Monday, January 29, 2007

Race and Rev. Barber’s sermon

A few hours ago I posted: “Rev. Barber at Duke Chapel.”

The post, as you can read for yourselves here, reported on the sermon delivered today at Duke Chapel by the Rev. William J. Barber II, pastor of Goldsboro’s Greenleaf Christian Church and current president of NC’s NAACP. The post also included my commentary on the sermon.

A JinC reader has responded with this comment:

I'm sorry - but the moment I read Rev. Barber was black, I knew which 'side' he was on.

When he said he would speak about silence, I knew he would not speak of the black community's silence towards the suffering of the white Duke players but the other way around.

When he said he would speak about racial slurs, I knew he would not speak about Kim Roberts hurling them at the lacrosse players but the other way around.

When he said he would speak about bad choices, I knew he would not speak about Kim's bad choice to strip in front of strangers or Crystal's bad choice to use a sex toy on herself for money but the bad choices of the Duke players for hiring strippers.

For God's sake - and I mean that literally - I sincerely wish Rev. Barber had proven me wrong. But he chose not to.
Hold on, Reader!

How do we know, based on race, “which ‘side’” a person’s on in terms of the Duke lacrosse case overall, or in terms of its many facets?

How can you know, based only on Barber’s sermon text, that his race determined what he said?

Haven’t many white Duke professors made statements very similar to what
Barber said today?

In fact, couldn’t Barber’s sermon just as easily have been composed and delivered by any number of white preachers, including many who hold endowed professorships at Duke’s Divinity School?

I’ll bet even the Chapel Dean, the Rev. Canon Dr. Sam Wells, would agree about that.

I’ll end with four brief points on which you and I, and others should all be able to come together:

1) Durham Herald Sun editor Bob Ashley and N&O editors Melanie Sill, John Drescher and Linda Williams are all responsible for grossly unfair and false reporting concerning the Duke lacrosse players.

2) Ashley, Sill and Drescher are white; Williams is black.

3) CBS’s 60 Minutes' investigative reporter Ed Bradley spent the last months of his life working on a story that helped millions of Americans realize David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were framed.

4) Race, as the writer said, matters. Yet it doesn’t ever explain everything; and sometimes it doesn’t even explain very much. But character always matters. We we’re reminded of that when we learned of Ed Bradley’s death. RIP

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please provide an example of a black Durhamite who has broken the ideological lock step and called out for anything other than a trial or conviction. Prof. Coleman doesn't count.

AMac said...

> the moment I read Rev. Barber was black, I knew which 'side' he was on.

Prof. Coleman is black, why wouldn't he count?

Jason Whitlock (Kansas City) is black.

Thomas Sowell (California) is black.

Sadly, race counts for an awful lot in how people view the Hoax. But John is right: it's not everything.

straightarrow said...

John, the very sad fact is that when any racist, whether white or black, condemns white people "they are speaking courageously in good conscience". Uh Huh! Each and every one of them. Sure, I'll take that to heart as soon as I finish the transaction for that bridge I'm buying in Brooklyn.

And when any person, whether racist or not condemns the actions of a person of color they are either racists or Uncle Tom's whether they are or not.

Until the same mores and societal rules are applied and observed equally by all, the racists of whatever color against whatever color get a pass as long as they are black.

We all condemn white racists, but we all fear speaking against black racists. Well, nearly all. Like you said character always counts, some of us look for that. How we find it determines what we say and how we feel about the subject.

Of course, that just puts too much responsibility on the individual, when it is easier to hate a whole group that is only a group because it is readily identifiable by color. Every person in that group can have only that in common and yet racists see them as a monolith.

One need not be any specific color to be a hateful jackass.

One does need to be a specific color to be a hateful jackass that is never called to account.

straightarrow said...

I should have said seldom called to account.

JWM said...

Dear Anon@7:44 am,

Your comment contributes to useful dialogue. I won't challenge it but I'll go another step: I can't think of a senior Duke administrator or board of trustee member - black or white - who, prior to late December, spoke out for anything other than a trial.

I can't think of a single member of Durham's City Council - black or white - who was publicly critical beore late December of any thing was doing. If anything, some of them, white members as well as black members praised some of the things Nifong or his agents, including Sgt. Gottlieb did.

Dear Amac,

I'm always a soft touch for any comment that includes "John is right."

You also add some good data.

Dear Straightarrow,

Again, you state your case very well.

