Analysis

How Epiphany Refutes The Left’s Obsession With Race

   DailyWire.com
Granada - The Adoration of Magi painting in church Monasterio de la Cartuja by Pedro Atanasio Bocanegra (17. cent.)
sedmak via Getty Images

On January 6, Christians around the world celebrate Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Traditionally in the West, this holiday commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men to present their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the manger of Jesus Christ. While the spiritual impact of this holy day is far and away the most important aspect of the feast, it also contains an element that combats one of the most noxious elements of public discourse: an obsession with race and ethnic identity.

Initially, the holiday celebrated on January 6 commemorated the birth of Christ, as well as the visit of the Magi, Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Each of these events came to be celebrated separately by the fourth century. In the West, the holiday came to focus on the Magi. The Bible speaks about how a shining, resplendent star led three wise men from a far country to Bethlehem, to the cradle of Christ. Early Christians said this fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “They shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6), as well as the intertestamental book of Tobit, “Many nations will come from afar to the name of the Lord God, bearing gifts in their hands, gifts for the King of heaven: (13:11 [13:14 in the Douay-Rheims version]).

The early church saw profound symbolism in the gifts they brought to the newborn King: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. St. Gregory the Great, the Pope of Rome (540–604), wrote a widespread explanation:

Magi offer gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold suited a king well; incense was presented to God as a sacrifice; and it is with myrrh that one embalms the bodies of the deceased. The magi proclaim, by their symbolic gifts, who they are worshiping. … [They] offer gold to the Lord who has just been born, confessing that he reigns in all places; offer him incense, recognizing that he who appeared in time was God before all times; offer him myrrh, recognizing that he whom we believe to be impassive in his divinity has also become mortal in assuming our flesh.

The Church also standardized the way it depicted the three wise men — who were named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Caspar), according to an ancient tradition — in religious artwork. The traditional Eastern icon of Christmas depicted the gift-bearing Magi as men at different stages of life: an elderly man with a white beard, an adult man with a full and dark beard, and a young man without a beard. Symbolically, their age intended to show viewers that people of all backgrounds will come to worship at the creche of Christ. Centuries later, theologians “internationalized” the three Magi and imagined them representing what people of the time considered the three branches of the human race: the descendants of Ham, Shem, and Japheth (black, Semitic, and Indo-European people, respectively). Western religious art, which had a greater focus on realism, began to change the ethnicity of two of the wise men in the fourteenth century, depicting two of the wise men as a Middle Eastern Semite and a dark-skinned African.

In today’s world, which sees self-centered grievance as the highest virtue, the Persian people would complain of “erasure in real time.” Others would see this as an act of ahistorical inclusion. But it is specifically this aspect of the feast that undermines the left-wing obsession with race and ethnicity as embodied in one of the most dominant ideologies in the West today: Critical Race Theory.

CRT and its derivative ideologies teach race essentialism, that the immutable and inborn characteristic of race and ethnicity (as well as sex) — which President John F. Kennedy called “the accident of birth” — represents the definitive aspect of our personality. CRT exponents teach that all individuals should identify with their race/ethnic status above petty, personal interests or chosen affiliations. Part of the process of transforming into a social justice warrior involves realigning one’s entire mentality with the Marxist goal of equality of outcome (known as “equity”) between ethnic groups. CRT teaches the novel idea that one has to embrace CRT’s quasi-Marxist view of the world in order to be authentically representative of his/her ethnic group. You hear echoes of this concept whenever pampered white left-wingers tell blacks from hardscrabble roots like Clarence Thomas that he is a sellout. “Squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) expressed this idea most clearly when she told Netroots Nation in July 2019, “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice.” This process also requires a different morality based on ethnicity, according to Ibram X. Kendi, who wrote:

[R]acial discrimination is not inherently racist. … The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.

The problem, CRT-aligned theorists lecture the rabble, is that most people are not smart enough to realize they have been brainwashed. Unbeknownst to most people, they suffer from “internalized oppression,” a racialized version of the Marxist and Gramscian concept of “false consciousness”: During the process of “socialization,” stronger groups impose their culture on weaker groups to exploit and extract resources from them. “Oppression involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the imposition of the dominant group’s culture on the target group,” wrote Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo.

This process of socialization, CRT teachers, creates “internalized oppression”: That is, minorities come to accept dominant norms — like the nuclear family, “rational linear thinking,” “hard work,” and promptness — as though they are universal. The process means “[i]nternalizing and acting out (often unwittingly) the constant messages that you and your group are inferior to the dominant group and thus deserve a lower position,” wrote Sensoy and DiAngelo. Some examples include “[s]eeking the approval of and spending most of your time with members of the dominant group” and “[b]ehaving in ways that please the dominant group and do not challenge the legitimacy of its position.” That is, choosing to have friends of other ethnic groups shows subservience; self-segregation shows ethnic strength, according to Robin DiAngelo.

Epiphany turns CRT’s entire system of hyper-racialized, worldly wisdom on its head. The three wise men — who increasingly came to embody people of all ethnic backgrounds — come together to worship Somebody bigger than you and I, or all ethnic groups combined (much less divided). They unite all the branches of the human family in a common act of adoration, the ultimate act of choosing to “please the dominant” One. The only “voice” that matters on Epiphany is the voice of the Father, proclaiming, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The feast of Epiphany calls “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” to worship the Lord together. It holds out the same moral standard for people of all ethnicities, who all share the same interest: worshiping the one true God, seeking His wisdom, and journeying through this life so that we may come to His throne in the next. It is the ultimate feast recognizing the unity of the human race, the spiritual reality of a common moral life, and the divinity of the Lord God Who made them all. The more society focuses on unity and peace, the less it will seek out the false gospel of CRT.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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