I am a talk radio junky.
Fortunately, I am also a praise music junky; when the one makes me too crazy the other straightens me out.
I was on the talk radio side of it a month ago when the host spoke disdainfully of a scheduled Thanksgiving Day event that would focus on America as a racist nation, debunking Thanksgiving and any other theme not depicting America as a nation founded and steeped in racism.
The host spoke harshly of the plans — calling them sick, which they are — and calling the racism claim absurd, which it is not.
Reality is that racism has been with human beings from the beginning. It is the oldest sin in the book; it began when Adam said of Eve, “It was the woman thou gavest me; she made me do it.” All of us — all of us — need to repent of it, and nothing of value is achieved when we point at the other and say, “You are the bad one and I am the good.”
Racism is bias against someone because of what they are — whether black, white, red, yellow, male or female, young or old.
A favorite accusation hurled against President Donald Trump is that he is a racist; it goes hand in hand with the rap that he hates women … and children and Jews and Muslims. Reality is that unemployment is at an all-time low for every group in our culture, including black people. Black-owned start-up businesses increased by 400 percent in the first 18 months of the Trump administration.
The same can be said about jobs for teens; their unemployment is lower than it has ever been.
How about poor people; doesn’t Trump hate them? Their numbers are decreasing and such amenities as air conditioning are increasing. Jews? He moved America’s Israel Embassy to Jerusalem where — in justice for Jews — it belongs.
But Muslims — he has had harsh words about jihadis and those who rationalize their atrocities. Yet he has drawn us closer to Muslim nations even while being purposeful in rooting out ISIS.
Gays? His ambassador to Germany is gay.
On every test of racism, POTUS fails miserably. The charge is fraudulent in every way.
That said, we do have a racist past. I have personal knowledge of bigoted people discriminating against blacks by — for example — describing identical aberrant behavior from personally known white and black families, claiming allowances for the whites while the blacks were called unfit parents. I have known black children — in California and New England; it’s not just in the South — who have been humiliated over their race or treated with condescension and lowered expectations by teachers. I know Native Americans who were kidnapped by officials and adopted by white people because it was assumed their parents could not properly raise them.
History is littered with one atrocity after another against Natives and Asians in America, and sometimes government denies the incident occurred despite documentation I have seen.
Americans overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and established protectorates in the Philippines and Cuba for no better reason than the so-called White Man’s Burden; these are but examples.
Even where we recognize native sovereignty on Indian reservations we prevent tribal authorities from accessing their own natural resources.
That said, no nation on earth has been as candid and ultimately repentant over our racist behavior. The violence — and virulence — has never been all on one side. The Pilgrims who established the Plymouth colony and — in partnership with the Wampanoag Tribe — gave us Thanksgiving treated the natives with dignity and respect. Reconciliation is possible and more and more prevalent wherever people are willing to humble themselves and seek it, rather than trying to one-up one another in painting themselves as wholly innocent and others as wholly guilty.
There are essentially three things that need doing if we want solutions rather than perpetual rage and resentment.
The first is a shared commitment to move on from the bitter legacy of racism. I have participated in commemorations of atrocities where one side or the other refused to acknowledge wrongdoing or accept apology, as the case may be, but it must be a two-way street.
The second is to acknowledge that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God for which all are created. More voices are needed like that of my Native American friend who often said, “We would have done it to you if we had bigger guns.” While there is no excuse for what the majority culture did to exploit and destroy peoples and cultures, the record is replete with victims who victimized others and sought to victimize their conquerors only to find the invaders indeed had the bigger guns.
Finally, there is a crying need for all parties to focus on the God who created and redeems all in authentic humility instead of the current focus on the misdeeds of the other. This is called repentance, and it alone leads to authentic reconciliation. Only that authentic reconciliation can lead to genuine justice and real peace.
G. K. Chesterton famously said Christianity is not something tried and failed; it has never been seriously tried. Let’s try it on all sides of the racial divide.
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