There’s Nothing Funny about Racism

By Richard Land
Nov 22, 2006

By now most Americans are aware of former “Seinfield” star Michael Richards’ melt-down on stage at the Laugh Factory comedy club in West Hollywood. Incensed by two African-American hecklers in the audience who said the comedian’s act was not funny, Richards launches into a tirade of racial slurs and obscenities including the racially super-charged “n-word.”

How could this happen? In the first decade of the 21st century, how could someone with the cultural sophistication and pluralistic societal exposure of a television star like Michael Richards harbor such vile and hateful feelings and thoughts in his heart and soul? Can anyone say “Mel Gibson?” Mel Gibson, super-star extraordinaire, under the influence of alcohol, launched into a vicious anti-Semitic rant a few months ago.

The answer is the depravity of the human heart. The Bible tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Thankfully, far fewer children in America are being taught racist prejudices at home or in society, but only an extremely naïve person would say racism does not continue to exist in American culture. Thanks to some remarkably brave people, black and white, who confronted the evils of racism and segregation in the Civil Rights Movement in the middle of the 20th century, Segregation and White Supremacy have been largely eradicated from American society.

However, racism and the ugly destructive prejudices it spawns are still with us, and will continue to be. Why? Fallen, sinful human hearts are always going to be subject to the temptation to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3), which is the root of all prejudice.

Are Michael Richards and Mel Gibson racist bigots? At some level they must have been contaminated by the noxious poison of racism or else it would not have spewed out of them when enraged or inebriated. They themselves may have been shocked at the fires of racial hatred that resided in the deepest recesses of their beings. In the midst of his rant, Richards refers to “what lays buried.” One simply cannot imagine that such foul, hateful language could be produced by anger and alcohol alone, rather than simply provoking what was already present in the darkest places of their hearts.

As Christians we have a divinely mandated obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt. 22:39), which means allowing the Holy Spirit to eliminate all prejudice and bigotry and to produce the agape love which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of yielded believers (Gal. 5:22).

The Michael Richards and Mel Gibson episodes remind us that racism will always be with us. We must be ever vigilant to its presence within our fallen natures and our fallen society, as well as mindful of our Christian duty to renounce and denounce it whenever and wherever it appears.

Further Learning

Learn more about: Citizenship, Racial Reconciliation,

12 Comments

1 On Nov 28, 2006, at 3:04pm, LandonSandy wrote:

I promise I am not a church basher, but arn’t we fooling ourselves to point the finger at Mel and Michael while most of us attend a church that would think twice about baptising a member of another race, or hosting a wedding for an inter-racial couple.

2 On Dec 19, 2006, at 10:38pm, Erik Hernandez wrote:

I agree that racism is well-rooted in the sinfulness of the human heart. Here in America, however, we forget that racism also exists in the minorites as well. If we truly are honest, we usually associate racism primarily with white people. Obviously, this is so because white people are the majority in the U.S. But, let us not forget racism is a two-way street from the perverbial white racist to the black racist, hispanic racist, the asian racist, etc. For racism to be effectively remedied, we also need to point out the same sin in the heart of the minorities, as well.

3 On Jan 9, 2007, at 9:56am, steve wrote:

Erik, firstly there is a difference between being a racist and rising up against an oppressor.

Secondly, your description of racism being a two way street reeks of arrogance.  You seem to imply there are the ‘whites’ and then the rest of the world.

4 On Jan 17, 2007, at 8:33pm, Erik Hernandez wrote:

Steve, I believe the issue of racism is sensitive. Just as your comments show, they do indeed stir strong emotion and deep thought in us all. My description of racism as sin is justified in the biblical worldview and expresses, I believe, what most Christians believe racism is—sin. Like all sin, the sin of racism does not escape anyone. I hope we agree on this.

In relation to the two-way street anology, in no way was I insinuating “whites” against the rest of the world. I am well aware that racism can also exist between any two groups with white people not being one of those two groups.

5 On Jan 18, 2007, at 7:11am, steve wrote:

Erik, I think racism is immoral. You use the word sin and I assume by this you mean racism in some way transgresses God’s law (I don’t believe in God, therefore, the word sin is somewhat inoperative). Anyway, trying to look at this issue from your ‘biblical world view’ I can’t see how racism could be described as a sin.

If the bible is ‘true’ then with ‘racism’ God got off to a pretty bad start -What could be more racist than declaring that the Israelites were his chosen people? And then the commandments on bearing false witness and coveting wives and possessions etc only apply to “your neighbour”. In other words they don’t apply when dealing with the inferior people outside your tribe!

If you believe in the bible (I don’t) then the above makes sense because God also says “you shall not have other gods before me” this means other gods exist therefore it would be inappropriate for him to make laws for those who follow the other gods. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

6 On Jan 19, 2007, at 7:59pm, Erik Hernandez wrote:

Steve, first of all, your opinions show clearly a misinterpretation of the Bible. God’s chosen poeple, the Isrealites, were and will always remain His people. However, that in no way constitutes as racism on behalf from God. The Jews hold a special place in God’s outworking of history, because this is the group of people from where Messiah-Jesus Christ-came. The Saviour of ALL MANKIND, Jesus made an invitation for all of humanity to accept Him as Lord. This hardly seems racist.

God, in his perfect wisdom, speaks to us in ways we can understand our reality. When he mentioned “other gods”, He simply was warning His people to avoid the worship of anyone or anything else. During the time of the ancient Isrealites, it was obiviously the man-made idols of stone and wood. In today’s world, people worship other things likes money, power, or fame. God’s mention of other gods was in no way an actual confirmation of them.

7 On Jan 20, 2007, at 10:23am, steve wrote:

Erik, There is little to no evidence to support the view that Jesus Christ existed as a historical person - basically the story of Christ is a myth. That said, if he did exist I agree with your comment that his desire to be Lord of the world is not racist. I think megalomania would be a more apt.

As for racism and the bible, history is littered with lives lost due to a non-questioning belief in a book of fiction. The slave trade and black oppression were justified through reference to the ‘inerrant’ book (particularly Southern churches). And Hitler got many of the Christians on side through blaming the Jews for killing Christ (people murdered because of a myth!!).

As for me misinterpreting the 1st commandment - there is no misinterpretation. The 2nd commandment covers all the issues you raised with respect to idols etc. No the wording of this commandment is quite clear - there must be more than one god. Otherwise wouldn’t god have simply said “I am the only god - follow me”?

8 On Mar 28, 2007, at 2:51am, Sola wrote:

Steve, you’re still not getting the idol worshipping command. God is the only God. He only says not to worship any other god because people create their own gods in their heart. They shape a god that suits their lifestyle and thus creating “another god”. as Erik said, it could be money, fame, money… or even sunday football, food, and porn. Anything you like above God and value it more than u value God himself has become a god to you. This is the “god” that the true God is talking about that we should not serve. basically everything the human mind creates and makes.

9 On Mar 28, 2007, at 11:52pm, steve wrote:

Sola, are you really expecting me to believe that God called Moses to the top of Mt Sinai, gave him the stone tablets and then said when Moses was leaving - “Oh, by the way can you explain to people down there that my reference to other gods is actually a metaphor for worldly things”.

The spin Christians have to put on the ‘word of god’ to have it make a modicum of sense is really quite amusing.

10 On Jun 7, 2007, at 1:05am, Sonia Jagpal wrote:

i think racism is stupid

11 On Sep 6, 2007, at 5:40am, Will C. wrote:

Steve-
First of all, how can you say that the story of Christ is a myth just because there is no historical evidence?  Was the world actually flat until the 1600s just because we hadn’t found out it was round yet?  Nobody can or should reject others’ beliefs, and to do so is extremely disrespectful of you.  The words of the Bible can be bent and twisted to back up almost any opinion, and you should not wage war on all Christians because of a few misinterpretations in history.

And seriously now, why are you reading the Bible if you are so violently opposed to it?  If you don’t understand it and aren’t going to respect it then just stop now.

12 On Sep 18, 2007, at 1:43am, steve wrote:

Will, you don’t refute that there is no historical evidence to support the existence of Jesus so I’m not sure why my claim he is a myth should cause you any concern.

You claim I’m at war with Christians - that’s not true. My concern is with Christianity. I don’t expect to be able to convince anyone to recant their faith but I do hope that my words may go some way to preventing non-Christians from falling under the spell of the delusion.

In so much as I read the bible: I only do it to gather evidence to demonstrate its irrelevance to today’s world. Christian leaders try to assert their authority in the public square by using the bible to say they’re acting under the authority of God - I just like to point out the stupidity contained within the document from which they quote (did you know, Will, that according to the bible bats are birds?).

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