It turns out that the folks at Little Geneva don’t like the fact that I tell redneck jokes. And as a result of me acquiring this information, here are a couple more! What do a tornado and a redneck divorce have in common? I dunno, what? In both cases, somebody loses a mobile home! And what are a redneck’s last words? I dunno. “Hey guys, watch this!”
So seriously (this transition being for those who found the preceding funny), why am I willing to do this kind of thing? And why would I be unwilling to tell blackneck jokes? They also took umbrage at my reference to a couple peckerwoods in an Arkansas double wide. Why would I use an expression like that, and would never refer to umpty somebty bumperty concerning blacks like they do?
And this brings me to a brief rabbit trail. The term redneck quite possibly came, not from sunburned necks of field workers, but from the practice of Scottish covenanters in wearing red neckerchiefs. And this begins to answer the earlier question — I can talk like this because these are my people, mostly Scottish on my father’s side, and Scots/Irish on my mother’s. More about the relevance of this in a moment.
I am responding to Little Geneva here because Scripture requires us to love our enemies, and this means that in an important sense we are under obligations to our enemies. In this case, the obligation is to not misrepresent them. I do not believe the kinists, as they call themselves, believe that blacks are genetically determined to commit certain criminal acts. They press the distinction, and I grant that they have, that they are only saying that blacks are genetically predisposed to certain acts, and this is what accounts for the higher levels of criminality. And since everyone with common sense knows that there is a sense in which this kind of thing is obviously true (the Irish are quick-tempered, etc.), this means, they argue, that they are not racist in any sinful sense, and those who claim they are racist are simply being driven by a lust for pc correctness. Yep, that’s me, desperately wanting to be accepted by the arbiters of political correctness.
Which leads me to note that in the midst of this discussion over levels of crime among blacks various handwringers and bedwetters want to simply believe the propaganda we are served constantly, which is fundamentally a message of denial. They want to say there no objective difference in how different racial groups in our nation behave. It reminds me of the joke about the drunk looking for his car keys under a street light, and when he is asked if that is where he lost them, he replies, “No, but the light is better here.” For the sake of a superficial advantage (better light) he overlooks the obvious (which is that his keys are somewhere else). Just last week my wife and I were in an airport watching a frail little old lady in a wheel chair selected for the full tilt security treatment. Is she a Saudi terrorist? No, but the light is better here.
It also reminds me of Chesterton’s observation that when confronted with the fact that a man can get real pleasure out of skinning a cat, the only two options are to deny the union between God and man, as the Christians do, or deny there is a God, as the atheists do. The new theologians, he said, think it a satisfactory solution to deny the cat. The pc crowd insist upon denying the cat, and if you press the point, they will blame the skinned cat on the fact that people like you press the point.
That said, why do I believe the kinists misrepresent the biblical gospel so frightfully? The kinists stumble at a fundamental point in biblical polemics. They apply their principles to others first. Jesus tells individuals to get the beam out of their own eye first. Then they will be able to see when they address others. Yourself first, others second. Paul says the same (Gal. 6:1). If someone is overcome in a trespass the one who is spiritual should correct him, considering himself lest he also be tempted. And in Romans 2, Paul makes the same point with regard to the ethnic tensions between Jew and Gentile — he rebukes the Jews who put on airs with regard to their superiority to Gentiles when, he points out, they do the very same kind of thing.
In this spirit, I will believe that the kinists are not driven by racially-based malice or vainglory (which is how I have defined racism) when they begin attacking the sins of their own people as the result of racially based predispositions. If blacks are predisposed to certain sins, then it follows that we should apply this standard to whites as well. But these are white people, kinists, wanting to address the ills our nation is facing. So why not do it by attacking those things we do because we are white? But they do not do this kind of thing at all, which means that they are operating a butcher’s shop with one thumb on the scale.
What are the characteristic white sins? When you do the logic chopping thing, and carefully distinguish genetic determinism from genetic probabilism, but you only do this with all the other groups, there is a severe problem with spiritual dishonesty. Your own group is made up of sinners, certainly, but they are just people, you know? We sin because we are descended from Adam, and everybody is a sinner. They sin because they are descended from Adam and they are black. This is just atrocious.
I mentioned earlier that I am of Scots and Scots/Irish descent. A great book on the contribution these people have made to our history is Born Fighting by James Webb. For sheer cussedness, there is no finer group anywhere. The gods they worshipped, and then the God they came to worship, along with many centuries of hardscrabble living, created a certain ethos which had specific and great strengths and some pretty crazy weaknesses. Psalm 115 makes clear that we become like the gods we worship, which is why I attribute the faults of black culture to their gods over the course of the last millennia. I do the same for whites, and for Asians, and so on. But I also acknowledge something of a hermeneutical spiral here. How does it come about that this group picks the cruel gods of war and that group picks the sensate gods of debauchery? There are racial differences when it comes to faults, and there are differences when it comes to virtues. And what will the gospel do? When the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, what will Africa be like? The scriptural answer is that it will be glorious — and different. The gospel saves us, and glorifies us, without throwing us into an egalitarian blender.
We can hasten that day if we pay attention to our own faults and failings. The black “preachers” like Sharpton and Jackson are betraying their people because they will not confront their characteristic sins. In this, they are just like the Little Geneva folks who will not confront characteristic white sins, petty racism being among them.
I was once talking to a black mother of a student of mine, who was convinced that the other kids didn’t like her son and that he was doing poorly in school because he was black. He was actually having trouble because he was a pill, but I granted that point to his mother. I told her that she believed her son lived in a world in which he would have to work twice as hard to get the same distance as some white kid. Now if that is the kind of world she believed he lived in, I needed to tell her that he was currently working half as hard. Given that, what did she think was going to happen to him? What happens to people who have to work twice as hard and they only work half as hard? They get chewed up and spit out. This mother needed to hear and understand these things (and she needed to desperately, for the sake of her son), but she couldn’t really hear them from me. She needed to hear this kind of thing from the leaders of her people, so that she could really hear it.
I am a conservative white guy. I am Reformed and Calvinistic. I have a Celtic heritage. I am an evangelical. I am a preacher, called to attack sin. So whose sins should I attack? There are fireworks preachers out there who put on quite a display in the pulpit, always taking care to hammer the sins that are not being committed by the people actually present. Gather all the born againers, and preach against the sins of secular humanists. The problem should be obvious. I will press the point home, and leave off, by telling the story of an old black preacher who preached on heaven and hell all the time, heaven and hell, heaven and hell. When he was asked why he did this, he replied that he had preached on chicken stealing once, but it had dampened the enthusiasm.