. . . in virtually any area of life, save potentially its God-ordained role of civil justice. But the State can’t solve the problem in the area of race especially, and humanities in general. The more the government stays out the better. But if the void is not filled with individual relationships and private means—business, charitable, church, etc.—the state will become the tyranny and bigger problem that it already is.
The following is from a larger FREE section from The Problem of Slavery in Christian America published recently. Check out the whole Epilogue here. I have added bold typeface to a few point for emphasis.
. . . . It was a very similar impulse to that with which the young lawyer struggled when he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” The text says he asked this because he wanted to “justify himself.” How was this justifying himself? What about himself could this question have justified? Only his animosities against others in society and his desire to advance the dominion of God’s Kingdom by power and coercion. But there is no absolution through fear; only through love. This means there is no remedy through the state, only through private individuals.
Not only can states not solve this problem, state interference can only make it worse. The usual demand and effort to confront racial fears and maladies through force and coercion have exacerbated the problem beyond what it ever should have been. This injury began from the beginning and continued throughout: the state was there to sanction and regulate the importation of blacks, their enslavement, keeping them enslaved, perpetuating the myths of the danger and hypersexuality of blacks, fear of rebellion of blacks, fear of blacks voting in numbers, fear of black political power, fear of their retribution, etc.—all compounded due to the last decisions made. Such consistent injustices caused so much resentment that leftists were birthed, grew up, and gained power because of them. In turn, hard-core nationalist and racist right groups emerged again. No less a conservative authority than Thomas Sowell has noted these realities and their relationships:
The civil rights vision and civil rights leadership continue pushing an approach which has proved counterproductive for the mass of disadvantaged blacks, beneficial primarily to those already advantaged, and which accumulates resentments against all blacks. These resentments are increasingly expressed in hates groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis, which are gaining members not only among ignorant southern rednecks but also in more middle class and educated classes across the nation—in short, in places where they never had a foothold before. Earmarked benefits for blacks provide some of these hate groups’ strongest appeals to whites, however little these earmarked policies actually help blacks, either absolutely or compared to more general social benefits that would not have the same potential for racial polarization.1
In terms of current events and politics, Sowell is certainly right: the programs do not work, and the resentments they cause only compound the problem. In the larger picture, however, those resentments arose among blacks first, and they were perfectly legitimate after decades of slavery and segregation. This is the only reason leftist forces succeeded to begin with: progressive liberalism joined black righteous resentment. The latter was legitimate; the former was not, but it was the only organization in society willing to reach out to the latter. Had the church done its job at any stage along the way, the rise of the modern programs Sowell rightfully decries would not have prevailed. Conservative southerners, however, defied racial integration unbendingly. They would stand or be broken only. As Sowell notes elsewhere, “What was necessary to break the old racial politics of the South was at least a substantial minority of white voters responsive to other issues—including racial peace—to split the white vote, and so make it politically impossible for any party to antagonize the entire black electorate and expect to win. This was in fact the political situation in the South in the wake of the enfranchisement of blacks.”2 That substantial minority of white voters could have, should have, been the conservative churches reaching out, repenting, apologizing, welcoming blacks. Instead, it was liberal whites. Guess who still has the allegiance of most blacks today? This will not change until the necessary Christian and conservative groups change. . . .
Lest there be any confusion, no one has written more forcefully than myself opposing the state and statist, socialist programs, including public schools.3 Even if I were to be persuaded of a program for “reparations” and even used the term, it could only meaningfully be carried out through private means. The practical obstacles to a state-run program of reparations for, say, the effects of slavery, are so voluminous and massive they render the idea not only merely daunting but virtually impossible. (Who gets paid? Who does not? Who pays? How much? What form? How long? Is it only blacks? All blacks? What exactly constitutes the type of grievances for which someone could receive? What about whites who immigrated well after slavery and had nothing to do with it? And scores more questions.) This does not mean some form of restitution was never due, or that some form of help or aid no longer is; conservatives and Christians would do well to dwell long on this point. When we deny that the state can be the Good Samaritan, we do not simultaneously deny that there is a problem still before us. Dismissing progressivism should only impress a burden more consciously upon us as private individuals. . . .
- Thomas Sowell, Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? (New York: Quill and William Morrow, 1984), 90. [↩]
- Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture: A World View (New York: BasicBooks, 1994), 130. [↩]
- See Joel McDurmon, God versus Socialism: A Biblical Critique of the New Social Gospel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2009), and Restoring America One County at a Time (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2012). [↩]