Outraged America

credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

I grew up in a mostly white neighborhoods but, for several years, I went to mixed-race schools. There was a lot of racial tension in my hometown back then. There were “race riots” in 1968 and tensions simmered for years after. Maybe they still do, I don’t know. There was busing (an attempt to create racially integrated public schools) which created new tensions. There was lots of racism around me on all sides. The African-American kids used racial epithets and the white kids used them. I brought an African-American friend home and a neighbor, about our age, came out on the porch and began shouting racial epithets at him (and me) for daring to be in the neighborhood. I wasn’t being enlightened. I didn’t think about it. It was ugly and beyond awkward.  I later lost that friend and, looking back, I think it was over race. He invited me to the movies, to a mostly African-American theater. I had been before and was willing to go but I didn’t have the money and for reasons I didn’t want to explain to him I couldn’t ask for it. I think he assumed that a white kid must have had a quarter for movie and so, the only reason I didn’t want to go was because it was a “black’ movie house. He never talked to me again. It took me decades to figure out what happened and even today I’m only guessing. There are lots of other stories and episodes but you get the picture.

Many white folks in my part of the country, in the 60s and 70s, had almost no personal experience with people of other races and racist expressions were commonplace. They weren’t directed at anyone in particular but at “that group over there” who was different from us. Many of my friends, in those years, were African-American. That changed when we moved to a smaller town but the experiences stayed with me.  Since then I’ve watched folks of various races mature as they became more familiar with people from different backgrounds. Depending on where one lived it wasn’t always easy to become familiar with different cultures and races. Most of the African Americans in Nebraska lived within a few miles of downtown Omaha and it’s a long ways from Big Springs to downtown Omaha. In the 60s and 70s there weren’t many African-Americans on television and those who appeared often played stereotypical characters. I suppose that The Cosby Show (1984-92) was the first time a lot of white folks ever saw a stable, prosperous, middle-class African-American family.

The recent ugly episode with Donald Sterling has, I fear, set back genuine progress in race relations in a couple of ways. First, people everywhere, in the media, in conversation, had to express their outrage at the horrible things Sterling said. Some of those expressions of outrage were probably genuine but I judge that many were for show, to demonstrate to everyone else how enlightened the outraged person is. This is a concern because these shows of moral indignation don’t really help us make progress in overcoming prejudice. Such expressions of moral indignation are not about “the other” but about us or me—as in, “it’s all about me.” No, actually, it isn’t about how enlightened you are but about understanding people who are different from you. The reality is that Sterling said things in private that other folks, who aren’t being recorded, who aren’t rich and famous, are probably saying right now. Expressions of outrage, as satisfying as they may be, don’t really confront the problem of racism behind closed doors, off-mic. The first step toward a more mature approach to race in America is for those who say such things behind closed doors to be able to admit that they do. Those ideas need to be addressed, analyzed, and shown to be false. The orgy of outrage doesn’t really change anything. it’s racial Phariseeism—”I thank thee Lord that I’m more enlightened than that terrible man Sterling.” No, the proper response is, “Lord, I’ve got racism (fear and ignorance of people who don’t look like me) in my heart. Help me to identify and address it.” Second, we are different from each other. There are distinct subcultures in America and that’s okay. This is not an endorsement of the Balkanization of the USA. To the degree that’s happening, it’s working against mutual understanding and overcoming prejudice. There are fundamental similarities but if we don’t address honestly what unites and distinguishes us we don’t really achieve a common understanding.

The second problem with all the outrage over Sterling is that it doesn’t serve to encourage honest discussion but rather to silence questions and honest interchange as politically incorrect. This is a cause of real concern because political correctness fosters fear, suspicion, and misunderstanding and those are the steps back toward racism not away from it. The process of overcoming fear and prejudice rooted in ignorance will be much more successfully addressed naturally, patiently, and through experience and persuasion rather than through fear, intimidation, and coercion.

