“Cure” for Racism?

In the wake of the horrific massacre of nine people – studying the Bible, no less – in the black church in Charleston, President Obama lamented that America is “not cured” yet of racism. He is right.
Indeed, there are many other maladies of which America and the world itself are not yet “cured.” We are not cured of Jew hatred, or bias against Christians or people of faith. We are not cured of homicide and theft, of robbery, burglary and assault. We are not cured of evil, hatred, slander or gossip. We are not cured of malice and impropriety, of adultery and immorality. We are not cured of foolish talk and self-destructive behavior. We are not cured of mental illness. All those maladies still exist but the good thing is, like racism, they exist in very small groups and sometimes just in demented or decadent individuals.
We are also not yet cured of demagogues who cannot lead or inspire but can incite – and proffer abundant platitudes disguised as wisdom. Is a cure possible for any of this? Of course not.
The answer is so simple that one wonders why such risible statements are uttered in the first place. The great conservative thinker Russell Kirk once wrote: “the perfection of society is impossible, all human beings being imperfect.” Of course America is not yet “cured” of racism; no country in the world, no civilization that has ever existed has been “cured” of any evil doctrine, deed or temptation. That is the essence of the human dilemma. Why the President should think otherwise is a mystery, unless he believes that – since he can slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet – he can also eliminate bad thoughts and evil behavior from the human race.
Only perfect people can create a perfect society, and since there are no perfect people, it stands to reason that there is no perfect society. To the liberal mind, that is unconscionable and unacceptable, and must be a source of great vexation. It is also responsible for a lack of perspective, an absence of deliberation and a foolish rush to judgment about American society.
Is America a racist society? Certainly not, although there are obviously a small number of people who hate blacks or Jews or Christians or whites or anyone else. The proof of the contrary is in the response of all Americans to these brutal homicides: universal condemnation of the murderer. I even heard rumors that he was denounced as an extremist by the skinheads and other white supremacist groups –and that is saying something. Everyone I have heard considers the murderer to be a monster, obviously deranged but not clinically so or he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions. But he can’t be normal. No normal person could think like him and certainly not act like him. The sooner he is executed, the quicker our society can be cleansed.
And the reaction of the church members was uplifting in its grace and nobility. Those who hastened to forgive were acting in accordance with Christian doctrine, but I hope that he is not forgiven enough that he escapes a speedy execution (or at least execution; nothing in the American judicial system is speedy).
The widespread denunciation of his heinous acts speaks well of American society but unsurprisingly so. Sure, slavery was the great evil of America’s founding, but the American people are also the only people in world history to fight a bloody civil war – still the bloodiest war in American history – in order to free slaves. That was unprecedented and unduplicated, and reports of the virtues of such a nation filtered to Eastern Europe in the last third of the 19th century and sparked the great immigration to the United States, especially of Jews. This is what they heard: brother fought against brother in a war whose primary cause and consequence was the abolition of slavery. Let that sink in. G-d liberated us from Egypt; the Egyptians didn’t fight each other so Jewish slaves could go free.
As a result, people flocked – and still do – to a country that guaranteed freedom and liberty, that attempted to share its values with the world, and that constantly wrestles with the morality of its actions. How many other countries are like that –that Obama should bemoan that America is not perfect?
There is something both odious and unctuous about the President’s remarks, as if his disappointment that America is not Utopia changes anything about human nature or solves any problem. Of course America is not Utopia. Only Utopia is Utopia, and Utopia doesn’t exist in reality.
What is truly remarkable is absence of racism in American society, notwithstanding the reprehensible homicides of a lone gunman and haters that exist here and there. It is a particularly hollow claim in a country in which wealthiest entertainers and athletes are black, and where the most powerful politicians are black – including a president elected twice by a nation who, in his words, has racism in its DNA. And this from a man who spent 20 years in the pews of a church in which he regularly heard sermons from a racist black preacher. Is there a racist politician today who can get elected to any office, even on a municipal level? But as Shelby Steele wrote, asserting the claim of ongoing racism furnishes an ongoing “entitlement to power.”
Are there people who don’t like one ethnic group or another? Yes. There is not a country on earth that contains perfect people who love and appreciate everyone. That is not to say that hatred is built into the DNA of mankind – everyone has free choice to be loving and tolerant or spiteful and narrow-minded – but Obama might as well decry the continued existence of tornadoes and hurricanes in a nation that could put a man on the moon. He might as well lament the persistence of poverty in an affluent nation (wait; he does, hence his drive for redistribution of wealth).
It is a shame, but an unsurprising one, that Obama chose a moment in which he could have united Americans in shared grief and politicized it with complaints first about gun control (as if there are no laws already in place outlawing the murderer’s possession and use of that firearm; actually, had some of the churchgoers packed some legal heat that night – as is common in shuls in Israel – the event might have had a different ending) and then about racism (as if what happened reflected a societal flaw rather than the work of one evil loser). Obama’s error was underscored in last week’s sedra, the query of Moshe and Aharon to G-d: “Shall one man sin, and You will be angry at the entire congregation?” (Bamidbar 16:22)
The anguished search for and failure to find Utopia engenders an interesting conclusion noted here in the past and verified by a host of social scientists. Conservatives tend to be happier people than liberals. Because liberals expect perfection, they are irritated by the foibles of human nature. Nothing is ever good enough and the liberal is therefore pained by the deficiencies of mankind, but always pained, as mankind is always deficient in something. Conservatives are more realistic, more willing view the present as satisfactory, if not even satisfying, and less likely to live in a constant state of discontent.
That and more explain the tendencies and clumsy rhetoric of the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. But even his missteps should not distract us from the epic sadness in Charleston, and the crime that touched every person of faith. The refinement of the survivors and the victims’ families, and the support shown from every quarter of this country, shows the elementary decency of Americans of all backgrounds and all walks of life.
Even the disgruntled musings of the President in perpetual political mode cannot nullify that essential truth.

