One problem with discussing race with white people (or people in general, actually), is that they take they view that as long as they are personally nice to a small group of black people, they are not being racist, even if they support political policies that disenfranchise black people as a group. To them, racism only exists among a small subset of people that one could call “lifestyle racists”: Klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist heathens, etc. Such a view ignores the fact that “lifestyle racists” are relatively rare in 2015, and most of them don’t live in mainstream society, because these delicate snowflakes can’t fathom the possibility of having to endure even casual contact with those they deem “lesser.” This view also ignores the fact that for a long time, the Klan was considered to be a fairly respectable organization that had the tacit support of the white population.
Last Sunday, while addressing Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church, a black church in rural South Carolina, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee asserted, “I hear people say we’ve got racial problems. We don’t have a skin problem in this country, we have a sin problem in this country.” In a 1997 speech commemorating the desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High, Huckabee expanded on this “sin not skin” notion by saying:
Government can do some things, but only God can change people’s hearts. Government can put us in the same classrooms, but government can’t make classmates go home and be friends when school is out.
Government can make sure the doors of every public building are open to everyone. Government can ensure that we share schools and streets and lunch counters and buses and elevators and theaters, but let us never forget that only God can give us the power to love each other and respect each other and to share life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I imagine that these statements went over quite well, given that they were uttered in the Bible Belt, where people of all races love god-talk, but they’re quite silly, given that 1. Christianity and racism have aided and abetted each other throughout the centuries 2. prejudice surrounding skin color most certainly is the problem, not “sin.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said (or is supposed to have said) that, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.” Regardless of who actually made this statement, it’s a good rule of thumb to live by. Unfortunately, it seems that Americans are increasingly demanding the right to have their own facts, even if they fly in the face of reality.
Yesterday, the always excellent Bill Lindsey asked why the business community in Arkansas didn’t come out against that state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law as it did in other states where similar legislation was proposed (see http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2015/02/quote-for-day-itsnotover-backlash-is.html). I wrote a response to this question on the post itself, but I want to expand my thoughts on this matter into a full post.
As of yesterday, same-sex marriage was officially go in Alabama; at least, in some parts of it:
As I predicted last week, the larger cities in Alabama are issuing licenses to same-sex couple, while the vast majority — 52 out of the state’s 67 counties — are refusing. It’s unclear whether the judges in the dissenting counties are trying to be obstinate on purpose or whether they’re just being cautious after Chief Justice Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore ordered Alabama judges not to give same-sex couples marriage licenses. While it’s highly unlikely that Moore actually has the authority to defy a federal order, I doubt that Alabama’s rural judges want to stick their necks out on gay marriage, even if they personally favor it, simply because most of their constituencies oppose it.
This is another unpublished essay that I thought needed to see the light of day, rather than be hidden away on my hard drive. It’s not about religion in the institutional sense, but about various aspects of Southern identity, which tends to function as a civic religion anyway. This essay goes with my previous posts on Southern Agrarianism and racism, but tackles the issue from a more personal perspective and includes a few suggestions for future action.
As a traditional supporter of all things ancien regime, the Catholic church has always had an ambivalent relationship with industrialization, capitalism, and urbanization. The growth of cities creates a literate middle class, a group which invariably demands a greater role in determining the trajectory of their own lives, whether in the spiritual or temporal realm. While the hierarchy theoretically prefers a laity that is characterized by an informed orthodoxy, the truth is that a superstitious and illiterate populace residing in the countryside is much easier to deal with, since they don’t make the same intellectual or economic demands as educated city-dwellers.