Institute on the Constitution: There Is No Reason Why Men Should Not Discriminate On Grounds of Religion, Race, or Nationality

On Institute on the Constitution’s website, a 1956 essay by Calvinist thinker Frederick Nymeyer describes discrimination which is permitted within a society.  John Lofton, IOTC Director of Communications, reprinted this article from a journal recommended by Christian reconstructionist Rousas Rushdoony.

Nymeyer lays out his thesis clearly:

The word discriminate has in late years acquired a bad flavor. There are three kinds of discrimination which are under special attack: discrimination on the basis of religion, discrimination on the basis of race, and discrimination on the basis of nationality. We wish to challenge the validity of objections to these discriminations. We see no reason why men should not discriminate on grounds of religion, race, or nationality, if they wish. We wish to present the case for the right of any and all discriminations except discriminations which involve injustice (violation of Second Table of the Law).

Injustice is not completely spelled out but involves violation of the Ten Commandments.

What, if any, discrimination is forbidden? The discrimination that is forbidden is the discrimination that involves injustice. And in our thinking injustice is discrimination which involves coercion, fraud and theft. All other discriminations are, we submit, permissible. 

According to Nymeyer, discrimination is allowed even if the reason for the discrimination is an immutable trait.

But the moral crux of the problem of discrimination is the discrimination against unalterable characteristics. Is it moral to discriminate against unalterable characteristics regarding which a man is helpless? Here is where the race problem becomes so sensitive. A man with a white skin cannot do anything about it; a man with a black skin cannot do anything about it. Why discriminate against (choose against) a man for that for which he has no remedy, for an unalterable trait that is unattractive to you and maybe others? Here is where cruel injustice appears immorally to intrude itself into the situation. But is it injustice?

If the writer has made an earnest effort to carry a tune and keep time (which he has) but is unable (which happens to be the fact), is an injustice done h i [him] because he is “discriminated” against by a choral society which discriminates against a trait he had which is unalterable for h i [him]? Of course not. Justice does not consist in denying reality or the facts of life; injustice is not identical with recognizing reality (that I cannot sing).

And so we hold – in the name of happiness, and in the name of liberty, and in the name of the right to discriminate – that there is no more “injustice” in discriminating against an unalterable trait than against an alterable trait; neither is an injustice. For us, every discrimination is valid except a discrimination involving injustice.

Somehow for Nymeyer (and apparently for IOTC) singing skill is analogous to race. Since the trait in question is the unalterable trait of skin color, Nymeyer must believe there is something inadequate about one skin color versus another (analogous to the desirable trait of song versus inability to sing). I wonder which race is the disadvantaged one?

Even if they would not personally discriminate based on race, Nymeyer and by extension IOTC actually promote the idea that discrimination based on race can be justified. If IOTC does not mean to convey this belief, then why post this article on the website?

For more on the IOTC, click here; for more on the League of the South, click here. IOTC founder Michael Peroutka is a board member of the League of the South and has pledged the resources of the IOTC to the League.

The IOTC’s course on the Constitution is being hosted by the National Religious Broadcasters each Thursday evening at 8pm.

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  • Tom Van Dyke

    Funny. The “immutable” issue seems to b a strong argument for why a black person should not be able to discriminate against whites, but be perfectly justified discriminating against whites wearing Klan outfits.

    This of course touches on why gay-agenda advocates tend to insist that homosexuality/homosexual attractions are “immutable,” an unalterable function of what a person is, not a free will choice of what one does.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Tom – I don’t understand your point. Are you saying wearing Klan outfits is an immutable trait?

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Funny. The “immutable” issue seems to b a strong argument for why a black person should not be able to discriminate against whites, but be perfectly justified discriminating against whites wearing Klan outfits.

    This of course touches on why gay-agenda advocates tend to insist that homosexuality/homosexual attractions are “immutable,” an unalterable function of what a person is, not a free will choice of what one does.

  • Patrocles

    First, we all should admit that anti-discrimination activities are more and more dissolving civil liberties.

    So, for the sake of civil liberties, we have to restrain anti-dicrimination activities. When and where is a matter of debate. (Re-publishing Nymeyer is a useful tool for promoting such a debate, even if you don’t share Nymeyer’s point of view.)

    I see that it is a possible restraint for anti-discrimination activities when you restrain them to “immutable” traits (and insofar I sympathize with Dr. Throckmorton). On the other hand we must see that on the long run, less and less traits will be “immutable”. (As I’ve said before: A hundred years from now, there will be some kind of effective SOCE – perhaps by genetical or hormonal changement).

