Today we begin a two-part series on the topic of, do black lives matter?
I found myself very upset about the rioting, burning, and looting in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. I didn’t really want to write about the topic, since I knew that my opinions were likely to offend many people. On the bright side, few or no people were likely to read my stuff, so I would mostly escape opprobrium if I did write something. (Which, come to think of it, is not a very bright side.) First off, though, I asked a trusted Christian friend to tell me if I was even crazier than usual. With his permission, I print his response. Some of the names have been redacted, at his request.
First will come my email to [X], then his response will follow.
[X], As you know, I believe that everybody is crazy in one way or another, and very often in many ways. I have believed that for many years, and have seen no reason to change my mind on the topic.
That said, I also understand that there are degrees of insanity.
My query to you concerns the recent rioting and looting.
It seems to me that it is very crazy to burn, destroy, or loot the property of someone who had nothing to do with a crime against the black man George Floyd. The police officer who was responsible for his death has been arrested, and will have a trial. Why does the crime against George Floyd give people the right to destroy the property of others?
It seems off the charts nutty on the face of it to allow this destruction, yet much of the commentariat of this country–almost unanimously–seems to believe that it is quite acceptable and even honorable to be doing this destruction.
Black people have an illegitimacy rate of around 75%. Countless black people are the victims of black violence, not the victim of white violence against blacks which is statistically rare. Yet all the problems of the black community are supposedly the result of systemic racism. And many white people including all the ones in control, seem to agree with the theory that blames all black problems on white people.
Am I missing something? I know I’m crazy. Is the fact that I can’t understand what is going on, simply one more proof that I am even more out of touch with reality than I realized?
Or would semi-sanity cause us to say that the looting and rioting are silly and wicked? And that the black people need to accept responsibility for their actions and stop doing violent things? It seems to me that the black looters/rioters and the white people supporting the black looters/rioters are not doing the black race as a whole any favors–in fact they are hurting them.
There I go again! Is my response simply proof that I am deplorable, irredeemable, and a mean-spirited bigot?
Thanks for taking time to reply. Let me down as gently as you can. Thank you. C.
[X’s response follows]
Hi, Carl, When I was going into second grade we moved to the south side of Indianapolis. After I had attended school for a few weeks at School 34 I asked my mother if I could bring my best friend home to visit. She agreed that would be fine, but I think she was a little shocked when I came in with a little black boy. I spent some time at his house, too, and it was interesting to me how they fixed their hair and did a few other things differently from white people.
At that time my dad was extremely prejudiced against blacks, violently so. In my memory I can’t remember bringing my little black friend home again, probably because mother knew it would cause trouble.
When I worked at [a large company, its name redacted by Carl] in the 1960s one of my best friends was a black man named George Edge. His wife’s name was [Y], the same as my mother’s name. George was a hard working and smart engineer, with a great personality.
I can remember him telling about being in the army and when he got out he said he thought he was going to go to Georgia Tech, famous for the saying, He’s a ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech and an hell of an engineer. It’s their fight song. The lyrics are below.
I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech, and a hell of an engineer—
A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer.
Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear.
I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.
Oh! If I had a daughter, sir, I’d dress her in White and Gold,
And put her on the campus to cheer the brave and bold.
But if I had a son, sir, I’ll tell you what he’d do—
He would yell, ‘To hell with Georgia!’ like his daddy used to do.
Oh, I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three thousand pounds,
A college bell to put it in and a clapper to stir it round.
I’d drink to all the good fellows who come from far and near.
I’m a ramblin’, gamblin’, hell of an engineer!
George told me they wouldn’t accept him at the college and told him to stay in his part of Atlanta. Not one to give up, George moved to Gary, Indiana with his family and went to college there. He went to college during the day and worked in the steel mills at night to feed and house his family. I remember him telling me about coming home after work and taking a shower and his wife finding him asleep in the hallway because he was too tired to make it to the bedroom. As I noted, he turned out to be a terrific engineer, but he definitely wasn’t treated fairly because he was black.
In the 1990s we stayed overnight in Tuskegee, Alabama on a Saturday night. Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee University might come to mind when you hear this town’s name. Anyway, Sunday afternoon we had a meeting with a company in Georgia and we needed to attend Sunday school and church as early as possible. The AME church in Tuskegee started Sunday school one half hour earlier than any other church in town (think lots of Baptist churches), so we decided to go there. We knew it would be a totally black church.
We walked in and met the minister and he asked us to step into his office. He was a nice looking, well-dressed man in his upper 30s. He said to us, “You’ve put me in a bind.” I very carefully told him we weren’t there to cause trouble, and we just wanted to get an early start because we had a meeting to attend that afternoon. You could see his relief to hear those words.
