Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Race Card

In a recent post I said that I am no longer surprised by many things. I reiterate that sentiment concerning the recent "study" that finds that white voters are unlikely to vote for a black person. As soon as the race is getting tight, the race card is used, ostensibly to guilt white Democrats with doubts about Barack Obama into voting for him due to his race.

This study measures reactions to faces and polls people to agree or disagree with certain adjectives about black people. They use adjectives like: friendly, law-abiding, lazy and boastful. Who would be dumb enough to answer questions that were posed this way? No matter what the answer given is, the person answering must be deemed a "racist," because they are, by the nature of the questions, profiling all individuals that happen to share skin tones as a single ethnic group. It is like saying all Asians are studious or all Whites are upwardly motivated. The poll is rigged toward a negative spin.

Why, also, is a test about Whites' perceptions about black people in general being applied to Obama specifically? There is no direct correlation. Again, there is evidence of Liberal spin. If an honest poll were to be conducted that attempted to determine people's attitudes about Obama, then adjectives like friendly, law-abiding, etc., could be used. It might also more accurately reflect the likelihood of his presidential succession.

As it pertains to race, there are differences between general subcultures within our larger cultural context; but while each individual that makes-up that subculture adds to that culture, it is a logical fallacy that the sub-culture dictates the action or ability of that individual. A equals B, but B does not necessarily equal A. So even if the black subculture (which could be split into further sub-sub- and sub-sub-sub-cultures, ad nauseum) could be described by certain key adjectives, it does not correspond that each individual within that subculture will be rightly described by that adjective. The poll fails.

We cannot be naive, there are differences between people groups. There are differences between subcultures. Try as we may, humans are not truly "color-blind." We would show ourselves to be truly foolish if we argue the contrary. We are conditioned by (and tend to prefer) the culture in which we mature. We should, however, see the usefulness of looking beyond skin-tone and subcultural conditioning to the things that really matter. Does this person exemplify the qualities that are valued across racial and cultural lines? Then what model or structure of examination should we use? Even our ability to determine what we value is based on cultural or subcultural values.

As a Christian, I place more importance on character values such as honesty, faith and hard work, than on friendliness or intelligence in education. Others may judge a person by different standards. I think that whether or not a person believes in Scripture or Jesus Christ, however, there are similar attributes they would consider "good" or "bad." These transcend subculture. As a Christian, I see these things placed in man's nature by God and are part of the imago Dei, the image of God. We can all agree that certain activities like lying, murder, rape, and theft are "bad." We can also agree that serving others, giving to charity, expressing kindness and helping others are "good." So at a very basic level we understand what is right and wrong, even if there are somewhat distinct expressions of them within different subcultures.

So, when it comes to our Presidential candidates, let's leave race out of it. Let us also try to remove the differences that may come from sub-cultural influences (as long as those differences are matters of tastes and degree, rather than sin). Let's try to judge our candidates on those basic ideas of right and wrong. What does this person's view on this topic result in for America? I do not care that Barack Obama is black; we can overcome any subcultural differences of degree or taste that may exist between us. But is he a moral man? What does he believe? What have and what will his beliefs result in? Here are the important questions that polls like the one linked to above distract from.

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