martin luther king jr

Attorney General Eric Holder said that when it comes to the race debate, “we are a nation of cowards!” Indeed, on that single point he may find agreement even amongst some conservatives. How long will we stand idly by? How long must we tolerate the intolerable behavior of the race baiters terrorizing for tolerance? What gossamer cowardice grips our weary souls that we don’t speak out in truth and charity against the madness of the ideologically driven race baiters? The same cohort that foments racial hatred in America makes constant reference to a race debate. There is no race debate, but there ought to be one.

There is monologue and diatribe, there is the mob rule of the media circus, there is ideological and irrational pronouncements that blow constantly out of the secular universities concerning race; there is trial by public opinion from a society so devolved into the pathology of licentiousness that the least wind of perceived slight provokes a reaction so incredibly disproportionate to the offense, that soon we will no longer be able to call ourselves civilized.

Race in America is a touchy subject. It would take a kind of supernatural courage and exceptional clarity of mind to speak truthfully about the entanglements of color, culture, and creed and their concomitant imbroglios springing from ideology, sentimentality, and vengeance. That speaker is not this one. I will stick to the less weighty matters of calling the tangling race baiters what they are. The Gordian knot of race relations is being wrought ever tighter by the strongest forces in the land, an increasingly powerful and corrupt central government, a bankrupt education system and a perverted mass media, all seemingly in service to the demons that exultantly exhale lustful winds onto the flames of hatred that burn in the heart of the City of Man.

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to speak good sense on the issue of race in America in a voice loud enough to be heard. Tragically, his noble words, words that could have echoed across the span of this troubled era, can no longer be heard or understood. The din of the race baiters has drowned out his voice and reduced his dreams to clichés that they distort and use to enshrine an illusory oppression.

The Reverend rightfully said in 1963:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir…. America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.”

These words ring true if we consider the American Ideal penned by our Founding Fathers and the abhorrent slave trade that leaves heartbreaking scars on our national history. It is as Madison said, “If humans were angels we would need no governments.” In our fallen state we fall short of the ideal. We are a nation of laws, but more importantly we are subject first and foremost to the law written on our hearts.

Reverend King’s words are a beautiful testament to the virtue of justice and the promissory note is a reference to giving the other what is due to him owing to those self-evident truths that signal the incalculable intrinsic worth and dignity of all human souls. Reverend King’s profound point has been demonically inverted by the race baiters, and instead of demanding an assent towards the American ideal, they vengefully demand a pound of flesh.

The American psyche has undergone drastic changes in the past several generations. Historical events, educational currents, technology and strong personalities have conspired to transform an American ethos from a culture ascending towards “traditional virtues” to a culture descending from “radical individualism.” The shift is from principles to calculation, from virtues to ideology, from reasoned discourse to emotional coercion. This shift is especially glaring in the issues that surround the race debate, which ought to properly be called “ideologically driven race baiting.” A cursory examination of a few public cases will illustrate that lady justice has been loaded up like a pack mule with ideological baggage that buckles her knees and reduces her judgments to nullity.

In 2007, shock jock Don Imus crossed the lines of propriety when he referred to the tattooed girls on the Rutgers’ basketball team as “nappy headed hos.” There was immediate outrage and Imus admitted it was “some idiot comment meant to be amusing.” In May, 2013, the cooking show host Paula Deen was giving a deposition in a law suit filed against her brother and in it she admitted that in the past she had used the “n-word.” In July, 2013, 25-year-old Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on camera at a country music concert making a racist comment. The drunk football player barked “I will jump this fence and fight every [expletive] (n-word) here.”

The above three cases are indefensible. Celebrities have a duty to be good role models. In the inept words of our commander in chief, we can aptly say that the celebrities “acted stupidly.” It certainly is vile and dehumanizing to use racial slurs, and such errors require atonement and reparation. But what would be an appropriate punishment for these particular crimes? To minimize the offense caused by racial slurs would be a miscarriage of justice, but so too is the exaggeration of such offenses as we shall see.

James 3:2 reminds us: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” Sins of the tongue are a daunting challenge to virtue in the best of men who fall short at least seven times a day. Today, sins of the tongue have multiplied and intensified as we witness the secular humanists’ continued attacks on the first amendment as they normalize disordered language and demonize virtuous speech.