Finally, the only real way to make progress on race in America is the cross. At the foot of the cross there are only sinners. In Christ there is no Jew, Gentile, Scythian, or Barbarian (Col 3:11; Gal 3:28). We all have multiple identities simultaneously, including a racial and cultural heritage, but Paul’s message is that, in Christ, we have a common identity, a common name, a common baptism (Eph 4). Unless and until our identity in Christ is more fundamental, more basic to who we are than our ethnic or racial or cultural heritage, we will continue to be estranged from one another. In Christ, we can relate to each other as redeemed sinners despite our different backgrounds, despite the things that our forefathers (or perhaps we ourselves) have done to one another. This isn’t Kumbaya pie-in-the-sky naiveté. Racism was of the first great crises faced by apostolic church. Jews had come to think of Gentiles as dogs, as unclean and the prospect of worshiping the Messiah cheek-by-jowl with “them” was a great and difficult problem. Don’t think that Gentile Christians didn’t resent the way Jews thought of them. When Peter rose to speak at the Jersusalem Council (Acts 15) he appealed to our fundamental unity as sinners (none of us has kept the law) and as those accepted by God on the sole basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ and received through faith alone.

So, let’s leave the self-indulgent, triumphalist outrage-fest to the media talking heads. Let Christians move forward toward real, genuine racial reconciliation based in truth, in honesty, and in grace and not in fear, intimidation, and political correctness.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


20 comments

  1. The orgy of outrage doesn’t really change anything. it’s racial Phariseeism—”I thank thee Lord that I’m more enlightened than that terrible man Sterling.” No, the proper response is, “Lord, I’ve got racism (fear and ignorance of people who don’t look like me) in my heart.

    Well said! I just linked this to my FB page for “friends,” both Christian and non-Christian & liberal and conservative to read.

    Thanks…

  2. Hi there – I appreciate your posts! I am from Zimbabwe, and am puzzled by the term “African American” – why is it used so much? I am of English descent born in Zimbabwe, so should I be called an English African? Or you an English/Polish/European(whatever your ancestory nation)-American? When will we shake off these labels that don’t seem to help, especially in the church where we are one in Christ.
    Grace to you all
    John

  3. The label is used because so many people feel guilty just saying “black”, and “colored” and “negro” (and worse terms) cause offense. And as RSC mentions above, saying “African-American” is a way to show others how enlightened and sensitive you are.

    I heard of a kid who once tried to apply to college and scholarships once using the “African-American” label; he had been born in Africa (Zimbabwe I think), his family migrated to the U.S. at some point, so he was, quite technically, “African-American”. Except he was white. I don’t remember what actually happened in that case…

    • Rube/John,

      It’s a complicated question.

      Yes, there are Americans of African descent who are not black and no, because of racial tensions they are not typically allowed to use “African American” of themselves, even though they are, in fact, Americans of African descent. There are white immigrants from South Africa and others of whom this is true. Is it fair? No. Is it awkward? Yes. Are all Black Americans of African descent, at least directly? No. So there are problems with the descriptor.

      So, why did I use it? The designation or self-description used by Black Americans has changed over the years. As illustrated by the title of the NAACP, Black Americans, slightly before my time, called themselves and were called “colored.” Then, in the 1960s, negro was the correct designation. That word, in the 1970s, came to be perceived to be too close to a highly-offensive racial slur (which blacks continue to use of themselves) to be used comfortably. One has only to listen to the tapes of President Johnson—himself a racist who postured as a civil rights hero for the sake of electoral politics—saying “negro” to understand why that was. In the 1970s, briefly, it was “Afro-American” and then the culture seemed to settle on “black” from the mid-70s. Sometime in the 80s or 90s, however, “African-American” became to be used more frequently and now, linguistically, we’re balancing between “black” and “African-American.” I used both terms in the essay.

      The great difference between white Americans of African descent and black Americans of African descent is that most of the latter are here because their ancestors were kidnapped and/or sold into chattel slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries and then, for a century after the formal end of slavery, were oppressed by unjust laws (“Jim Crow”) and practices (e.g., real estate “red lining”) that prevented them from enjoying all the rights and benefits of American citizenship. They were second-class citizens. They were relegated to poor, segregated schools and neighborhoods (in the south and the north). They were hunted and lynched by racist organizations (e.g., the Klan). They were trapped in unjust business arrangements, prevented from opening businesses, and from voting and prevented from running for public office.

