Monday, July 10, 2006

Politics And Racism--Perception vs. Truth

Okay, I generally want to steer clear of partisanship in the political arena. At their best, Democrats and Republicans are both well-intentioned, with different approaches to solving some of the same problems, but both equally seeing the need for societal problems to be addressed. At the same time, I think both Democratic and Republican politicians tend to have some serious shortcomings and inconsistencies in the area of translating belief systems into policy decisions. At this point in history, neither of the major players are looking too shiny. In the interest of full disclosure, I personally lean "Conservatarian", believing intensely in individual freedom, but also drawing the line where that freedom interferes with the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others--including those individuals who are waiting to be born. Because of this, I frequently end up voting Republican. However, I am not married to the party, nor do I mentally gloss over its shortcomings in order to preserve a vague and comfortable feeling that I'm on the "right" side. I see no point in denying what is true simply to win elections; no one is served by the illusion, and the truth has a pretty strong determination to work its way out of hiding eventually. Besides, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8: 31,32) Truth and freedom are a good combination.

All that being said, I have often noted that people will believe what they want to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, and it is a routine thing for human beings to attribute motives and meanings to other people that they cannot possibly confirm without crawling inside someone else's head for a while. Since nanobots have not yet been created which make telepathy possible, we often make judgements based on assumption, judgements that more information would prove inaccurate, but that frequently go unchallenged because they are "common knowledge", and even when challenged are difficult to root out of the "everybody knows this" category of public thought. One such commonly accepted misconception, or at least what I believe to be a misconception, relates to racism and politics in America. I frequently hear the notion from liberal friends that Republicans are more likely to be racially prejudiced than Democrats. Experientially, this simply isn't true from my perspective. I know an awful lot of conservatives, and can't name even a handful of my acquaintance that harbor racist views. Actually, again from my experience, the liberals I know are more likely to cling to racist notions. I'm not saying this is universally true, simply that that's how it has played out thus far as the world has passed by on my own personal view-screen.

Given all this, I read with interest an article at Human Events Online by John Hawkins, indicating that my observations about racism and politics are born out by a reasonable amount of history and statistics. I'm not going to summarize the article, since I think it's worth reading in its entirety, but I will say that there is some pretty good evidence that there are racists in both parties, and the GOP is far more colorblind than it is frequently attributed to be. I'll warn you up front, the article does have a partisan bent, but give it a look anyhow. If you are determined to believe conservatives are racist, or if you have had different life experiences than mine, which have led you to draw that conclusion, Hawkin's arguments may not sway you, but they might at least open your mind to the notion that there is more than one opinion as to which political party has the best claim to racial impartiality. If you are looking for the truth to set you free, then it's a bit more information than you might have had before. It isn't really the truth Jesus was referring to in the book of John, but it's a start, anyway.