I don’t think that many people understand that the current concentration of anti-racism can have detrimental effects to the ideals of equality.
Let me briefly explain. For many people today, especially those who believe in the imago dei (Lat. “image of God”) within every human, the ideal of equality is axiomatic to their philosophy. In other words, there is simply no other choice than to see all people as equal. Even when our selfish sinful drive seeks to place our needs above others, the truth that our theology demands always militates against our sinful, selfish actions.
This is different than it has been in various places and times of human history. We are certainly not perfect, but with regard to our rearing in this area, it is unspeakable for many of us to believe that one country, race, sex, or so-called privilege makes us any better than another. It would destroy the foundation of our anthropological world-view.
However, often times the prominence of such a message which, for one reason or another, elevates the voice of any rejection of the antithesis of this philosophy, can actually make people subconsciously more open to alternatives to equality.
Although he is not referencing our current issue, Barry Schwartz argues in his book the Paradox of Choice, when given more seemingly legitimate choices in any matter, we are prone to be less secure in the choice we have made or will make. Often times, the introduction of too many choices excites an indecisiveness which leads to agnosticism in the matter.
When my children hear the megaphone of anti-racism in multiple benign or vacant settings, they begin to think “wait, I did not know that there were other (seemingly legitimate) options or choices.” “Of course black lives matter. Who is saying something different and why?” These represent actual statements from my kids.
The protests for what is evident to so many often times makes such realities, ironically, less-evident. It is the Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” In such cases the loud and excesses volume of one whose protestations should be self-evident, creates a category of options that dilutes the self-evident nature of the issue and then is destructive to the cause. When we are continually telling people we did not lie about this or that, we find ourselves in a prime position where people think we must be lying. The protests introduces new options that (legitimate or not) were not there before and people doubt truths that they would never have doubted before.
I am definitely not saying that protestation is never necessary. I think that it is, but it must be calculated, shrewd, measured, and to the right audience at the right time. It must feel as if the punishment accurately represents the crime. And am not saying that the beliefs of my family are necessarily representative of what is held and acted upon in other areas of our country (or world). I know it is not. What I am saying is that protestation is too important a tool to take lightly. One just has to count the cost of the protestation and consider that it might sometimes be doing more harm than good. Maybe the excessive protests, which hardly represent civilized justice, is a perfect illustration of cutting off the nose to spite the face? Maybe, in the words of Will Smith, “Racism is not getting worse, it is getting filmed” and, thereby, the protestation seems so excessive to many who have healed to a great degree. It opens a wound that is almost healed just because we can. But the ensuing infection is not only going in the wrong direction, but is destructive to so many years of progress.
What do you think?