Of Course All These Alt-Right Racists Are Wrong, but Why?

you’re likely upset about
what happened in Charlottesville

maybe you’ve talked about it,
maybe took ?some kind of
social media stance,
maybe just sort of saddened inside

it’s probably super obvious to you
that all these alt-right racists are wrong,
that racism is wrong
(“evil” as Trump (finally) put it),
has always been wrong,
that we should do something about it

fair enough,
understandable enough
(of course i agree)

but have you asked yourself
not why you feel as you do,
or why racism seems so clearly wrong,
but actually
why is racism wrong?
what makes it wrong?
put another way,
how do we know it’s wrong or
are we justified in saying it’s wrong?

i mean . . .

is it wrong cuz it seems wrong?
(but unfortunately it doesn’t seem wrong to everyone)

is it wrong cuz everyone agrees it’s wrong?
(but unfortunately they don’t)

is it wrong cuz it’s not “fair?”
(what’s “fair” mean?
who defines it?
who says everything is
or should be “fair?”)

is it wrong cuz you wouldn’t want someone
to be racist to you,
so you shouldn’t be racist to someone else?
(wait, what makes this line of thinking
the line of thinking?
is there some other similar line of thinking
that applies certainly?)

is it wrong cuz humans (or Americans)
all “deserve” “dignity” “equally?”
(again: problems abound)

maybe you think racism is
self-evidently wrong
and that saying so
requires no justification at all
(but is it possible the alt-right racists
feel they’re self-evidently right?

can science prove racism is wrong?
(or could a solely Darwinian/naturalistic understanding
of eugenics in fact be used to support racism?
has it been? is it currently being?)

(we could go on)

what i’m saying is this:
none of these lines of thinking can
truly justify the claim that
racism is wrong;
none of these lines of thinking can
justify the claim that
anything is wrong (or right)
in general

there is but?one line of thinking, in fact,
that can truly ground these kinds of moral claims,
and it’s the one where
we know, cuz God;
where things are wrong (or right),
in general,
cuz God

and so, further,
as a consequence,
making moral claims sans God,
is making ungrounded,
unjustified claims

to circle back,
of course all these alt-right racists are wrong,
but why?
why is racism wrong?
what makes it wrong?
what right do we have to feel and think it’s wrong?
what justifies us when we say it’s wrong?
. . .
cuz God says so

(now, exactly?how we know he says so,
how and where he does so,
what reason we have for thinking so,
what to do in response,
how to deal with the fact that
we continue to make horrible errors
even given all of this, etc. etc. . . .
those are (excellent) questions
for another time)

[For some awesome unpacking of these ideas that I stumbled upon recently through the Unbelievable? podcast (which you should totally subscribe to), check out “The Most Important Thing This French Atheist Taught Me About Christianity.”?

This article doesn’t necessarily make what’s called “the moral argument for God” – as I have above – but it does specifically look at philosopher (and atheist) Luc Ferry to trace our western ideal of human equality back to Christianity itself. As Ferry puts it:

. . . the Greek world is an aristocratic world, one which rests entirely upon the conviction that there exists a natural hierarchy?of plants, of animals, but also of men: some men are born to command, others to obey, which is why Greek political life accommodates itself easily to the notion of slavery.

In direct contradiction, Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity ? an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.

This [idea of human equality] may seem self-evident, but it was literally unheard-of at the time, and it turned an entire world-order upside down.

Given recent events in our country, it seems like a good time to remember that – just as much racism is culturally inherited – much of our outrage against racism is culturally inherited too, insofar as our culture is still “Christian.” However, we can intentionally?choose these values and be justified in doing so, as described above.]

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