Today, I have the day off as a holiday offered to me by my employer to celebrate and remember Juneteenth. I honestly was not that familiar with the day, and had to look it up. It took a while for what this day was to sort of sink in, and when it did, I was crushed by the enormity of something I had missed for most of my life.
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.” – The beginning of General Order Number 3, read by Major General Gordon Granger at Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.
I honestly have no emotional or mental frame of reference to help me imagine what it is like for an entire human population to live in a country with this heritage. Consider it for a moment: Their ancestors were brought to this country by force, and made to work as slaves. That’s where their “American Heritage” begins. And once freed, you would think that the nightmare was over, but it simply morphed into a continual, institutionalized system of abuse, right up until today, and it continues.
I have no words for that. I can’t imagine what it is like to grow up with that, live with that, raise children with this background. I simply can’t. All I can do is call out the demonic that drove such a heritage. It is a demonic power that drove people claiming a Jewish Savior to steal, kill, and destroy another fellow human population. And it continues.
In some ways, I perceive this power is not as strong as it was. In other ways, I perceive it is more insidious, and attempts to deceive both populations into stealing, killing, and destroying. What I can’t fathom is how a people so confident in their faith in Jesus could somehow wrap their heads and hearts around killing, stealing, and destroying people. It boggles my mind.
I would point out that this demonic drive was pervasive. It wasn’t just blacks brought from Africa, but the native peoples of North America as well. They have also been part of a continual, institutionalized system of abuse. And it doesn’t stop there. Oh, how I wish it would stop, but it doesn’t. I weep, my heart breaks, but it doesn’t stop there.
In the essay by Ronald Wells, “The War with Mexico” in The Wars of America, which he also edited, he quotes1 Gene M. Brack’s book, Mexico Views Manifest Destiny, as follows:
Over the years Mexicans had become increasingly aware that many Americans…looked upon Mexicans as inferior beings. This had frightening implications, for Americans had respect for neither the rights nor the culture of those whom they considered inferior. They had been merciless in their treatment of the Indian and had reduced blacks to a brutal form of servitude. Mexicans were perceptive enough to recognize that a similar fate threatened them should they fall under American domination.Brack, Gene M. Mexico Views Manifest Destiny, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975, pg 81
If this quote does not chill the blood of anyone considering themselves a white, Protestant, American, then I am left believing you remain under the demonic influence. And, I realize I have not substantiated my view that Manifest Destiny was, or is, a demonic influence. So, I will simply challenge you to consider the application of this pervasive American belief, and decide for yourself whether it is more stealing, killing, and destroying, or abundant life. I can’t see our application of it as anything other than stealing, killing, and destroying, the mark of the devil, according to my Master, Jesus (John 10:10).
I am left unable to imagine living and growing up with the heritage of blacks in America, Native Americans in America, or even Hispanics in America. Instead I’m left with my own heritage that created and institutionalized a system of destruction of these people, their culture, and their rights as fellow human beings.
Go back to the text of how General Order Number 3 begins. Did you notice how the second sentence begins:
This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.General Order Number 3
The idea was there. The concept of equality, freedom, and justice were perceived, but the application became limited by a competing perception of inferiority. I’m not sure how we got there, but it was not through the application of Scripture, regardless of what any historical interpreter may claim. Such a view of inferiority is entirely antithetical to the Christian Scriptures. What the Holy Spirit reveals through His Christian servants writing under His inspiration reads as follows:
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.Colossians 3:5-11 NASB (emphasis mine)
This is the reflection of the heart of our Savior, Creator, and Master. The King of all kings, Creator of the universe, He who died and rose again, says that there is no distinction. But we have made one, and we have brutally executed our selfish desires based on that distinction.
I don’t know what to say to blacks, Native Americans, or other peoples in America. I don’t know how to apologize to the Japanese Americans interned during World War II. I don’t know what I can do, other than confess the sins of my fathers, and do better myself. I don’t know what to tell these people as they fight for the rights and appreciation of their culture which has been denied them.
I do know what to tell the other Americans with the same heritage as myself: Repent! For starters, if what you read here does not make you weep for the sins of your fathers, then, again, I can only assume that the demonic influence that refuses to accept the clear charge from our Savior remains in you. Repent! Stop it! You cannot expect to escape the wrath of your Creator if you persist.
For many of us, the response to what I have written may be surprise. It was for me, as I have progressively come to understand my heritage. I had no clue. And that, too, causes me to weep. My ignorance furthered the problem, perhaps a little, but furthered it nonetheless. In my ignorance I remained part of the problem, not part of any sort of solution. I can’t remain that way any longer. The answer for myself is to learn the perspective of my Creator, and love my brothers and sisters, of any color, culture, or heritage.
Let us, as white Americans, repent, surprise or acceptance, either way, repent. Let us not be apathetic and ignorant any longer. In that way, we can finally begin to glorify our Savior, and see His creation as He sees it.
Quite a rant through this particular knothole, but I believe it is an important view. Feel free to post your own road to repentance, or, if you are from one of these peoples we have oppressed, I welcome your view. As I said, I can’t even hope to appreciate your view as completely as I would like to. But every word I hear and read from these perspectives helps me gain a little more clarity.
1 Wells, Ronald A. “The War With Mexico”, The Wars of America: Christian Views, Mercer University Press, Macon, GA 1991, page 75.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation
America, as I learned, is not the great bastion of freedom to all people, it was (and in some ways, continues to be) a country built around a WASP culture, anyone outside of that designation has/is treated poorly.
You mention the Blacks, Hispanic, Native American, and Japanese Americans as examples, but that only scratches the visible surface. Every group that came here, sans those from most Western European countries, has been treated poorly.
Irish immigration – NYC was famous for signs “No Mc’s Allowed”.
Chinese immigrants brought over to build the Trans-continental Railroad America boasts about (the “Golden Spike” was build on the death of hundreds (if not thousands) of Chinese workers. They were considered expendable, and cheaply replaceable. I read in one book how they were used to pull carts containing the nitro needed to blow tunnel openings because horses were too valuable.
Eastern Europeans were brought over during the hey-day of the steel industry to work the mines for the coal and coke necessary to build the industry. They were brought over because they were cheap, and American’s didn’t want to do the deadly work of working deep in the coal mines where collapses and deadly gases would quickly end lives (not to mention black lung).
We talk about the wonder of the 13 colonies, only Maryland openly allowed Catholics. Maine and Florida were founded by Catholic countries (France and Spain), in other states persecution was openly allowed. In the early parts of my career I was denied access to promotions because my bosses thought my name “sounded” Catholic (they assumed it was French).
Yes, America is anything but kind to its immigrants (forced or otherwise).
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Sadly, you are spot on. Fortunately, it’s not completely pervasive, and our Master has remnants of His people here and there. I do wish they weren’t so rare, though.
One of these days, I would love to sit with you over coffee and hear your story. I believe we would weep together, laugh together, and pray together.
Ditto, Would largely depend on your location, I travel a lot for hiking, hit most of the US within a couple year timeframe.
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If you ever get to the Southern Oregon Coast, there are plenty of awesome trails around here (the southern end of the Oregon Coast Trail for one, the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor for another). We’ll hike, then coffee. 🙂
I will keep it in mind once the country opens. My first trip is to follow old Rte. 66 for nostalgias’s sake. But, I’m also trying to hit the highest point in every state, so hitting Oregon is on the list.
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Well, if you pass through the southern coast, give me a heads up. I know some places you might enjoy.
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