In the beginning, presumably and according to our Sunday School lessons, was God, and this God created everything… and everything God created was “good.”
If the message of God’s sovereignty is true, then God knew what God was doing, and created, on purpose, beings other than white men. God created everything that was created, including men, of course, but not just white men, but men of every color and nationality. God created women, and God created people who were perfect at birth and imperfect. God created heterosexuals and homosexuals. God… did it… and because God did it, it was and is good.
That’s what many of us were taught. But there is a problem. Many white men seem not to accept God’s sovereignty. White men – here and in Europe – seem to believe that God made some mistakes, the primary one being making people who were not white ― and male.
Carl Jung wrote that “the naïve European thinks of America as a white nation. It is wholly white.” (W.E.B. DuBois, Dusk of Dawn , p. xv) Nazis, it is said, used American ideas about race and racism, including the innate inferiority of black people in their construction of their own system of anti-Semitism which resulted in the concentration camps. White men throughout history in this nation have been proponents of white male superiority. President Theodore Roosevelt is said to have said, “I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented from breeding.” White men decided that some people were not worth living; they designated whom they wished to be “feeble-minded” and worthy of being isolated, sterilized and worse. White men decided that women who liked sex were “feeble-minded” and were therefore prone to be sexually promiscuous. White men said people of African descent were “savages and were incapable of solving their own “social and sanitary problems.” (Adam Cohen, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, pp. 74-75)
Too many white men, it seems, are stuck. They think, like Jung’s “naïve Europeans,” that America is, or is supposed to be, a white nation. Not just a white nation, either, but a white, male, heterosexual nation. All others are dross and can be treated that way.
The current debacle over health care has only cemented this feeling, as well as the arrogance and boldness of the current president, who seems to have no fear of God or even a modicum of respect for the Almighty. Evangelical support notwithstanding, the current president and the House and Senate GOP lawmakers seem hell-bent at re-establishing white male hegemony in this nation, at the expense of everyone else. Making “America great” has been code for bringing back the good old days of unfettered white supremacy, a time where white people, especially white men, did what they wanted with no thought of what it might cost others.
Recently, women in favor of freedom of “choice” appeared at the Ohio State House dressed as characters from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. At the time, I had not read the book but my son said I should read the book and watch the movie on Hulu. I did both, and came away shuddering. My son said, “Ma, in the book it’s like ‘they’ took everything that was done to black people and made it happen to white people, especially white women.” His words intrigued me, and so I delved into the story and found that I agreed with him.
The capacity of white men over history to dehumanize people ― black, brown, Native American and anyone who did not fit their estimation of having worth has been noted but not dwelt upon; it is as though we have tried to keep a horrific secret as Americans in our drive to be “exceptional.”
But any nation which marginalizes God and dehumanizes people whom God created cannot be said to be exceptional but is, rather, ordinary, and dangerously so. An ordinary nation cannot see and does not appreciate the worth of all people; it casts aside that which might be considered divinely “good” for that which fits into its own small-minded opinion of what the Divine really meant to create. An ordinary nation has little room for compassion for people but measures “strength” by how tough it can be in its quest for domination over others, regardless of the pain such domination costs in terms of human life and suffering.
America, for all its claim to God and Christianity has been profoundly areligious; it has cast God aside and placed itself in God’s place. The displacement has been carried forward primarily by America’s white men, with others in this country and around the world following along.
In “making America white again” this nation is headed down a slippery slope that will not end well for many – not even the white men who are steering the ship. With the sovereign God displaced and replaced, the journey of this nation is on a collision course.