      Many of those injustices only began to be remedied in the 1950s and 60s. We’re a little more than 50 years into the post-Jim Crow era. In some respects things have improved dramatically. We have a mixed-race president who looks and self-identifies as black. In the 1960s and 70s it was unthinkable that we would have a black president. Blacks are much more prominent in mass media, politics, and business. The African-American/Black middle class began growing in the 1980s (perhaps reflected by the Cosby Show) but has stalled with the rest of us since 2007. Otherwise, Black Americans lag behind whites and Asians in economic development and have been surpassed by Latinos/Hispanics in population.

      In some cases, some attempts to remedy past abuses and the consequences of past abuses were ill-conceived and arguably made things worse (e.g., busing, which has largely been abandoned and racial preferences in school admissions, which have been challenged since the 70s in court). At the same time some of those entities which started out to seek justice and remedial changes seem now to capitalize on guilt. How else does one explain the fact that anyone, anywhere listens to Al Sharpton about anything? I’m pretty sure that he fails the perfectly just “content of their character” test set by Dr King in 1963. The NAACP has recently been embarrassed by its willingness to give Sterling an award. It’s hard not to think that there was a quid pro quo arrangement. The NAACP was willing to call a racist a good man so long as he was willing to write checks. Ostensibly, in order to remedy past abuses, governments built large, urban, concentrated housing projects and initiated massive federal programs, which arguably have done great damage to the stability of the black/African-American nuclear family. The rate of out-of-wedlock births among black/African-American families has skyrocketed since the inauguration of the “Great Society” welfare programs. The abortion rate among blacks is much higher than among whites. Alveda King has called the rate of abortion in the black community a genocide and it’s hard to argue with her.

      One response to the sense of powerlessness that black/African-Americans feel is to exercise the power they have by changing their self-designation. That’s the best explanation I’ve developed for the move from “Afro-America” to “black” to “people of color” (which, mercifully has floundered—who isn’t a person of some color?) and back to “African-American.” So, one of the most powerful tools Black Americans have is the memory and experience of injustice and the guilt that many (particularly white Americans) feel. Any white person over 40 has heard/told and probably laughed at racist jokes. Clearly that guilt is being manipulated by Sharpton and those of his ilk. The shifting designation, which itself is a matter of disagreement among Black Americans/African-Americans, is a small exercise of power over the majority.

      There’s some basis in reality for the guilt whites feel. We may not have done anything directly to punish or oppress blacks but the truth is that Black Americans experience life in the USA differently from whites. They get pulled over by cops with a frequency that we are not. They are watched in stores by security in a way we are not. We have opportunities they do not (although, racial preferences in hiring and admissions creates, arguably a reverse racism) and they face obstacles (racist attitudes among the racial majority) that I do not. When white people apply for a job they don’t usually have to wonder whether their application will be treated differently because of race. Has that meant a certain amount of injustice for whites and Asians? Certainly. The latter have faced blatant racism in university admissions because they are too successful. That’s remarkable fact in what is meant to be a meritocratic society. At the same time, white folks aren’t struggling to overcome a legacy of chattel slavery and Jim Crow laws and unspoken but even more oppressive racism in Omaha, Chicago, and Boston even where there were no Jim Crow laws.

      So, linguistically and socially, we’re stuck between the two expressions. Right now, as best I can tell, the designation “African American” seems least likely to cause offense and thus less likely to distract what what I’m trying to say. The fact that I had to write this many words to explain my word choice illustrates how complicated, tense, and fraught with the social danger (namely the charge of racism), race relations, particularly between blacks and whites, remain.

  4. Hi Dr. Clark – have you seen this recent article from a Princeton student? It complements your article. http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/17230/

    Racism flows in every direction yet we rarely have this conversation. I grew up in exactly the same environment that you did, perhaps a bit worse because I was in the South and I’m a bit older than you are. Even living in that environment, I never saw color as an issue — perhaps because I grew up on a military base and the environment is different. Some of my friends (from childhood) cling to the issues of the 1950s and 60s. They refuse to see beyond them. A bigger issue is that their children have claimed them as their own problems even though their own generation has a completely different dynamic.