We went to Sunday school and it went great. Then in church we sat with a black lady and quickly fell in love with her. She was all about Christ, was funny, clever, and very affectionate. That has been a long time ago and [Z] and I still talk about that black lady several times each year. We know God will put us in contact with that lady when we get to heaven.
By the way, when we got home from that trip we had a beautiful message on our answering machine from that minister, telling how much he enjoyed having us in church.
After church that morning we stopped at McDonald’s to grab a quick bite before departing town. On the way in there was a group of older black guys sitting close to the door I entered. I looked their way and they said nothing. Then I said hi to them and they all started talking. We had a great talk for a few minutes about a variety of things. It was obvious to me the reason they didn’t talk to me was the fact they weren’t supposed to talk to a white person unless the white person talked to them first. How sad.
Now let’s drop down to Pine Mountain, Georgia, a little town of 1,364 people where the beautiful tourist attraction of Callaway Gardens is found.
We were there, also in the 1990s, on a turkey hunting trip with a company. We turkey hunted in the morning and ate delicious southern prepared food in the excellent restaurants in the area during the day. Once we were eating in one restaurant and a black gal about 25 years old waited on us. She was strikingly beautiful, with a figure to match her good looks. She was also, by far, the best waitress in the restaurant. She was super sharp, and had a wonderful personality.
The strange thing is, the people we were eating with, who were all from the south, did nothing but give her a rough time, and it was obvious they did so because of the color of her skin. Fortunately we had an opportunity to get her aside and talk to her. We asked her if she was treated badly like this a lot, and she said she was. We then asked her what she would desire for her future in life. This is her reply: “I would like to move to Bermuda where most everyone there is the same skin color as I am, and I think I would be treated fairly there and be happy.”
I’ve gone through this long answer to your question to show I’m not prejudiced toward black people, and that I have seen many cases of black people being mistreated. Despite all of this, Carl, I totally agree with you on all of your points you mentioned. Without question, many black people and those who are supposed to be supporting them, are causing white people to lean more toward racism than ever before. That includes me.
Regarding the looters, they are there for a purpose: to steal and to rob. They are criminals. Trump really meant it when he said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He has back peddled on what he said, but that is what would stop the looters.
To justify the looting is pure insanity. And now they are talking about doing away with police departments entirely in cities and towns and let some nice organization talk to the people and get them to do what it is right. It would save all kinds of money, they say. Total insanity.
I’ll be the first one to say there are many Macho Men and Macho Women in police departments who love power and to be in control of others, but there are a tremendous number of police officers who are doing the right thing, and doing a great job. Being a police officer is a dangerous job that may cost you your life at any time. Usually there over 100 police officers killed in the line of duty each year in the United States. What they go through to arrest the drug dealers, child abusers, and such each day is gruesome and the details are rarely told. It takes great skill to carry out the duties of a police officer, and when they are no longer on the job it will be time to stock up on ammo to protect your premises, because there will be no one else available to do it for you.
Well, there you have it, Carl. I’m totally confident you are sane and correct in your views, and I think I am also, along with [Z] who agrees with us 100%.
It will be interesting to see how this protest thing turns out, but I’m betting the results won’t be good.
[back to me, Carl]
X was kind enough to grant me permission to print his email. However, here is something which will encourage you, as it encouraged me. Remember X’s father, violently prejudiced against black people? X, in granting me permission to quote him, adds something for us to ponder long and hard:
Carl, you can use my comments, but I think it best to not use my name or [Z]’s name. More than anything, my dad looks like a bad egg regarding black people, and he was–until he came to know Christ. Actually, my dad and mom went on two mission trips to the southeastern United States, and they were both to the same place, and both places were full of black people. As I recall it, it was the black people they worked with. Oh, what a difference Jesus can make in a person’s life.
[again, back to me, Carl]
So there we have it: a man formerly bigoted against black people, twice working with them on a Christian mission trip. To coin a phrase, Oh, what a difference Jesus can make in a person’s life. Okay, well, maybe I didn’t exactly coin that phrase, but I think I read it somewhere.
Next week I will conclude this two-part series on whether or not black lives matter. In my opinion we are off to a good start, because I have cleverly managed to get someone else to do most of the actual writing of this first column. Plus, X’s comments are honest and thought-provoking, and come from a man whose heart clearly is in the right place. I may be deplorable, irredeemable, and a mean-spirited bigot, but I think almost everyone will sense that X is not.