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Race, racism, and racial politics continue to bedevil America. 

I’ve shared my views of race and racism, and on race, racism, and social justice, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Civil Rights Movement. I’ve talked about re-establishing order in urban streets and the Defund the Police movement. I’ve been particularly vocal about the danger of “Woke” ideas for American culture, the threat of “Wokeness” upon education, and the growing influence of “Woke” philosophy upon the Church.

I tried to develop a Christian worldview perspective—though I do not claim to be a philosopher or a theologian or anything other than a person who sees through a glass darkly—to avoid partisan views, which I find singularly unmotivating and inconsistent on both sides of the aisle, or even to buy-in to any ideological philosophy, though anyone who actually reads my writing will know I am conservative, little “c”.

For all this, I find it frustrating that some people seem to think they know what I believe, yet apparently have never read my writing, and others who presume to know what I believe based upon some portion of what I’ve said, or, they simply disagree and therefore find my point of view uncompelling. 

A number of things bother me, here in no particular order:

  • When I listen to conservative friends, liberal friends, and a few black friends whatever their ideology, it seems to me they are not listening to one another. By this I mean, for example, that I hear different concerns and the same words used with different meanings.
  • I don’t like it when people use social media in an in-your-face fashion, posting “Blue lives matter” or “All lives matter,” both of which I affirm, not alongside but seemingly in opposition to “Black lives matter,” which I also affirm. Why must these value statements be set up as “versus” rather than “both/and”?
  • There are extremists on both the Left and the Right who seemed to have gained an outsized voice, who are shouting their vitriolic messages so loudly, and who have been given so much airtime in Big Media as well as Big Social Media that other moderate, i.e. reasonable, voices are drowned in the cacophony. This includes groups like Black Lives Matter or Antifa on the Left and Proud Boys or KKK on the Right, along with various white supremacists, militias, anarchists, and others promoting overthrow of the American political system.
  • Black Lives Matter has pulled off an amazing and unprecedented coup gaining alignment and hundreds of millions of dollars from American corporations, universities, public schools, and professional sports associations and leagues. The group has done this in part due to the tragic death of Georg Floyd at the hands of police officers and in part because of the genius of their name. Who can or wants to speak against “black lives matter”? Of course, they matter, but the organization is anything but a simple racial justice advocacy group. It is thoroughly grounded in Marxist theory, promotes anti-biblical values and goals, and whether intentional or not, in much that it does advances a new racism in the name of anti-racism. What’s enormously concerning and frustrating about this is that the supportive corporations, educational, and entertainment organizations noted above are all diving in with both feet, afraid of being labeled anything but supportive, and seemingly doing this uncritically, thus embracing values that can or will undermine their very existence in a free, democratic, and capitalist society.
  • Critical Race Theory, now promoted by BLM and being taught in universities and until recently the federal government, is a dangerous and damaging set of ideas that undermines potential for racial reconciliation. There is no redemption or forgiveness in CRT. No dissent, only submission. MLK, Jr. would not recognize and I don’t think support much of what claims to be heir to the Civil Rights Movement. Support for Black individuals realizing the full measure of their citizenship, for sure. Peaceful nonviolent protest, absolutely. Rejection of American constitutional ideals and free enterprise, No. Promotion of Black justice vs objective, truthful justice as such, No. Violence in the name of justice, No. Identifying race as the end-all-be-all of life, No.
  • “Defund the Police” makes no empirical or even common sense, yet it is being embraced by cities across the country. But it was not long ago that the Clinton Administration touted its effort to put 100,000 more police officers on the streets. What happened to this? School teachers have long been told, “Don’t punish the class because one kid misbehaves.” Yes, bad or rogue or evil cops exist, and they should be discovered and removed if not put in prison for their own crimes. Yes, sad incidents have occurred in which a black person has been killed by a police officer, only later to discover that this was not a “righteous shoot.” But the number of times this has occurred per capita and accounting for the number of incidents and shootings that take place is very small. This is not to minimize or trivialize the loss of life. It is not to argue that racism does not exist in the criminal justice process. It is simply to say that criminal justice reform and accountability for bad cops can happen without defunding police departments. This is an emotional, unwise over-reaction. 
  • I do not agree that “silence is violence,” nor do I agree that all white people are by definition racist any more than I think all black people are racist or possess some other negative characteristic. To argue this is itself racist because it condemns an entire category of people based on an assumption, based on the sin of given individuals. 
  • Race politics in America is in a bad place to say the least. Right now, it’s extremists with the loudest voices screaming at each other on the opposite end of the teeter-totter. No real change will take place until right values are identified and embraced:

                     --That all individuals are created equal and loved by God. No one race is better much less supreme. No one race is entitled. 

                     --What people of all races hold in common as human beings is more and greater than what our minds determine divides us.

The Church needs to speak to the moment, not touting Right or Left but applying the whole counsel of God.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

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.

  • 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.

  • 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    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Joe Biden said, you ain’t Black if you vote for Trump. Now Jemelle Hill says you’re racist if you vote for Trump. What you think of the President notwithstanding, isn’t this sort of labeling “racism”?

Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility is, according to John McWhorter, a professor at Columbia University, “one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us.” Another critique of this book can be found here.

“Karen” is now being used as a racist slur against white women.

“The white culture, according to the museum, is evidenced by such priorities as the nuclear family, a strong work ethic, rugged individualism, and politeness,” so said the African American Museum in Washington, D.C., until a backlash forced them to remove the chart propounding these ideas. The museum also listed Christianity as a whiteness characteristic; this is a new racism being touted as “anti-racism.”

“Blackness” and “Whiteness” are now finding their way into public school curriculums

Going to National Parks is White, and racist?  According to a segment broadcast on ABC News, Yes.

PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, announced plans to retire Aunt Jemima from packaging on its brand of syrup and pancake mixes because it's "based on a racial stereotype." Owners of Uncle Ben's, Mrs. Butterworth's, and Cream of Wheat also announced their products' packaging would be reviewed. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream said its Eskimo Pie brand would be renamed. Trader Joe's will remove 'racist packaging' of brands including Trader José's, Trader Ming's.

Two great narratives about Black and White are presently in a Cold War.

If calling someone the “N-word” is a terrible racist slur that should not be used, and it is, why isn’t calling someone a “White supremacist” in the same category?

Describing businesses as “white-owned” or “black-owned” is not now simply descriptive but a way of promoting racial division, or what we used to call “segregation.” Something we worked to set aside in the 1960s is now resurrecting in 2020, in the name of anti-racism no less.

Identity politics in one source of this movement and at its worst identity politics is about class or ethic/racial warfare, which argues for inclusion but by definition is exclusionary, often arguing for silencing other views, rather than about ideals, constitutionally enshrined human rights and civil liberties for all. MLK, Jr worked for the latter and would not recognize much that passes for racial justice today, at least not as promoted by Black Lives Matter the organization.

One authority called racism a “mental illness.” Sorry. Not so. It’s sin. Medicalizing or psychologizing the problem won’t make it go away or make it any easier to understand, and certainly not resolve it.

Racism is wrong no matter who expresses it.  Substituting a new racism for the old is not a solution, nor is re-segregating America.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

—Church attendance is not OK (C-19 threat); Protests are OK (no C-19 threat). The illogic on this one is astounding.

—Government orders re COVID-19 pertain only to the virus and produce no collateral damage. Political leaders eager to lockdown states in the name of public health seem to believe their actions don’t have any ripple effects or unintended consequences, but unfortunately, they are wrong.   

Somerville, MA city ordinance (likely the first) legally recognizes polyamorous domestic partnerships, changing the definition of a relationship as an "entity formed by two persons” to an “entity formed by people." 

—Human beings are reducible to race, and racism is the root of every problem, so the solution is to re-segregate America.

Critical race theory promoting identity politics and racist ideology, criticizing traditional families as sexist or oppressive, and leveraging victimhood as a tool to power is good for society.

—American patriotism is passé, or worse, evil, because America is morally illegitimate.

—Lawlessness should not be prosecuted if it fits a “social justice” narrative. 

—Historical illiteracy or revisionism (a.k.a. falsehood) is credible if it advances a “social justice” narrative.

—“People will do what they do” passes for political leadership.

—Silence is violence. This one forgets this is a free country wherein people can choose to speak or not to speak as they see fit.

—To be White or “Whiteness” is ipso facto to be racist, or actually to be fragile and supremacist. Using or calling someone the "N-word" is considered a horrible expression of racism, and I agree, but why then is it OK to call people "White supremacist," also a racist designation?

—“Colorblind” is racist. Contrary to Martin Luther King, Jr’s vision for Blacks to realize their full rights and position as American citizens, many of today’s anti-racist agitators are propounding decidedly racist views.

—-Defund the Police. This is the most irrational idea currently getting traction. It’s about ideology not statistical reality and I am afraid for the cities buying this fantasy. 

In none of this am I suggesting racism does not exist or that we should not work toward liberty and justice for all. Nor am I saying everyone who cares about racial injustice embraces these ideas; they do not. These ideas represent extremes, though right now the extreme seems ascendant in media and public discourse. 

What I am saying is that much that is currently argued in the street and in media propounds failed and dangerous ideas that if adopted will result in more racism, less liberty and justice, and the destruction of liberal democracy. 

This is a substantially more threatening plague than C-19.

In the meantime, the absence of wise adults in the public square is taking an emotional toll on us all.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

1-Created by God in His image.

2-Time, place, demographics appointed by God, all nations from one man.

3-Uniquely gifted, individually significant with ultimate value.

4-Endowed with reason and moral responsibility, thus freedom and accountability.

5-Mandated to develop culture.

6-Fallen, deceitful hearts.

8-Need salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

9-Blessed fulfilling God’s purposes via faith, family, fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace), free enterprise.

10-All races, ethnicities represented in Heaven, the most diverse community ever.

11-No individual reducible to race, for while part of the beauty of Creation, this characteristic is not the sum of existence. 

