Beit Gamaliel

The House of Gamaliel: The confluence of knowledge and faith.

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Inevitable Racism

I think in reality everybody is racist. Liberals can get high and mighty and act as if they are the only ones in the world who have no preconceived ideas about races. But in reality it really is a bunch of crap.

The issue of this week highlighted a prominent football player who laughed about a woman talking football. While this isn’t a race issue, it is another bias and form of prejudice based in gender. Cam Newton is not a bad guy. Most likely he respects his wife, his mother, his grandmother, his daughters, and every other female that is respectable in his life. But in that moment, his upbringing presented a dichotomy in his mind between what he was observing and what he was taught culturally. That does not make him bad, evil, sexist, or anything else that is horrible and despicable.

I remember as a child in the 1970’s living in fear. I lived in fear constantly. And my fear was cultivated in public schools. In public schools in the early 1970’s we learned about a country referred to as the USSR, or the United Soviet Socialist Republic. We now know it as Russia.

In the 1970’s Russians were communists, and communist lived behind what was called the “Iron Curtain.” And the horror stories that flowed out of communist Russia were those of disregard, disarray, and a mindset that was bent on destruction of ALL that resembled democracy and world domination. And those fears fed me day and night. I would lay in bed worrying that one day I would face war against the Russians. To me, Russians didn’t have faces. They were just people who were more like animals than humans–a warring nation. That’s what public education taught me.

Was I a racist? No! I feared Russians! And we had EVERY RIGHT to fear them!

So the 10-year-old boy grows up to become an adult. And whenever I hear the name Russia or Russians my ears perk up. Despite the glimmer of hope that President Gorbachev brought in the 1980’s, the shadow of the KGB and the hard-line conservatives still lingers. And there’s always that haunting thought in the back of every 50-year-old man that possibly the Russians are not trustworthy. And after last year‘s elections, those fears apparently are true. So in the end, I am racist. I think Russians are untrustworthy.

In this regard, then, we can see that racism is terminal, or temporal. Terminal racism is often seen in areas like Ireland were the conflict between Catholics and Protestants is centuries old so deeply embedded, that children often times do not understand any of the issues, but are just taught to fight. Often times we even forget what we’re fighting for.

Temporal racism is that racism that is seen in a generation but that eventually wanes when cultural, political and/or other social influences fade. There was a generation of Americans that hated Germans because of what Germans represented. But in the generations following the world war those ideas swayed and we no longer hated Germans. Germany no longer has the reputation it had under ego-maniac leadership, and, therefore, racism against Germans is no longer prevalent. Human history is a history of temporal racism. Racism that arises between people groups over borders, resources, land, women, and just about any other silly issue. But that racism could lead to generations of hatred and discord. We see it in ancient scripts of wars between tribes and people. Eventually, the hatred would temper and a new reality would be clarified. From the Persians, to the Vandals, and Visigoths, to Attila the Hun and the Anglos and Saxons. Once locked in segregation, now joined in bio-physical unity.

The debate today on racism in America is an interesting one. I think that it is clear that there are races that do not receive fair and equitable treatment by some in our communities. But, in reality, American citizens largely do not see race. But erasing a sordid past will not pave a road to unity. Unity must begin today, despite our sordid past. We must set our minds to disregard what we were as humans, and focus on what we can become together as humans. And that transcends any flag and any national anthem.

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