"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On May 25, George Floyd died while in the custody of Derek Chauvin and several other Minneapolis police. Since then, peaceful demonstrations — as well as violent riots — have occurred in major urban areas in the United States. News reports portray those involved as black people passionately protesting against the supposedly "systemic" racism they feel to be the cause of Mr. Floyd's death.
Their angry passion came in reaction to the deeply moving videos of the moments before his death. They showed Floyd prone and helpless, barely able to summon the breath required to plead with Chauvin to let him up. Officer Chauvin's face had an arrogant look. He seemed pridefully indifferent to Floyd's suffering. That smug indifference acted, as it were, like methane gas, sparking sympathy, anger and disgust in the hearts of the many millions who viewed the rampantly viral footage.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, decades ago in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a black man on parole for robbery was stopped for reckless driving. When he refused to submit to arrest, the fateful encounter eventuated in a melee with police. Some in a gathering crowd of onlookers reported that, in the fog of war, the police had assailed the suspect's mother along with two pregnant women, and six days of civil upheaval ensued. The days of upheaval came to be known as the Watts Riots.
However, in our times, what occurs in one city can immediately appear on mobile devices around the country and the world. So the reaction against George Floyd's death flashed quickly onto the streets of U.S. cities and towns. We're all familiar with the so-called flash mobs that have appeared in shopping malls or street corners, spreading musical cheer. Since Floyd's alleged murder, some of the gatherings have been peaceful assemblies, demanding redress for a grievous injustice. Others, however, have been violent attacks, wreaking havoc.
In either case, the protesters showed no inclination to wait for autopsies, investigations and other tedious relics of due process, as our Constitution and laws require. What need was there for that? The white cop killed a black man. We've all seen it, haven't we? A racist police officer brutally exacted a sentence of death against his black captive. Isn't this what "the system" has always done and will always do? Why wait upon "the facts," neglecting the imperative view of our all-knowing passions?
As if on cue, a chorus of voices rises. They do not call for justice to be done against the police officers who disgraced the sworn discipline of their profession; "systemic racism" is the culprit. But "systemic racism," like all such abstractions, is a black flag waving in the dark. Whatever meaning it contains can only be understood by judging the acts of individuals.
Such judgment requires looking at facts. And it requires standards of conduct in light of which to judge those facts. No matter how strongly felt, passion has little or no regard for objective truth. If we make the force of passion sufficient grounds for judgment, it is force itself we crown as the supreme and ultimate ruler of every outcome.
It's sadly self-defeating to see the descendants of slaves being duped into accepting concepts that implicitly restore the old assumption that "might makes right." Throughout most of human history, people assumed that enslaving defeated foes was the natural privilege of conquest. After all, isn't victory in battle proof of superior willpower? And isn't the driving force of passion the source of energy that most effectively sustains the will?
Ironically, therefore, the mobocratic exultation of impassioned power — sweeping aside facts, due process and deliberation — is of a piece with the mien of arrogant superiority viewers read in Officer Chauvin's face as he imposed death, without benefit of trial, upon the hefty black man he had overcome.
What Chauvin did to Floyd is what the decriers of "systemic racism" propose to do to the institutions of constitutional self-government that sustain the liberty of the people of the United States. The force of the mobs takes no account of individual innocence or guilt. The whole is guilty. Therefore, the whole must be swept aside. There's nothing for it but to tear down the system — burn it away, despoiling all the white devils of the wealth and power their skin color proves they stole by force.
What is this imputation of guilt by reason of color but a manifestation of "systemic racism"? It looks beyond human individuality to judge people in terms of superficial qualities for which they may or may not be individually responsible.
Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamt of the day when all people would be judged by the content of their character, i.e., their decisions and actions as responsible individuals. This is how Chauvin and the officers who acted (or failed to act) with him ought to be judged. But it is also how individual police officers who were not involved should be judged. From top to bottom, officers should not be deprived of their livelihood on abstract grounds. None should be reviled and humiliated for the sins of some intangible "system," which can have no demerits not asserted and proven against them as individuals.
If all police officers are to be treated as guilty of systemic sins not proven against them as individuals, why shouldn't blacks be treated as guilty of all the crimes perpetrated by blacks? For that matter, why shouldn't all human beings be treated as guilty on account of all the crimes of humanity, down through the ages of human existence?
The problem with "collective guilt" is, as St. Paul gleaned from the Old Testament, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no not one" (Romans 3:10–12).
One of the psalms (Psalm 14) on which St. Paul relies in this passage begins by noting the root cause of this failure of human goodwill: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" As a nation, the United States of America did not begin with this folly. In the Declaration of Independence, our first words as a people acknowledged God. They spoke of God as the lawgiver of the cosmos and the source of the sense of right programmed, as it were, into the substance of our humanity.
