Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The “Soft Bigotry” of Low Expectations

Every day I stand in amazement as I watch the inhabitants of this world turn the truth upside down and invert the doing of good. Consider in part how this has come to pass.

Even though I was only a young lad when these events took place, I marveled at the hatred some people had for Rosa Parks, for Martin Luther King, Jr., and for others because of different skin coloration. Rosa Parks was neither the first nor the last person to refuse the orders of a bus driver to give up her seat to a white person. Yet, her refusal on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, became a symbolic act of the Civil Rights Movement that gained great advancement under the guidance of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose famed "I Have A Dream" speech (August 28, 1963) rightly called for dignified treatment of all peoples with his great line, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Today, however, it is remarkable how people have completely inverted virtue and truth. What Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed and what Rosa Parks desired, enough to take great personal risk, has become a nightmare of national, yea, international proportions. The hateful bigotry and racism which Parks and King vigorously opposed has become domesticated by political activists and leaders of all ethnic origins but especially whites.

Because, as Shelby Steele so astutely observes, when white political leaders came to acknowledge the egregious wrongs of America's past, marred by racial bigotry, they came to lack moral authority to address the many issues that had become attached to race. So, instead of doing what was right and necessary, they domesticated bigotry and racism by cloaking it to look virtuous, generous, benevolent, and kind. How did they do this? They did it by subjecting a whole generation of Americans to the demeaning of humanity by"The Great Society" program of welfare statism and handouts inflicted by President Lyndon Johnson's and Congress's institution, by the Supreme Court's imposition of several key decisions, and by the establishment of many unjust and humanly demeaning laws.

All of these programs institutionalized prejudice but dressed it up to look like Christian virtue. Preferentialism, paternalism, and patronization, cloaked with new garb, such as "affirmative action," "multiculturalism," and "diversity," became enforced institutionalized policies of both federal and state governments, seducing a whole generation to accept the more tolerable form of suppressing the so-called "minority groups" as the way of virtue, but now, with the force of institutional power, suppressing the very groups that the suppressive programs were allegedly designed to help, to lift up, and to treat as equals before the law. This institutionalized suppression is what President George W. Bush correctly identified as "the soft bigotry of low expectations," whether or not he understood the brilliance of his apt depiction.

Thus, now, the virtue and truth are completely inverted so that to expect that all peoples should be treated equally under the law is condemned as racism and bigotry. To expect that individuals, regardless of ethnicity or sex, who compete for the same employment opening should be required to demonstrate competency in order to be awarded the vacant position, whatever it may be, is denounced as racism and bigotry. Those who lower expectations for others on account of ethnicity, sex, or cultural factors congratulate themselves for their seeming virtue as they silence anyone who attempts to point out that to lower expectations is actually to demean other humans and to do real injury to the dignity of fellow human beings, whose dignity we are obligated to uphold.

I cannot speak for others. I speak for myself, and as for me, I object to treating fellow human beings with soft bigotry, not merely because it gives an unfair advantage to others whose personal qualifications do not measure up, though it does this, and for this reason alone, bigotry, whatever form it takes, is wrong. My greater concern is how such bigotry demeans the spirit and dignity of the individual who is made in the likeness and image of God. The "soft bigotry of low expectations" violates American law, which requires that everyone be regarded as equal before the law, but worse, it violates God's law, which requires that we regard one another as dignified humans because we are all made in the image and likeness of our Creator, which is also the very basis of American laws.

Are you outraged when you see a fellow human being whose dignity is subverted and whose humanity is demeaned by self-proclaimed "moral do-gooders" whose speech codes banish any voiced objection while they selectively lower expectations for people based upon skin color, ethnicity, ethnic sounding surnames, sex, or any other non-essential quality that makes one a human being? The sense of virtue that self-appointed "moral do-gooders" derive from this inversion of doing good is repugnant. Far worse, however, is the additional demeaning and subjection to indignity of another human being who is made in the image and likeness of our Creator. True moral virtue requires that we hold forth expectations equally for all and never demean another human by lowering standards and expectations to accommodate low achievement, whatever the cause may be for low achievement. I uphold standards and expectations because I desire to treat other human beings as I hope they will treat me, with respect and with dignity as one of our Creator’s creatures who bears his image and likeness. 

No comments: