Call me a Progressive, but I think racism is wrong.

Here is a blurb from an article that my professor assigned for this week. The author has just made a case that our “ruling class” comprised of progressives is ruining America by proposing or supporting amendments to the Constitution. It is challenging the “Country class” to rise up and protest.

“the Country Party could lead public discussions around the country on why even the noblest purposes (maybe even Title II of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964?) cannot be allowed to trump the Constitution.”

Now, I have a problem with this. For the record, Title II of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was what “prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.”

Okay, so plain and simple, this author is saying that upholding the constitution (apparently, the concept of a constitution that can be modified is called a “living” constitution) for what it was originally (so, “dead” I guess?) is more important than adapting it to fit what history has taught us to be true (like, discrimination and society that reflects normalized racism being wrong, for example).

I understand that many people don’t want to see the things that they hold dear be taken from them. But, how can people justify the idea that oppressing others is okay just because a document that was written at the foundation of our nation didn’t say that it was wrong? Also, the foundation of our nation came at the expense of many, many (some scholars say in the millions) lives of indigenous people that were already on this continent. I wouldn’t exactly say that our forefathers had all their values straight or perfected, based on that. Humans have always been fallible; I believe that all that we produce will always be capable of improvement. Call me a progressive. I am. I do believe that.

This article introduced me to a new branch of ultra-conservatism that I had not yet met. Now, I grew up in a conservative Christian community, and then, as an undergraduate, I attended a liberal arts university for social and cultural anthropology. It’s not unusual for me to disagree with some of the perspectives being espoused from the pulpit or podium.

BUT-

Wow.

I am really surprised that I am being introduced to the most conservative views yet by the (interim) chair of my department at the same liberal arts university that I attended for undergraduate school. And yes, he maintains these views. And no, he does not consider them views. He just teaches this stuff as the one and only way that it is.

And what really annoys me is that most of my fellow students just swallow it without question. I don’t know if they don’t really read the stuff, if they agree, or if they just don’t care. But, it drives me a little crazy. I feel like shaking them all and asking them if they are even alive, sometimes. There is one other girl who has ever challenged him on anything, and it went about as well for her as it did for me (he says he’s right, cites a few studies, and then declares himself the winner of the argument).

For all his crazy views, he does keep me coming back to class, well-informed, and ready to disagree. At least he cares. That, I get. Maybe my classmates don’t offend me with their views, but at least he has views. I respect that, at least.

Now, I will just say this. This branch of ultra-conservative thinking often tries to appeal to Christians by using fear tactics. This author talks about the government trying to steal our rights to worship our God, and yes, I know that many of us have felt chastised or belittled at one point or another for our faith. But consider this: “there is no fear in perfect love, but perfect fear casts out love.”

I do not think that we should hinge our thinking on fear–especially at the expense of oppressing others or believing that it’s okay to oppress others.

Furthermore, an “us versus them” mentality based on fear is a hallmark of torturers as is the devaluation and discrimination of another group of people. Ideologies that consume people and make them believe that the “other” is the enemy causes people to lose sight of humanity (Staub, 1990).

Anyway, there is a lot more that I could write, but frankly, I’ve heard that not many people read blogs on holiday weekends.

*The article to which I am referring is accessible here.

*Staub, E. 1990. The psychology and culture of torture and torturers. Chapter 4. In Psychology and Torture. Hemisphere Publishing Co. 49-76.

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