A conservative’s view on race

I am a “true conservative.” I believe in the sanctity of life, and I unabashedly believe in God. I wrote this disclaimer so there will be no misunderstanding. A few facts to ponder: This conservative has worked in the Third World teaching, and also developed programs to provide clean water and sanitation for African children. One of those children dies every eight seconds for a lack of clean water.

I am a “true conservative.”

I believe in the sanctity of life, and I unabashedly believe in God.

I wrote this disclaimer so there will be no misunderstanding.

A few facts to ponder: This conservative has worked in the Third World teaching, and also developed programs to provide clean water and sanitation for African children. One of those children dies every eight seconds for a lack of clean water.

My experience most of all in these impoverished countries is that much support came from religious and conservative groups. Several news reports show that conservatives give more than liberals.

People may hate George W. Bush and his bluntness. However, where he did not go wrong is that he has given more money (more than $15 billion) to eradicate the scourge of AIDS in Africa than any other president in history, including America’s first “black president,” Bill Clinton. Sorry, Barack Obama, but Bill was here first.

With the No Child Left Behind Act, there is finally accountability in the educational system. I must remind the readers that Bush worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy to make this law a reality. Even with all of Bush’s faults, I thank him for it.

Race is hard to discuss because it makes many white people feel guilty, resentful and uncomfortable. It makes many black people angry and sad at the opportunities that were denied them because of the color of their skin.

I believe that part of Obama’s appeal is that he gives hope to blacks and lets white people assuage their feelings of guilt — because we all know racism still exists.

There is a certain segment of white people who thinks the nation has done enough for the blacks. Some black people think white people will never do enough to fill the bill.

Race is still an open wound on the American psyche because people have an ability to access amnesia — and that black people’s need for an apology and some kind of acknowledgment, and maybe reparations, is so important. Depending on what kind of forum it takes, I’m open to discussion.

The hard part comes when you need to forgive white people.

Forgiveness is when you give up your right for revenge, and I’m not sure we are there yet.

That requires a transformation of the heart. Shakespeare wrote that the answer lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

There is one other group I would like to acknowledge, and that is poor white people. They have no champion and they are almost invisible.

Most middle class white people can’t understand why they are still poor. Since this is predominantly a white country, they understand blacks and other minorities have an excuse. But not poor white people.

The power of Martin Luther King’s words transcended race — that we are all God’s children or none of us are. The challenge of this generation is not to forget the poor black and white children, and what we can do about it.

I would hope that whoever is president will remember what Jesus taught: How you treat the least of my brethren is how you treat me.

We must do better because we can do better. But will we do better? We will see. Stay tuned. Because there are no excuses.

Walter Backstrom is a Federal Way resident. Readers can contact him at wkbackstrom@aol.com.

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