Thursday, September 7, 2017

Racism and Catholicism

From The Catholic Thing:

The Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis are, rightly, regarded as deplorable modern racists. Curiously, the racism of Black supremacists/anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan Sr. (“an American religious leader, African-American activist, and social commentator” – Wikipedia) is not included. And reckless race baiting, impugning the motives of political adversaries has become common and inflammatory. In 2012, then Vice President Joseph Biden, in a campaign address to African-Americans that his opponents would “put y’all back in chains.”  Really?

Some clear instances of real racism are glossed over. Consider this recent report: “The 22-year-old man [Fredrick Demond Scott] suspected of shooting five middle-aged white men since last year – including four on south Kansas City walking trails – threatened in 2014 to shoot up a school and ‘kill all white people,’ according to court records. . . .Scott, who is black, has been charged with murder in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. . . .Police said they did not know if the shootings were racially motivated.” Really?

But racism in its more subtle forms is sometimes considered acceptable in polite company, especially when it’s rooted in condescension disguised as affection and sensitivity. So, for example, in order to be sensitive to ethnic differences, academic and even behavioral standards are lowered to be inclusive, the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” A helping hand to the downtrodden is praiseworthy, but failing to challenge the human spirit with objective moral and academic standards effectively denies human dignity.

So-called multicultural programs – and within the Church, multi-cultural ministries – are arguably examples of this soft racism based on sentimentality. There are many diversity programs such as “African American Ministry” and “Hispanic Ministry – but never “Caucasian Ministry.”  Apparently, there is no need to minister to white people by taking into account the Caucasian culture (if such exists). A better explanation is that mostly white people are in charge of Multi-Cultural Ministries, the programs reveal an unwitting and sentimental condescension – and a form of real, albeit unintentional, institutional racism.

If these programs were indeed image-of-God based, they would include a systematic identification of truly racist organizations like Planned Parenthood. After all, PP was founded by the racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger who targeted ethnic minorities for control and extinction (look it up).

This is not to suggest that attempts to understand ethnic and racial differences are optional in matters of human relations and evangelization. Our differences extend far beyond ethnic and racial diversity, and all differences bring challenges but also possibilities of enriching life. Hence, recognizing a person as a “child of God” with equal dignity includes the struggle to understand the various strains of cultural influences and practices, distinguish between the good and evil, as well as a frequent examination of conscience for failures in maintaining goodwill. Mutual understanding doesn’t come with a lumbering bureaucratic program; it comes with a generous spirit, attentiveness to the inherent dignity of others, and overall Christian – or at least Godly – formation. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

White Americans feel the burden of guilt for all the ills of the has been thrust upon them and they do not question it. When I worked with a group of adolescents a young man one said, "I am 15 years old, I had nothing to do with slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, segregation, etc., and I refuse to take the blame for any of it."