In his letter, “Laws Alone Will Not End Racism,” published June 22, Douglas VanderMeulen makes the case that we don’t need more laws to address racism because previous laws such as the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act are ineffective, “racism is already illegal,” and to truly effect change we need to transform the hearts of men by “kneeling at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.”
I find VanderMeulen’s assessment disingenuous.
His public positions on other legislative efforts prove that he supports laws aimed at encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors.
In 2019, he advocated for retaining North Dakota’s Sunday morning “blue laws,” saying before a legislative hearing, “Will it make us a better society if we can buy anything we want seven days a week?” (The Bismarck Tribune, 1/9/2019).
Since VanderMeulen is a teaching elder at Community Baptist Church, I assume that he upholds his denomination’s opposition to marriage equality, which states, “marriage is to be between one man and one woman.” We can also assume, therefore, that he approved of the passage of Constitutional Measure 1, the North Dakota Definition of Marriage Initiative, in 2004. This law made it illegal in North Dakota to recognize marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman.
If laws were effective in these instances, why are laws not effective now as it pertains to racial injustice?
Today, VanderMeulen claims that “more government will not end racial inequity,” but last year he believed more government would prevent us from shopping. Today he claims that laws addressing race are “civically essential yet impotent,” but in 2004, I wonder if he would have said the same about Measure 1?