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Democrats and Republicans Join Hands in Exacerbating Racial Tensions

"Civil rights" or "civil liberties" once meant the protections one held in person or property against the intrusion of the civil government, but now, of course, these designations refer to the subjugation of individual property rights to group rights, primarily sexual or racial. This well-known shift came to prominence largely in the Warren court era in its effort to strike down racist Jim Crow practices in state and later private institutions.

In and of itself, a court or legislature in its proper jurisdiction would be acting justly if it sought to do away with racist state restrictions given the Biblical charge to, "Judge righteously between a man and his fellow countrymen, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike" (Deut. 1:16, 17).

But the transition from private to group "civil rights" arose in a rather statist century in which racism could easily prosper given that the potentially powerful sanctions of the marketplace, church, family, and individual eroded by themselves or were subjugated by the civil government. Hence, the only means the collectivist vision could imagine for righting racial discrimination was the coercive hand of the civil government.

But the civil government only exacerbates issues for which it was not designed to handle (e.g., prohibition), and it was not designed to legislate over issues of the heart, even race hatred. In the case of race discrimination, civil authorities attempted, in part, to fight racist attitudes by externally coercing communities to conform, all the while allowing resentment to fester. And we wonder, why after all the decades of struggle, we now face renewed outbreaks of racial violence and hatred.

Yet since collectivists are collectivists they cannot conceive of any manner of solving the tensions except by means of more civil action: "We must never allow the clock to be turned back on race relations in our country," declared Richard Gephardt before the House passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The recent rancor between Republicans and Democrats over the civil rights bill is in reality an intramural debate. Both sides have bought into the collectivist vision and only differ in degree.

For example, John Dunne, Assistant Attorney General for civil rights, defended the Bush administration's proposed civil rights measure by arguing that, "it will strengthen civil rights laws,... overturn two of five disputed 1989 Supreme Court decisions," and provide that "victims... can recover $150,000 above the normal relief."

We can be sure that the final compromise bill will serve to further poison racial relations in the long term. Perhaps the only short term hope is that when the President finally approves some collectivist bill, we may see it overturned at some point by his own Supreme Court hopeful, Clarence Thomas.

DMJ


Copyright © by Covenant Community Church of Orange County 1991
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