Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”
“We do not quite understand all the emotion which others are expressing in the matter. Ota Benga is a normal specimen of his race or tribe, with a brain as much developed as are those of its other members.
Congolese pygmies are very low in the human scale. To suggest Benga should be in a school instead of a cage ignores the high probability that school would be a place of torture to him. The idea that men are all much alike except as they have had or lacked opportunities for getting an education is now far out of date.”
The above quote is from the New York Times’ 1906 response to black pastor James Gordon’s protest in displaying Ota Benga in a “human zoo” exhibit: “Our race is depressed enough, without exhibiting one of us with the apes. We think we are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.”
Ota Benga was a 23-year-old Congolese man brought to America to be part of the “human zoo” exhibit, endorsed by the New York Times as proof of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. At the peak of the exhibits, thousands came to see Ota Benga and others every day. These racist exhibits did not end because of any “social justice” or “cancel culture” efforts. It was a simpler explanation: television replaced traveling “zoos” as the preferred mode of entertainment. Displaying Darwinian “missing links” simply fell out of fashion.
The New York Times completely agreed with the New York Zoological Society: “Ota Benga is valuable for visitors (to the Bronx Zoo) to grasp the science of evolution and see the obvious similarities with monkeys.”
Fast forward now to 2019, 113 years later. Now we have the New York Times behind the creation of the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory, which has as its stated goal “to reframe America’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative”. New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones explains the real goal of the 1619 Project is to get “white people to give up whiteness.”
Dr. Bob Woodson, head of 1776Unites which opposes the 1619 Project, explains that “The ‘1619 Project’ paints America as irrevocably rooted in injustice and racism, with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws as the cause of all racial disparity today and is declared as the source of the devastation of crime-ridden, black inner cities and skyrocketing homicides, as well as the dissolution of families and communities.”
Do you see the hypocrisy with the messaging from the New York Times? They claim it is the white Founding Fathers who, 245 years ago (1776), are responsible for today’s systemic racism. Yet, it was only 113 years ago (1906) when the New York Times recognized black indigenous people groups as evolutionarily closer to monkeys than humans! It seems that the New York Times needs to explain this.
One reason why people as well as institutions like the New York Times, can get away with such blatant contradictions is that we have lost the essential meaning of character. We put less value in our good name, and we are willing to sacrifice our moral integrity to accomplish our end goals. Maybe we all need a refresher from God’s Word on where He places the greatest value – it is in this week’s verse.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). The word “name” means “character, as in expressing someone’s attributes or qualities.” The Bible explains God’s moral integrity as based on His character: “You shall not swear by My NAME falsely, nor shall you profane the NAME of God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:12). Unlike the New York Times, God puts His character above all else.
In his book ‘Louder than Words’, Andy Stanley has great insights into this concept of ‘character’: “Your character is who you really are. It is the internal script that will determine your response to failure, success, mistreatment, and pain. Your good looks and net worth may get you married; your character will keep you married. Your God-given reproductive system may give you children; your character will determine your ability to relate to your children. There are things that can put you at a disadvantage in the starting blocks of life. You don’t choose your starting point. But you can choose where you end up. Character is not as much about whereyou are as it is what you are becoming and where you’re headed.”
As Christians, we must not only recognize the weak character of the New York Times but also be ready to shine light on the One with the upmost character, whom we as His children represent: the God of the Bible.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #459