was based upon peaceful resistance and nonviolence. Plus, he wanted black citizens to have access to all their civil liberties as American citizens. He did not want to destroy the American system. BLM does. BLM’s social justice does not ultimately offer justice for anyone.
For example, destroying property is not considered violence by some activists because it can be rebuilt. But what if it’s your house? Your business? A minority-owned business, like many that have been ruined in riots in American cities>
It’s like state governors deeming some businesses “non-essential,” in their COVID-19 lockdowns. This may be fine for them, but these businesses are indeed essential to the people who own and/or work there and who depend upon them for their livelihoods. Same for property destroyed by riots. It’s violence to those owners.
- It’s now difficult and in some cases impossible to raise questions or provide perspective and analysis without being accused of not caring or of in essence denying racism. And you can’t even keep quiet because “Silence is violence,” or simply choose not to raise your fist in a BLM salute against white supremacy without being bulliedand threatened.
- We've been hearing, or seeing on placards, "No justice, no peace." But there is a precursor to this that the wisest political philosophers understood. "No law and order, no justice no peace." It is impossible to have the latter without the former.
No less than Pope John Paul II said the American Founding Fathers “clearly understood that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability."
So, people who work outside the law to tear down society tear down their opportunity for what George Washington called "ordered liberty," and thus for justice and peace.
"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters," Benjamin Franklin
Embrace lawlessness, jettison moral virtue for the "prevailing acceptable narrative" du jour, and risk losing liberty and justice for all.
- The black working and middle class do not want to defund the police. They value police protection and they want more police, and of course they want bad cops held accountable. Police are not hunting blacks, nor are they engaged in some kind of racist vendetta. Media reports to the contrary are simply propagandistic lies. Police go where the crime is, and sadly, this is disproportionately in minority neighborhoods.
- Racism exists. Because it is rooted in the sinful heart of human beings it always will. It exists in American society. Is it systemic? That’s much more difficult to prove. In fact, a host of evidence says otherwise, including the fact that black immigrants, mostly African, have increased fivefold in the US since 1980. Why would they do so if this is a systemically racist society?
- But if racism exists, can’t we find ways to root out the actual source of racism without falsely accusing everyone of racist attitudes and without tearing down the American system of order and liberty that gives all races the best chance to succeed?
- Huge problems confront American society affecting all races: children born without a father in the home; female-headed households which in themselves are not the issue, the issue is an associated lack of education, undeveloped employment skills, and limited to no assistance from a spouse earning income; alcohol or substance abuse including prescription medications; poverty; mental illness; child abuse; domestic and sexual violence; human trafficking; pornography; gambling, and more.
Each of these problems are unforced errors, self-inflicted wounds. Each involve human choices. Each can be avoided, yet they persist at overwhelming levels threatening thousands of families and millions of children. Racism exists. We should combat it based upon facts and time-tested religious values. But racism is not alone responsible for harming personal wellbeing and opportunity.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020
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