Thursday, October 23, 2014

Character Trumps Tribe, Part I

The attack on freedom of religion by Houston Mayor Annise Parker brought to mind a point about identity politics. Or, to frame it from a better position, character trumps tribe.

Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Monument.
His dream was that we would judge each other by the content of our character,
rather than the color of our skin.

I mentioned last week that, when Annise Parker was running for mayor, she downplayed her connection to the LGBT community. She ran as a sensible businessperson with skills the city needed. And she just happened to be a lesbian, but that didn’t affect her skills. That, however, was a lie to get elected. She did not have adequate skills to overcome her tribal connection.
She has reigned as the first openly homosexual mayor of a major American city. Ah, the glory! And she has used the power of her position, time and again, to press the agenda of her tribe, rather than the overall needs of all the citizens. She may even believe that putting forward her tribal agenda is best for all. But it isn’t. She’s blinded by that overriding agenda.
She can’t see that pressing her agenda at the risk of giving sexual predators legal, unquestioned access to women’s bathrooms is not good for the community as a whole. She can’t even hear the huge outcry from the community who see that obvious danger. And she’s so sure she’s right that she arbitrarily throws out the 55,000 signatures of the people who want to put the question on the ballot. When she’s called on that illegality and must defend her actions in a lawsuit, she uses that opportunity to intimidate churches for speaking on this moral issue.
So, now that we have had a first openly homosexual mayor of a major US city, what do we know? The agenda of the tribe trumps the character of the candidate. Will that always be true? Perhaps not, but she has given us reason to beware. If her actual goal was to move members of her tribe into acceptance among the broader community, she set back that work a generation or more.
We have a similar situation with our first black president. [Style note: I do not know which changing term is best to use for the race previously referred to as black. Referring to it as African-American is inaccurate, since not all Africans are of the black race, nor are all blacks from Africa, nor are all people of that race Americans. So, for simplicity, I use the term black, meaning no disrespect or offense.]
He ran as post-racial. Many people succumbed to that. It’s a positive thing to show what so many of us already felt—race doesn’t matter; character and capability matter. Unfortunately, he was voted in because of his race, regardless of lack of character and capability. And, six years in I think it’s safe to say that his is the most racist administration we have had since Woodrow Wilson (who separated blacks serving in the military and encouraged eugenics that have led to a higher percentage of blacks being aborted than any other race—possibly more being aborted than being born).
Almost immediately after his election, he appointed a racist Attorney General, Eric Holder, who refused to prosecute Black Panthers for voter intimidation, because they were black. And it was his policy that anything racist that blacks do is fair, and only non-blacks will be prosecuted for racist (or perceived racist) offenses. See J. Christian Adams’s book Injustice.
The president has tried to construe disagreement with him and his policies as racism—just as Mayor Parker has tried to construe disagreement with her as being homophobic. He uses his tribalism as a power tool against numerous other segments of the people: Constitution respecters, religious people, people who assert their second amendment rights, people who respect the military….
Now that we have had a first black president, what do we know? The agenda of the tribe trumps the character of the candidate. With blacks, this may set things back even further than you might think. We have the additional data that more than 9 out of 10 blacks voted for this man—because of his race. In other words, we have clear evidence that an overwhelming majority of the black “tribe” identify with the tribal connection more than with the American connection. This is where stereotypes come from—a probable truth. Most of the blacks we meet failed to vote in favor of American freedom and constitution, because they had a chance to vote for someone of their color. Most blacks, we can conclude safely from the overwhelming data, are racist. Tribal.
This means racism is a bigger issue than before the Obama elections. I’m expanding this discussion to “tribalism,” because race isn’t the only group with an agenda. Tribalism isn’t a good thing.
Think back to high school. Your school had a cross-town rival. Were all the people in your school better than all the people in the rival school? No. Was your school better than theirs because you had a better football team? Or even because you had more graduates go on to college? There might be some useful measures, but chances are you rooted for your school team out of loyalty. You went there; you belonged. And that’s all that matters.
But in grown-up world, loyalty by happenstance isn’t a good enough reason for supporting a person or policy.
There’s more to cover here, to fully understand our divisions, and possibly to find some way out. So we’ll continue this in part II.

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