May 25, 2019
Subject: To Squash the False Accusations of Racism? Follow Jesus Christ
John 4:9 “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”
As more Presidential candidates are joining the 2020 election campaign, a familiar cry from one of the political parties is being heard across our media channels: the American public is being reminded that we as a nation still are basically racist at our core. And we must make amends for this.
In his article ‘A Sick Hunger for Racism’, Hoover Institute’s Shelby Steele gave his thoughts on where America is today on race relations: “Is America racist? Today Americans know that active racism is no longer the greatest barrier to black and minority advancement. Since the 1960s other pathologies, even if originally generated by racism, have supplanted it. White racism did not shoot more than 4,000 people last year in Chicago. To the contrary, America for decades now—with much genuine remorse—has been recoiling from the practice of racism and has gained a firm intolerance for what it once indulged.”
But that doesn’t mean Steele, one of America’s most accomplished intellectual voices in America today, and a black man himself, doesn’t recognize the continuing accusation from the Left that America is a racist nation. Here he gives his explanation for why the Left continues to push this narrative: “Americans don’t really trust the truth that America is no longer racist. It sounds too self-exonerating. Today, racism empowers.” What does Steele mean, that the accusation of racism empowers?
“Racism was once a terrible bigotry that people nevertheless learned to live with, if not as a necessary evil then as an inevitable one. But the civil rights movement, along with independence movements around the world, changed that. The ’60s recast racism in the national consciousness as an incontrovertible sin, the very worst of all social evils. Suddenly America was in moral trouble. The open acknowledgment of the nation’s racist past had destroyed its moral authority.” But now fast forward from the 60’s to today. Opening America’s conscience to its moral failures has unfortunately also provided opportunities to promote a new narrative in America that Shelby Steele calls ‘white guilt.’
In an interview with Mark Levin, Steele was asked why he thought the accusation of racism has become so popular in our politics: “More and more, people who disagree with another’s political position are labeled as racist. What do you make of that?” Steele’s answer: “It’s white guilt. This is meant to disarm you of moral authority. When they scream racism all of the time, they are saying you don’t have moral authority to deal with whatever issue or problem we are dealing with, because you are a racist, and therefore, you are morally compromised. And, the accuser is awarding themselves for their innocence.”
Steele gives his definition: “What is white guilt? It doesn’t have anything to do with actual feelings of guilt. White guilt is the terror of being seen as a racist, as a bigot that now pervades American life. All of our social policy, our culture, everything is touched by this anxiety in most of white America. By calling someone a racist, it can be used as a weapon. White guilt causes this drive we are seeing today to prove innocence. We have a whole generation of black leaders who do one thing only: milk white guilt.”
The Bible shows us a view of racism in Jesus’ day, with the treatment of Samaritans by the Jews. In the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ and the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus casts Samaritans very favorably. In his book ‘Why Jesus’, Ravi Zacharias explains why Jesus was condemned for this: “To call a person a Samaritan was the meanest racial slur one could have cast in that day. The Samaritans were considered an impure race of an impure religion and were despised by the puritanical.”
In our verse this week, the outcast Samaritan woman is amazed that a Jewish rabbi not only asks her for a drink of water, but is willing to be seen in public with her. But notice how Jesus Christ answers the question she asked in John 4:9. Jesus tells her that if she knew with whom she was talking, she’d be asking Him for a drink. And the drink she’d be asking for wouldn’t be physical but spiritual – the water of eternal life. This is what Jesus means in John 4:14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
She not only believes Him. She believes in Him who is able to do what He says. This is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the reality of the Christian faith. And this is the solution to the ‘white guilt’ that Shelby Steele explains is poisoning America. Like the Samaritan woman, we need to follow Jesus Christ.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.