Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Getty Images)

Truth, Racism, and Politics in Coeur d’Alene

Last updated:
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Keep Right – Column by Ralph K. Ginorio

“Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” was the cry of the Flagellants, a mediaeval spiritual movement that punished themselves to atone for the sins of our world. They took on the sins of others and desperately flailed at their own flesh to mortify it in order to appease an angry God.

While their dedication is laudable, their theology and rationality are both questionable. Christians are called to recognize and confess their own sins in order to repent and seek to atone for them. God calls us to do so primarily out of love and His hope for us to accept His salvation.

Taking on the sins of others and arrogating unto ourselves the role of judge and punisher are not in keeping with the traditions of mainstream Christianity. We each are accountable for our own choices, but it is for God to judge our decisions and mete out justice with the goal of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Flagellants try to short-circuit this process by harming themselves in order to save all of us in this world from the divine wrath. Being most popular in times of plague, famine, war, and disaster, the call of the Flagellant is a desperate attempt by fearful individuals to decisively appease an angry God and by doing so save the world.

Flagellants exist today, even if they no longer parade through the streets wearing ashes and sackcloth while literally whipping themselves. Like most things in our contemporary society, there is a lot more talk and significantly less action.

Recently, college athletes who were visiting Coeur d’Alene claimed that they were accosted verbally with racist slurs from the occupants of a few moving vehicles. This has ignited a firestorm of calls for us to shamefacedly reflect upon our community’s collective guilt and institutional racism.

The words and actions of idiots, thugs, and jerks speak for those selfsame idiots, thugs and jerks. They do not in any fashion represent Conservative me any more than the assaults and vandalisms committed by Antifa terrorists represents mildly Progressive Democrat voters.

Unstable people, desperate to find meaning and to fit in, always form a lunatic fringe around any group which strongly advocates for a compelling idea. Such wounded individuals are capable of misinterpreting anything about the ideas to which they claim allegiance. Their choices are rooted more in trauma than in thoughtful conviction.

The disturbing understandings expressed by these brittle souls and the bizarre choices that they make are not emblematic of any ideology, faith, or philosophy. They do not reveal “the truth” about anything, except that, when faced with the myriad stresses of life, the human mind can be fragile.

Anyone who would take joy in petty acts of conspicuous cowardice is declaring to the world their own intellectual inadequacy and spiritual poverty. Their hateful adolescent posturing should fairly inspire equal parts pity and revulsion.

Such people must be opposed. They should never be feared, except as examples of lives misspent in vain attempts to achieve satisfaction through wickedness.

Yet, those among us who are desperate to alter the balance of our local politics in order to make us more like Spokane and Seattle act like latter-day Flagellants. They claim that the very existence of morally crippled delinquents among us shows the sordid truth behind Coeur d’Alene’s prevalent Libertarianism and Conservatism.

They claim that we are secret racists, shameful bigots, and irredeemable thought-criminals who are in absolute need of reeducation. Such zealots cannot imagine anyone of good will and intact intellect disputing their orthodoxy.

Like the Flagellants of old, they take on what they deem to be society’s sins and then mortify the flesh of our shared body politic. In eagerly seizing upon the actions of thugs, they blind themselves to the true and objective reality of this circumstance.

People in our community of all political beliefs overwhelmingly reject petty acts of cowardice and bigotry, such as those the visiting athletes reported. No one of any standing from any political faction defends such behavior.

The seeds of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of Martin Luther King’s great dream have flourished over the past sixty years. Today, the vast majority of us judge by the individual and not by the group. Together, we crave that America will even more thoroughly fulfill its promise to be a colorblind meritocracy.