Monday, July 18, 2016

Personal Racism and Systemic Racism

I know that racism is a sin, that it's immoral and that it's wrong because I interpret the Bible, specifically Genesis 1-3, literally. I don't believe theistic evolution is compatible with Scripture. I don't believe Genesis is an allegory or that it's poetry. It's Moses describing the creation of the world and everything in it. And in this description he clearly states that it began with one man and one woman. And because Moses said that and because I interpret the Bible literally I have an extremely firm foundation on which to say: "No! There is no race but the human race. There is ethnicity and culture but there is, technically speaking, no distinction of race."

The secular humanist cannot argue from such an authoritative position. Even the intellectual Christian types who turn their nose to the idea of a young Earth will struggle mightily to oppose racism without leaving major holes in their logic. 

Yet racism still exists. There are still racists in America and racists in Canada and in Mexico and in Europe and Australia and Japan and in Kenya and in Madagascar. But here's the thing people are unwilling to admit: it's not just white people who are racists. 

Whaaat?? Tim! What did you just say??? How dare you, sir! How. Dare. You. 

If we accept what the Bible says about sin nature. If we accept the fact that we are dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13) and that the heart is unceasingly wicked (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 1:21 & 2:5; Ephesians 4:18, etc) then it follows that no people group is exempt from being racist. It would seem that many evangelical leaders, both black and white, think that only white people can be racist. Interestingly enough that idea itself is actually pretty racist. ONLY white people can be racist? ONLY white people are capable of such a heinous sin? 

Intellectual discussion and debate in the 21st century is so mortified and so ignominious that the now acceptable de facto argument heaved at any dissenter is "you're a racist!" Whether the topic at hand is at all related to race is entirely irrelevant. I don't even need to cite any examples because if you've disagreed with anyone in the last 5 years about anything, then you've been called a racist. 

Racism is just the exaltation of self. You believe your race is the elite race just as you believe you are the elite person. Sin nature is self-centered. We pursue our interests first. We think of ourselves first. We think the best of ourselves. Racism makes sense to the man enslaved to his flesh. This means that black people can be racist. This means white people can be racist. This means all people, without distinction, can be racist. 

But the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rejects that. One of the mysteries of the Gospel is that Jesus' blood paid for the sins of an indistinct group of people:

Revelation 5:9-10
And they *sang a new song, saying,Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
This is why Paul tells the Galatians, "there is neither Jew nor Greek..." And to the Ephesians he writes:

 Ephesians 2:14-1614 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

Racism is incompatible with the Bible. I reject racism because I accept that the Bible is true. And the Bible is true whether or not anyone accepts it as such, thus racism is wrong regardless of how many people think it's right and the Bible is wrong. 

But is there systemic racism? Are the police involved in a systemic plot to oppress a certain group of people, namely African-Americans? 

Systemic: of or relating to an entire system

This is where I really, really, really lose my cool. To suggest that there's systemic racism in the criminal justice system is to suggest that EVERY police officer is involved. Unless words don't mean anything, then that is exactly what people are saying when they say there's systemic racism in the criminal justice system. It's a bit insolent to just flippantly toss that word around. If racism is tossed around too loosely, then it's increasingly wicked to add systemic to it. That's just compounding the error and heaping condemnation and judgment upon yourself. 

You can't just say there's systemic racism without facts any more than you can say "you're a racist." What laws exist today that distinguish between races? What laws give rights to one race but not to another? What laws are illegal for some but not for others? 

The only thing I can think of that treats people differently based on race is Affirmative Action. It grants preferential treatment to people based on their race. It also implies that only white people can get jobs and get into schools on their own merits. It implies that non-whites need help simply because they're not white. They can't do it on their own. People laugh when I say this but I oppose Affirmative Action because I strongly believe that it is racist. It's like patting another adult on the head. Maybe it's just my sinful pride but I'd be ticked if I got a job just because of my skin color or ethnicity. That's pretty condescending. 

What's true, whether right or wrong, is that people get treated differently based on their appearance; not their skin color. A black man smiling in a suit is going to get treated differently than a white man covered in tattoos with saggy pants and an indifferent countenance. Seriously, which guy are you going to avoid? 

The police chief in Dallas is black. He's been an incredible leader during their whole situation. He disproves the notion of systemic racism by virtue of his position. I think he's great because he speaks hard truths. I would be racist if I rejected what he said because of his skin color even though what he said was true. What's annoying is if you agree with what he says after you rejected what white officers said....because they were saying the same things! 

Any of us can be racist. I don't for a second think anyone is immune or incapable of being racist. I fully accept that there are still racist people and some of them may be cops. But do you accept that some of these racist people are involved with the Black Lives Matter movement? Do you accept that the poor relationship between the police and the black community is not at all entirely the fault of the police? Do you accept that emotional anecdotes aren't the proper basis on which to condemn an entire system of justice ordained by God? Do you accept that you look like an incorrigible idiot when you say the police are all racists as they defend and protect the protests targeted at them? Do you even know how stupid you sound? Do you care? 

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