Thursday, April 07, 2005

No Reply

We have been discussing the Nation of Islam in my African-American History class. It has been interesting. It began yesterday when Professor H. delineated the major beliefs N.O.I. members hold. The story goes that white people were created by a mad scientist named Yakub who rebelled against Allah. Consequently, white people are devils. My class, on the whole, regardless of race, thought the concept was ridiculous. I joined in the discussion by stating that I think it makes perfect sense. Not the story itself, but the reasoning behind it. I said that religion serves to explain things that we don't understand, and these people needed to explain why so much evil had been committed against them. Professor H. also pointed out the similarities between this and Christianity (Lucifer: fallen angel who rebelled against God, responsible for creating demons).

Today we continued the discussion by asking questions about the racism inherent in N.O.I. ideology. Was it okay for them to be racist against whites? Would it benefit them? Professor H. asked us, "Have white people benefitted from racism?" Most of the people who answered agreed that whites have. I said that there are two ways of looking at it. Obviously they have in economic/political/social terms, but ethically, they have not. Consequently, racism is not beneficial to anyone or to society in general. Smarty Pants (I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I really think this kid is brilliant) countered my argument by saying that ethics are set by society and therefore are subject to change at any given time. For example, when slavery was in place, it was socially acceptable and unquestioned (for the most part). We got into a debate over it (which seemed to amuse the professor) because I told him that I do not feel ethics are relative. There are certain things that may be accepted by society but are still ethically wrong. He said that he learned in his philosophy class that ethics are relative, and I told him that was merely an opinion, not a fact. Professor H. then asked Smarty Pants, "Can you give me an example of a society in which patricide was/is acceptable?" No one could. The point: we have never, in the history of the human race, seen killing our parents as an ethical action. Boo-yah.

This is somewhat philosophical, but I feel it is spiritual as well. Are there absolute truths in life, or is everything relative? Does God demand that we follow universal do's and don't's, or merely the ones society imposes? I have heard it argued that Christians should not abide by laws that contradict the Bible, yet look at what the Bible says:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been
established by God."
-Romans 13:1-


Tom said...

If we treat others the way we want to be treated and love our neighbor, the rest really is not relative. Be a servant. If you have an eternal view of life the rest doesnt matter. But maybe I am wrong, college didn't suit me.

FP said...

truth is truth, whether everyone or no one believes it, for that is the nature of truth

Fence said...

If you take a long term view then surely racism hasn't helped white people, after all many of the problems that we face, socially, today are at least partly rooted in history's racism.
Not to mention the war.
Of course, white peoples also suffered from racism. I'll use an example I know, Irish people were racially stereotyped as being inferior to other races. It was used as an excuse to keep the English in power as a paternalistic, benevolent force in Ireland. So it obviously didn't benefit the Irish.