So as y’all are probably aware, President Biden just made Juneteenth, the day after the Civil War when slavery was finally ended, a national holiday. Unanimous in the Senate, it faced 14 Republican no votes in the House. Why? Depressingly familiar reasons: it’s an attempt to divide us! It’s reviving a conflict that’s dead and buried! Why don’t we just honor Abraham Lincoln for freeing the slaves (answer: it was two years later before the Emancipation Proclamation took full effect)? Right-wing hack Charlie Kirk sees a sinister plot to replace July 4th which is a totally united holiday with one that will divide us! Even Greene and Gaetz voted for Juneteenth, and they’re getting slammed for it.
Screaming “divisive!” is the same thing Republicans always scream when people don’t do things they want. As with Biden’s agenda, they refuse to budge, then blame Democrats for not compromising with them. it also reflects Martin Luther King’s observation that everyone was united and peaceful in Egypt when the Israelites just submitted to slavery and made bricks; it was only when Moses told Pharaoh to let his people go that things got tense and divisive. “You must remember that, that the tensionless period that we like to think of was the period when the Negro was complacently adjusted to segregation, discrimination, insult and exploitation. And the period of tension is the period when the Negro has decided to rise up and break loose from that. And this is the peace that we are seeking. Not an old negative obnoxious peace, which is merely the absence of tension, but a positive lasting peace, which is the presence of brotherhood and justice. And it is never brought about without this temporary period of tension.”
Some people, as King pointed out, shrink from that tension. Others don’t want brotherhood and justice, they want “negative obnoxious peace” (I suspect that includes those shrieking “critical race theory” as an insincere and calculated political attack) Hence the freak-out warnings that whites are ready for a race war, Or Candace Owens lying that in America nobody’s judged by skin color. Or claims that people who oppose “critical race theory” (which is now a catch-all phrase like political correctness or cancel culture) are being sent to re-education camps. Or a proposal that teachers should have body cams so we can see if they’re mean to white people. Or the horror that they might teach kids America has a history of racism.
The Southern Baptist Conference is struggling with this but ultimately it elected a relative moderat e(how much that will affect the racism and misogyny mentioned at the link, we will see) As Fred Clark quips, the SBC should be down with the idea that we and our institutions are tainted by sin. But for religious conservatives it’s supposed to be sex that’s sinful, not racism.