    Honest discussion is exactly what is needed but never happens because personal motives are always at the core.

    There’s just no getting around it — sin pervades every race and I thought this young man’s article did a great job helping others to see the totality of the issue.

  5. These same people who are outraged at Sterling (and rightly so) don’t seem to be upset with Darwin who was both racist and sexist. What unsurprising inconsistency.

  6. “In some respects things have improved dramatically. We have a mixed-race president who looks and self-identifies as black.” ???? Having a Marxist (and one who’s not even a citizen) at the helm is a “dramatic improvement”? {jaw on floor}

    Or are you saying that race trumps constitutionality? 1933 redux…

    • Insightful,

      1.Please note the comment policy. Anonymous/pseudonymous posts are not ordinarily allowed.

      2. Apples and oranges. I don’t like the president’s policies in a number of areas but that’s not what is under discussion. It is a fact that less than 50 years after the Dream Speech (1963) Americans elected, for all intents and purposes, an African-American/Black president. There was a time when many Americans wouldn’t have voted for an Black candidate. That’s an improvement. Have his policies been an improvement? No. Did I claim that they are? No.

      3. As a kindness I deleted your other post.

  7. The part on pharisaical racism was excellent and needed. How the reaction to Sterling can only serve to sustain our problems with racism by keeping them buried in our hearts is another excellent point.

    And that was followed by an extremely important point on how the reaction to Sterling only silences questions rather than addresses racism. We could add that because political correctness approaches matters with an all-or-nothing mentality, it often acts as a mirror image of what it objects to. The third point is good in that it addresses the need to escape tribalism. But when nonChristians can escape tribalism, what do we do to our credibility when we say the cross is the only way?

    Our reactions, especially our overreactions, to what we disapprove of sometimes intentionally mask our connections to it–something we should remember for other sins as well. And sometimes the greater the reaction against, the stronger is the connection. One of our problems is that we look to punishment too often as a solution. However, when it comes to race, punishment can often drive the racist attitudes which any of us could harbor into a closet where they can neither be seen nor both addressed and eliminated–which is one of the major concerns of this post. And so to compensate for our connections, we take it out on those who have been caught redhanded. After all, we want to appear to be socially clean and kosher.

    Perhaps if we could develop a synthesis between the need to be healed and defining certain traits as being intolerable, we could both reinforce that status of being intolerable for certain traits, like racism, while bringing them out in the open where they could be dealt with. And that can only happen if we are willing to pray the prayer of the sinful tax collector instead of the pharisee’s self-flattering prayer–as stated in this post.

  8. Enjoyed your this piece very much. Thanks for this. You really hit on a lot of the issues in regards to race and the responsibility of Christians (both black and white) as it relates to racism and the cure being the Gospel/Cross. Because the terms ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ have so often been thrown around with reckless abandon and has often been used to gain social and political leverage (by ‘leaders’, politicians, ‘activists’ and intellectuals in academia), I think that in many ways, it has made some folk totally desensitized to ACTUAL racism and in turn causes them to look with a doubtful or skeptical eye when something that’s genuinely racist is called out as such. Neither black folk nor white folk benefit from this. It puts black folk in a position in which NONE of our concerns are taken seriously (even if genuine) and it puts white folks in a position to never have to examine themselves or check their hearts or be sympathetic to concerns and/or legitimate forms of racism directed at black folk by them.

    By the same token, black folk are in some ways to blame too. Recklessly throwing around the term or fretting about the least little thing ensures that you won’t be taken seriously when GENUINE racism is present. For that we have only ourselves to blame and need to do some serious introspection (not to mention repenting for the flat out resentment a lot of us carry against white folk). Constant victimology over trivial matters will mean people won’t take you seriously (which is understandable). So-called ‘leaders’ and ‘intellectuals’ within the black community don’t help and only exploit racism (real or imagined) for their own gain (while usually ignoring the very issues you mentioned in your piece. Single parent homes, black on black male violence, colorism within the race, high abortion rates, the destruction of the welfare state, the celebration and adherence to ‘hood/ghetto’ culture, among other things)

    As corny as this may sound, one does hope for a future in which black folk and white folk can sit down and speak openly and honestly about race issues. Without all the pretense and all the apprehensive skepticism. Giving one another the benefit of the doubt (blacks not assuming whites are the perpetual villain who are without hope and whites not thinking of blacks as the perpetual problem children without hope).

