The 2016 film “Birth of a Nation” was released in a storm of controversy unrelated to the film itself. Whatever your opinion of the film or its maker, one cannot deny the relevance of the film as a medium of historical instruction and a study of human behavior.
Although I was aware of the systemic treatment of slaves, I found it interesting to revisit that system which forced slaves to become the instruments of their own oppression.
The Nat Turner character was a compelling, charismatic and persuasive speaker. He was perfect as the slave-yard preacher who, through his words, personality and ‘approved’ biblical message, evoked from other slaves passive compliance to their masters’ will and acceptance of their own inferior humanity.
When I was young, I thought that only Black slaves and some of their ancestors were conditioned by that system of biblical brainwashing. With the enlightenment of maturity and experience, I realized that while not necessarily victims, many whites – whether slaveholder or not – have willingly become captive to that same biblically-based myth of white-male superiority.
As with slavery, they vigorously and viciously defend this myth and use biblical interpretations as justification for the situational ethics and intolerance that has become their basis for claiming “rightness” in all matters.
Currently, central to this issue is the Alabama U.S. Senate race and allegations of sexual abuse of juvenile females by GOP candidate Roy Moore. While most believe or won’t declare these allegations false, roughly 50 percent of Alabama voters still support Moore.
Some base their support on his Christian values. Others claim partisan loyalty to Republicans against Democrats.
Under conventional norms, no reasoning could justify elevating an alleged pedophile to one of the most prestigious elected positions in the nation, but these are not conventional times.
If true to their professed Christian beliefs, those supporting Moore would condemn him as a pedophile. If true to principled, ethical governance, those supporting Moore would choose his opponent or coalesce around a more suitable write-in candidate.
Why is this happening?
So we must ask, “WHY? What quality does Moore possess that commands loyalty in the face of such disrepute?”
Some say he’s being unjustly persecuted or that his contributions to Alabama supersede any of his ‘minor’ perversions. Others claim him victim to a double-standard of treatment without considering the criminal nature of the ‘alleged’ offense for which he or any other criminal sex offender should and could be punished.
Like my fellow activist and cleric, Rev. Dr. William Barber, I believe that Moore supporters embrace a distorted religiosity which sacrifices, if you will, principled Christian behavior to the altar of racial superiority. All this is for the purpose of perpetuating racial dominance to whatever extent and/or for however long possible.
There is a sense of urgency for those using their ‘Republican Christianity’ as justification for their situational ethics, as well as for those who are simply racist without the veil of Christianity. They demonstrate a fear of the impending demographic shift that will ultimately eliminate their numerical superiority.
Consciously or subconsciously, they recognize that the “White privilege” they currently enjoy will dwindle into nothingness and their greatest fear – meritorious competition – will become a reality. This has been proven to my satisfaction with the recent news report that, because they must now compete with minorities for jobs, Whites think they have become victims of discrimination.
Appealed to fear
The current political climate is conducive to their interests. No. 45 recognized and appealed to the fears that shape their concerns. Even he has been given a pass to violate established norms and customs of courtesy and decorum, for the purpose of slowing the progress of justice and equity.
Their mistake is to believe that we will accept an inferior status and continue to turn a blind eye to injustice!
Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org. Click on this commentary at www.daytonatimes.com to write your own response.