James goes on to teach us in verse 5: “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” The world has seen a forest set ablaze following racial slurs uttered by celebrities, but in the fire storm of publicity and repercussions, which is the fire that set the forest ablaze? Is it the words of the celebrity? Or the celebrity race baiters who destructively seek retribution in real acts of malice and racism that seem to go unnoticed?

Imus lost his radio show and his livelihood. He was sued by one of the basketball players citing slander, libel, and defamation of character. The public scorn he suffered by far surpassed the scorn shown to the baby murderer Kermit Gosnell. Paula Deen lost her cooking show after eleven successful years on the food network. Her testimony does not reveal a grand wizard of the KKK, but an honest bumbling southerner who is rightfully confused about the extreme exaggeration of the reaction to her offense. Riley Cooper suffers media spotlight scorn, lives with a one thousand dollar bounty to anyone who hurts him, has paid a fine to the NFL, and been forced to take a leave of absence to get “professional help” from a team of “sensitivity training” experts.

Though in all three cases offenses were committed, the demand for a pound of flesh is a wild exaggeration. Riley Cooper erringly said “this is the lowest of the lows.” Though embarrassing and inappropriate, there are countless crimes worse than Cooper’s drunken blunder. Much worse is the fraudulent distortion of truth perpetrated by a small army of race baiters headed by ideologues like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and now carried out by a sycophantic media and hyper sensitive public. The fraud consists in using an inverted definition of justice to publicly ruin someone with deep pockets, celebrity, and the appropriate ethnicity. Surely this is a misguided attempt to right past wrongs, but it is in stark violation of any standard of a just society and it is by far the greater crime.

Another glaring example of race baiting injustice is the case of David Howard, who in January, 1999, while working for the D.C. Mayor Williams, used the word “niggardly” about his administration of a fund in a conversation with two other employees. The word means miserly and has no racial connotation. However, immediately the rumor mill began to churn and shortly he was accused of a vile racial slur. Howard responded: “I immediately apologized, I would never think of making a racist remark. I regret that the word I did use offended anyone.” Such was the public outcry concerning Howard’s private conversation that he resigned with the approval of the Mayor. Howard had committed no real offense at all, yet the race baiters still ensured his punishment.

Firing Imus, Paula Deen, and punishing Riley Cooper did not change their hearts. Forcing David Howard to resign for his speech did not solve any problems. The mentality of revenge is more likely to lead to further racial tension and fear of tyrannical retribution. After every incident we become more divided.

There can be no race debate with the race baiters because their rhetoric and actions do not correspond to reality. The race debate is not about external things like hoodies, skin color, or ethnicity; it is about justice, character, and virtue. There will be no real debate or remediation on the tyrannical terms of the race baiters. To acquiesce to their demands would propel us deeper into disorder. As St. James tells us, “both brackish and fresh water do not flow from the same source.” Just so, hateful language does not flow from one who has a pure heart.

The prerequisites for a real race debate call for a recovery and restoration of language. All sides would call for justice, but the race baiters misunderstand what that is. The truth is, justice is ordered to the divine law which commands that we love God first and then our neighbor. In doing so we give our neighbor what is due to him. The race baiters contort justice to mean “their rights” which they will define in an arbitrary way and secure by any means they deem necessary.

We cannot return the insult of the race baiters and there is nothing by way of activism that we ought to do in response to the injustice they propagate. It is for us to see things as they truly are, to line up the facts with true justice and to speak the truth with charity while we prepare our other cheek for the blow that is coming as surely as death and taxes. We must concede no ground to the race baiters beyond the other cheek and we must pray for them as their misguided quest for justice has taken on the form of pathological vengeance, a cycle from which they will not be released but for divine intervention. We must forgive them “for they know not what they do.”

A real race debate in America would see Reverend King’s dream realized:

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 a table of brotherhood.

A real race debate calls for a return to true justice and a recovery of the American Ideal ordered to reality, not ideology.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

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12 replies to this post
  1. Those of us who are White must face the fact that our declarations of not having any racism in our views, attitudes, and practices are made with a conflict of interests. We don’t want to be viewed as racists because such people are the moral lepers of our time. Thus to admit to racism would be to condemn ourselves to a well deserved public scorn and marginalization.

    But we also have another disadvantage. Being the race with power distorts our vision so that we struggle to both recognize racism in what we do and say and understand the rage it naturally incurs. If we want to know whether we have racists views, attitudes, and practices, we should seek the views of those who suffer from racism and then make ur personal assessments. And note that we should consult the views not just of those who reach out to us graciously, like King did, but from those harbor rage from the injustices they have suffered. In other words, we don’t wait for Holder to bring up the problem before asking for feedback. We will do so if we both care and are brave enough.