It's interesting how racists always think it's the other race that has all the racists.

Best,

John

Anonymous said...

How about this: As soon as I read he was from the NAACP I knew which "side" he was on.

I have a dream....

Anonymous said...

John,

While there have been countless whites (in addition to those you named) who have been on the wrong side of justice in this Hoax...it is a FACT that the number of black voices on the right side of justice has been infinitesimal.

Coleman, Bradley, Whitlock, Sowell, LaShawn Barber...the list of names is short.

The assumption that Rev Barber's race could be used to determine his position in this Hoax was one of extremely strong statistical likelihood.

It's a bet that I'd make in a heartbeat.

straightarrow said...

I believe at the time Dr. King was the head of the SLC. Which was eventually coopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Adam Clayton Powell, or some such.

Anonymous said...

[QUOTE]
JWM said...

Dear Anon@7:44 am,

"Your comment contributes to useful dialogue. I won't challenge it but I'll go another step: I can't think of a senior Duke administrator or board of trustee member - black or white - who, prior to late December, spoke out for anything other than a trial.

I can't think of a single member of Durham's City Council - black or white - who was publicly critical beore late December of any thing was doing. If anything, some of them, white members as well as black members praised some of the things Nifong or his agents, including Sgt. Gottlieb did.
[END QUOTE]
Fair enough. Most of the people you cite were unified in their positions back in April. As you note, by December, when the writing was so clearly on the wall, many of them (but not all) had modified or otherwise softened their position.

Please point out for me any black Durhamite who has, as of this late date, softened or modified a position in favor of trial and conviction.

It is a sad and ugly fact that maintaining one's identity as a "black" person means never ever criticizing another black person to a white person. For example, see Bill Cosby's travails. There was zero chance that Rev. Barber was going to use his sermon for a "Sister Souljah moment". I shudder to think what kind of "Oreo" e-mail Prof. Coleman has received. I'll bet Prof. Holloway's hate e-mail pales in comparison.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I am the one John quoted saying I knew 'which side' Rev. Barber would be on because he was black. I am sorry my comments were interpreted as racist - they weren't meant to be. I was not trying to make a racist comment - I was trying to make a comment on black racism.

Specifically, I was commenting on Rev. Barber's racism. In his sermon he chose to deny compassion (i.e., 'set aside') the suffering of one group and instead chose to give it to a different one. And his choice of who to condemn by his silence and who to praise in his sermon was based on race.

You won't believe me, John, but typing my original statement took courage. I was then aware (and now am even more so) that I was at that moment breaking a taboo. In this country, the racism you 'dare not speak the name of' is black racism. We speak the name of white racism - to do so is a sign of our moral decency - but we do not speak of black racism.

Yet it exists. John, you eloquently and rightly pointed out the moral courage and integrity of Prof. Coleman and Ed Bradley and La Shawn Barber (and might I add Shelby Steele whom I've read cover to cover), and so many many others as righteous proof that racism against blacks is heinous, evil and wrong. But - John - please, I am saying this honestly and sincerely, these decent and wonderful people are not the majority in the black community.

Black racism is here. And it has been here for a long time. And it is going to be here so long as its name is never spoken, its existence never admitted. I first saw it in the aftermath of the OJ verdict - when my business, my neighborhood, indeed this counry, split completely along racial lines as to who applauded and who was appalled by a jurist saying 'we have to take care of our own'. I kept my silence then because I was afraid to speak up. But black racism has continued - it is still here, and it is worse. It has permeated the black community so fouly and so deeply that now - by words, deeds and horrible silence - the majority of the black community is infected with it. The minority of blacks - in the admirable and courageous examples of Coleman and others - are to be honored and respected. But - I will speak the sad truth - they are not the majority of the black community. Rev. Barber is. Jesse Jackson is. Sharpton is. The black student who wanted the white Duke players jailed even if they were innocent is.

John - as I said in my original post - I sincerely wish to be proven wrong. If we are to survive as a nation, I MUST be proven wrong.

I spoke then of weary experience of seeing something that no one talks about or admits - but yet is there nonetheless. Something which now has infected so badly, so deeply that now I sadly - yes, John, it is with sadness - say that because of the law of averages, the law of bitter experience, memory - that in this nation now, as we stand here, in this time we live in, the sad terrible fact exists that if a person is black, there is the greater certainty that the 'side' he or she chooses to defend - and the side he or she chooses to attack will be chosen based on -- race.

