Guest Commentary / Jun. 5, 2020

Resentment and the Culture of Destruction

“Anger is an acid that does more to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” —Mark Twain

By Mark W. Fowler, J.D., M.D

“Anger is an acid that does more to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” —Mark Twain

It is said now by certain media that the protesting and rioting taking place across the country are the manifestations of anger from centuries of mistreatment of blacks by whites. We are told that most people on the streets are primarily peaceful, despite the flames and destruction we can see in the background.

This mistreatment first manifested as slavery, then by lynching, followed by economic exclusion and discrimination in hiring, firing, mortgage availability, and government grants. Discrimination is omnipresent and insidious, it is said, even though legislation and court action have addressed many of these concerns. Human nature being what it is, the intransigence of the heart of man still resists the command to love one another as we love ourselves. America is pervasively irredeemably evil, we are told, and must be “transformed.”

There can be no doubt that centuries of discrimination has taken its toll on the psyche of African Americans. Hatred for the “other” is nothing new. Virtually every region in the world has seen its share of bigotry based on skin color, religion, or area of origin. Israelites hated Samaritans. Muslims hated Christians. Protestants hated Catholics. Shia Muslims hated Sunni Muslims. The Irish hated the English. The English hated the Scots. The French hated the Spaniards.

In America, the Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, Chinese, Native Americans, Japanese, and Hispanics have all been subject to discrimination of one form or another. Asian Americans are presently engaged in litigation against Harvard claiming discrimination in admission. Turmoil is the plight of fallen man, and it has ever been thus.

And yet, this country has made great strides in addressing this. Men and women of good faith grappled with the curse of slavery early on. Abolitionism led to the Civil War in which many thousands of men died. Reconstruction led to a bitter peace, which led to Jim Crow laws and another, but less violent, conflict in the last century. Change has been slow, but it has come. This is worth celebrating and mentioning. Indeed, it can be argued that in no other country has so much been done to rectify discrimination.

Thurgood Marshall was the first black on the Supreme Court, followed by Clarence Thomas. Colin Powell was the first black secretary of state. There have been many Cabinet members, senators, congressmen, judges, and generals who were black. Barack Obama was elected president twice by white majorities. There are many black mayors and chiefs of police. We have tried busing, affirmative action, quotas, and public-relations campaigns. Modern media portrays African Americans in a positive light. There are now many black entrepreneurs, and inroads have been made by blacks in law, medicine, commerce, sports, and entertainment.

In short, significant progress has been made.

Against the background, there is the relatively new ideology, born in academia, promoting the notion that American has always been and continues to be predominately, if not pervasively, racist. This ideology embraces the notion that America was founded primarily to continue slavery. It promotes the notion of microaggressions as a new, more subtle plague of racism, but just as pernicious as overt racism. It gave us “white privilege” and fertilized the weeds of white liberal guilt.

Despite much progress, the media and political liberal elites encourage minorities to cling to a smoldering resentment against whites (white males in particular), the system, and society. Self-loathing is now stylish. The problem with resentment is that it spoils one’s entire outlook. Sleights are perceived even when unintended and often non-existent. Instead of dialogue, we have suspicion. We build barriers to communication. Instead of mutual respect, we now see whites forced to kneel before black protestors to admit their guilt and recite pledges of anti-discrimination as though it were liturgy in a non-sectarian church. We see rioters who feel justified in theft and destruction. And nothing is really solved. But the damage to neighborhoods is real, and opportunities lost are unmentioned. The voices of the victims of the rioting are unheard even though they tend to be black.

This anger has now culminated in mass destruction and looting. Incredibly, one media reporter commented that the protestors were largely peaceful even as an automobile burned in the background. Black Lives Matter and peaceful protestors unwittingly give cover to antifa, whose motives are far more sinister and destructive, and opportunists who simply are out to loot and pillage.

Black resentment is fanned by a media whose job is no longer to inform but to produce agitprop. Lamentably, and ironically, several of the 11 killed so far were black men, killed by rioters. Predominately white mayors and governors have abdicated their obligation to preserve order, while hundreds of police officers have been hurt and millions of dollars of property stolen or burned. And still the protestors and rioters are not satiated. Despite the fact that charges have been brought against all four officers involved with George Floyd’s death, the protestors are not satisfied.

One can only guess at how long it will be before an armed backlash results in more killing. Order must be restored. But we as a society must find a way to let go of anger before it destroys the vessel of the American soul.

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