Silence Does Not Stop It

There are times when my kids get angry with me because I tell them that what they are doing is wrong, or that it will hurt them, or that it is against God’s commandments.

I tell them anyway.

Why?

Because I love them. Because I want better for them. Because I expect better from them. Because even if they hate me for a time, their souls are worth more than their favor.

I tell them anyway because if I am honest in my criticism, they will trust my praise. If I am honest in my concerns and misgivings, they will know I care enough about them to do the uncomfortable things.

I read a comment the other day chastising someone for “always” calling “racism” concerning the president. The writer explained how the critic should stop bringing up the idea of racism because it was divisive. It was a stunning, but not shocking, reversal of logic I often see on comment boards: a person criticizing something racist in society is called “divisive.”

That is a ridiculous argument.

Staying quiet doesn’t make the problem go away – it merely allows it to fester unchecked. If you need a simple example – look to our last president’s tenure in office. Racist people were not comfortable spewing their hatred, racism, and xenophobia – BUT THAT DID NOT MAKE IT DISAPPEAR. The country did not suddenly become open to people of all nationalities and colors.

It was an opportunity missed.

Many became complacent in the thought that our first black president ushered in a new era – a “post-racial” society – it didn’t. Instead of taking the time to examine the underlying problems festering in the dark, we closed our eyes to the evidence because we thought we were “beyond that,” or because examining the truth of how interwoven racism is in our society was too hard to think about.

Prostrating ourselves before the bully does not make him stop pummeling our heads. Looking the other way, burying our heads in our ignorance, or closing our mouths to prevent “uncomfortable” or “awkward” conversations – does not change people’s hearts and minds.

Silence does not stop it.

Patriots who love this country should love it enough to want more. Patriots who love this country should love it enough to make amends. Patriots who love this country should love it enough to refuse to let it be ripped apart at the seams because it might hurt our feelings to acknowledge how much white people have benefited from the systemic racism in this country.

I have a thick scar on my thigh where a knife slipped deep into my leg as a teenager. The scar should not have been so bad, but it got infected. On the surface, the old wound was sealed with stitches, but underneath an infection raged. I ignored the pain. Instead of the disease going away, it became so inflamed that the stitches all popped, ripping the wound open again and rendering the scarring much worse. It took antibiotics, soaking, and rest to fix the problem; I was lucky not to have to cut out the infection. I should have spoken up sooner – before the damage became irreparable.

I won’t make the same mistake again.

The violence perpetrated by white supremacists is wrong – it is far worse than a hate crime – it is terrorism. The fact that white supremacists have NOT been charged with terrorism because laws governing domestic terrorism have focused only on foreign actors is insane. And keeping silent about it is worse.

For those of us who love this country, who want to save this country, we must expose the vile infection hiding, spreading, pulsating below the surface. We must be honest about our past. We must use honest language about who we are as a nation, how we came to be who we are, and what we have or have not done – language is powerful. Both Hitler and the crafters of Apartheid in South Africa looked to America for guidance and inspiration to construct their policies regarding Jewish people and people of color. That is our legacy – we wrote the book on racism and how to embed it into the hearts and minds and institutions of a nation. Our work was so definitive, that the two most reviled systems of racism in the world were modeled after what we had already done. Our history is full of government-sanctioned terrorism: first, against Native Americans; then, African slaves and their descendants; then later, Asian Americans during WWII, the list is horrifyingly long. We must pass legislation that allows white supremacist terrorism to be called out for what it is and treated and charged as such. It is our duty to speak up.

“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” – John Stuart Mill (1867)

James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 

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