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Of sins past

August 2, 2019

I am not the least surprised that various Catholic orders of nuns dealt in slaves in the early 19th c. Slavery then was a standard part of the American economy. Nor am I much surprised that today there is a Catholic charity to help priests disgraced by their acts of sexual abuse. A religion like Catholicism needs loyalty more than most anything else.

As to the aspect of racism in that first, I suspect many people today forget or overlook how casual that was, up until the recent past. The recently discovered conversations between Nixon and Reagan are a small example of that. Some of my friends abroad no doubt will remind me it still is pretty casual in many parts of the world.

We live at an odd time and place, when even the politicians who sell hate and lies to attract their base feel obliged to disclaim any racist bone in their body. And biographers write hilariously bad apologies to dispel it from their subjects. Conservatives seem to think something rather silly, that if only they can show that their inner thoughts are free from any racist taint, that if they somehow have purified their inner psyche from any cultural influence carrying such patterns, then their policies and practices also become sanctified. That displays quite a childish view of how the world works. During the Civil War, had there then been surveys and the practice of measuring such things, I suspect soldiers on both sides would have shown much the same range of racial attitudes. The important difference wasn’t that the soldier wearing grey was more racist psychologically than the one wearing blue, but that he was fighting to preserve slavery. Any discussion of Reagan’s racism completely misses the point, when it ignores his opposition to civil rights and his plying of the welfare queen stereotype. If he told himself he was colorblind, that shows only that then as today, conservatives were stupid about such things.

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