In a recent New York Catholic diocesan newspaper it seems I might have stirred up a hornets’ nest. In an article discussing a just instituted “Declaration against racism”, committed to by a number of religious denominations throughout the country, I offered some commentary in the letters to the editor, which was included in the following edition.
In my response to the article, I stated that racism denotes prejudice based on race; a belief that race or the color of one’s skin accounts for differences in human character or ability, and that a particular race is superior to others. But over time the term racism has also become a bludgeon that is employed by those who seek to squelch any discussion of issues, and strike fear into the hearts of anyone the accuser deems is opposed to their social and ideological agenda.
Say or do something that is disagreeable to a group or individual and you might suffer the slings and arrows of feigned outrage, and be accused of racism where in fact there is none. It has become a daily occurrence, and is often employed by liberal democrats and their minority supporters, usually against white conservatives and republicans.
I stated in the letter to the editor that I believe it would have been more appropriate had the declaration been against bigotry. The term racism for many Americans has been over used, and is often employed to slander and silence someone. It has lost its impact and social significance. When the term is used the first thing that comes into the minds of most people is a minority victim, usually black, and the villain is usually a Caucasian, who is guilty until proven innocent, but don’t expect that to happen. Yes there is indeed racism, and we should all condemn it, but due to its having been on too many occasions used as a devise to divide people and destroy reputations, it is losing all its intended meaning and effects.
Well, that’s when the crap hit the fan. I believe the newspaper for the first time had an ideological battle on its hands, and as you might have guessed all the letters to the editor that responded to my original were outraged by my insensitive and downright racially indifferent position. Because of the comments made by these defenders of the status quo, I could not sit idly by and let their uninformed and in some cases ignorant facts to go unchecked; so I responded.
MY RESPONSE: Among Christians as in society in general people will disagree, and in the case of the term racism, this could be one of those areas of disagreement. Each of the letters takes exception to my opinion that the term racism has become, for want of a better description trite; it no longer in many quarters evokes attention and interest because of overuse. The results of this is that in cases where there is real racism, that can unequivocally be proven, many people who are not informed on the particular matter will just shrugged their shoulders.
My original intent was to suggest that the term racism because of overuse has become, for many, a pariah and that perhaps the term bigotry would be more acceptable to most people. We should all keep in mind the damage and repercussions that could ensue toward anyone on the receiving end of being accused of racism; the harsh and extreme punishment that can include the savaging of one’s reputation and possibly the loss of one’s livelihood, and all because of a misspoken word, an opinion deemed unacceptable, or someone taking offense at something or other.
The fact that this issue has created this kind of response should explain its controversial nature. But to believe, as do the respondents, that the accusation of racism is used only when justifiable in these turbulent times, then I can understand why the letter writers think the way they do. They’re uninformed, ignorant or ideologically driven to just ignore the truth before them.
In the response, I went on to say, of all the readers who disagreed with my contention, one in particular asked for proof of the extreme constant usage of the term racism. Here are some of the people, places and things that from 2017 alone:
President Trump, Vice President Pence, Chief of Staff Retired General John Kelly, Republicans, conservatives, the NYPD, NYFD, Fox News, New York Post, the songs White Christmas and Jingle Bells, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch that stole Christmas, the movie It’s a wonderful life, ice cream trucks, The Little Mermaid, milk, Christopher Columbus, the movie Dunkirk, the Catholic Church and the merit based system. These ridiculous, and in many cases innocuous accusations were not made by some kook or far left wing source, but by politicians, the mainstream media, university professors, members of the clergy, activists in the minority community and Hollywood misfits.
I concluded with, for all those who took the time to respond, as I have said before, I welcome their comments and take no offense. I believe honest and open discussion is a good thing and should not be stifled. And if I were asked how to best sum up what has transpired with this issue; I believe Sir Francis Bacon, noted English philosopher, said it best “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true”.