Prayers and Racism – County Executive Jack Johnson

As I was surfing The Baltimore Sun news site this morning for something interesting to catch my eye, I realized I should be careful what I wish for. My attention was drawn to an article with the headline “Baltimoreans Praying for Jack Johnson, PG County”. I presumed that I would find it to be another liberally-drenched article attempting to make this man and his wife out to be innocent victims in a scandal.  What I actually found was worse than that.

I clicked on the link and began to read. Evidently, the Rising Sun First Baptist Church is hosting an event at which people may gather to pray for the Johnson family during this time. Now, I believe 100% in the power and utmost importance of prayer, so this was not the problematical element of the article that I found as I read on.

The article was very short in length, just four paragraphs in all. Once I got to the third paragraph, I came across a quote that really irked me. It went as follows: “Burns, who was a civil rights warrior in Mississippi is greatly disturbed about the arrest of Johnson.  He recalls how hard it was to get black people registered to vote and into elected positions.” Rocky Twyman, founder of Pray at the Pump movement, is talking about Pastor Burns of the Baptist church.

The issue centering around the arrest of Jack and Leslie Johnson is completely devoid of racism. The issue with the situation is corrupted government officials. Although this investigation is still unfolding and nothing has been thus far proven, the FBI clearly has enough evidence to believe them guilty of actual misdeeds (not guilty of being black).  The Johnson’s have proclaimed their innocence and I think most of us would be content to watch with interest to see how the case develops. In fact, the news reports indicate that the case is likely to lead to more arrests. Whether or not these occur or whether the people involved will be black, white, or purple or rainbow, we have yet to find out.

But the point is that the actual case has nothing to do with race. Therefore, The Sun’s gratuitous characterization of Burns, who is indeed honorable for his work as a “civil rights warrior”, is completely out of line in this article.  There is no indication in the article that Burns has special knowledge of the Johnson’s or of the circumstances of the case.  Such would represent a newsworthy reason to quote Burns’s opinions on the case.  Thousands of men and women were “civil rights warriors” working hard for voter registration and so many other issues with respect to denial of blacks’ constitutional rights.  None of them are, or should be, quoted regarding the Johnsons’ race by The Sun – except as a part of their obvious attempt to inject race as an issue.

What the citizens of PG County and all of us should be praying for – and insisting on from the legal system – is that, if the Johnsons are innocent, that they are able to promptly establish this fact.  If they are guilty, we all need to hope and pray that they and anyone else involved are found guilty, punished, and any restitution feasible is made on behalf of PG county and its citizens. This same prayer can be extended to other cases of political official corruption as well.

The issue of race in today’s politics has become wearisome at best. Therefore, I believe – if I am so bold as to say it – that it needs to be put to rest in issues where race is completely irrelevant. Let us focus on the REAL problems in today’s world: the economy, jobs, illegal immigration reform, healthcare, and so many more hot-topic issues that need not pertain to the race of any individual elected official.

That being said, I just cannot wait for more on the Johnson story to unfold…


About Kristin
1L student at UB School of Law.

One Response to Prayers and Racism – County Executive Jack Johnson

  1. Augie says:

    Great Post Kristin…
    The good and the bad is that we have so much to write about!
    Jack and Leslie, Emmett Burns, the Conaway’s…and so many more. It’s sad really…


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