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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