U. S. Attny General and drug lord/gun runner Eric Holder urged America to have “an honest talk about race.” What he meant was, “Shut up and listen to me gripe.” I doubt an honest conversation will ever happen because emotions run high on both sides. Still, it’s worth a shot.
The Impossibility of an Honest Talk about Race
I saw on my Facebook feed a PCA thinker, who is a black man, complain about Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s creating a chair in Morton Smith’s honor. He is angry because Smith created the PCA with the values of the Old South in mind (He seemed surprised. I thought this was common knowledge years ago to anyone who read more than an hour’s worth of Southern Presbyterian history). Of course, the situation today is somewhat amusing since the PCA is more likely a pale reflection of the SBC’s Worship Committee’s than a continuation of Dabney, but I digress. I really don’t care one way or another that GPTS is doing this. The Reformed seminary world has long been dead to me and I refuse to even look back. However, it raised other questions.
Is the PCA still racist?
The aforementioned black gentleman is concerned that the PCA is still allowing racist things like this. How does one respond? Morton Smith’s actions simply aren’t representative of the PCA. In fact, he is probably the minority (no pun intended). But the gentleman wanted to the PCa (and presumably by extension any white Presbyterian male) to really apologize for racism. Here is where it becomes problematic. How does one really apologize for racism? Well, the PCA (and the Missouri Lutherans and the SBC) issued statements condemning the nebulous entity known as racism (the SBC does this on a yearly basis). Is that good?
No. It isn’t. Presumably he wants “racist” ministers disciplined. Fair enough, but keep in mind this is the PCa and no one ever gets disciplined. A PCA pastor pointed that out to the gentleman. Not good enough, but we need to remember if the PCA will publicly condemn the Federal Vision but refuse to discipline guys who write books promoting the Federal Vision, that should tell you something.
But all of this raises an even harder question that is at the heart of the problem. Hating other colors is wrong (and not even Kinists advocate that). Discriminating at the communion table is wrong (and maybe I missed something in the PCA during the 80s, but was even that a problem?). Heck, I remember attending Auburn Avenue one Sunday during its Confederate Heritage Conference and I saw a number of black people in church “amen-ing” and “Oh glory-ing.”
So we’ve ruled out “discrimination” and “hating” so what else is left? It wasn’t exactly said, but I think “racism” in this context means “continuing to love the Old South.” That is a bit more concrete, but is still problematic. Loving “what” about the Old South? I highly doubt Morton Smith means sitting on the front porch of the Massa’s House drinking mint juleps while watching the slaves happily sing in the fields. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
But maybe he means “Loving the Confederacy.” But even this is ambiguous. Do I love the Confederacy? Not really. I think their political system was doomed from the start and the only way they really had a chance of winning the war was to let Stonewall and Forrest go nuts and do whatever they wanted. That wasn’t going to happen. The Confederate Establishment thought Virginia’s soil too sacred to be polluted by the foot of an invader. So maybe to prove to the world I am not “racist” (undefined Marxist term that it is), maybe they want me to “apologize” for the Confederacy.
Well, that’s problematic on several levels.
- The Confederacy doesn’t exist today. You aren’t a slave. I am not a Confederate soldier. This is silly.
- 2/3 of my ancestors weren’t even in America at the time.
- The 5th commandment and Hebrews 13:7 demand I honor my superiors and those who brought me to the faith. Stonewall Jackson is one of those. To attack him is open sin.
In fact, all of this reminds me of Sheldon Cooper’s trying to apologize to Howard.
And the truth of the matter is I don’t really like the Southern Presbyterian ethos. They were Baptistic on the sacraments and their descendants made it worse, if anything (this is one of the few areas where the Federal Vision guys legitimately nailed them). If we are going to have an honest conversation about “race,” then the infractions must be concrete. Saying, “They really mean otherwise” or “They really don’t like us” or “They really have their fingers crossed” isn’t helpful. If they are saying things like “Coloreds and Whites should live in different neighborhoods or go to different churches,” then that’s entirely different. The fact is, and I have read Smith’s Q & A and he is ethically wrong, but probably sociologically accurate, most people aren’t saying this.
If cultures are organic outgrowths, which thousands of years of human history have demonstrated beyond doubt, then they will inevitably reflect this. Am I arguing for segregation? Of course not. I would be against government-enforced segregation and government-enforced integration. Why? Because it isn’t the government’s business. People want to live where people want to live. (Of course, I’m the exception on this since I have many black neighbors around my street. Which white liberal agitator can say that? None).
By all means attack racism, but attack concrete examples, like when Ice Cube talks about killing white girls.