Racism: The Ineradicable Sin?
For today’s radical Left, which now has virtually uncontested control of the Democratic Party, racism is the universal and unforgiveable sin. It is also considered a sin that so permeates society that it is ineradicable except by a societal revolution - one that completely rearranges what is deemed an inherently oppressive hierarchy continually contaminated by microaggressions passed down from tyrannical generation to generation.
It’s well to recall that every age has had a version of a universal and unforgiveable sin, a mark of Cain signifying an ineradicable stain condemning the offending race, ethnicity or class to perpetual ostracization from the rest of society.
For the thirteenth-century poet Dante, the worst sin was betrayal. Betrayers who like the biblical Cain betrayed and slew those closest to them, were consigned to the Ninth Circle of Hell, where they were eternally frozen in ice up to their necks. Julius Caesar’s assassin Brutus lived in that circle, remorsefully and eternally - yet ineffectively - shedding tears of ice.
J. Robert Nash notes that for many living in England’s Victorian era, “The morality of the family, no matter what the class, was passionately clung to. To abandon the abiding concept of marriage and the family was to commit the unforgivable sin, the unpardonable betrayal.” Those who broke the code were consigned to the status of outcasts, made eternal wanderers like Cain.
In modern times, the inequities of wealth and the classes seen as wrongfully possessing too much occupied the minds of communists, who sought to rearrange social hierarchy by redistribution of goods and status.
It is also well to remember that numbers of Christians in the American South believed the mark of Cain and the curse of Ham rested on blacks in perpetuity. While the biblical story of Cain never mentions race, even some of the earliest church fathers believed Cain’s skin turned black after he murdered his brother Abel. Later theologians would perpetrate the idea that the descendants of Noah’s son Ham were perpetually doomed to be servants of others. This is to say nothing of the distortion of the New Testament admonitions to Roman slaves to obey their masters.
An entire theological edifice was erected to support the odious system of chattel slavery that once characterized the South. The idea that God intended blacks to remain subject to their owners, most but not all of whom were white, continued to be fixed in the minds and actions of many who considered themselves to be Christians. Thankfully, today virtually none who call themselves Christians continue to believe in the malignant dogmas that supported slavery.
The pernicious idea that a particular race or class of people bears the mark of Cain and so is inherently inferior and deserving of lower status than others has always been an inclination of the human race. That tendency has certainly not been confined to America, but historically has been and is found in all cultures and among all races. Every empire in history has deemed certain peoples as inferior beings who should be conquered.
The use of a single pejorative lens through which to view certain races and classes and through which to interpret all of humanity and its history always results in societal distortions and sometimes unmitigated disaster.
The Stalinist era considered the kulak class of Russia inherently wicked because of their supposedly undeserved prosperity and evil desire to keep what they had worked for. Millions of them starved to death when the Soviet government condemned them as a class, seizing their grain and livestock while collectivizing their land.
Though the genocide of Armenian Christians has never been acknowledged by the government of Turkey, hundreds of thousands were driven out of their homes into the wilderness, there to die exposure and starvation. Many were tortured; some were even crucified.
As most know, the targeting of Jews as an inherently evil race resulted in the near-extermination of European and Slavic Jewry.
Knowledge of the awful results when a particular class, ethnicity or race is deemed as leprous to society and therefore worthy of being diminished, set aside or even killed is a reason why any idea the white race alone is inherently and irretrievably - in fact, almost genetically - disposed to the evils of racism should be regarded with deep, deep suspicion.
The current trends in academia - or what passes for academia - in which whites are lectured about “white privilege;” where the separation of nonwhites into aggrieved groups which close the door to participation by whites; where whites’ contributions to literature and history are increasingly disdained; and where colonialism is viewed as a purely white phenomenon, are purely toxic and smack of deliberate racism. Every race has been guilty of colonization and oppression, not just white Europeans. It’s well to recall the history of empires. Mongols, for instance, destroyed Kievan Rus and killed or enslaved Russian whites.
Add the media’s and Hollywood’s endless virtue signaling of their own sinlessness while eternally questing for microaggressions committed by whites - all the while busily revising or openly destroying the memory of the past, and it is difficult if not impossible not to see the onus of the mark of Cain now is being stamped on whites by radicalized fringe groups.
It is now only too common to write and speak of white people as inherently guilty of racism - born to it, so to speak. Such a theory is a new and revisionist theological version of the older and more accurate theological doctrine of original sin, which essentially acknowledges the truth that every human being ever born, regardless of race or class, will do wrong things. The doctrine of original sin notes that every human being bears a verisimilitude of the Mark of Cain, which mark is often characterized by anger and hatred toward one’s fellow human being. Anger and resentment of the “other” is, as Christ pointed out, an indicator of murderous intent, be it killing outright or by degrees.
Singling out the white race as now bearing the mark of Cain will not rectify the sin of racism. Making whites bear eternal guilt and punishment for past and current offenses will not heal wounds and certainly will not expurgate the sins of the past - which sins do need to be remembered, repented of and rejected.
What will be achieved is the corruption of the legal principle that every person is responsible for the sins he or she commits and that no one is to be held accountable for the sins of one’s predecessors.
What will be achieved is a caste system characterized by race, some of which are considered untouchable because of the color of their skin; some of which are considered intrinsically more wicked than others; some of which must pay reparations for the sins of the fathers from generation to generation.
What will be achieved is a rigid stratification and hierarchical order that undoes the great, ongoing, and heroic effort of America to give every person a chance to make of one’s self whatever one can. The permeability of the American classes will be vitiated, and a new version of apartheid will rise, accompanied by all the inequities inherent in such an abhorrent social system.
Benjamin Disraeli, once prime minister of England, noted in his novel Sybil what he saw as the three successive great influences in England: “…The influence of races in our early ages, of the Church in our middle, and of parties in our modern destiny are three great moving and modifying powers.”
Though he did not mean “race” in quite the same way as we moderns, it is fair to say that for the better part of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Church’s and political parties’ social modifying powers have given way to ideologies based on race, class, and ethnicity. Who among us can forget the odium of Nazi ideology based on hatred of so-called “inferior” races and peoples?
Such ideologies have been and are characterized by the untenable idea that one race (or class) is superior to another, and that one race or class deserves to be considered inherently unequal by reason of birth into their particular race or social class. The horrific results of such ideologies are recorded and incontestable history. Tens of millions have died because it was thought such tainted races and classes deserved to die.
A deliberate remembrance of the Jewish and Christian belief in the origin of mankind and its status as created in the image of God is the remedy to racism, not matter what form it takes.
As Dutch theologian and stateman Abraham Kuyper put it in his lectures on the influence of Calvinism on politics in the Western world, “Man is created by man, and by virtue of his birth he is organically united with the whole human race. Together we form one humanity. All the human race is from one blood.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. would echo Kuyper’s words in speech after speech. He would lose his life because of his bold proclamation of the universality of humanity and his reminder that all derive their value from their Creator. How often did King reprise the Hebrew prophet Malachi’s cry, “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?”
It is past time to recover the idea that every human being has his or her origin from the Creator. It is past time to recall that every one of us is inevitably sinful yet has access to redemption. It is past time to put aside the pernicious ideologies based on race and class - whatever form they take.
It is past time to take on the responsibility for one another Cain rejected when he said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” in response to God’s question, “Where is your brother Abel?”
We are one another’s keepers.