Racism is bad, but why is racism bad? First we should define racism. The easiest way to define racism is prejudice involving the race of the persons involved. That is, the belief that one or more races is inferior or superior to one or more other races. A stereotype on steroids, if you will. Racism tends to focus on petty differences between over-simplified boxes that no one quite fits into. This puts up walls, misunderstandings (intentional or otherwise), hatred, and callous bias between peoples. Superficial walls that, like Jericho, must be broken down by heroic virtue. Jackie Robinson was a great ballplayer, he had to be to play in the Major Leagues, but if that was all he had it would have meant nothing. What changed the hearts of many people was his courage, his fortitude in turning the other cheek. Gandhi changed the hearts of the British with the same fortitude. They broke down the walls with their profound humanity that even touched hardened hearts.
Virtue is the only bridge that can cross between peoples, virtue is the only way to break down the walls. Political Correctness tries to remove hatred from speech, but all it does is isolate us in our own universe. It removes the intimacy needed to hate, but by doing so it removes the same intimacy needed to profoundly connect to one another. Instead of getting rid of the boxes known as stereotypes so that we might see the person, it changes the shape of the box and reinforces it so that no one might be hurt. It is an obsessive compassion that kills understanding and that eventually kills compassion and empathy. Political Correctness has failed, and in so doing has opened up a path for reactionaries to reinstitute new forms of racism.
I know I said virtue was the only bridge available to cross between peoples. But how can we construct that bridge? What are the materials to be used? Brotherhood and love are the foundation of bridge-building virtue. It should be no surprise that I as a Catholic believe in the catholicism (small c) of salvation. As an American I have had the privilege of profound encounters with many cultures and races. As a Catholic I have had the grace to profoundly connect with them as brothers and sisters. It is this virtue that allowed St. Patrick to evangelize the Irish, and this virtue which allowed John Paul II to defy Communism and defeat it. This virtue whose perfection is agape, self-sacrificing love. We celebrate this Easter the death of one innocent man who raised himself from the dead. We celebrate his blood pouring out for all nations and peoples, so that we may become brothers in Christ. We celebrate our catholicism, we celebrate our oneness, we celebrate as the family of God.
Joshua Fahey is a Chestertonian who wishes you all a happy Easter.