Bill Lockwood: Systemic Racism and The Remedy for Discrimination
by Bill Lockwood
The word “discrimination” has come to take on negative connotations in our modern culture. In reality, the word is “neutral”—simply referring to the process by which one recognizes and understands the difference between various options. We must, for example, be able to “discriminate” between good choices and bad choices; between right and wrong. Sometimes the word can be used to refer to a refined taste in foods or arts—the ability to distinguish between good and better.
In our culture, however, the primary association of the word is “unjust” treatment of different peoples based solely on race, or class, or gender, etc.
In the New Testament, the letter of James addresses unjust discriminations in chapter 2. He commands, “Hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (2:1–KJV, ASV). “Respect of persons” is partiality.
The partiality James criticizes in the text is partiality based upon wealth and social status in the worship assembly. In the Roman world in which Jewish Christians lived, there were various strata of society, just as today. The Christians addressed had shown partiality to visitors based upon their social status and wealth alone (see James 2:2-3). James asks; Do you not make ‘distinctions’ [discriminations] among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (v. 4).
Verse 6 indicates that the wealthy had even used legal means to oppress the poor. Oppression comes from a Greek word that means “to exploit.” That exploitation included Christians being “dragged before the judgment seat” by some of the wealthy. Contextually, the idea is clear that legal means had been utilized to oppress believers. The background for James’ inspired remarks is the Old Testament.
Behind James 2:1-4 is Leviticus 19:15. Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great; but judge your neighbor fairly. The Mosaic judicial system is instructed to show no partiality—either to the rich, or to the poor. Judgment should be even-handed.
James’ application of the Leviticus passage is simple. Show no favoritism. Treat all equally. But what is the remedy for such favoritism—in a church, or at the bar of justice? Would it not be simply “Stop it”?
What one does not hear is the inspired writer suggesting that in order to rectify the wrong of favoritism, that preferential treatment ought be practiced in the opposite direction—by showing “bias” to the poor from this point forward. No, the remedy is to treat all equally. Actually, for James to have commended more partisanship tilted in the direction of the poor would be to practice what he condemns!
Imagine another case. Can one suppose Moses would order that past or historical legal injustices against the poor in Israel, in violation of Leviticus 19:15, should be remedied by now encoding into the system that every other poor person that came before the bar of justice be exonerated based upon the fact of his poverty alone? That would be injustice itself. An atrocity.
One does not remedy injustice by encoding into law more injustice.
But this is exactly what America has done. Racial quotas in employment, education, grading in college, federal assistance, housing and even in legal punishment have become part of the law. Liberal thinking tells us that racial quotas, for example, are a means of diminishing racial discrimination in the past. These new racial quotas are enforced by government fiat.
However, when a racial quota is encoded into law, upheld by the Supreme Court, that establishes favoring a particular racial minority that is perceived to have been popularly discriminated against in the past, we are actually establishing a racism within the system itself. This is SYSTEMIC RACISM. Not only so, but the quota itself discriminates against all others by law that do not fit into that racial minority. This is the real “systemic racism” in America. All in the name of “fighting discrimination.”
It is difficult to imagine a greater injustice to society. Yes, we do have “systemic racism” in this country—in favor of minorities and against the white majority. Brainwashing of an entire culture.