As I write this, Independence Day has come and gone. While President Lincoln is not so much the President associated with the 4th, I think the divided people in our country have a great lesson to learn from his reunification efforts post Civil War. In fact, so subversive is the new racism that it threatens to undermine the ongoing reunification work set in motion by President Lincoln. Christian people have to lead out and steer this nation back from its disunity and they have the equipment to do so.
The New Racism has been around for a long time. The “New” element of it grows from the increasing political correctness mandated by our media and our government. Our children are inoculated with seminal strains of political correctness through anti-bullying campaigns at school, unthinking faith taught at church, and uncertain parents at home. They hear rumors of Paula Dean stories and see the consequences of remarks made almost 30 years ago. Adults too, receive re-education through their jobs and pressure to avoid certain discussions for fear of losing their jobs. In many different ways and through multiple lines of attack, free thought and direct speech are censored.
The growing “New” end of this consolidated effort to silence sincere speech enables the “Racism” portion to grow. Lincoln, it seems, understood the stakes were high when he sought to enact the 13th Amendment freeing slaves once and for all. Yet, it was not legislative fiat (as the Southern States felt) that produced liberty for blacks. It was the process of reunification that produced freedom both for blacks and also for Southern plantations that depended on them for labor. His plan for reunification began with his insistence that the South did not owe the North either its leadership as traitors or its money for war debts. Yet, the New Racism grows from a sense of entitlement to financial assistance and grievance for the sins of past leadership. That attitude is exactly what Lincoln knew would create war in future days.
The silenced majority is being pushed to the brink of racial war (watching George Zimmerman/Treyvon Martin case closely for an example of this) because it has accepted false shame for victims of a previous era. Lincoln trusted that individual people would rebuild their lives without slavery. White plantation owners would find a way to produce their crops with paid labor; and they did. Former slaves would find a way to leverage their industry to produce an economy; and they did. Lincoln’s genius was that he accepted no excuse for being a victim. Lincoln removed the legitimacy of Southern complaints that they were being oppressed. Lincoln tied the fate of the North to the fate of the South. Likewise, he tied the fate of whites to the fate of blacks. Tied together, old prejudice could eventually die.
The New Racism divides because it builds on a philosophy of debt and injustice. Christians can lead in this arena because we know how God dealt with our debt and injustice toward Jesus Christ. I don’t know if Lincoln learned the secret to unification from Jesus but he wasn’t far off. God offers grace to sinners without making any excuses for why they are sinners. He requires no payment for past sins because he knows there is no payment that would be sufficient. The New Racism can be defeated by refusing to accept the mantle of blame for past sins and keeping far away from the mentality that led to those past sins. Equal treatment of all people and sincere speech about the issues enables unity to develop.