    • Mr. Day,
      Your comment is purely ideological. One of the more disturbing points is your suggestion that we ought to form our assessments of whether or not we hold racist views based on the opinions of “those (who) harbor rage from the injustices they have suffered.” Righteous anger is one thing, but “rage” is akin to one of the 7 deadly sins, wrath. My standard is the Logos, Truth Himself. Rage is the arbiter of no truth. I implore you to look to Christ for your standard, not to the rage of a disordered culture. Call to mind what Achilles said from Hades- “I would rather work the soil as a serf on hire to some landless impoverished peasant than be King of all these lifeless dead” This is Achilles lament for using rage as his standard. It doesn’t take care and courage to appease the race baiters, it takes care and courage to speak the truth in charity.

      • Mr. Jonathan,
        First, thank you for your response. But your response raises two questions as well as an observation. The first question is, do you think it is more ideological to solve problems pertaining to racism by waiting for those who are oppressed to act like saints or by asking those whom we have offended about the suffering we have caused?

        Second, is another reason why, besides the one you stated, you object to consulting those who harbor rage, note that I have said nothing about rage being acted on, because you think that the degree of racism suffered doesn’t merit rage?

        My observation of your note and history says this, that those who oppress others will dismiss the complaints of their victims unless those victims act like saints. Then, PERHAPS, they will listen, but not before then.

        I do have one additional question. Did you read what Martin Luther King said about those who riot?

  2. Caribbean colleagues remain puzzled. “We had just as much slavery as America did, but we put it behind us,” they say; and to a vast degree they have. However, their countries remain small and poor enough to lack special interests (including government) that profit from promoting division.

    • Mr. Masty,
      I haven’t had the wherewithal to check the facts, but I was told that upwards of 90% of the entire slave trade was south of the US. It has little relevance, all the talk of reparations and recompense is ideologically driven and undergirded by genuinely racist principles. The illogical and hypocritical lunacy of the position is aptly articulated in socialistic terms by the first comment. I wanted to include some ideas by C.S. Lewis from his essay on The Dangers of National Repentance, but I ran out of room. It is farcical to carry around an invented “victimhood” and use it as license to behave immorally. My dear friend and mentor brought up the hate rallies in 1984 where they choose some scapegoat and focused all the hate on that one person. This is despicable, but well characterizes the actions of the race baiters.

  3. There is no such thing as “the race with power” and those who approach the race question from the perspective of racial class warfare set themselves up for eternal strife. For if we assume that your role in the political community must be vased on your skin color (e.g. whites must alot privileges and recompensate blacks because whites were “the race with power”), then we actually reinforce racism and suggest only that the issue is not equality, but which race will sieze power.

    Many white Americans had nothing to do with fostering slavery, much to do with abolishing it. Many black Africans sold their fellow men intombondage, and by the standards if racial historical guilt, one could venture to lay collective blame for slavery on the “black race” as well.

    This leads nowhere but to Oresteia proportioned conflict. In racial matters, it is best not to be abstract, but concrete. Is a specific person being unjust towards another human due to race? Is a specific law being unjust due to race? These simple, concrete criteria will help to better navigate race issues than such generalizations as “the race with power.”

    On a very personal level, I am white, though authenticaly caucasian (my family traces its roots to the actual caucasia, that is Tibilisi) as well as German. None of my known ancestors ever had anything to do with slavery or racism against negros, yet suddenly, as an American, simply due to my skin color, I am to be categorized as the “race with power” liable to blacks who are alloted legal privileges via affirmative action? That is racism.

    • Peter,
      My guess is that you are objecting to feeling a “collective guilt.” That is understandable, I once felt that way myself. Collective guilt seems to punish us for not only what we have never done, but for that which we abhor.

      But there are things we need to understand if we are to address racism. First, if we grew up in predominantly or exclusively all White neighborhoods, we are bound to look down on those who are different because it is human to do that. We will also look down on those who are different because we are not aware of what others have had to live through.

      We often take for granted that people grew up in the same environment we grew up in. I remember when I was in college in the mid to early 70s and how some American Blacks would make us feel on edge because we detected their anger while Blacks from other countries lacked that anger. Our discomfort was based on being ignorant of what American Blacks had been suffering through. If we had experienced what they had been living through, not only would we understand their anger, we would have shared it.

