Racism is evidence of the spirit of anti-christ

Racism is evidence of the spirit of anti-christ

Racism is evidence of the spirit of anti-christ

Paul Holmes
Paul Holmes

United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan may have not batted an eye when receiving the report
that a leading New Zealand Broadcaster had called him a
‘Cheeky Darkie’ but the media feeding frenzy which
has followed in New Zealand would perhaps have made him proud.
Paul Holmes is openly critical of the United Nations performance
but is quick to say his comments on the September 28 talk-back
show about Annan’s colour had nothing to do with his
analysis. After a round of apologies, both on National Radio and
Television he has still come under the spotlight of less
forgiving sections of the public. Some prominent academics called
for his resignation, others questioned the validity of his
apology and worst of all some defended the actual statement by
posting it on an International White Supremist website. Some
supporters argued that we shouldn’t be too precious or
politically correct about it. In a Linda Clark National
Radio
interview (29 September) he proclaimed
“I’m a good man not a racist,” and somewhat
forlornly, “I’m wondering where all this might
go.”

Where it has gone has no doubt
surprised him. An editorial in the Weekend Herald (5-6
October) by Graham Reeds was aptly titled “Words that wont
go away”. They will no doubt haunt him for some time to
come. The racial slur sparked debate in a wide range of people. A
group of academics called for his resignation claiming his
comment was gross misuse of his position as a public broadcasting
icon. Talk-back shows and letters to editors expressed support
for his daring to be politically incorrect, anger for his poor
error in judgement and even some disdain for perhaps judging him
too harshly. Whatever opinions are being expressed about him I
personally do not consider him a racist. But some accountability
for perhaps scratching what is an open would in New Zealand is
warranted. That wound is the underbelly of racism and bigotry.It
calls yet again for some soul searching.

Racism and Sexism are big
no-no’s on the moral thermometer. Associate Professor of
Education at Auckland University commented that such words from
Holmes, “were not those of a person fit to hold a central
place in the public discourse at a time when our race relations
are so fragile and so in need of intelligent and careful
input.” (Sunday Star Times October 5) Former Race
Relations Conciliator Gregory Fontain took a more forgiving
stance. “Coming from a society [South Africa] where racism
was legalised,” he comments, “I quickly learnt that
my sense of self worth should never be determined by the vitriol
of others. But there are marginalised people who will be hurt by
malicious words.” (Sunday Star Times October 5).
Fontain wants people to put things in perspective. He accepts
Paul’s apology as genuine and fulsome and that’s
where it should stay. The question is not whether Holmes is
racist (he is not), it’s what will best serve the interests
of Nation building when we think about it. I agree.

The furore, which has arisen,
raises some questions for Christians to consider. Racism in New
Zealand is rife and it is certainly morally reprehensible. But
are the churches concerned about it to the degree that it
warrants? What evidence is there that we have entered the public
debate with fervour? What does celebrating our cultural diversity
really mean in the context of the Gospel?

When the other Paul (the apostle)
wrote, there is neither Jew nor Greek nor Gentile in Christ, he
was not saying that culture was not valuable and to be
celebrated. He was unequivocally saying just the reverse. In
Christ we have equality as children of the same father whether we
are Jew or Greek or Gentile. I have heard Diversity decried by
some as merely a liberal humanist and anti-Christian doctrine. I
strongly disagree. Celebrating diversity is not some weak
moralism. It is the very real and hard work of appreciating that
we are created in the image of God and that image is wrapped in
the clothing of many shapes, colours and personalities. Racism
and bigotry arises from perverse judgments of another’s
worth based on arrogance and wilful ignorance. It in effect seeks
to mar the image, to dehumanise, to make ugly what God declares
is beautiful.

I am a Samoan-New Zealander and
have experienced many forms of bigotry and racism within and
outside the churches in both private and public situations.
Racism is a prevalent and vile nemesis. We are enjoined by
Scripture to challenge it, to fight it because it calls God a
liar and mocks the sacrifice of our dear Lord who died and rose
again for all. We are not called to ignore real racial tension
and treat it as something that the rest of the world should deal
with. Where are the church leader’s voices in the public
sphere addressing racism?