Dr. Jim Wallis has been an icon in the liberal evangelical world for decades, through his political advocacy and as the editor-in-chief of the liberal Christian magazine Sojourners. Currently, in addition to his editorial duties, he is also a spiritual advisor to President Obama, one that visits the White House on a regular basis. The White House visitors log has 65 mentions of a Jim or James Wallis, often marked specifically as a meeting with the President or the First Lady.
So what does this man, who has the ear of the leader of the free world, actually believe? Well on Sunday, June 29, Wallis gave a speech at Wild Goose Festival, a progressive Christian music festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, entitled, “Racism is America’s Original Sin.” In his speech, Wallis called America a country founded on racism and accused all Americans, especially those who take conservative political stances, of being racists.
Wallis opened with the story of when his son Jack was studying immigration in school. In his role as part of the Soros-funded Evangelical Immigration Table, Wallis has been very active in pushing for immigration reform and a path to citizenship in particular. Wallis was invited to address Jack’s class, during which he told them about the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
“The kids said, ‘Why don’t they fix this?’” he recalled, “’The Congress, why don’t they fix this?’” Wallis, rather than giving the pros and cons of various immigration proposals, decided in would be easier to slime his opponents as racist in a public school setting.
“‘Well, they say they’re afraid,'” Wallis told the classroom. “And I looked at this class, this fifth grade public school class, and I saw Latinos, African-Americans, Asians-Americans, Native Americas, Samoans, Maltese, Australians, and I looked at them and I said, ‘They’re afraid of you!'”
“They’re afraid that you look like the future of America. That’s what they’re afraid of,” he said to applause.
No need to speculate which members of Congress Wallis thinks are scared of a multiracial America, as he later explicitly called out House members blocking immigration reform. “There’s a handful of people who are obstructing this in the House of Representatives, they are blocking this. And they are the ones who are afraid of my son’s 5th grade class.”
But despite his implicit targeting of House Republicans, Wallis later implied that all white Americans are afraid of a multiracial nation. “By 2020, 2025, we’re going to be a country where a majority will be minorities … and do you think white America is ready for that?”
This was merely the beginning of Wallis’ race rant. He then read aloud what he called the most controversial statement he had ever written: “The United States of America was established as a white society, founded upon the near genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another.” Wallis denied that either outrageous or courageous that he said so, saying it was “merely a statement of historical fact.” From there, Wallis presented a list of grievances he believed proved America was inherently racist, including the shootings of black teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, stand-your-ground laws, the Washington Redskins, and the Tea Party.
Wallis claimed that after the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, “if you’re a black son in America, you’re in danger every day.” He also called out the jury in the Michal David Dunn trial for being unable to reach a consensus on whether or not he committed the first-degree murder of Jordan Davis (even though they found him guilty of four other charges that could put him away for the rest of his life). “If a black man drove into a parking lot and a bunch of white kids, teenage white boys playing their music too loud, black man told them to turn it down, they mouthed off, and he shot them, does anybody believe the jury wouldn’t have reached a consensus on his guilt?”
“Do you know what stand-your-ground means, that law in Florida?” Wallis asked, who then proceeded to make it perfectly clear that he had no idea what stand-your-ground laws mean. “Here’s what it means … if a white man just feels or thinks or believes or fears he might be in danger from a black man, armed or not, he can shoot him. That’s what the law means, that’s what it says. “
“And you know what? Even if he just says he thinks or feels or fears he’s in danger, he can shoot him. So now the conversation in black households is not what you do when you see a policeman. It’s what you do when you see any white guy who might have a gun.”
Wallis denounced those who deny that the United States of America was founded on racism, including, bizarrely enough, the Washington Redskins football team. “We got all these people who want to deny this. I got a Washington, D.C. football team who hasn’t figured this out yet.” Wallis said that Redskins owner Dan Snyder was comparable to Donald Sterling, who lost control of the L.A. Clippers after a series of racist comments he made went public. He praised a group of D.C. area churches who are leading a boycott of the Redskins. “The name of the team of the Washington Redskins, as they say, will change. But I want to see us, the churches, on the front lines of all that.”
But people of color shouldn’t think they’re off the hook. No, Wallis thinks you’re racist against yourselves. During the Q&A, one white Wild Goose attendee asked what liberal Christians should do about those “who have never seen color.”
“First of all, there are none of us who don’t see color. None of us,” Wallis told her, “None of us who don’t see color, none of us who aren’t influenced by color.” He revealed that he had held a summit the previous week on the “racism that is deeply in all of us, even in people of color, against people of color.”
Wallis earned the loudest applause of the night with his statement that the Tea Party only existed because Obama was black. “Barack Obama does not make this a post-racial society. This is the first friend I had who has become president. He has been stunned by the reaction to him. There would not be a tea party in America, I will this say this, if there wasn’t a black man in the White House.”
Wallis quickly clarified that you could disagree with Obama and not be a racist, noting that he had disagreements with him over immigration, poverty, and drones. Apparently, criticizing Obama from the left is not racist. “But [the Tea Party’s] disagreement with him is not about policy. It’s about who he is as a black man because he represents the future of America, and that makes a lot of white folks really angry and really scared.”
Wallis even told the very liberal, predominantly white crowd that they were racists. “If you are white in this country, you have benefited from white privilege. White privilege is the operational practice of white supremacy, and all of us white people have got to deal with that.”