John, I remain sincerely and respectfully yours.

JWM said...

To Anon @ 10:20 AM,

I had hoped that if Barber spoke about the case from the Duke Chapel pulpit, he would speak from a theological basis rather than from the NC NAACP “talking points” basis.

Barber didn’t rise to my hope. Maybe someday he will.

To Anon @ 12:53 PM,

“A strong statistical likelihood?”

Yes. But we wouldn’t know for sure; and we couldn’t know whether race was causative or covariant.

About “It’s a bet that I’d make in a heartbeat” this question: Are you a Karla Holloway reader?”

I smiled.

To Straightarrow,

IMHO the NAACP has fallen to a point where it deserves to be ranked alongside organizations like Moveon.com and groups like Duke’s faculty’s “88.”

To Anon @ 1:04 PM,

I know you carefully read what I said because it’s apparent in your counter to what I said that you understood what I was saying.

Then you once again extend the discussion with the following:

“You went on to say: “Please point out for me any black Durhamite who has, as of this late date, softened or modified a position in favor of trial and conviction.

It is a sad and ugly fact that maintaining one's identity as a "black" person means never ever criticizing another black person to a white person. For example, see Bill Cosby's travails.

There was zero chance that Rev. Barber was going to use his sermon for a "Sister Souljah moment". I shudder to think what kind of "Oreo" e-mail Prof. Coleman has received. I'll bet Prof. Holloway's hate e-mail pales in comparison.”

Anon, I want to delay responding to that because I’ve other posts “in line,” but once they are up, I plan to comment on the main page about what you said.

That may be a week from now but the points you raise will still be timely and very important.

I hope you're OK with a delayed response. Please let me know.

To Carolyn @ 4: 53 PM,

You say in part: “I am sorry my comments were interpreted as racist - they weren't meant to be.”

I didn’t interpret you comments as racist.

I said I disagree with you.

Please re-read the post.

Thank you all for your comments.

John

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I reread your post and you're right, you didn't accuse me of racism. You said it was unfair to make a judgment on a person because of their race. You are right.

I should have judged Rev. Barber because as a member of the NAACP, he shirked his political obligation to protest its abuses; as an adult he shirked his moral obligation to protest Kim and Crystal's lies and bad choices; and as a pastor he shirked his religious duty to speak on the suffering of everyone instead of speaking only of one group (which is black) but not of another (which is white). I should have done that but didn't. The fault is totally mine.

Anonymous said...

John: You seem to be better informed about what has been going inside the News & Observer. Ashley's record in Durham is obvious. But what about Sill, Williams, Drescher, publisher Quarles, the young reporter (Khanna) who did the interview with the "victim" in March? Neff is an exception to the rule at the N&O. Will someone inside the newsroom eventually tell all of us the back story? Can you shed any light? Could Bob Wilson provide analysis?

JWM said...

Dear Carolyn,

I expressed a difference with you that you subsequently spoke to in such a way that I feel the difference is past and the matter has come right.

Best,

John

AMac said...

Carolyn,

Thank you for clarifying and expanding on your remarks. You are correct in saying that people of good will need to be able to express thoughtful positions such as this, without being demonized (not without being criticized--without being demonized). The forces that blew up into the Duke lacrosse rape hoax can't be fully understood if the race-baiting and racism that you describe are ignored. Ignored, as political correctness (not to mention Hard Left sensibility) demands.

Thanks for writing.

straightarrow said...

"Coleman, Bradley, Whitlock, Sowell, LaShawn Barber...the list of names is short." JiC

Well, hey, if you can't have quantity, there sure is nothing wrong with having top drawer quality as referenced above. The list may be short, but there are a still more that are deserving of being listed in that company. It is damn hard to imagine a finer compliment than to be included in a list so representative of the attributes of honesty, courage, integrity, and morality.

John, I think we agree on the NAACP having lost its moral compass.

You will note I was rather dismissive of their declared reason for being..

Read it again then remember Adam Clayto Powell. No way was that a compliment or even a tolerance of the organization's current modus operandi.

Just so you don't think I have gone 'round the bend. It is tragic how Dr. King's quest for equality under the law and in society has been twisted into more of what we had, just advocating different beneficiaries of racism.

Sadly, it appears no one is smart enough to realize their are no lasting benefits to racism, despite who holds the upper hand at any given moment.