But though by God's endowment we all have a sense of right, our understanding also includes a sense of judgment. It allows us to distinguish God's way for us from the ways of other animate and inanimate things. It is for us to choose among them, in light of God's instruction, the way we are to go. This choice is our special responsibility. And when we choose responsibly — in terms that correspond to God's will for us — the exercise of choice enacts the inalienable right of liberty. By accepting the provisions of God's will, which signify God's love for us and all creation, we signify our love of God — in and through which we, and all things else, work together for good.
This common-sense disposition to do right, according to God, is the common ground for our existence as one people among the nations. It is the source of our common vocation as a nation, a nation called to answer with many distinctive voices for the common decency we owe, for God's sake, to all of humankind.
The very idea of "systemic" racism utterly contradicts and destroys this identity. It shatters our commitment to Dr. King's dream for all children — black or white, Chinese or Native American, Muslim or Jew, Christian or Hindu or any other kind. For whose ancestry includes no taint of guilt for racist crimes? If Barack Obama's black Luo ancestor sold blacks into slavery centuries ago, does that give me license to burn and maim those who identify with him?
Smug intellectuals fabricate incoherent excuses for anger and vengeance like "systemic racism." They tell blacks it is reason enough to drive whites to their knees, conveniently forgetting the dark-skinned Moorish Muslims whose enslavement of white-skinned Slavic people gave "slavery" that name.
If all of us have license to kill — or reason to suffer — for the misdeeds of our "kind," there will never be an end to vengeful rage and slaughter. This statement especially holds in the United States, because we are a people who must cease to be such once the rubric of right and wrong becomes, imperatively, a racial or ethnic matter. For our people are drawn from every race and kind, every color and ethnicity on earth. On that account, we have no common ground but what is drawn upon the fabric of humanity, by the sense of right and justice, wrong and crime that unites in us the conscience of all of humankind.
As an American, I do not seek justice for George Floyd because I am black and he is black. I do not seek justice for Derek Chauvin because I am black and he is white. I seek justice for all human beings of God's creation. We have, and ought to observe and keep, the tenets of right endowed by God, for all humanity. These tenets we are obliged by His goodwill to exercise. That is our common responsibility and cause — which, by our self-government, we must secure.
Only on account of this cause have we grounds to claim identity as a nation. Yet even as we do so, we cannot conceive of our national identity without remembering that it exists only in the shade of the humanity we share and share alike, as individuals. This remembrance of common humanity is what makes sense of MLK's dream. Ironically, it does not point to collective guilt or innocence — only to our unavoidable obligation, as individuals, to choose (in the words of Lincoln), "right, as God gives us to see the right."
Inevitably, because we act as individuals, trials sometimes follow, pitting right against wrong to see what will prevail. Despite these trials, we should be encouraged if our choices follow the prompts of God's goodwill. By such prompts, He informs our nature. He guides us toward actions that use and respect His provisions, thus revealing the love of God, whereby He makes all things work together for good.
I marvel at the purblind naiveté of professed Christians who fail to sense the antichrist-like evil lurking in the double-edged fallacies the Deathocrats (whatever else they call themselves) and their money-masters are deploying to cut along the fault lines of our diversity. They aim to bring on civil war in the United States. The stratagems they contrive have deep roots, going back well past Alinsky, Lenin and Marx, to Rousseau, Montaigne and Machiavelli. But by God's account, they go back to the very beginning of human existence, to the gloating half-lies the serpent deployed to trigger humanity's self-degradation.
They mean for the United States of America to repeat that fall away from God, despite the reverence for God's will and law pronounced in the birth cry of our emergence as a people. So they teach the lie that America came to live with slavery, brought from Europe, when in truth slavery has been etched into the features of humanity since our first parents mistook evil for good, fastening human bondage with shackles of sin, on every race and color, creed and kind.
The perpetrators of America's demise hope to see the death of our nation because death is their idol, the power of fear the only grace dispensed from it. Thus, for the Deathcrats, "Black Lives Matter" in death not as they come to life: Whether it's the death of a black man at the hands of a white or the extinction of millions of black children on demand from their mothers through abortion.
All humanity is in their sights. Their gloating idol invites them to a future when you and I will be hopelessly extinguished. God and Christ will be banished. Lifeless worshippers of evil will have ascended to the place of God, determined to worship themselves alone and to revel in the evil that they do without hands and see without eyes, in enduring darkness.
Like MLK, America has a dream. These deluded self-made gods have only a nightmare. Whatever our faults, Americans must never forget: God's dream for us is better. Let us open our eyes to Him and let it be.