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Monday, March 24, 2008

Racism In America?

I present the following fully realizing that it may cause me to be tarred and feathered by some. If so, it will not be the first time and I doubt the last.

America is not a racist country! Are some of our citizens racist? Without a doubt, YES! Racism is no respecter of color or culture. Has America had race problems? YES, without a doubt. We are a country that embraced slavery by acknowledging it in our Constitution. At that point and right on through the Civil War most white people thought black people were inferior. Even Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator, thought so. The rhetoric of the time period, North and South is appalling! The "Jim Crow" laws in the South that systematically deprived black men, women, and children of their dignity is a shameful heritage that we should all mourn and regret.

I have been watching Ken Burns' documentary on WWII. Two of my children purchased it for me on my birthday. The Marine Corp. did not accept blacks until well after the war started and then only allowed two divisions to go into combat. Of course they distinguished themselves for courage and bravery. In all of the Armed Forces segregation was the rule. Every black company had white commanders. This was also true of the few Japanese units that fought in the European theater.

My Dad has a book, something like a Year Book, that chronicles all the men that served in WWII from the county he grew up in, Henderson County Texas. Even in this book the segregation is apparent. The first pages of the book are filled with the white men that served. Then at the end of the book in a separate section it is mentioned that these men of color also aided in the war effort and then their pictures and biographical sketches were given. "Aided in the war effort" This is shameful. They did not simply aid in the war effort. They fought and died and spilt their blood for liberty. For a country that, at least in the South, was depriving them of their dignity.

I still cringe when I see pictures of buses from that time period that identify the back of the bus for blacks and the front of the bus for whites. I shudder when I see pictures of the sign over water fountains that read "White Only" and "Black Only".

This brings me to the point at hand. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. I would never vote for Obama. Not because he is black but because he is a socialist. If he were a conservative I would not care if he was pink, I would vote for him.

I suppose that most of us have heard the comments of his Pastor. Quite frankly when I heard them I was appalled. I was distraught that there are people spewing that kind of bigotry and racism from the pulpit. The comments that I heard were things with which I could never agree.

Then I heard someone say something and I thought how true. This man preached for 40 years. We get 10 minutes of 40 years of preaching and the man is thoroughly condemned. Think about 40 years of preaching. If he just preached on average of twice a week for an average of 45 minutes a message that would be 187,200 minutes of preaching. That is 3,120 hours of preaching. That is 130 days of preaching 24 hours a day straight through. I would say that is a pretty small percentage of all that he said. If there was much more that was equally inflammatory no doubt we would know about it for I am sure there are people with nothing better to do than to pour over this man's sermons looking for the kind of hatred and racism contained in these few minutes.

As a preacher I would hate for someone to pour over my records and pull out ten minutes of 17 years of sermons. If some one did this I am quite certain that could make me look like a raging lunatic. . . . but, in all honesty, would that be fair?

Obama answered for his relationship with his Pastor. I actually listened to the entire speech. To be honest when he finished I thought it was one of the best speeches I have ever heard on the state of race relations in our country. There was a dose of honesty about the present realities that was refreshing. But then.......I started hearing the Sean Hannity's of the world and I thought well maybe I missed something. The speech has been critiqued into oblivion. His political opposites have looked for hidden meaning, suspicious turns of phrase, and complained about what he did not say. He has set himself to try and explain. I heard a snippet on the radio last night of an interview he did on a Philadelphia radio station where he was trying to explain what he meant by his white grandmother expressing fear of passing black men on the street. In the course of the explanation he said she was a "typical white person". When I heard that I thought that is not fair. That is stereotyping. And of course the radio personality I was listening to was making the most of it. Alright already!!

He will now be in a position of having to explain what he meant by "typical white person". The point is for those who want to defeat him and his political ambitions he will never be able to say anything to silence them. If I were him I would quit trying. Well, there you go I am helping a Democrat!

Well, I went over to the the National Review Online expecting to find several articles still castigating him and his Pastor over these 10 minutes of grossly mischaracterizing the United States and actually found someone who was expressing what I was thinking.

If you still have a ear to hear I would recommend you go over and read the piece by Mark Goldblatt.

I know some will think I have become a raging liberal, well its not so I am not even crazy about McCain. One thing I do know. My ancestors were never slaves, at least not in this country (we never owned any to my knowledge either). We were generally poor white people. My Grandparents and Parents were never subject to "Jim Crow" laws. We were white! And to be quite honest I am ashamed of how my white ancestry viewed black men, women, and children.

I am thankful for the black people I know who unlike Jeremiah Wright understand that this is 2008 and not 1858 or 1958 and they have refused to let the memory of the bondage and oppression of their ancestry hold them in bondage to bitterness. Especially against a generation who like myself regret that slavery and systematized oppression ever existed and was protected by law in this land of the free and home of the brave.
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