Saturday, September 19, 2009

Racism?

Obama is right: the current fight over health insurance reform isn't about racism.

It's about a deeply entrenched patterns of big biz looking our for its own interests defended by conservative lapdog politicians.

But let's not be naive ... racism remains an ugly smear on our national character. And lest someone object that other nations deal with their own versions of it, I say: quite right!

Racism is a human flaw ... or from a Christian perspective, the largest possible kind of sin that grips humankind and promotes hideous things, not only on the personal level in terms of crude language and discrimination in the work place, but the mob mentality that is always just a few beats away from lynchings.

Racism is in all of us, in some form or other.

But certain areas of the country seem particularly affected by it. Am I unfairly picking on some sectors of the nation by saying this?

The voting record of southern states clearly reveals how fewer southern whites voted for Obama by a significant margin compared to the rest of the nation. Is a factor like this irrelevant? I think not.

What I am most saddened about is that the South is also the bedrock of fundamentalist Christianity, proponents, so they claim, of family values. Yet within their ranks there brews an evil of monstrous proportions and they are seemingly incapable of addressing it.

Whenever we look at another human being, and we see a race before we see a person, that's the stuff that quickly leads to racism, wherein we perceive the other to be less than we are, or even a threat to us, simply because of their race.

Racism is part and parcel of the American story - from our steadfast effort to wipe out Native Americans, finally "reserving" them on useless lands, to the long and bloody history of slavery and the Jim Crow decades that followed and remain emotionally in place to this very day. The folks who protested racial integration in 1954 are mostly long gone, but their sons and daughters carry the dark torch of hatred, and for many in the south, it's all dressed up in Jesus talk with Bibles carried in hand.

There's a lot more to the current story than racism, but racism is a part of it, and no small part of it to be sure.

We don't want to overestimate it, and thus miss other factors that need to be addressed.

But to ignore it does a huge disservice to those who harbor its hatred and to those who pay the price for it.

1 comment:

efenz said...

Now that I live in the south, I see this phenomenon up close and personal. While most people have the sense to keep their opinions to themselves, the sentiments still flow in the most unlikely of places, from the most unlikely of people. I don't think they have any idea they do it. The definition of "insidious"...