These are the opening words of an article posted on the Web site of The Huffington Post on March 16: “When Senator Obama’s former preacher thundered about racism and injustice, Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father — Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer — denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr.”
The article was written by Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (Carroll & Graf, October 2007). Later in the article, he writes: “When Dad died in 1984 everyone from Reagan to [former U.S. congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack] Kemp to Billy Graham lamented his passing publicly as the loss of a great American. Not one Republican leader was ever asked to denounce my dad or distanced himself from Dad’s statements.”
On the same political front, the Democratic Party is being torn asunder because one presidential candidate’s camp is demanding a reversal of rules previously agreed by all in an attempt to derail the seemingly winning streak of the opposing camp. That the very idea of a change in midstream is being entertained is further proof of the climate of double standards in which we live.
On Wall Street, proponents of the paramountcy of the free market and laissez-faire government who have influenced this country’s economic and foreign policies for the last half century, were glaringly silent as the federal government stepped in to rescue one of the world’s largest and most venerable investment banks from the consequences of its participation in the free-for-all rape of homeownership dreams. That the life savings of thousands of American workers have evaporated as a result of such unbridled free-market activities is but a footnote in the stories of hand-wringing in capital markets worldwide.
The very government interventions we applaud when those who should know better mess up big time are the very government interventions we decry in less-advantaged countries. In our global business dealings, we demand, for example, that democratic nations play by free-trade rules we ourselves helped to codify. Yet, we do not always abide by World Trade Organization decisions that do not go our way.
When the WTO ruled in favor of its tiniest member, Antigua and Barbuda, that U.S. laws banning online gambling violated free-trade rules, Washington refused to comply by lifting the ban. Several members of Congress said they would rather have an international trade war or withdraw from future WTO talks than have American social policy dictated from abroad.
Closer to home, double standards exist within the Black community, as well. Some of the most successful, trailblazing Black-owned businesses and their leaders, for example, are sometimes treated with a disrespect and contempt by Black professionals who would never dream of behaving the same way toward the leaders of the white-owned institutions for which they work.
Double standards are choking us at every turn. As a result, our nation risks losing our self-respect and competitiveness in a world whose future increasingly is being determined by the 95 percent of the people who reside beyond our borders. If we apply double standards to achieve political victory or economic clout, we can only expect the world to deal with us accordingly.
By Rosalind McLymont