    On my opinion, the superior point of view must be the Golden Rule. If you think that black-only associations are justified, you ought to accept white-only associations, too. If you think that gay-only associations are justified, you ought to accept heterosexual-only associations, too.

  • ken

    Patrocles# ~ Sep 5, 2013 at 5:41 am

    “First, we all should admit that anti-discrimination activities are more and more dissolving civil liberties.”

    I don’t believe that is true.

    “I see that it is a possible restraint for anti-discrimination activities when you restrain them to “immutable” traits”

    that would mean that there would be no religious protections, nor would there be protections for political affiliations (which are a matter of public record).

    And given how some use the term “immutable” (i.e. it is possible for some people to change under the right conditions), gender isn’t immutable either.

    “As I’ve said before: A hundred years from now, there will be some kind of effective SOCE – perhaps by genetical or hormonal changement). ”

    Again I disagree, I suspect 100 years from now people will look at the idea of trying to change a person’s orientation, the same way many today would look at the idea of trying to change a person’s race (i.e. a sad and offensive commentary on how discrimination by the majority adversely effects the minority).

    “If you think that black-only associations are justified, you ought to accept white-only associations, too.”

    1st, if you are discussing PRIVATE organizations, then the law already allows such things.

    2nd, after you have gone through a semester or 2 of being the only (or 1 of only a few ) white person in your classes perhaps then you might start to understand the need for minority-based (but not necessarily minority-only) organizations.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Making freedom from unjust discrimination contingent upon “immutable characteristics,” is obviously racist, at least to me. “Race” is an evolving modern era social construct… an artificially chosen collection of inherited and imagined characteristics which can and has changed over time for various reasons…often having to do with maintaining whiteness and privilege. (Actually, rather true for “homosexuality” as well, and both have a lot of long discredited scientific baggage. I was just talking to someone about Evelyn Hooker and Franz Boas…)

    I think that maintaining a state of unearned privilege is indeed the main reason for the conservative drive to make anti-discrimination laws contingent upon “immutability.” Conservatives usually don’t include sexual orientation as being an “immutable” characteristic, and the GLBT community is multiracial, multi-most everything. So are Hispanic communities. To conservatives, then, since they don’t regard Gay and Hispanic as being immutable characteristics, they shouldn’t be protected classes.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Warren# ~ Sep 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Tom – I don’t understand your point. Are you saying wearing Klan outfits is an immutable trait?

    No, the opposite, of course, and why it’s OK to discriminate against behavior we find objectionable or offensive.

  • RJ (TO)

    A person’s religious beliefs are not immutable. So if anti-discrimination laws are contingent upon immutability in the eyes of conservatives, what’s all the ranting and raving over violations of their religious liberties about? Why should they even be entitled to any, if their own argument has any validity.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Because religious beliefs are explicitly protected by the Constitution, that’s why.

  • mikehorn

    Tom,

    The right to free conscience is protected by the Constitution, true, but not the right to take away the rights of others. Discrimination is what happens when one person’s “rights” infringe upon another’s. Disliking the behavior of someone else is protected, and so is talking about it, but actively trying to prevent someone from holding a different belief is something else – that is called coercion, oppression, discrimination.

    .

    As a point of order, the right of religious belief does not protect anyone from being mocked or ridiculed for having that belief. Quite the contrary – the “marketplace of ideas” was the intent, where ideas and beliefs can argue and (figuratively) grapple till one wins out over the other, supposedly through strength of argument. The history of our nation has one religiously-based discrimination after another being cast aside. Royalty, race, gender, and now sexuality.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    Tom,

    The right to free conscience is protected by the Constitution, true, but not the right to take away the rights of others.

    The “rights” of others to do what? Wear a Klan outfit to a soul food restaurant?

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    “No, the opposite, of course, and why it’s OK to discriminate against behavior we find objectionable or offensive.”

    Race isn’t a “behavior” and neither is sexual orientation.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    That is not a rebuttal. Race isn’t subject to free will. Sexual behavior is subject to the will. “Orientation” is meaningless here.

  • ken

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 6, 2013 at 6:33 am

    “That is not a rebuttal. ”

    I was simply highlighting what Warren was originally pointing out about your post. that YOU inappropriately compared an immutable characteristic, race, to a behavior, wearing a clansman outfit.

  • Boo

    I’m pretty sure anti-discrimination laws don’t cover having sex in a restaurant, Tom.

  • Tom Van Dyke

    ken# ~ Sep 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Tom Van Dyke# ~ Sep 6, 2013 at 6:33 am

    “That is not a rebuttal. ”

    I was simply highlighting what Warren was originally pointing out about your post. that YOU inappropriately compared an immutable characteristic, race, to a behavior, wearing a clansman outfit.

    You misunderstood, silly.


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