Writing about race and racism in America is always risky and potentially polarizing if you are—like me—a middle-aged white guy from the suburbs. So I am a little hesitant to weigh in with some observations about the current climate in America.
As a minister who leads a congregation composed of people from more than 30 nations (not descendants—first generation here), I have the opportunity to interact with wonderful people from around the world. I have learned much from them over the years about the challenges and hardships they have faced, both back in the old country, and trying to assimilate here and carve out their own niche of the American dream.
Being on the conservative side of all things political—with an emergent streak of libertarianism—I realize that this adds another strike against me when it comes to sharing (or in the view of some—even having) a reasonable and valid opinion on the subject of racism. Because I am a white man and a conservative, therefore I must be a racist.
Strike three is the fact that I did not vote for Barack Obama (though a significant number of my congregants surely did) and my opposition to his presidential policies has been unwavering. That seals the deal. Back to the dugout for me it is—I have no credibility. How dare I talk about this issue?
Yet, I am distressed by what I am seeing and hearing—distressed enough to speak up. As the Apostle Paul’s spirit was stirred in him while visiting Athens (Acts chapter 17) because of what he saw and heard (in that case, pervasive idolatry), my spirit is troubled because of what I see in America these days.
The problem in America is not racism. Sure, there are cases of enmity driven by bigoted ignorance, but the greatest prejudice in this country is the now systemic painting of those who oppose policy as racists—ipso facto. We have a new McCarthyism in the nation—one that paints with a broad brush. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a card-carrying racist?”
We are witnessing the “borking” of America. Robert Bork, of course, was Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court in 1987. He found himself the victim of an insidious smear campaign—that worked—and his name became a verb: "To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media.”