12-God loves all, we are to love our neighbors, so racism has no place in God’s design.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Since May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was brutally and unnecessarily killed by a Minneapolis policeman demonstrating what police brutality looks like, protests and eventually also riots have struck nearly every city and hamlet in the United States. Calls for racial justice, reforming or defunding police departments, rejecting what some see as “systemic racism” characterizing all of American society, noting “Black lives matter,” and a host of related or tangential issues are ringing loudly across the land.

To say race and/or racism are complicated issues is to make a profound understatement. But they are, and they “complexify” still further by mixing with many other issues and agendas in the noisy public square.

These are some of my thoughts on race and/or racism, attempting to make some sense, to create order from chaos, for now, for I like any living human being can and will likely change, though I hope for reasons rooted in a thorough understanding of my own Christian worldview.

  • God created every human being “in his image,” and as such each person is temporally and eternally significant, possesses dignity, and is the highest order of creation (Genesis 1:26-27).
  • All human beings, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, or any other demographic, is who they are because the Sovereign God created them for his purposes: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26).
  • While demographics are important, they are not the ultimate definition of a human beings’ character or value: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
  • Black lives matter” is not ipso facto a contradiction of or challenge to the statement “All lives matter.” Both statements are true.  Likely most who use the phrase “Black lives matter” are simply pointing out the emphasis or the need of the moment, that Black lives have perhaps not been valued sufficiently and this must change. “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” are true. Undoubtedly some who use any of these phrases do so to push back at the other position, like a statement that my Dad is tougher than your Dad. But what does it matter? Most of this back and forth about phrases is a sideshow. What really matters is how Blacks and Whites and other races can and should respect each other and live well together in the same space. So it does not offend me for someone to say, “Black lives matter.” I agree. This does not mean I devalue others.
  • The organization Black Lives Matter is hugely problematic. The leaders describe themselves as Marxist, the organization has periodically supported violence, the organization is pro abortion on demand, “queer affirming,” which means an aggressive promotion of LGBTQ+ lifestyles, and anti-Western family positions, all perspectives at odds with Christianity. I do not support Black Lives Matter. 
  • Support for abortion, specifically Planned Parenthood, is one of the greatest threats to Black lives in American culture. While Blacks represent 13% of the US population they account for 36% of abortions, most through Planned Parenthood. This is one killer that must be stopped.
  • I think I understand the desire of many to see Confederate statues come down. It is true that some of these statues were erected as a statement about how the Old South would rise again and as a means of reinforcing Jim Crow laws. So while I don’t believe that removing statues somehow changes history, nor do I believe we must sanitize history, nor do I support mobs ripping down statutes at will rather than through due process, I don’t think hanging on to Confederate statues is necessary or worthy.
  • I reject the riots and mob action that first followed then overwhelmed and displaced legitimate peaceful protest. Lawless, anarchistic mobs accomplish nothing but destruction, endangering peoples’ lives, ruining property and livelihoods—often of the people the mob purportedly supports—and they undermine law and order, peace, justice, the democratic process, and social well-being. Defending mobs as “protestors” as some in media and some politicians have done is clueless and irresponsible.
  • Ripping down or defacing statues of great Americans, all in the name of racial purity, is a farce. No one who ever lived is without fault, yet many have accomplished great achievements on behalf of all people. We choose to honor them accordingly. And if it is a cause you wish to support, you can bank on greater resistance if what you do makes no sense, like defacing statues of Abraham Lincoln or Gen. U.S. Grant or the 54th(Black) Regiment of Massachusetts, etc.
  • Racism exists. It will always exit, because it lies in the deceitful, sinful heart of all human beings. Racism is not just a “White problem.” All people whatever their race can be or may have been guilty of racism at some time. Racism will always be with us. But this does not mean we should ignore it, much less advance or excuse it. We work to remove and eliminate it because we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
  • There are bad and good cops, bad and good lawyers, bad and good politicians, bad and good Whites, Blacks, and more. Bad and good are not determined by race or ethnicity or profession. I do not believe all cops are racist, nor do I believe—nor can it be statistically demonstrated—that cops are hunting Black people. I do not believe the criminal justice system or the economy, much less the country, is in every way, systemically, racist. Yet I believe racism exists within all this. So I am in favor of learning, of criminal justice or police practice reform but not “defund the police,” which I believe is naïve if not stupid on the face of it.
  • I believe in the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s. They are in place, along with much legal precedent reinforcing them. If these laws were enforced, or more effectively, if people of all races acted morally and responsibly before God, we would not need more laws. We need moral recommitment and revival.
  • Despite what some on the Left are saying, I believe the United States of America, for all of its fits and faults, for all of its checkered history—like each of us—is still the freest, most open, most economically accessible, least racist country, still “the last best hope of earth.”
  • I see no reason why, realizing that many Black Americans have struggled or suffered the effects of racism, that the American people should not discuss this problem and take reasonable actions to change the social system. To do this is simply caring for our fellow human beings even as we recognize that someday we will likely need them to care for us. So I support reform or racial reconciliation and justice discussions and do not see them as an attack somehow upon what’s good in America.
  • With Abraham Lincoln, I would say, “Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.' "With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
  • Race is part of the variety, indeed the beauty, of God’s creation. Race is a gift of God. Racism is sin. We are called of God to live justly, to love our neighbors, to bless and do no harm, for one and all.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.