U.S. politics is especially stupid these days. I have been following politics since the 1970s, and this period appears to be the most inane ever. And if you believe that only one “side” is stupid, then you are part of the problem.
We have one “side” that spends most of its time claiming the United States is a hateful, racist country. And then we have another “side” saying that if you launch such criticisms you should be sent back to the country you came from. I mean really, can you get any more sophomoric?
There used to be an understanding that the United States indeed had many flaws but that we were working to fix those flaws and we had done a pretty admirable job of it. Of course slavery was horrific, but slavery had existed for thousands of years, and it was a new thing to abolish it. Once the idea of ending slavery became popular, it took the United States a few decades to end institutionalized slavery. Brazil ended slavery in 1888 — the United States did it in 1865. England ended slavery in 1833. I suppose it is not politically correct to point out that, worldwide, slavery was NOT about race — it was about power. Historically, people of all races have been forced into slavery. (It’s almost like people have never seen the movie “Gladiator.”)
Segregation and Jim Crow laws were another horrific period of U.S. history, and this involved true racism, not the overwrought charges of racism we see launched every five second today. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is a heroic period where Americans of all races came together to end this racism. And those of us who believe that God has equal love for all people, the movement to end this racism is wonderful thing and something we as Americans should be proud of.
President Nelson spoke at the NAACP on Sunday August 21, and he said the following:
We are all connected, and we have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us. We don’t have to be alike or look alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other. If we have any hope of reclaiming the goodwill and sense of humanity for which we yearn, it must begin with each of us, one person at a time….
Simply stated, we strive to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation.
Quoting from 2 Nephi 26:33, President Nelson said the Savior invites “’all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he (denies) none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.’
“May I repeat that last phrase: ‘All are alike unto God.’”
May I suggest that, as usual, President Nelson strikes exactly the right tone? He is right in line with President Hinckley, who declared in 2006: “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.”
Latter-day Saints should not join either “side” on this issue. We should recognize that the history of the United States is filled with mistakes, but we should be optimistic and proud that this country has taken massive steps to correct those mistakes. We should look at history in context and not expect people from the past to have acted as we act today.
But on the other hand, we should never join the people chanting “send her back” when another person criticizes the United States and makes other statements with which we might disagree. Of course it is OK to criticize the United States. There is much to criticize, including, by the way, the treatment of latter-day Saints in the 19th century.
The Church of Jesus Christ’s position is exactly right: All are alike unto God. People who disparage another race are not following the teachings of Christ. It is also worth adding that those who spend their time focusing on past tragedies are very often creating negativity rather than positive feelings. And those who drum up hatred and xenophobia for political reasons are also on the wrong path. Follow the prophets. They know the way.