Even as our nation is as close as ever to electing our first non-white male president, racism is still a reality and a sin that must be erased by our culture and by our churches. This fact of life has been brought up in two recent incidents in the Upstate of South Carolina.

Reporters from several local news stations were on location detailing the arrest of one man in the murder of his grandfather. The family of the victim and killer were apparently not happy with the presence of the news media. They verbally berated all the reports who came through and began to yell racial slurs at the reporter and videographer (both black) of one of the stations. Eventually it erupted into a fight.

To go along with that story from Union, SC, we have this story from Laurens, SC. A black church owns a building which is being used as a store to sell racist materials and promote the KKK. As of now, they cannot remove them from the building because the original agreement gives the leaser the right to stay their until his death.

Is SC an inherently racist state? I don’t believe so. Most of the people I know (both black, white and other ethnic backgrounds) are perfectly okay with everyone else and really hold no racist attitudes, but unfortunately there are many who still hold to to the overtly racist traditions of the past and some who have hidden “polite” racism.

I’m not sure which I find more disgusted and unChristlike – the guy who can never refer to someone of another race except using a slur, the one who would never say something like that but only makes little side comments or people like me who don’t stand up and say something enough. Too often I let it slide with just a sigh or a grunt, content to let racists be racists and morons be morons, but that’s not enough. That’s the lesson from Gentleman’s Agreement.

In the climax of the movie, when Phil Green (played by Gregory Peck) was asked by his fiancee if he though she was anti-semitic, he responds:

No, I don’t. But I’ve come to see lots of nice people who hate it and deplore it and protest their own innocence, then help it along and wonder why it grows. People who would never beat up a Jew. People who think anti-Semitism is far away in some dark place with low-class morons. That’s the biggest discovery I’ve made. The good people. The nice people.

Too true.