02 July 2010

Reprint: On Conservatism and Race

This didn't make the blog last year, but it should have, and so it will. This was originally posted as a Facebook note on July 14, 2009, in the wake of the disastrous election of Audra Shay as YRNF Chair. A year later, living as I do in Senator Jake Knotts district, it seems just as fresh today.

OK, so I hate having to write this at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, but it is what it is. For a kid who grew up in a house with a Biblical worldview (and thus without so much as a hint of racism), this issue is nearly alien to me. Yet I am confronted with it, and find I need to write it out.

Within the past two months, we have witnessed a meltdown within the Republican Party on the issue of race. I have multiple friends and acquaintances who have made unfortunate Facebook comments that have found their way into the media. Always there was some underlying excuse – look at the political climate, or there was some other subcontext for the comments, whether the left’s hateful treatment of Sarah Palin, the Obama Administration’s policies on spending and taxes, those on the evolution side of the creation debate, or Walmart’s decision to unionize. Whatever excuses are made, the underlying racial nature of the comments made remains inexcusable.

Folks, if we are going to reclaim the mantle of leadership in this nation, there is no room for this sort of behavior. “Conservative” does not refer to bringing some sort of single-ethnicity rule, or the exclusion of those who look different from us; rather, it refers to “conserving” the intent of our Founding Fathers when they wrote:
“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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

All are created equal – by Almighty God, and given rights that we today still work to secure. Governments should, Conservatives believe, exist to protect those rights and our citizen’s lives – and do little else. Liberty flourishes when government power is constrained. Economies flourish when governments tax little and spend little and Liberty is allowed to grow. Free peoples prosper; enslaved peoples do not.

And yet I read this morning about the “permanence of racism in the American experience.” I’ve seen racism come from both sides of the American ideological divide, from the left-wing attacks on Michelle Malkin's Asian ethnicity, to the anti-Semitism found on the fringes of the right and left, to the unhinged remarks of Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, to what J.C. Watts condemned as the “race-baiting poverty pimps,” to what President Bush termed the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” to the Facebook comments so many of us have had to deal with in the last three months.

My friends, let this not remain. If we are to continue to build a civil society on the principles our Founders laid out – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, rights from God, to all, protected by government – we must stop the ethnic divisiveness and hatred that plagues so much of the rest of our world.

The Apostle Paul makes plain in his epistles that the Christ-follower must have no place for racism or ethnic hatred. Those who in the past have abused Scripture to excuse racism miss the plain words of his letters to Galatia or Ephesus: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female: you are all one in Christ Jesus… One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and in you all.” Not divisiveness, unity. If indeed “Christ is in us, the hope of glory,” we have no room for divisions on such trivial matters as the place of our birth or the tone of our skin.

I hope that we Republicans will remember this and learn from the mistakes of the first half of this year. We cannot capture the attentions of the public, nor convince the public that we are deserving of a return to national leadership, if we cannot also get past the racism of yesteryear that has rightly and strongly been rejected by the vast majority of the American public. Our message of limited government, liberty, and personal responsibility cannot be heard if it is drowned out by controversy over who should be allowed to enjoy those blessings of liberty.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor; I hope that you will take these words to heart and to work in your own community; I hope that you will share this with others.

And I hope that God will richly bless each and every one of you as you seek to follow His heart and do His will.