16 responses to ““Cure” for Racism?

  1. “Sure, slavery was the great evil of America’s founding, but the American people are also the only people in world history to fight a bloody civil war – still the bloodiest war in American history – in order to free slaves…”

    You can look at this another way. Only in America was it necessary to fight a bloody civil war. Most countries were able to end slavery with the stroke of a pen, but only in America was slavery so entrenched that it required a war to abolish it.

    What do other countries think about this? Do historians in Britain, France, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain often say, “It’s great that we abolished slavery, but its too bad we didn’t fight a bloody civil war over it like the Americans. That’s a legacy that should make them proud. It’s a mark of shame for us that we merely proclaimed the abolition of slavery and had it accepted by all our citizens as the new law of the land. If only we could have had half our country rise in rebellion in the process. Too bad.”

    • How appropriate it is that your comment personifies the liberal that does not have the ability to recognize what an incredible event the civil war was and to merely lament at the shortcomings of man that it manifested

    • Patented nonsense. There is nothing more taboo in this country than racism. The problem is that there are too many people who try to profit from alleged racism, using it as a red herring to shake down people and companies, blackmail them, and pocket the spoils.

      The current occupier of the White House engages in such demagoguery because in his heart he IS THE racist. It is evident from his speeches, policies, and actions that he rejects the basic values of this nation and has sought to bring power to those who would like to see our nation become a socialist state where everyone is subjugated to their whims and policies.

    • None of the countries you cite were known as major slaveholders, but almost all fought bloody civil wars, and over matters of lesser importance. Be careful whom you praise.
      Oddly, you seem to have guilt over America’s slave past. I don’t. My ancestors were being persecuted in Eastern Europe while America had a slave problem. So I don’t take it personally.
      – RSP

      • “None of the countries you cite were known as major slaveholders, but almost all fought bloody civil wars, and over matters of lesser importance. Be careful whom you praise.”

        Thank you. That is exactly the point I was trying to make, but I think you just said it much better. Only in America was slavery so entrenched that it required a Civil War to eradicate. As you say, it’s not like the concept of a Civil War was unfamiliar to these other countries. They simply didn’t need a Civil War to abolish slavery because they weren’t major slaveholders like we were.

        To my surprise, we agree on the core of my argument. So allow me to restate the challenge. If America had abolished slavery – through a contentious, argumentative, painful, but ultimately political process – and the South had grudgingly accepted the new law and slaves went free and the Civil War did not happen because it wasn’t needed, would you feel more or less pride in your country’s heritage?

        (p.s. I am curious to hear you address that question directly, but my heart isn’t really in this argument anymore. It’s still racing from the events of the past week. Stable health insurance, marriage equality for my friends and family, Dylan Roof’s failed race war, Confederate flags under scrutiny, Barack Obama’s exalting speech in Charleston, etc. Debating the past can only get you so far when the present is so absorbing.)

  2. #1 Article Refuting the BDS Movement from Aish HaTorah:

  3. #3 Article Refuting the BDS Movement from Aish HaTorah:

    • Mr. Cohen, Obama must have been reading your comments.


