Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

Screengrab from https://youtu.be/YpboGkOMI5E


Speaking in measured, reasonable, and friendly tones, Watson touched on the topics of abortion, race, and traditional cultural values. Watson quoted from Biblical text to share his love of family and the importance of children and having children. He got a few chuckles when he shared that he had four kids in a little over as many years.

While many have responded positively to his message on family and his opposition to abortion, I haven’t seen much commentary on his discussion respecting race.

He said a lot of interesting things. Several were very tactfully-worded admonitions against being close-minded and tribal, such as:

“Justice is uncomfortable sometimes. Sometimes it will take you stepping out of your group, because our groups are sometimes going in the wrong direction. We know they are, but we don’t have the courage to step outside of it. We need to be people who act justly and correct these things.”

And a little after this last admonition, he has this to say:

“Some of the issues that we’re dealing with, and we’ve mentioned them already, that we need to deal with with justice, mercy, and humility, is racism in our culture. It is not just a thing of the past. It’s legacy is alive and well today. And I was having this conversation with a good friend of mine… umm, not too long ago… a couple of days ago. And we were talking about the idea of ‘color blindness’. And I said, ‘You know what? It’s not about color blindness. It is about embracing all of our differences–celebrating them–but realizing that my difference is not better than yours. My difference is not more important than yours. Actually, we celebrate our differences because God created us that way. We celebrate the fact that we come from different places, that we look differently, we have different tastes, all those things… we have different customs. And mine is not better than yours, it’s just different. That’s what it means to address racism in a way with truth, justice, and humility.”

As a white male in a society that seems to constantly tell me that I am what’s wrong with our country, my natural inclination, when hearing any minority tell me that racism is a huge problem, is to politely ignore it and move on. Why is that? It’s clear to me that I don’t trust the person to give an honest, objective, clear-eyed opinion. What I typically hear instead, after my natural filters kick in, is a screed about racism and how society should give minorities (of their sort, not some other sort) some type of advantage or hand-out as balancing compensation for their perception of being disadvantaged due to their minority status–their “victimhood” as their opponents would label it.

If a person were to say, “Your society has wronged me.” or (perhaps a lawyer) “Your society has wronged this person.”, the claimant should be able to point to the direct evidence of that maltreatment. If a person, for example, of any political/ethnic/gender background, is falsely imprisoned, our society tends to compensate that individual for their misfortune. Great. That’s how it’s supposed to work. It usually doesn’t make things right, compensation can’t do that, but at least it’s an attempt to balance the figurative scales.

If a person were to say, “Your society has wronged my entire generation of <insert ethnicity/religious persuasion/gender/sexual-orientation/other-qualifer>.”, then they should likewise be able to point to the direct evidence of that maltreatment. And in the case of racism, they often do. But their evidence is usually in the form of highly controversial “surveys”, “studies”, and “statistics”. I quoted those terms, because in many cases, these items should not properly be termed as such. They’re, more often, selectively focused pieces of propaganda. Their authors, intentionally or otherwise, ignore extremely relevant, objective facts. Naturally, the opposition comes out with their own highly propaganda-like retorts. Documents that purport to show no racial maltreatment or racism. And so no consensus is reached. And it doesn’t help that the media is complicit in all of this–their megaphone is only provided to one side.

My least favorite examples of “evidence” tend to be anecdotal evidence. “I was stopped by a cop because I was black.” or in opposition, “That cop behaved that badly because he’s got 0 time to make a reasonable assessment.” And both advocates claim, “You can’t judge because you’re not a [black person]|[cop].”

Furthermore, there’s a question of endgame. Will there ever be an end to the calls for compensation and reparation. Let’s imagine that the US government were to give cash payouts to every black and Native American and Hispanic and Asian and every other ethnic minority, to the tune of say, $100,000 (clearly an impossibility, but go with it). What happens in twenty years? Do we get cries for: “it wasn’t enough”, “we weren’t educated on what to do with it”, “it will take generations of cash payouts to balance the scales as each generation improves upon the previous and achieves parity”. And with respect to law enforcement, how do we satisfy the #blacklivesmatter crowd? What would actually constitute a solution that would make these individuals happy?

Truthfully, I would love to investigate these matters with a really knowledgeable set of advocates who could leave their emotions at the door, who have a willingness to have their minds changed (i.e. truly humble), and who could help me and others make a decision on the matter that could be reasonably thought of as rational and well-founded by evidence. But that seems impossible.

Which brings me back to Watson. His seeming humility implies that he could be one such advocate I would be willing to hear out on the topic. “What’s your evidence, Ben? Please share, because I think I can trust you to speak honestly about something you believe to be true.”

I have a black female friend who was relating a story to me about an acquaintance we shared. After she explained how that person treated her rudely, she said, “I think she’s racist.”

I asked my friend, “Seriously? Her? I have a hard time believing it.” What I meant to ask her and I only considered later, “How can you know she’s racist and not just a b****?” (Because that’s what I think of her.) This acquaintance has a habit of blowing people off who she doesn’t think can provide her any real value. And I think my friend fits that bill in her eyes. Me too, but that’s irrelevant–I’m white, as I’ve said.

The point of this story is, if you expect to find something, you can see it even if it’s not there. I’ve had my share of negative experiences with our friends in blue. But obviously I don’t think, “Racism.” Because I’m white. If my friend has a similarly negative experience, she might reasonably come to the conclusion it had to do with race. This is the sort of thing I would love to explore with someone like Mr. Watson.

“Humility is not weakness. I say that as a football player. Humility is not weakness, but it is posturing yourself in a way to understand that it’s not all about you. You are not the most important thing or the most important person. As a matter of fact, somebody has equal value to you no matter what their occupation is. Humility before God makes you humble before other people. It opens lines of communication. When I come at you in a way that is hostile, even though I may be right, you don’t want to hear anything I have to say. But if I come to you in a way that is humble, those lines of communication are open. I think that is vitally important as we try…”

Too bad I’ll never get the chance.