Smart people saying smart things (4.20.17)

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Andrew Jackson’s America”

The prospect of Muslims assimilating will not subdue them. To the contrary, the last thing they want is their kid competing with yours. Their hypocrisy is stunning: These are the ghosts who burned black Wall Street, who pilfered the “Five Civilized Tribes,” who recoil at gays attempting to build family. And so on. They claim to fear the immigrant clinging to his language. No. What they fear is the immigrant learning theirs.

David Dark, “In the age of Trump, can Mr. Rogers help us manage our anger?”

No political party and no presidential administration can prevent such feats of thoughtfulness. There is so much precedent for dealing with human madness, so much righteousness to which we might yet be true in new and surprising ways. So many avenues for dramatically conjuring up, for ourselves and our fellow humans, a vision of what is true and lovely and good.

Ijeoma Oluo, “The Heart of Whiteness”

We visit [Rachel] Dolezal’s studio. She is, in all honesty, a very talented painter. The majority of her paintings feature black people. Other than the paintings of her children, most of the black people depicted appear to be dressed as slaves or tribespeople. Breaking this pattern was a series of portraits hanging on the wall of Dolezal herself. They were done Warhol style, each painting duplicated in a different color. Dolezal explains them to me: “You know, people are always saying to me, ‘Rachel, I don’t care if you are red, green, blue, or purple,’ so I decided to paint myself as red, green, blue, or purple.”

Dolezal chuckles as she says this, as if it is the most clever and original idea anybody has ever had. I don’t know how many times a white person has told me that they don’t care if I’m “red, green, blue, or purple” when they are trying to explain to me just how “not racist” they are — I’ve lost count. I do know that I’ve rolled my eyes every time. As my brother Ahamefule said to me once, “They may not care if I’m red or green or blue or purple — but they sure as hell care that I’m black.”

Molly Worthen, “The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society” [New York Times]

Mr. Nelson encourages his students to be skeptics rather than cynics. “The skeptic looks at something and says, ‘I wonder,'” he said. “The cynic says, ‘I know,’ and then stops thinking.”

He pointed out that “cynicism and tribalism are very closely related. You protect your tribe, your way of life and thinking, and you try to annihilate anything that might call that into question.” Cynicism and tribalism are among the gravest human temptations. They are all the more dangerous when they pose as wisdom and righteousness.

Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at Easter Prayer Breakfast, April 7, 2015”

“Good Friday may occupy the throne for a day,” Dr. King once preached, “but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the drums of Easter.”  Drums that beat the rhythm of renewal and redemption, goodness and grace, hope and love.  Easter is our affirmation that there are better days ahead — and also a reminder that it is on us, the living, to make them so.

Through God’s mercy, Peter the Apostle said, we are given “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”  It’s an inheritance that calls on us to be better, to love more deeply, to serve “the least of these” as an expression of Christ’s love here on Earth.

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