    As CHRISTIANS, we can only continue to love one another and take comfort in the Gospel of Christ, which tends to cut through a lot of the barriers mentioned above. Because, thankfully, in Christ, we’re all one anyway. Again, thank you for this post. Definitely gives us all something to think on.

    • Hi Donté,

      I appreciate this. FWIW, I don’t think you’re being naive. I don’t think that mutual understanding will solve everything. It can’t. This is a fallen world. There will always been prejudice, ignorance, and fear. For all that there will always be war, famine, and death. It’s fallen world.

      Nevertheless, I believe in God’s restraining providence and mercy. As part of ordinary providence, when people, even unregenerate people, who are of (relatively) good intentions, make a genuine attempt to understand each other, it is usually for the improvement of civil life. Mob behavior (e.g., the shouting down of Condoleeza Rice before she had a chance to speak at Rutgers, that bastion of diversity of open-mindedness), even electronic mob behavior (e.g., via social media) doesn’t lead to greater understanding. I am encouraged that the original spirit of the civil rights movement still exists in some places. Victimhood, however, has become a very powerful lever in late modern American society. Anyone who achieves victim status has, ironically, found a path to social power. This is a really unhappy development since victimhood is ultimately a cul de sac. Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Dr King didn’t portray Black Americans as victims, even though they were victims. They knew that victim status is only a temporary remedy. I’m sure they never imagined there would come a time when it would be a path to remarkable influence and power.

      • Wholeheartedly agree with you. One of the biggest opportunities I believe that we as a ethnic group didn’t take the chance to fully adhere to was the principles Booker T laid out, particularly that of economic self-sufficiency (with Tulsa Oklahoma in the early 20th century being a place where this was lived out for a time. Came to be named as ‘Black Wall Street’. Jackson Ward in Richmond being another example). As much as I appreciate W.E.B. Du Bois (in spite of his hard nosed Marxism), I oftentimes wonder how better off we would have been if we had also integrated Booker T into our ethnic paradigm as well (Marcus Garvey is another example of a black leader who preached the virtues of economic self-sufficiency/free-market principles. Something his Afrocentric followers, usually socialistic, conveniently ignore).

        And you’re right. Booker T, Fredrick and even Malcolm X to an extent wasnt’ in the buisness of viewing blacks as victims (although as you said, at the time, we were). They saw the dignity in black folk as human beings and believed it to be an affront to their humanity to view them as inferior in anyway (something perpetual victimhood eventually makes one). This has usually always been a staple within black culture. The ability to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ and to achieve and thrive, even in the face of the most trying obstacles. Such a rich black cultural history to look back to and it pains me that that spirit has been lost in so many ways and so many of us have allowed folks who could care less about our well being, exploit hurt (whether genuine or contrived). And sadly, there aren’t a shortage of pulpits within the black community that also perpetuate this victimhood mentality as well (at the expense of the biblical Gospel being preached). But, as you said, this is indeed a fallen world, but as Christians, we must always point back to the Gospel and must be willing to die to ethnic pride/hatred and realize our oneness in Christ, while understanding and appreciating our ethnic uniqueness. We all are in need of heart checks and I am thankful for brothers such as yourself and others (Thabiti Anyabwile is another) who are unafraid to speak to these issues from a biblical perspective. God bless you.

  9. Thanks Dr. Clark! This was very helpful.

    Although unhelpful at points, I strongly recommend the book ‘More Than Equals’ by Chris Rice and Spencer Perkins. One of the best books I have ever read on how to bridge the divide on white/black racial tensions within a Christian environment. The story of those two guys is worth the price of the book.