      • Yes it is a serious post. ( No room to reply to your question above.) Anyone who for years was a friend of that racist Wright and attended his church diatribes regularly – and you’re asking me if it’s a serious post? G-d bless our nation and woe to those who consider it biased against anybody’s background or culture because it’s light years from accurate and only an attempt to incite discord.

  4. #5 Article Refuting the BDS Movement from Aish HaTorah:

    Boo Hoo Palestine by Pat Condell, 2014 October 20


    Despite the recent enthusiasm we have seen in the West for recognizing the non-existent country of Palestine, the much-vaunted Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, that has no chance of leading to peace; because the Palestinians, or to use the correct term, Arabs, have proven beyond any doubt that they are not negotiating in good faith, that they cannot be trusted to keep their word, and that any agreement they sign will be worthless.

    They initiate all the violence in the region, and they break every cease-fire, because they do not want negotiations or a Two-State-Solution, and they are not even keeping it a secret. They keep telling us: they want a One-State-Solution with no Israel and no Jews; and they pledged to never stop fighting until that day comes; both Hamas and the supposedly-moderate Fatah [PLO]; and we have no excuse for not listening. But we will find one, as usual, won’t we?

    Any agreement they do sign will be simply a stepping-stone to a better vantage-point from which to attack and destroy Israel; every Arab knows this is true. So any future Palestinian State will be like Gaza is today: a racist apartheid state, devoid of Jews on pain-of-death; and a launch-pad for daily rocket-attacks on Israeli civilians, until the Israelis finally lose patience and retaliate, and the world condemns them as Nazis.

    The pattern has been set:
    Palestinian terrorism is always rewarded, and that it why it never stops.
    And we in the West are helping to bankroll it; we can’t throw enough money their way. So much money that the leaders of Hamas, supposedly former refugees, are personal billionaires, while the people they claim to represent live in misery.

    Killing Jews for Allah is very lucrative, because it is popular with the rest of the world; if it were not popular, it would not be lucrative.

    And this despite the fact that Israel has NEVER initiated violence against any of its neighbors; it has only ever responded to it. The Israeli Army takes more care than any other to minimize civilian casualties, and everybody knows this; but this is never a feature of any news report, because it sends the wrong message; it tells the truth.

    But despite the media’s criminal dishonesty and bias, many people are now beginning to see for themselves, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to admit it, yet, that Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is root-cause of this problem; it is the poison at the heart of it, and until it is confronted and dealt with, honestly and effectively, by the rest of us, including especially the media, the Two-State-Solution will remain self-congratulatory fantasy of stupid Western politicians.

    But something else that really does not help the emotional temperature of the situation is the fact that the Arabs are clearly jealous of Jews. And with good reason; they can see the disproportionate contributions that Jews have made to human advancement, in contrast to their own contribution, which is virtually nil. And they can see what a civilized and prosperous society the Jews have created in their midst, in contrast to their own racist, misogynist and deeply ignorant culture, with its childish honor-shame culture, which has no honor, and of which they ought to be ashamed.

    Also, the Jews have given the Arabs a tidy spanking, several times, when attacked unprovoked, despite being heavily outnumbered. It seems that everything the Jews do, they do better. No wonder the Arabs are jealous.
    It must infuriate them that they very people their infallible religion [Islam] depicts as inferior, as apes and pigs, have turned out to be clearly superior; that has got to hurt!

    And it must infuriate them to know that the world is openly patronizing them by giving them all this unwarranted attention and money. We all know they do not deserve it, and if they were measured by the standards we apply to everyone else, they would not get it. But we hold Arabs to lower standards; we expect less of them, because we are racists.

    And they are so stupid and self-indulgent, they milk it for all it is worth, and they end up expecting less of themselves, a lot less, which is exactly what they get. And it is what we all get, when show yet again, that they cannot be trusted, by breaking yet another cease-fire, by attacking innocent women and children in the most cowardly way, and are not held to account for it; but on the contrary, are rewarded, yet again.

    That is why this conflict is self-perpetuating. That is why the Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, and for once, we in the eternally guilt-ridden West really can’t blame ourselves.

    Pat Condell is an atheist who was born in Ireland around 1950 CE and raised in England as a Roman Catholic and educated in Church of England schools.

    *** THE END ***

  6. Are Jews repeating the mistake of the Ancient Romans?

    “Social status [in ancient Rome] was defined
    in part by the food served at a banquet.

    The more numerous, varied and expensive the
    dishes a host served, the more impressive
    he seemed to his guests.

    It was not unusual, therefore, for some
    people to spend more than they could afford
    on food for such occasions, causing them
    to go into debt.”

    The Roman Empire, chapter 3, page 35,
    by Don Nardo, year 2006 CE.