Sunday, August 1, 2021

U.S. deals with fires and fears of racism


Stories of anti-Trump protests in at least 37 cities across the US, some of them turning violent, and stories of pro-Trump bullying and racism, notably in our schools, have moved me to address the issues head-on. Being a white, old, male citizen of this country, I can’t pretend to know the issues, so I rely on some sources that I consider reputable to bring the issues to the table and present any answer I can find from my own experiences from the past and since the election.

Most of the bullying and racism comes from, it has been reported, white people who don’t have a college degree. As I have nine years of post-secondary education under my belt and a few college degrees, I can’t claim to be a member of this group or to understand them. For this experience, I turn to talk radio, the alt-right web, and conversations around me.

Two very different examples I can relate from Baltimore involve the concept of white supremacy in our nation. First, I was riding the light rail one day when a black woman started mumbling just loud enough for me to hear, “Y’all are racists. I hate all of you. I’m going to kill every one of you,” she mumbled, referring to white men, since I was the only other person there.

But just yesterday, I was at a high school football game at Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore, which is probably one of the most African-American schools in the state. They were playing North Harford High School in a playoff game, which is probably one of the whitest schools in the state. Fans, players, adults, kids, and everyone was just great and welcoming of each other. They cheered in the same game, stood in the same lines at the concession stand, and so on.

“Respect all fans, as they are merely encouraging their teams as you are encouraging your team,” the football program from Milford Mill says. “Respect our country, its flag, and anthem. Recognize our blessings as a nation allow us the ability to compete in today’s contest.”

At least these white students, who don’t have a college degree, showed no signs of racism or racist tendencies at the football game. It’s when white men who don’t have a college degree get older, it would appear, that racist tendencies start to bloom, and they now claim, with some truth, that the government’s ignorance of their plight is why they’re suffering.

Brando Simeo Starkey, a black man, an associate editor at The Undefeated, a website that “explores the intersections of race, sports, and culture,” and the author of In Defense of Uncle Tom: Why Blacks Must Police Racial Loyalty, poses the overarching dilemma facing the US as it changes from an Obama administration to a Trump administration:

When we complained [that our voices weren’t being heard by government], we heard that we should focus on improving our personal accountability. We were lectured to not view ourselves as victims.

But why aren’t you applying the same logic to yourselves? Why is your predicament the government’s fault? Why is it the burden of the government to fix it? Aren’t you playing the victim? If not having a college degree is holding your life back, why aren’t you to blame for not going to college? Where is your personal responsibility? Help me understand, white America.

His questions, of course, are rhetorical in nature, which doesn’t mean some people who are part of white America won’t have answers but does mean that those answers will probably be filled with propaganda that can’t be verified.

Look, a lot of white America still believes—against all evidence—that the Earth was created between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago. Notwithstanding geological and astronomical evidence, I even point out to these people that the very book of scripture that leads them to believe in a young Earth also makes several statements about time, an “everlasting” life, etc.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere,” says Psalm 84. “I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue,” taken from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 14), further tells us that numbers aren’t really literal in the Kingdom of God.

Let me then speak five intelligible words about this phenomenon sweeping the country: End racism and hatred now.

Going on, “Do not forget this one thing, dear friends,” Peter writes in his second letter (Chapter 3). “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” So it seems, time in the Bible doesn’t mean what these racists, creationists, or people like Ben Carson are telling us it means. Just do the math and multiply 10,000 years, which represents creationists’ estimate, by 10,000 years for every day. The result is about 3.6 billion years, which is a lot closer to the actual age of the planet.

That is, Ben Carson is a heretic in that he twists the words of Christianity’s holiest book, in the whole, to accommodate a narrow message of white supremacy and hatred of other people. It makes no difference whether white supremacy and racism are their goal or simply collateral damage; any attempt to propagate lies to the people of this country is hateful, mainly because it causes them to oppose their own best interests as humans and as citizens.

At least with abortion, there’s an argument. Good people can debate when a fetus or embryo becomes a human being. But with the creation of the Earth, like equality of the races, there’s not even a question. The Earth was created billions of years ago, and a person’s humanity and ability to contribute to society aren’t a function of his or her race, national origin, sexual preference, or any of those other protections enshrined in our laws.

But even with topics like abortion, white America doesn’t argue anymore; we simply claim righteousness in our position. We don’t have to, since the question of when a fetus becomes a human being is at least debatable, so I think both sides would be open to the argument. It’s not that different from gun laws. If the Second-Amendment fanatics realized that no one wants to take away guns, they might find hope in realistic gun control legislation. But no, they claim righteousness—which all but demands that they impugn the motives of the other side and attribute extremist positions to that side—and don’t even engage in a discussion or debate.

So, Mr Starkey, I’m at a loss. I overheard a conversation this morning in an IHOP between a white immigrant waitress and the Asian-American manager. She said President-elect Donald Trump was planning to take away food stamps from people who need them; he claimed he won’t be able to do that because the American system protects those entitlement programs.

She got her information from a friend who passed along alt-right “news” posts on Facebook. He didn’t say where he got his information, but he is just as uninformed.

I mean, I’m not suggesting the Democrats don’t propagate misinformation, but in this case, a whole new group of websites has popped up that claim to produce “news” when all they’re really producing is propaganda, about half of which is false.

This is the kind of thing people pass along on Facebook to be read by all their friends. If you believe stuff like this, you also most likely believe that Hillary Clinton is a Satan worshiper at the center of “an international child enslavement and sex ring,” that Chelsea Clinton isn’t Bill Clinton’s daughter, and that Bill Clinton has a love child with a black prostitute. And you definitely believe the Earth was created 8,000 years ago. That goes without saying.

My nephew, who doesn’t read much and could never pass the required test to get into college, believes all of those things. I just asked him this morning in a phone call. He also believes Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state put the nation at risk.

Now, he survives because of some of the social programs Donald Trump will almost certainly cut during his term, but he has no understanding of what may happen, simply because his information is limited to the alt-right networks that have grown in popularity on the basis of clickbait and advertising dollars.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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