By now it has become conventional wisdom that our country is dominated by a severe malignancy called “systemic racism.” This is an erudite term intended to convey the user’s mastery of a complex and profound subject, and is commonly used by leftist politicians, academics and media, which means it is an indisputable fact beyond question. But is it really true? Or, is it another example of groupthink or of the old propaganda technique known as the “big lie”? Leftists think we suffer from systemic racism because that is the only thing it can be; there can be no other possible explanation because they despise this country and it enables them to engage in moral preening and virtue signaling, which has become their new religion.
On the other hand, I submit that the United States is one of the least racist countries in the entire world, perhaps the least racist in all the world. It is difficult to disregard and overcome demographic identities. The old saying “birds of a feather flock together” is not idle talk. It is true and it is natural. It is true because it is natural. Culturally and racially homogeneous societies invent artificial differences when there are no natural ones. Conscious and determined hard work are required to overcome prejudice against those who are different, for whatever reason or in whatever way.
July 4 reminds us, during this summer of discontent, that this country’s founding premise is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Professor Seymour Lipset rightfully called ours “the first new nation” because of this.
Equality before the law is a legal principle based on a spiritual premise derived from Judeo-Christian theology: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” God created us all. He loves us all, equally, and offers everyone equal redemption if we accept it.
Accepting God’s grace and living accordingly have been a long and difficult process, requiring much sacrifice and hard work. For centuries, tyranny and violence were commonplace but our ancestors began taming the prince at Runnymede in 1215. This continued through time until 1776-1781 and 1812-1815 when they threw off their colonial masters, but it is one thing to fight to free yourself. That advances your own self interest. It is, however, quite another to fight, to sacrifice and to die by the thousands to free other people from bondage, people you don’t even know, because it is the right thing to do.
This is what the United States of America, under the leadership of Lincoln and Grant, did 1861-1865. This was the first time such a thing ever happened in all known history. We did it again in World Wars I and II, and Korea, and the Cold War. Today it is only the “good ole USA” that stands between freedom and Chinese, Russian and Jihadist tyranny. As President Kennedy said, “We will pay any price, bear any burden for the survival and success of liberty.” And we do it gladly.
Much progress has been made. When I grew up in Virginia in the 1950s, I never attended an integrated school a single day. When my children grew up here in the 1980s, they never attended a segregated school a single day. Most Americans get along well with one another. We work together, attend school together, go to ballgames, concerts and church together, eat out and play sports together. This is routine.
A few are not good citizens and create problems, and some of these are police officers. The answer is not to abolish police departments and surrender our country to anarchists, as leftists advocate, but to get rogue cops off the streets. The problem is not systemic racism. It is political cowardice and incompetence. In addition, research shows the single most important variable in police-civilian interaction is civilian behavior; if the civilian is uncooperative and belligerent, trouble usually follows.
I utterly detest the Confederacy and everything associated with it. I support moving the Lee statue to the cemetery, but the resolution recently adopted by the Murray City Council containing several references to “systemic racism” offends me. It is an insult to every good citizen of our city and county. To accuse every American of European ancestry of racism is a breath-taking overgeneralization. Councilmembers, if you think these words earned you lots of bonus points, you are sadly mistaken.
Winfield H. Rose taught political science at Murray State University for 39 years and is now retired. He is active in the Calloway County GOP, but speaks here as an individual and not as a representative of either of these organizations.