“Anyone who judges by the group is a pea wit.”
Gettysburg: A Film by Ron Maxwell
The brutal and execrable killing of nine people in a historic Charleston, South Carolina church by a young man who knew precisely what he was doing and why, and who knows his own mind has nothing to do with perceived assaults on Christianity and Christians in the United States.
Yet the conservative media in this country keeps on pressing along that line despite clear and convincing evidence the shooter hated black people—even their mere presence in the United States, and aimed squarely at starting a racial civil war.
Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum has been saying publicly that this shooting is part of a wave of persecution against Christians in the United States. Yes, Atheist intellectuals have been attacking the faith with their words, thoughts, and beliefs. And most liberals here don’t like the extremely narrow-minded and xenophobic Bible-thumping, Bible-belt ideology. But there is no persecution of Christians in practicing their faith. In point of fact some seventy percent of Americans either loosely identify with Christianity non-institutionally, or in specific practice of their faith, tied to one of many denominations that are present in America.
Why such emphasis on the attack as being on the Christian faith itself?
For most, but far from all, white Caucasian political conservatives, it is the most easily visible sidestep so they may not have to face the reality of racism in America at its most virulent.
From Trayvon Martin to Ferguson to this violent assault it is the nation’s inability to come to terms with the core issue with which we’ve been unsuccessfully dealing through our entire history as both a people, and a representative democracy.
It is also time to say to them that playing the race card is not a pejorative, but something fully appropriate as black Americans time-and-again tell us with full truth that this problem has never, ever gone away. It may have mutated away from slavery, then from segregation and heavy discrimination legally via government, yet the thing itself remains in full force.
It remains in the stereotypes of what it means to be non-white in America. We still base our views of someone on the degree of whiteness of their skin—the amount of melatonin they possess, and not the content of their character and behavior.
Racial stereotyping has much to do with how blacks are treated on the streets of the nation versus white people who are in the very same situations. Black and white social outcomes are poles apart, and it is all bad for blacks, Latinos, Muslims, First Americans, Asians, and the like. This is the very essence of white privilege. It is tied directly to the white supremacist ideology that came to America with Columbus in 1492. White Europeans—Anglo-Saxons, basically were having their way with the Earths non-white population. They still do to a far greater extent than should be permitted by any civilized people.
Were we to judge all white people as being racist we would just as seriously err as we do commonly in judging non-whites. However, we cannot ignore the stark outcomes facing non –white people, blacks and Native-Americans in particular.
The fundamental problem is that much of white America still judges by the group and the groups they most fear, and attaches stereotypically, all sorts of faults, evils, and undesirable qualities to blacks and their brothers and sisters of non-whiteness.
The nine killed in Charleston were all at a Bible study session within a black church that is historic in the black struggle for equality and acceptance. The victims don’t have enough bad things to say about them in order to justify their violent deaths.
Michael Brown had been in some trouble as a juvenile, and did shop-lift at a nearby convenience store shortly before his murder. The Ferguson case illustrates what happens whenever “one of them” is killed. There is a rush from white America to justify the killing by finding as many faults in character and behavior of the victim to conceal what really occurred there.
A police officer badly mishandled his contact with a black man who had been walking too much on the street. Stereotypically, he and his police department nearly all white, ascribe blackness to laziness, criminality, low intelligence, and outright evil.
When the United States goes to war as does any nation, the enemy soldiers and people must have their humanity stripped completely away from them to ease the way to kill them and subdue them.
Domestically, right here, right now, it is the very same method used to permit ill-treatment of non-whites and maintain some measure of white supremacy. It is the potential loss of white supremacy that troubles the hearts and minds of white America.
They correctly see the growing racial diversity of the United States as a threat to the white privilege—the far better life outcomes they have enjoyed to this point. The shooter himself directly pointed to these things in conversations with a close childhood friend, with others that knew him, and with what he has said to prosecutors and police.
The glaring error here is that American freedom and liberty is not a zero-sum game. No one has to be given special advantage. We all just need a fair chance. The principle most identified with the United States is that “all men are created equal” by God or as their natural state of being. Our mission as a nation is to let that principle flow with abundance on every single one of us.
How light or dark someone’s skin is has nothing to do with their character or behavior.
In mid-century America in the Five-Points neighborhood of New York City, it was white Irish immigrants who made that inner city place possibly the most dangerous and vile neighborhood to live in or walk through. The only difference was that the Irish were white people. Once they worked to better themselves out of grinding poverty and real oppression they did not have to carry the plethora of racial stereotypes with them. Non-white America continues to have to do it with far worse outcomes to them as a group. This ignores the real goodness that people in their condition always possess.
With still another anniversary of the founding of this great nation and its guiding principles of freedom and democracy, contained within that Constitution creating such a marvel of a Republic, we need to stop judging people by the group. For to the extent we do, we are giving evidence to others that in our reasoning, intellect, and soul we are nothing but a pea-wit.