Friday, March 8, 2013

I'm Not Guilty This Time

               There seems to be an effort among some of the politically correct crowd to make those of us who are white feel guilty about having stolen this country from the American Indians and for having prospered on the backs of black slaves.  In that I did not have much choice over where I was born or the race of the womb from which I came, I refuse to feel guilty.  
              World history teaches that when people cannot defend their territory against invaders, they lose it.  When we don’t defend our territory against invaders, we too will lose it. The invasion does not have to always be military. The Western Europeans who established themselves in this country could well lose their territory to immigrants of color, without a shot being fired.  However, the peoples of color coming into this country come from many backgrounds and have no unifying culture: they are extremely diverse.  Each group has its own prejudices and racist tendencies (racism is not solely the property of white Anglo Saxons).  Because of this, minority rule, be it of one minority or a coalition of minorities, will bring with it a time of chaos and strife.
             Over the years, liberal journalists Juan Williams and Leonard Pitts, along with the many injustices reported in the news, have awakened in me an empathy for the prejudices blacks have to deal with in this country.  However, all prejudices are not race related and lucky is the person who never encounters any.  
            When I decided to leave the pastorate and return to secular work, I went to see my friend who owned a large, successful Alaskan employment agency. He told me when he would tell a prospective employers I was a clergyman, they wouldn’t even grant me an interview. Another friend who was an executive head hunter told me the two hardest people to place were ex-preachers and ex-school teachers.  This would seem a little strange to my friends in Arkansas, where ministers are respected, but not to my friends in Alaska or Washington.  I also lost out on a very desirable job once because of my lack of interest in sports.  And, we all know there is a prejudice against older people when it comes to employment. 
           In spite of all this, I have managed always to find employment when I wanted to, including a major career shift at the age of 50 and new jobs even at the age of 70.  To be sure, they weren’t the same jobs I might have been able to land when I was young and had no history as a pastor or school teacher, but they were there to be found in spite of prevailing prejudices, and there are no affirmative action programs for these prejudices.
              Knowing we live in a world of prejudices, we have to be smarter than those who would victimize us. My son told me of a black co-worker whose father made it a point to name his kids common names such as John or James and taught them to speak standard, unaccented American English.  He said his father did not want his children ruled out by prejudice before they even had a chance to meet a future employer and speak for themselves in person.  It makes sense.
              A friend who was a building contractor back in the 70s when long hair on men was not acceptable, told how a young man with long hair came on his job site looking for work. He didn’t have any work for the young man but took a few minutes to talk to him. The fellow had a wife and baby and needed work badly.  He said he knew why no one would hire him. “It’s because of my long hair,” he said. We live in a prejudicial world, so don’t’ add prejudices which you can avoid to those you can’t do much about.  This includes visible tattoos, random body piercing and many of the other things young people seem so fascinated with.  If you are going to look like Dennis Rodman, you had better be a real good basketball player, but don’t expect to avoid prevailing prejudices when it comes to your own employment.
              I grew up in a poor family, like many blacks, Hispanics, etc.  To my knowledge, my ancestors did not own slaves, and this is the best any of us can say, since the institution of slavery spans all nationalities, civilizations, races and times.  Any of our ancestors could have owned slaves, though they probably didn’t.  Even if they did, we don’t hold children responsible for the sins of their fathers. The economic wealth of this country was also built on the backs of underpaid coal miners, of which my father was one.  That does not mean the grandchildren of the owners of Northwest Mining Company owe me anything.
               I see no reason why I should expect anything from people of other races or that they should expect anything from me, other than good will.  Those blacks who are living today were not slaves, nor was I a slave owner.  The poor black and I both started poor.  We owe each other nothing except to be fair one with the other.
                As to the American Indians, they can rise up and reclaim their territory, or they can study history to find out what others did when they lost their territory.  Yes, in some ways, we have grossly abused the American Indians.  I still remember how mad and ashamed I got when reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, because of the injustices dealt native Americans.  However, compared to what happened to most captive peoples throughout history, the European invaders have treated them quite well and continue to do so.
                Recently I saw one of those bumper stickers which said, “Free Tibet.”  Lots of luck. The Tibetans could not hold their territory against the invading Chinese. They can either attempt to reclaim it, learn to get along with the invaders, or wait for some super power to run the Chinese out and return their territory to them. The Dali Lama can meditate until he dies or try to channel Crazy Horse for advice, but the invaders are there to stay. 
               The Mexicans have a better chance of retaking California and parts of Texas than either the American Indians or the Tibetans have of retaking their territory, and the Mexicans’ chances aren’t very good.  Take Israel for example: Even with pressure from the United Nations and the international community, the West Bank is still occupied by Israel and has been since they took it in the Six Day War in 1967.  World bullies might force Israel’s hand someday to give the land back, but it won’t be because the native inhabitants retook the territory.
                Even if the United States were forced to cede its territory to some superpower, the invaders would not give it back to the American Indians nor would they grant reparations to the heirs of black slaves.
                When you cede your territory to the invaders, you lose control of it until the invaders become too weak to maintain it, as in the recent history of Russia and its satellite nations, which comprised the former Soviet Union.

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