Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination underscores the battles to come over Roe v. Wade and religious liberty
White Too Long by Robert P. Jones (Simon & Schuster, 2020) was No. 3 among Amazon’s “history of Christianity” books on Sept. 6. That’s both good and bad news: Jones provides useful information on white supremacy but builds a sinkhole too far by constructing a 15-question test and claiming the answers show white evangelicals are racists.
Try question No. 2 yourself: “What should be done with Confederate monuments that are currently standing on public property such as statehouses, county courthouses, public universities or city parks?” One in 5 said “left in place just as they are.” One in 4 said “removed but allowed to be reinstalled in a museum or on private property.” Almost half said “left in place but have a plaque added that explains their historical context.” Only 9 percent wanted to destroy the statues.
What do you think?
I wrote to Jones to ask how he scored the answers. He courteously responded, “the ‘removed and destroyed’ response option is scored as the less racist response.” Fascinating: The Taliban blew up statues of Buddha, and to be fully anti-racist Americans should also be destructive. Famed artist Elisabet Ney lived in Austin and sculpted slave owners and slavery defenders including Stephen F. Austin, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate Postmaster General John Reagan: Should her work be destroyed?
My own preference: Move statues to a museum. In a book setting out to show the omnipresence of racism, it’s manipulative to include as evidence a question to which 91 percent of Americans don’t give the author’s preferred Talibanesque answer. Other questionable analysis sets up “a stunning contradiction,” as Jones puts it: “White evangelical Protestants report the warmest attitudes toward African Americans while simultaneously registering the highest score on the Racism Index.” In other words, these whites personally like blacks but support systemic racism.
It’s not a contradiction but an ideological difference. Most evangelicals are conservatives who criticize the systemic racism that keeps many black kids trapped in terrible public schools, even though educational choice programs in several large cities have shown excellent results. Many also criticize the systemic racism that for a half century has encouraged single parenting by offering welfare to single moms and imprisoning dads for minor drug offenses. (One out of 5 black kids grew up in a single-parent home in 1960: Now it’s 2 out of 3.)
Liberals, though, rarely admit that their liberal programs have contributed to systemic racism. They rightly lay out the brutality of slavery and the semi-slavery that continued even after the Civil War, but often ignore the analysis of black economists like Thomas Sowell and black journalists like Jason Riley, whose book title offers a good request to liberals: Please Stop Helping Us.
Some common right-left ground on prison reform exists, and the COVID-19 shake-up may open up common ground on the need for radical changes in public schools. But why turn conservative/ liberal differences of opinion into a racist/nonracist divide?
Katharina Bonzel’s National Pastimes: Cinema, Sports, and Nation (University of Nebraska, 2020) provides provocative analysis of Chariots of Fire, the Rocky series, and other films. Jonathan Tepper’s The Myth of Capitalism (Wiley, 2019) shows we have too much crony capitalism and should develop a reinvigorated antitrust policy. Ron Sider’s Speak Your Peace (Herald, 2020) makes the case for pacifism.
If you think fascism is right-wing, you might benefit from socialist-turned-libertarian David Ramsay Steele’s The Mystery of Fascism (St. Augustine’s Press, 2019). Steele’s essays are creative, politically incorrect analyses of many political and cultural issues. His 2001 essay on fascism identifies fascism as the refuge of socialists disappointed to find workers interested in reform rather than revolution: Fascism was a leftist variant in Italy and deserves a spot at that dictatorial end of the spectrum, with liberty at the other end. —M.O.