In case you have not heard, there is a viral video showing a group of frat boys from the SAE chapter of the University of Oklahoma singing a disgusting racist chant. To the University’s credit, the fraternity was immediately disbanded and today two of the identified offenders were expelled from school.
This incident occurred in my own backyard, which has caused me to reflect quite a bit on racism and the politics surrounding it. To begin with, I cannot tell you the shock I felt that someone in my state would lead others in a racist chant, much less that others would gleefully clap along. I was embarrassed for my state and for all of us that live in it.
Slightly less concerning (but still very much so) is the attempt by others to link a Conservative political ideology to racist behavior. As expected, some commenters on the story tried to make this incident political. Namely because Oklahoma is a red state. That fact according to the left-wing media complex means of course we are naturally racist. It does not matter that a white sorority member from Maryland just posted a picture of her 21st birthday cake with the n-word on it with an offensive message. But I digress.
True reflection involves a willingness to be honest with oneself. In doing so, I had to admit to myself that we as Conservatives do a generally poor job of counteracting the narrative that “all Conservatives are racist” (though some of the best efforts have been on the front page of Red State). I know that the media drives this narrative incessantly and that it is a pack of lies. However, sometimes we do not help ourselves very much. This is not because Conservatives are racist, it is due to a variety of other factors and these things need to be addressed.
First of all, there are way too many Conservatives that engage in knee-jerk reactions. They react to the race-baiting media narrative rather than the incident in question itself. This often results in a dismmissive attitude towards any claims of racism before the facts can be ascertained. Just as Al Sharpton et al. see racism under every rock, some Conservatives are just as quick go the other direction. They think they are counteracting the media narrative by doing this, but they are actually feeding into it. The only way to defeat that narrative is by retaining an open mind that draws conclusions based on facts and evidence. Equally important is the adoption of the Christian virtue of seeing the people involved in the incident as people created by God rather than pawns in a political game.
Secondly, some Conservatives allow their goodness to narrow their viewpoint. I have to plead guilty to this one. When I heard of this incident at OU, I was completely shocked. I honestly did not believe people spoke or acted that way anymore. I was furth surprised to hear some local African-American sports radio personalities take it as a matter-of-fact and go on to describe their own experiences with racist behavior throughout their lives. You see, because my parents taught me racism was wrong and I never associated (and still don’t) with those who were, I assumed racism was largely non-existent. I had let my own experiences dictate my view of reality. I think many Conservatives often make the same mistake. The fact that Conservatives are not racist often blinds them to the fact that there is a swath of people who are.
Lastly, Conservatives often fall into the left-wing media trap of treating racism as a political problem rather than a moral one. People do not like to talk about morals. It is not en vogue and certainly far from politically correct. But one of the things that struck me most about the incident at OU was the moral degeneracy of the behavior. To sing gleefully about lynching another human being while others clap along requires a certain lack of a moral compass that is hard to describe. Were they ignorant of history? Did they think it was funny? Or were they simply taught the immoral lie that being white makes one superior. Who knows. But I can certainly tell you no political party or principle is responsible for such behavior. That fault lies entirely with society, bad parenting, and a lack of spiritual guidance. Removing God from society has grave consequences and sadly racism is one of them. Many churches do a lot to help address race issues and heal communities, but more can and should be done.
As Conservatives, especially those who claim Christianity, we need to start listening to our fellow African-American citizens and their experiences. We can celebrate and acknowledge the great strides we have made in this country since segregation without acting as if racism is entirely eradicated. We need to stop reacting to the lies of the media and start addressing the problem.