  10. There’s some basis in reality for the guilt whites feel. We may not have done anything directly to punish or oppress blacks but the truth is that Black Americans experience life in the USA differently from whites. They get pulled over by cops with a frequency that we are not. They are watched in stores by security in a way we are not. We have opportunities they do not (although, racial preferences in hiring and admissions creates, arguably a reverse racism) and they face obstacles (racist attitudes among the racial majority) that I do not. When white people apply for a job they don’t usually have to wonder whether their application will be treated differently because of race. Has that meant a certain amount of injustice for whites and Asians? Certainly. The latter have faced blatant racism in university admissions because they are too successful. That’s remarkable fact in what is meant to be a meritocratic society. At the same time, white folks aren’t struggling to overcome a legacy of chattel slavery and Jim Crow laws and unspoken but even more oppressive racism in Omaha, Chicago, and Boston even where there were no Jim Crow laws.

    Since we’re having an honest discussion where we refrain from invoking Godwin’s Law, perhaps it’s time to consider whether the same forces that make different races look different from one-another also affect cognition. There is good evidence that there are racial differences in intelligence which could go a long way towards explaining remaining the remaining social stratification. There are also racial differences in violent crime rates which explains why different races are treated differently by law enforcement.

    Our society and leadership is constantly telling us how we should have equality in all things (income, academic achievement, etc) regardless of race. Equality is a Marxist idea. According to our enlightened leadership in government, media, and academia, any inequalities are due to white racism. SOME inequalities may certainly be due to racism but there are other explanations that are not considered due to political correctness.

    Rather than fret over inequalities, perhaps we should all adopt Booker T. Washington’s mindset of getting to work and doing the best we can. Liberal white Great Society patronage does no one any good.

    • Walt,

      Don’t you want to distinguish between equality of outcome and equality before the law? Surely we’re all in favor of the latter, right?

      I don’t want law enforcement acting on the basis of social theorizing. I want them acting according to constitutional law. Theories come and go. Remember phrenology? It was all the rage around the turn of the 20th century. People were judged by the size/shape of their skulls. What nonsense. I’m not saying that this theory is racist but there were lots of racist theories in the 19th century postulating why Africans were supposed to be inherently inferior. Those all turned out to be bunk and justifications for chattel slavery.

      I have benefitted from some of Charles Murray’s work and regret that it has been denounced as racist. I don’t think it is or that he is.

      I think talk of “structural racism” is just a way to manipulate people because it’s very difficult to say what it is, how it operates, or to describe it in a meaningful objective (measurable) way. So, it seems like a way to manipulate guilt feelings.

      Nevertheless, we should own up to the existence and continuing effects of racism. Things are MUCH better than they were but racism still exists. We all have to battle the temptation to judge others by the way they look (e.g., on the basis of their differences). That’s nothing but the result of sin. Racial minorities do still experience challenges that racial majorities don’t. An Asian friend of mine told me about a trip through an area where there aren’t many (or any) Asians. He stopped for lunch. It was very uncomfortable, to say the least. A Latino friend tells me about people in Reformed churches approaching him to ask if he has a Green card and to make (we hope unintentionally) racist comments. Those experiences have made it really difficult for him to attend some Reformed congregations because he’s been given the impression that these congregations are for White people only. So, racism comes in lots of forms and shows up in many areas.

  11. Don’t you want to distinguish between equality of outcome and equality before the law? Surely we’re all in favor of the latter, right?

    Yep, nor did I ever imply otherwise. Equality of outcome is a Marxist idea. Inequality of outcome will always be the case. There are Federal laws to ensure that outcomes are more equal even though they’ve failed to closed gaps.

    don’t want law enforcement acting on the basis of social theorizing. I want them acting according to constitutional law.

    They’re not acting based on social theorizing. Law enforcement officers notice they arrest a lot more people of one race for violent crimes than another race. Over time, they notice patterns and form heuristics. They still have to follow the Constitution. Nothing in the Constitution will prevent them from noticing patterns in the course of their work. Noticing patterns is not PC, but everyone does it, particularly when they buy real estate.

    Remember phrenology? It was all the rage around the turn of the 20th century. People were judged by the size/shape of their skulls. What nonsense. I’m not saying that this theory is racist but there were lots of racist theories in the 19th century postulating why Africans were supposed to be inherently inferior. Those all turned out to be bunk and justifications for chattel slavery.

