Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Prejudice Needs A Little Christmas

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony




The late Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote the music and lyrics to “The Christmas Waltz,” which celebrates in song the wonder, joy, awe and love of this very special time of year. “It’s that time of year when the world falls in love, every song you hear seems to say, Merry Christmas ….” The magic of the season is everywhere, allowing most of us to place our problems, fears, and even our prejudices on hold until after the New Year.

Last weekend our town bedazzled visitors and locals alike as private homes and public buildings were showcased in holiday splendor during Edenton’s annual Christmas House Tour. This small historic town of less than 5,000 grew to twice that over the weekend. Folks milled about during the day in the brisk seasonal air, going in and out the many quaint shops that line our main street. Edenton’s waterfront setting enhances the beauty of the history that abounds here.

My friend Donald visits us each year to spend a couple of days and enjoy our town’s colonial holiday hospitality. He is a man of enormous talent-not only an accomplished musician, but a renowned vocalist. Donald has a massive physical presence but is one of the gentlest men I’ve ever known. On Friday evening, we visited the homes that were on tour, reveling in the majesty and splendors of Edenton’s holiday ambiance. As we neared the end of our pilgrimage, we entered a home with a piano next to a fire in the hearth. When the owners learned of Donald’s talent, they asked him to play a Christmas song or two. Not only did he play, but sang as well to the obvious delight of everyone. The owners were kind enough to invite us to stay for dinner, but my wife was preparing our dinner at home, two short blocks away.

I share this story because of an indescribable feeling that overwhelmed me as I observed Donald entertaining those inching ever closer to the piano. Donald is black. Looking around the room in this grand southern home there was no sense of the racial divisiveness that has often plagued this great nation; no-not on this night; not in this season of good will towards men.

Another black friend is Lenny, who does political commentary for Fox News in Charlotte. On a recent overnight visit, we had ample opportunity to sit and chat. While we rocked away on our front porch he said something that zeroed in on the progress this country has made in improving race relations between blacks and whites: “You know Bob, not that many years ago I would have never thought this possible.” My curiosity piqued. “What possible,” I inquired? “Sitting on the front porch of white folks as an equal in a small southern town,” he replied.

Lenny is correct about progress being made. But we still have a long way to go. Electing Barack Obama president indicates that many want to put the issue of race behind us. But even this historic election cannot change what still remains in the hearts of some: disdain, contempt and indifference to those whose skin is of a different shade. While racism may not be as overt as it once was, it can still be exhibited in various subtle ways.

I received an e-mail last week from an acquaintance that disturbs me. The sender was alleging that two black county commissioners recently elected to a neighboring county’s legislature were being victimized by racial slurs by some white commissioners behind closed doors. If true it’s a sad day for that county.

It is hard to believe too that there are still clubs, including national service organizations, which “discourage” blacks and even women from joining their ranks. A black ball system sometimes is in place that allows some club members to hide their prejudice in anonymity. If they were seen as overt racists their business or political interests might be negatively affected.

I know of private clubs admitting to membership a “token” black, so the group would look like it was open and thus impervious to any legal challenges. This type of hypocrisy is beyond the pale.

It would be unfair to suggest that racism is always white on black. It comes in as many flavors as offered in a Baskin-Robins ice-cream parlor. There are for example, blacks who have disdain for whites. Some of these folks complain incessantly about history being unjust toward their race, with some going as far as demanding reparations from the government for over two centuries of pain and suffering. It is hard to see how any significant progress can be made in closing the racial divide with this approach. America cannot be held hostage by the actions of her ancestors, no matter how regrettable.

When our children were young, my wife and I often volunteered to help staff our church nursery. These black, white, Hispanic and Asian children were too young to know anything about prejudice- and it showed. They were just being kids; God’s children enjoying the comfort and company of one another as equals.

While there still are many who view racial prejudice as a complex issue, our children do not. Maybe its time we model some of our behavior after them, instead of the other way around. And there is no better time to start than Christmas. It is after all “that time of year when the world falls in love”.

A few minor notes on this issue of prejudice (which I think Bob has understated) that need to be addressed. 97% of blacks voted for Obama. 85% of blacks who usually vote Republican voted Democrat this year exclusively on the basis of racial bigotry. 88% of blacks think that it is okay for O.J. Simpson to slit the throats of a couple of whites and still insist to this day that he is “not guilty” because they were only honkeys. Around 30% of the black Atlanta Falcon fans refuse to attend Atlanta Falcon games this year because they replaced the dog killer Michael Vick with a honkey quarterback. Blacks made up 25% of the vote for Obama while only representing 13% of the population of America (does this allow anyone to honestly say that Obama is the President of ALL the people?).

I don’t see racism as getting better any longer. I think it is becoming more biased against whitey, a term that is thrown around quite often by blacks and which never gets an appropriate response because it is politically incorrect to respond. A large percentage of the blacks in America have voluntarily immigrated to our nation or are descendants of recent black immigrants. Yet many of them, coming here long after the wrongs they complain about ended, demand that whites give them reparations for injustice their ancestors never experienced here in our land.

Yet I guarantee that many blacks, reading this, will say I am the racist for daring to point out this truth they do not want stated aloud. Residual racism will not be overcome by fixating on this issue. It is time to accept some imperfections. Prejudice has always existed. Some will always exist. Until we start focusing on running our nation with concern for individual justice of today and simply ignore historical shortcomings, we are simply creating the basis for future resentment.