Richard Land may want to start studying his Bible closer before spewing hypocrisy and insensitivity on the airwaves.
During a recent broadcast, Land, who heads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, condemned President Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, for their condemnation of the unjust killing of Trayvon Martin.
You’d think, with the Bible saying “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and all, that Land would also be demanding answers and justice, not beating up on the people who are doing that.
But he’s not.
In words that were later revealed to have been lifted verbatim from columns from The Washington Times and Investor’s Business Daily, Land said that the response from black leaders to Trayvon’s slaying was being used as a ploy to gin up black votes for Obama.
He called Sharpton and Jackson “racial ambulance chasers.” He lambasted Obama’s saying that, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” as an attempt to exploit a tragedy, and not to empathize with parents whose son lost his life to an overzealous neighborhood patroller.
On top of that, Land pretty much justified racial profiling, saying that black men were more likely to hurt someone than white people.
Land said he has no plans to apologize for his remarks. No matter that they likely offend the million or so black members of the SBC, or that some black leaders in the SBC are calling for his words to be repudiated.
Instead, he believes he ought to get a pass for his insensitivity because back in 1995, he was a key architect of a resolution in which the SBC apologized for its support of slavery and segregation.
I hope he doesn’t get one.
Apologizing for slavery and segregation is one thing. But black people no longer have to fear that kind of oppression.
The kind of oppression that black people have to fear is the kind that got 17-year-old Trayvon killed.
The kind of oppression that black people have to fear now isn’t found on cotton plantations or in separate restrooms or water fountains, but in laws that have some police officials believing that a white guy like George Zimmerman ought not to have to answer for shooting an unarmed black boy.
The kind of oppression that black people have to worry about now is the kind that made Zimmerman view Trayvon as a potential predator because of what he was wearing, not because of what he was doing.
And this kind of oppression is reminiscent of slavery and Jim Crow; of a system in which whites justified treating black people differently because they feared them, or viewed them as inferior or unworthy. It was also a system in which black people were expected to fall in line and not upset the social order.
Land’s remarks tell me that he’s still a supporter of the latter.
If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be wasting his time aping nonsense about what political motives Obama might have for trying to relate to the pain that Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin feel over losing their child, nor would he be trotting out all the tired accusations of Jackson and Sharpton being race-baiters. In fact, he wouldn’t be talking politics at all.
He’d be talking justice.
Land would be trying to engage Southern Baptists in awareness about how to unlearn the things that are behind racial profiling and stereotyping. He’d be trying to engage them in re-examining laws such as Stand Your Ground, which make it easy for people to get away with shooting and killing others based on paranoia.
It’s good that Land led the SBC in apologizing for its support of slavery and segregation. But that wasn’t the hard part.
The hard part is getting rid of the slave master mentality that made Southern Baptists embrace black people’s bondage to begin with. That mentality, it seems, still lives in Land’s expectation that Obama and other black leaders ought to be silent in the face of injustices that continue to dog black people – if their speaking out makes white people uncomfortable.
An apology is a beginning. It’s not an end. And the black members of the SBC ought to make sure of that.