According to Wikipedia: “Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase that refers to exploitation of either racist or anti-racist attitudes by accusing others of racism. The phrase is commonly used to allege that someone has deliberately and falsely accused another person of being a racist in order to gain some sort of advantage.” Many years ago I embarked on a research based project called “Missing Communities” (click here for the resultant report) and the question of playing the race card cropped up. The counter to this was racism is a real issue, even in my home town Southend, and when people claimed to have been subject to racist attitudes and attacks they weren’t playing the race card when their claim was true.
Looking back historically, one could easily cite many shameful examples of egregious racism the world over and while one would like to think things are better these days, undoubtedly racism still exists. If I am to believe some of the stories coming out of the USA at this time, not only does racism exists but it is rife, but also such a claim is disputable giving rise to tensions between those taking differing views and exception to identity politics. My first example involves the riotous behavior in Charlottesville and the second the silent protests by NFL protestors “taking a knee” whenever the USA National Anthem is played, and both stories involve President Trump, who has been criticized for not taking into account strongly enough the racist element. I was inspired to wade in on the debate having just read an article by a Christian leader with a substantial following, titled: “White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee“, which I took exception to and in this my article I want to say why.
Regarding Charlottesville, I think the President was right to condemn wrongdoing, especially violence, on the part of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa as well as neo-Nazi and White supremacist groups. While I think his “son of a bitch” remarks directed at the football player protestors went too far, I suspect these reflected the annoyance felt by those who felt this action was unnecessary and, even if they were highlighting racist issues, there were many other injustices people could also protest about. As for the reaction being racist, I see no evidence. While it may be true that some White Supremacists are Trump supporters, Trump does not support them and many of his team are not racist in my analysis.
What I have noted, in the culture wars we have seeing, now turning into a civil war of unpleasant exchanges, those on the left especially have made much of racism being a key issue. If it is, it is in my view because they make it so, and they do so without justification. If I am on the right, say, I would take a view that genuine racism should be tackled full on. I agree with Martin Luther King (quoted above) on the matter, and content of character is what matters most. In one set of exchanges on similar issues with a friend who is on the left, say, I was alarmed that in her argument she expressed shame at being a white woman, and from what I can see this is no isolated example, and there is an attempt to make white people feel guilty over race.
There are many things I have done in life that make me ashamed, but being born white is not one of them. I agree in more recent history, as relates to the white dominated west, many wrongs have been perpetrated by white people toward black people and some still are. This is regretted and if redress is possible then make it so, but we (white people) cannot bear the guilt of our white forefathers. Going back to MLK again, I couldn’t care less what a person’s race is and I try to treat all equally, and respect most those who are of good character whatever the race, and try to follow the Great Command to love my neighbour. If there is any doubt as to who my neighbour is, I refer to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaratian, who went out of his way to show love to someone of a different race, something those of that race failed to do. Looking at the totality of history people have attacked other people on race grounds (black against white as well white against black), but I have seen more wrongs committed when one person takes exception to another person being somehow different, and more often than not this has little to do with race.
Going back to the title, the race card can be played both wrongly and rightly, and often is. But to make race a major issue in the troubled world we are seeing is often a mistake and a needless distraction. Shortly after the riots came the hurricanes and here we saw people helping other people regardless of race. That is how it should be.