So I need to say just a couple more things about the Southern Baptist resolution and the alt-right. In the interests of time, I will pay close attention to the interests of time.
An intelligent and non-screechy rejoinder to my piece can be found here, and I commend it to you all. The argument is basically that that Southern Baptists, given their history, do not have the “distance” to deal with everyone in a “blind justice” even-handed manner. They are not the judge, trying to be impartial, but rather an ex-con still making restitution.
This point does have some weight. The legacy of what we might call “old-school” racism is still within living memory. For the Southern Baptists to condemn the outrages of BLM might not look like even-handedness, but rather like an old bad habit creeping back.
But the leadership of the Southern Baptists is required by God, in m view, to jealously guard equity in the process. This is because they are not in a quiet room, carefully settling accounts, placing weights on scales with history books spread out before them. They are engaged in the hurly burly of leading millions of people, some of whom remember the bad old days, and many of whom have no experience with racial issues other than the ones we are having now. In other words, when you start to wobble on a bicycle, over-correcting in the other direction might be technically “just” (you might be yanking to the left only as far as you yanked to the right). But this is also the way you crash.
In Thomas Sowell’s magisterial book A Conflict of Visions, he points out the radical difference between those who want equality of outcome and those who want equality of process. The former hold to what he calls the unconstrained vision and the latter to the constrained vision. The former are trying to build a Utopia, and the latter are trying to avoid Illinois becoming Venezuela. Those who follow the unconstrained vision are great at two things—great soaring rhetoric, and crashing bicycles.
The point in my piece is that a manifest lack of even-handedness now is what enables extreme groups to recruit people you don’t want them recruiting. The alt-right is attractive to many young people, and it is attractive for a reason. What is that reason? Decades of political correctness in the leadership, that’s what—what Tim Bayly wonderfully tagged as simper reformannda.
I would like to write more on this, and hope I can get to it.
Another friend wrote to me about my piece, and raised this question.
“‘nice in idea in the abstract, but the power structure is still white-run and tilted in favor of whites generally (not toward any particular white individual, but toward the group), and therefore alt-right is more of an immediate problem than Nation of Islam or BLM.’ I don’t know that one would even need to adopt the postcolonialist definition of racism—‘prejudice PLUS power’—to be able make the argument given above’”
To this I would say that when power structures change naturally, slowly, and organically, there is still the potential for violence. When they are imposed with a heavy hand, the violent reaction is almost guaranteed. That is my argument about the rise of the alt-right. Where is this energy coming from? It is not coming from a faint memory of the old injustices—it is coming from a smarting experience with the new injustices. It is not the job of political and religious leaders to be ambitious about their abilities to tinker with “power structures.” When they undertake that kind of thing, they are getting in way over their heads. Their job is to be known as equitable, as men who will deal justly with the individuals who come in front of them, whatever the power structures might be doing.
Yeast works through the loaf slowly. When you pass laws about the appropriate yeast to dough ratios, you find yourself creating more troubles than you are solving.
As I say, there will no doubt have to be more on this.