      What we also have to understand when learning about the “race with power” is the organizational definition of power. Power is the ability to have one’s way or affect change. So the race with power is the race that has the greatest ability to have its way and to obtain goods for itself. So White is the race with power, then, regardless of the feelings of individual Whites, Blacks will be pushed to the side as Whites seek to obtain for themselves and for those they associate with. The almost always growing disparity in wealth between Whites and Blacks is evidence that the race with power in this country is the White race. The same goes for the disparity in political representation. Note here that it isn’t the race of our political leaders which determines power, it is those whom those leaders serve that reveals who has power.

      When we add the suspicions we naturally have of those who are different with the fact that the White race is the race with power in this country, we find that there is a systematic racism visited on Blacks in America. And this systematic racism exists regardless of the lack of intent of many White individuals.

      I understand your objections because I and my friends had those same objections. But listening to and reading Blacks about their history in this country as well as what they have to currently endure helps me to know better what Blacks are trying to say to us. I will never understand everything they have to say or their anger because I haven’t lived through what they have. Because of life, they have an understanding that I will never have. But the more I listen and read, the more I can sympathize.

    • “I am to be categorized as the ‘race with power’ liable to blacks who are alloted legal privileges via affirmative action? That is racism.”

      The argument often made is that along with the benefits enjoyed by our ancestors was the unfair advantage enjoyed at the expense of those who were denied an equal opportunity to compete and participate within the free market. In other words, the wealth (of varying degrees) that has been created and passed down was created within a skewed market. There is an advantage that one student applying to University has enjoyed (via his family heritage) and a disadvantage that another student has suffered (via his family heritage).

      Personally I don’t think that AA will assist anything. Putting unprepared students into superior schools is foolish. The answer is not AA but school choice on the primary level..

  4. I attended a public grade school in Brooklyn,N.Y.,back in the 40’s. An assembly of all students was held once a week. All of the girls had to wear a middy blouse with a black tie secured with a square knot in front and a navy blue skirt. The boys were required to wear a white long sleeve shirt and dark tie, for the assembly.
    We pledged allegiance to the flag, the Principle read a passage from the Bible, We sang an opening hymn, The Star Spangled Banner, first and second verse, and a closing hymn. A short play was presented by a different class each week. My class presented, “Uncle Toms Cabin” and I appeared with my face blackened with a burnt cork.
    Catholic students would leave class early on Wednesday afternoons for religious class at church. Our classes were a composite of children from an assortment of ethnic backgrounds and religions.
    Unfortunately much of the above is now taboo!
    We were judged on our merits by dedicated teachers who consistently lifted us up to be achievers. Our male teachers always wore a suit and tie and the female teachers wore a full dress.
    Old fashion? Maybe! Those who taught us set the tempo for morality and mutual respect.

    Unfortunately, there will always be those, who through their own lack of confidence and self worth,having no personal relation with our LORD,will put others down to just create the illusion of their self importance.

    For starters,to correct any apparent discrimination the hyphen (dash)relating to American ought to be eliminated. Either we are or we are not Americans. Referring to anyone as a hyphenated American, is no different than referring to a women as being is just a little pregnant. Either she is pregnant or she is not. Ergo,you are either an American or you are not.

  5. Don’t know if my first reply took because the computer jumped to another page but I will try again.

    There are many individuals who have benefitted from AA so I don’t think that we can say that AA will not help. But something else needs to be said here. We are in danger of trying to solve all problems and explain reality by reducing everything to the “free market.” Such an attempt depersonalizes and dehumanizes our society. For the market is about making a profit and all that is involved, both things and people, become objects for the sake of making or even maximizing profits.

    In addition, that there are races with power in different countries is something that can easily be observed. It isn’t racism to make that observation. And, in fact, even within our market system, there still is a race with power. Of course, that is the White race. Surveying the races of those with power as well as discriminatory hiring practices and the income and wealth disparity between the races points to this.

    And remember that the benefits enjoyed by our ancestors were fought for and earned by ethnically cleansing the America’s indigenous population from the land. I guess those wars were the result of a skewed market.

    • “Such an attempt depersonalizes and dehumanizes our society. ”

      And state sponsored solutions have never had the effect of dehumanizing people? They certainly have. Infact I would argue that it is where we find the most extreme examples of this historically. The Market gives more space to “humanity” than any other arrangement does. Is it Eden? No. Does it require a certain cultural character to function in it’s optimal form? Of course.

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