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Rants & Ruminations

 

Race and Religion

October 2, 2003

On Race

You've probably all heard about Rush Limbaugh resigning over comments he made about how the media portraits minorities – blacks in this particular instance. His hypothesis was that the media wants a black quarterback to succeed so badly that they over-hype his skills and puff up his accomplishments.

His comments were made on the ESPN Sunday pre-game show that I just happened to be watching. He was discussing Donovan McNabb in particular. As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew “it” was going to hit the fan.

I have no idea whether the media has this bias or not. I'm not a media analyst. McNabb seems like a decent enough quarterback, who took his team to the playoffs a couple of years ago. That's irrelevant in my eyes.

What I've got a problem with is how Limbaugh – who, in my opinion is a blustery wind-bag – has gotten the stuffing kicked out of him simply by asking the question. It seems that if you publicly bring race or creed into a conversation, you're automatically labeled a racist or a Jew/Muslim/Catholic/Protestant/Hindu hater.

Have we become so politically correct that we are unable to even discuss differences in race or religion? Why is it so hard to believe (or more importantly, acknowledge) that these differences exist?

For instance, we know for a fact that different races have genetic differences. Blacks generally have a predisposition to Sickle Cell Anemia. Asians generally have smaller skeletal systems. Whites generally have a higher incidence of skin cancer. The list goes on and on. Why can't we at least consider that different races have different skills and inclinations?

I'm a big white guy. Six foot three, two hundred and forty pounds. I've been this size since college. No matter how hard I try, I could never be a professional jockey. I'd kill the horse during our first race. On the other extreme, I could also never be a professional basketball player. I've always been a good athlete, but I just don't have the foot speed or jumping abilities needed to be successful.

While growing up, I wanted to be successful. So instead of putting my energy into something likely to fail, I used my genetics to my advantage, and became a defensive lineman. I was pretty good at it in both high school and college, and if I had really worked at it, I may have had an outside chance at the pros (remember, this was in the early 1980's before you were considered a runt at only 270 pounds!). I recognized that my genetics limited my options, while at the same time increased my chances of success for the options that were available.

How much of our individual success is genetically influenced and how much is environmentally influenced? I don't know. But if everyone's afraid to even ask the question, how will we ever know? Are we afraid of what the answer might be, so we keep our collective heads in the sand?

On Religion

Look what's happening in America today with religion. Mel Gibson has made a movie called “The Passion”. This unreleased movie, which purportedly depicts the death of Jesus in very graphic scenes, has gotten Gibson labeled as a Jew-hating rabble rouser.

All of this because they are worried that the graphic depiction of the death of Jesus at the hands of Jews (which is how the Bible tells the story) will cause a storm surge of resentment against them. I actually heard some guy on TV arguing that this is just like Nazi Germany in the 1930's. The Jews of the day stood by and “took it” and were subsequently massacred during WWII.

Huh?

The movie hasn't yet been released – none of his detractors have even seen this film – yet they are able to come to the conclusion that he hates Jews?

As a private citizen, he has the right to promote his faith (he's a Catholic) and his views, just as the public has the right not to pay their money and go see the film. Here is what he has said about the movie:

"This is a movie about love, faith, hope and forgiveness," Gibson said. "He died for all mankind. He (Jesus) suffered for all of us. It's time to get back to that basic message. The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness."

Sounds just horrible, doesn't it?

On the other extreme is the nutty judge in Alabama and his Ten Commandments monument. In case you've forgotten, in his roll as a public servant (as opposed to a private citizen) he placed a huge monument of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of an Alabama judicial building. The State Supreme Court ordered him to have it removed. He refused to do so, so state employees had to come in and remove it under fear of reprisals from the judge's followers who were camped out around the statue.

Oh, did I mention that this guy isn't some Municipal judge collecting fines for traffic violations? No, he's the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

He's now calling his detractors the equivalent of “Godless heathens” for enforcing the separation of Church and State. Doesn't he remember that one of the main reasons America was established was because of the religious oppression dealt out in England by the State? Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp?

As a private citizen, he has every right to place this statue in his garage, in his back yard, or on his dining room table. As a Supreme Court Justice, he has no right to have it at the entrance to a court room. It would clearly give the impression of Christian supremacy (so much for “All Men Created Equally”). How do you think a Muslim accused of firebombing a Baptist church would feel about his chances of a fair trial?

Religion is a personal freedom. I don't want the State involved with my worship practices in any way, shape or form. We've seen how well the melding of government and religion works in places like Iran, Afghanistan and other theocracies.

Epilogue

The main detractors of those that dare bring up race or religion in a conversation always profess we must be more tolerant of each other. It seems tolerance only applies when the discussion matches the viewpoint of those that will screech “racists” or “Godless heathen” the quickest. I suggest that tolerance is born from understanding, and you can best gain understanding through open, honest discussion.

JMS


 

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