- - Sunday, June 1, 2014

Like so many others, I was pleased to hear that Robert Copeland, police commissioner in Wolfesboro, N.H., has resigned. Mr. Copeland proudly admitted to calling President Obama a racial epithet, saying “I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse [sic]. For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”

This is obvious outrageous behavior and cannot be accepted. Using the word is bad enough, particularly in a hateful way, but it is made all the worse by his lack of repentance. I firmly believe that we ought to forgive anyone who repents of their crimes, no matter what their crimes were, and that we shouldn’t hold past mistakes against those who have changed their ways.


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But if you refuse to change, if you are stubbornly impenitent, then you are not letting yourself be forgiven. He says that he has “criteria for such,” as though it were a defensible, reasonable categorization of anybody. This demonstrates that he has put a lot of thought into this, a level of corruption even worse than the epithet showed.

He may not know it or care, but anyone who calls the president a name like that is shaming the entire conservative movement, and playing into the hands of cheap Democratic talking points. Mr. Copeland and other bigots have done more to help the president than most Democrats ever could. This is just one more level of a bigot’s foolishness.


Mr. Copeland is 82, a relic from an era when such behavior was still accepted, even in polite society. But that age is over. His time has come and gone. I am proud that we have generally learned our lesson about the arbitrary ugliness and the utter uselessness of racial animosity. The Robert Copelands of the world are getting older and older, and they are dying out. Better that they repent than they die, but if they die, may they bring their sick ideology with them to the grave. We ought to pray for Mr. Copeland that God open his heart with love, and that he be healed of this illness.

We ought also to pray for our young people, that they not catch this unfortunately contagious virus of racial divisiveness. It was revealed in Florida recently that college kids — and they are just kids — are playing a game called “Nazis versus Jews,” in which they throw ping pong balls into cups shaped either into swastikas or into the Star of David.

Both of these incidents share something in common: They make light of something serious. Their sin is of levity, irreverence, no less than hatred. I don’t believe that these college kids are hateful, or that they are anti-Semites, even. But I do believe that they are making a mockery of the great scandal of the Shoah, or Holocaust, the murder of 6 million innocent people in death camps. Only someone desperately ignorant of the Shoah could even countenance such behavior as playing a game like that.

Just as sickening is the use of a word that dates back to the time of slavery, and will forever be stained by slavery. To use it is to make a mockery of the great crime of slavery, of millions of people in chains, in brutal conditions, treated as property, as chattel. To speak lightly of slavery, to speak lightly of the Shoah, is unthinkable. Hardly anything in this world is more serious than these literally life-and-death matters.

Both cases betray insensitivity to human life. I do not know how someone could become so desensitized to the suffering of other people that they can blithely and without remorse make a joke of their pain. We have all suffered, and, knowing suffering, ought to be compassionate to one another. Maybe these people haven’t suffered, but I doubt it. As Plato says, everyone is fighting a hard battle. We ought to look on our brothers and sisters, no matter their skin color, and try to help, in whatever small way we can, to help them carry their crosses.

Moreover, how can we expect anyone to be compassionate to us if we will not be compassionate with others? How can a culture that accepts such cruelty among its citizenry, and yet expect compassionate in times of need? That is why I say that the best revenge we can get on the bigots, the best recompense for this despicable behavior is not to continue the cycle of cruelty and rivalry, but to live out compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. May God’s mercy be upon them and upon us all.

Pastor A.R. Bernard is editor-at-large of American Currentsee and president/CEO of Christian Culture Center in New York, N.Y.