In 20 minutes of casual news scanning on just one network, I found five news items dealing with race baiters – those who see racism in everything. They appear to want to rewrite U.S. history emphasizing white oppression. Here is what I learned.
At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, students, notably the Black Law Students Association, are preparing to sue the university for violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, specifically Titles IV and VI, for refusing to tear down a statue of a Confederate soldier known as “Silent Sam.” They claim that he “violates anti-discrimination laws by fostering a racially hostile learning environment.” Actually “Silent Sam” is a 1913 memorial to Confederate University of North Caroline alumni and an important part of the institution’s history.
Another news story spoke of a Texas school district considering renaming schools named after Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as these names have become offensive to some. Race baiters have in their sites 17 historical figures, notably Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, and pose the question, “Aren’t they really racist given their connection to slavery?” The Dallas Independent School District board has already “recommended name changes for four schools named after Confederate figures, including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”
Even Christian Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, seems under the spell with the president apologizing to black students for having cotton, yes cotton, used in a table decoration at a dinner for black students in his home. Ironically the dinner was to discuss African-American experiences at the university aimed at making the group more comfortable, but race baiters see racism in everything – even cotton. The president, with his tail tucked between his legs – no offense to dogs – responded, “The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”
On the other side of the nation, Evergreen State College in Washington State just announced the end of litigation against them for having had a “Day of Absence,” requiring all whites to leave the campus for one day so that “nonwhite students could have a safe space to talk about oppression” – presumably white oppression. Bret Weinstein and his wife, both white and biology instructors at Evergreen, refused the directive to leave, even holding classes, which subjected them to both ridicule and safety concerns. They sued and won on the basis that the school tolerated – even endorsed – “egregious violations (and even crimes) purportedly to advance racial social goals, diminishing the collegiate experience for all and fostering racially hostile work and retaliatory environment for faculty and staff.” Thus, “the college has refused to protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence.” The couple were awarded $500,000 but was required to resign from Evergreen State College.
The fifth news story, however, in the 20 minute scan of one network featured black Trump supporter Diante Johnson, founder of the Black Conservative Federation, who was interviewed by CNN, making the case that “there shouldn’t be ‘white guilt’ in today’s America” for how their ancestors may have treated the blacks generations ago.
CNN did not follow up with just why, but Johnson has it right. No white person now living had anything to do with slavery 150 years ago. Even then, it was almost entirely the whites of the north that gave their lives to free the slaves. It was whites that established and maintained the Underground Railroad at considerable risk to themselves, and it was white author Harriet Beecher Stow in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who brought attention to the moral issue of slavery. Even today, race baiters need to be reminded that it was whites who elected the first half-black president, Barack Obama.
Of course, there were abuses in the past. Indians, Chinese, Germans, Japanese, Quakers, Jews and Mormons can all make cases. Race baiters want whites to acknowledge that they are racist and oppressive by nature and should have what they call “white guilt.” The only remedy they seem to accept is compensation, but this recompense is never enough.
But their focus is almost entirely on the blacks and slavery and the perpetrators and victims of that time are dead and today’s descendants, several generations later, were not wronged. How do they make the case for their receiving compensation for wrongs committed to their ancestors without committing an injustice to those now living – even if it were their ancestors who committed the injustices mentioned? Would they not be the source of new injustice? Why should I pay for the injustices of my ancestors; even worse, when they may not have been the perpetrators? And why should my black neighbors receive a benefit forced from me without creating an injustice to me? Under this logic, his posterity will need to atone to my posterity? Could not the same arguments be used against them in a later century?
Today most white Americans are of many races and are not racist. Insisting that all whites should have “white guilt” because of presumed ancestral injustices or confederate association only exacerbates racism, the very thing race baiters insist they wish to end. Then, are not race baiters the “real” racists? That the news gives their racism so much attention should be objectionable to everyone.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.