For some time now, I have been grappling and endeavoring to come to terms with phrases like “critical race theory” and “cancel culture.”
First, before I can get into the crux of what my column is all about today, I believe it is necessary to say that though I may not agree with all of the arguments, opinions and beliefs that people may embrace or advocate for or against, I believe that each of us has the right to choose what we are going to believe and be a proponent of.
This freedom to choose must be granted to every individual in every area and aspect of our culture – as long as their right to choose does not infringe upon or cancel the rights of others granted by the Creator and the Constitution of the United States of America.
To the best of my finite and perhaps even occasionally feeble ability to comprehend certain things that people endorse and argue for, I find it difficult to see and understand the wisdom, logic or veracity in what some are arguing about by using the terms “critical race theory” and “cancel culture” in opposition to the outcry of minorities, especially African Americans, to have American history taught in a more inclusive manner. In the words of former United States Senator and Vice President, Walter Mondale, “Where’s the beef?”
I consider myself to be an objectable and fair-minded person who endeavors to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. I strive to truthfully see things from their perspective and to assure that I am not blind, biased or blurred in my vision, due to ethnic, religious, cultural or opinionated cataracts.
Furthermore, I have been experiencing (for many years now) the continual practice of removing the beams from my eyes that I might see clearly how to help others remove the speck from their own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).
So, I want it to be understood that my purpose today is not to justify any attempt to revise or rewrite American history. It is not to denigrate, demonize or villainize our Founding Fathers. Like all of us, they were men with both feet of iron and clay. They were not saints but men of like passions as we are.
In our mind, we often do their legacy an injustice by elevating them to a place of legend, myth and fantasy when in actuality, they were flawed men – though brilliant and gifted. They were not morally, practically, philosophically or religiously without error.
However, in spite of all of their imperfections, biases and misguided beliefs and decisions, God (in His providence) chose to use them to form and lay the foundation to what would grow and become the greatest democracy and nation the world has ever known.
I anticipate some feedback and response from both ends of the equation, though I have done my level best to remain as neutral and objectable as my convictions and conscience will permit me to be. As stated, I am grappling with the argument that many people make. They are no doubt sincere and serious about their beliefs of “cancel culture” and “critical race theory.” I want to appeal to them about American history.
Though this perhaps may be the agenda of some African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and other people of color, through much study and observation, I have come to believe that the few does not represent the overwhelming majority of the minority segment of this nation. True, as an African American, I would be lying if I said that the exclusion of the achievements and contributions of my ancestors to the building of this nation from its inception to this present time in the history books does not matter. It would be a betrayal of all that is fair and just for me to pretend that I am not righteously indignant over the very thought that some think it is fitting to lionize and almost canonize men who led an insurrection to divide this nation and destroy our democracy (though many revisionists have made the false claim that it all was done under the banner of states’ rights).
Nevertheless, the truth triumphs and declares unequivocally that the real catalyst for the Civil War was the desire of aristocratic Southerners, who had gotten filthy rich through the free and forced labor of their Black slaves, to keep things as they were. So, in a real sense, the Civil War was instigated by both racism and greed.
Finally, since many, if not most, Americans believe (as I do) that America was formed and founded on Judeo-Christian principles and practices, it should stand to reason that we would imitate the Divine Author of the narrative and history of the Bible, who was none other than God Himself (1 Timothy 3:16-17).
When inspiring the human agents that He used to write the Bible (which contains principles, psalms, proverbs, and narratives that illustrate the character and conduct of the people He chose to be prophets, priests, judges, and kings), He did not mitigate, redact or gloss over their flaws and failings. These negatives were included with the good that they did so that every generation of believers could learn from both sides of human nature when it came to right and wrong behavior (Romans 15:4).
I hope that our history will be inclusive and empathetic of all the people who make up the melting pot that we, as a nation of diverse races, will have the courage and conviction of our creed.
I hope that we will not be offended or label others as being unpatriotic who attempt to uncloak the atrocities and dark side of American history.
Michael Goings is the senior pastor of Outreach Family Fellowship in Dillon and Florence.