By Nathan Barton
Can we not learn how to defend ourselves AND be kind and inclusive? Can we not show respect and tolerance for others by understanding how not to offend? Can we not exercise free speech without being condemned as haters and bigots? Without being attacked for being racists, supremists, and worse? Is it wrong to say you love your nation? Your family? Your people? Or just for SOME nations and families and people? Are we wrong to say that there is nothing wrong with OUR skin color or OUR religion or OUR political views? Why is “black pride” and “red pride” praised but “white pride” trashed?
In the views of many, both right and left politically (and religiously), these things are incompatible with each other. Consider the recent attacks on a small religious college in Missouri, after a story in Ozark First about a newly required course for freshmen entering the college.
According to David Perry, writing in Pacific Standard, the course includes “lessons on American politics, the military, and flag norms.” Through their studies, “students will learn rifle marksmanship, map reading, land navigation, and rope knotting. Students also must be able to run a mile and will engage in other physical education activities.” It’s unclear how such activities will foster the college’s mission of making students more “Christ-like.”
That, at least, is Mr. Perry being disingenuous. The school’s website [cofu.edu] clearly states: “The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.” Mr. Perry (and I) might disagree with how College of the Ozarks defines Christ-like, but the school is clearly up front about what they believe. They believe (rightly or wrongly) that part of being Christ-like is to be patriotic and hard-working, not just well-educated.
His closing statement: “I’ll take Wesleyan’s message of radical inclusion and kindness over flag worship and rifle training any day.” Wrong as I believe flag worship is (just as sports worship and movie worship is), I don’t see how any of these are exclusive.
To say nothing of the fact that learning rifle (and pistol) marksmanship may be “patriotic” but it is also a very valuable life skill for all persons.
And can it ever be wrong to show respect and tolerance even for those with whom we strongly disagree? And even for symbols we ourselves do not revere? Wesleyan is in step with modern American society which believes it is acceptable -even required – to treat your political opponents like garbage (even though they may be), instead of (as did Christ and His apostles) with basic courtesy as well as direct and challenging questions.
Another site condemns recent appearances of simple 8.5 x 11 posters saying “It’s okay to be white.” As reported in various places such as NBC Washington and other news outlets, this sign was met with anger and fear. A spokesman for Tulane University said that the signs were obviously not speaking for the University. Duh. Various people viewed them as threatening or promoting division.
Again, exactly HOW is this threatening or a danger, except as a push-back to claims that “black is beautiful” and the constant barrage of screams that to merely have pale skin is proof that you are a racist? Tulane University certainly did not need to waste its staff time telling us these do not represent their university. More and more academic institutions treat those who are not “people of color” rudely, with disrespect and contempt, discriminating against them in the same way that they claim the “white race” has treated other races.
So back to my headline question. Is it right to deny to other people (because of their color, their political or religious beliefs, their ancestry, or even their actions) the same courtesy and kindness – and the same rights! – that we claim for ourselves and expect from others? To more and more people and institutions, it IS right – as demonstrated by their actions.
Certainly, it is their right to say that their opponents – their enemies – should be denied basic human respect, rights, and kindness. But it makes sense, then, to try and deny them the power that they have, the prestige they have claimed, and especially the wealth that they have stolen from many of the very same people (or their ancestors) that they now condemn.
Mama’s Note: The desire/compulsion to control the lives and property of others is the ROOT of all evil. It is important to understand that both, or even ALL “sides” to these controversies can be, and usually are, simply trying to take control of others in one way or another.
I wish I knew how to convince these controllers of their evil, but so far have only two answers. First is to ignore them and not allow them to control my life as far as that is possible. Second is to defend myself when that fails.
Anyone have a better answer? One that does not include the initiation of force, obviously.