    Early 20th century arguments are not in view here. Neither do differences in cognition or other traits mean that one group is superior to another. Group differences in traits do exist, as Murray pointed out, and more and more will be discovered shattering the PC orthodoxy in the coming decades. Murray noted,

    The evidence in “The Bell Curve,” “Male/Female” and “A Blank Slate” was confined to the phenotype—the observed characteristics of human beings

    , meaning, this is something that has been measured. The results are in, nobody wants them to be what they are, but it doesn’t make them any less true.

    Let’s use the analogy of male-female differences in cognition. Men make up the overwhelming majority of scientists and inventors throughout history. It’s biology. It’s also not PC to say so. Does it mean men are better than women? We are at some things. Women definitely excel at other things. Praise God that we complement one-another.

    An Asian friend of mine told me about a trip through an area where there aren’t many (or any) Asians. He stopped for lunch. It was very uncomfortable, to say the least

    The fact that you or I are uncomfortable is not necessarily the fault of others. Most people are naturally wary of outsiders and this is considered prudent in most cultures. I’ve gotten the same vibe from other white people when they recognize me as an outsider. The concept of projection may be useful here.

    There are still more factors to consider. Immigration is happening at such a rapid rate that it is affecting social cohesion. Societies can only handle an influx of outsiders at a certain rate. The more rapidly outsiders come, the more the natives will react badly since they see it as a threat. It is not necessarily helpful to blame the natives when immigration policy could be to blame. If the shoe were on the other foot and a bunch of Americans were moving to Mexico or China or Korea at a faster rate than the Koreans or Mexicans or Chinese could handle or wanted, would we, the American immigrants, be justified in complaining about our treatment? I can’t see the Mexicans taking kindly to 10-20 million gringos showing up in Mexico without permission of the Mexican government.

    There are numerous factors at work. As you said,

    This is not an endorsement of the Balkanization of the USA. To the degree that’s happening, it’s working against mutual understanding and overcoming prejudice. There are fundamental similarities but if we don’t address honestly what unites and distinguishes us we don’t really achieve a common understanding.

    Numerous authors have noted that the rate of Balkanization is high and making race relations significantly worse.

    Those experiences have made it really difficult for him to attend some Reformed congregations because he’s been given the impression that these congregations are for White people only. So, racism comes in lots of forms and shows up in many areas.

    Reformed congregations are generally not welcoming whether you’re white or not. I chalk your friend’s experience up to social ineptitude of church members more than racism. Racism could certainly be a factor, but then again there are Korean churches, Chinese churches, and other churches that advertise specifically for one race or another. Racism is not a sin only of white people.

  12. Wow, I didn’t take the time to read through everything here, much less the comments, but I see what tends to gets people opinions out. I have my own, but I’ll keep them to myself.

    As a sidenote, Dr. Clark can add me to the list of Latinos that have visited a Reformed congregation and left a bit bothered. I once visited an OPC church here in CA; what seemed odd to me was questioning that led to asking me where I was born. I don’t have an accent or dress like a foreigner, so it was obvious why he asked about my birthplace. It’s weird because it’s CA, and there are many American Latinos. I left fairly quickly, never returned, and never plan to return; and seeing some of the comments here leads me to avoid some churches completely.

    Sometimes people don’t realize that churches which are named in such a way as to attract people of certain ethnicities is because of past experiences and the desire to offer a place of worship where people can feel safe. It’s not always meant to keep people out. I was happily shocked once to find Chinese Baptist (yes, Chinese was also in the name of their church) visiting my South L.A. neighborhood, composed of all Hispanic and black people, and inviting people to THEIR church. I have only seen them, Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses, and even Mormons attempting to reach people; I have never seen Reformed people once.

  13. >>>>The second problem with all the outrage over Sterling is that it doesn’t serve to encourage honest discussion but rather to silence questions and honest interchange as politically incorrect. <<<<

    This PC nonsense is Orwellian — except there were thinking people in charge of the scheme in Orwell's book. If political corrects continues on it's present course, unabated, we will eventually have a large group of people with less than a thimble full of knowledge demanding that professors like yourself be stopped . . . because your words/thoughts/deeds are "hurtful."

Comments are closed.