Whether it’s the Emancipation Proclamation or the desegregation of the Armed Forces or Brown v. Board of Education or the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the federal government has seemed to be on the side of the black American as his constitutional rights were being suppressed by state or local governments. (Conveniently forgotten are Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson, the latter of which was reverse by Brown.) Because of this history, even many black Americans who do not personally rely on the federal government still view the fed as our friend.
What needs to be spelled-out, however, is what the federal government actually did in the above-mentioned areas: it removed legal obstacles to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of Americans who are black. And, that is what it was supposed to do.
However, the Civil Rights Act went too far in the opposite direction. It made discrimination in government services–the word “public” is used– illegal, which was a good thing. However, it also made it illegal for private businesses to discriminate. Telling private business owners to whom they must sell goods and services is merely the flip-side of Jim Crow.
Recall that Jim Crow laws mandated that all public and private businesses provide separate accommodations for race. That meant that even if a private business owner wanted to provide integrated and equal goods and services, he/she was forbidden to do so by law.
In light of this, it should not be a surprise that Christian business owners are being forced to provide goods and services to same-sex couples, under pain of prosecution. And, if the fed is allowed to mandate selling, it can mandate buying.
The present problem is this: the federal government began overstepping its bounds during the Great Depression and did so most infamously in the late sixties via the Great Society programs. Doing more that getting local racists out of the way, the federal government sought to and succeeded in making itself the supplier of life, liberty and, putatively, the happiness of many Americans. (Try telling a senior of any race that Social Security has sent the country into financial ruin. You’ll get an earful about her “rights” and about “her” money.) And by doing so, the fed set a precedent for today’s myriad methods of overreach into the lives of all citizens. It is the Honey Trap which was set for us all. LBJ produced the Great Society; Obamacare is the Great Invasion.
What’s needed, in order to change this perception, is obvious: education–not a new education but the old one, one which contains objective explanations of the role of government.
Simply put, the role of the American government is to remove obstacles to liberty of the People–even when that obstacle is American government itself. Supplying all of one’s needs is not government’s role. That’s God’s purview.
But what to do about a government that won’t get out of our lives?
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!