The first volley of a battle can tell you a lot, especially when your troops are gun shy, frightened by the noise, and abandon the front lines.
When we discuss the events taking place in the Grand Lodge of Georgia, it is easy to say “let the Grand Lodge take care of it and let’s see what happens.” This is easy, because it is the same thing that we’ve done with Prince Hall recognition, West Virginia, the Jesters, and an array of other serious issues affecting the craft. The truth is that the Grand Lodge of Georgia will almost certainly do something that gets this issue out of the limelight. They may sweep it under the rug or find that it is in fact perfectly legal for a non-white man to be made a Mason. They may grant the men that brought the charges against the Worshipful Master of Gate City lodge a pass or they may be brought to trial for their racist beliefs. Regardless, we will have lost our chance to rid Masonry of racism and move into the 21st century (or even the 20th for that matter).
The problem is that once the issue has run its course and the Grand Lodge has taken some sort of action, we will forget about it, ignore that it ever happened, and go back to business as usual. We will wait until the next piece of explosive and surprising news that shows that Freemasonry is not quite the best of all possible worlds that we thought it was and we will repeat the process again.
This issue isn’t about how the Grand Lodge of Georgia handles the matter, it is about eradicating racism, bigotry, prejudice, segregation, and hate from Freemasonry.
This is why Grand Lodges should at least issue a statement calling for Georgia to abide by the Masonic principles of equality and tolerance. This is why Georgia must have a clear understanding that if this is not handled properly, recognition will be removed. This is why every Mason should go to his next lodge meeting and explain this issue and explicitly state that he supports equality and will not tolerate racial prejudice in his lodge or grand lodge. We need to come together, we need to put our foot down, we need to take a hard line stance.
But we won’t.
Unfortunately, the sky won’t fall for Masonry and this will too pass. The reason is that I do not believe that the mainstream media will pay much attention to this story. Why would they? I’m sure that any journalist that found these charges on his desk would say, “Oh surprise, surprise, some organization of old guys in Georgia doesn’t like black people. I didn’t even know that Masonry still existed.” We have turned the other cheek to this behavior for so long that nobody cares about us anymore. We are irrelevant. We are not needed by society. We are too far behind civilization.
Really, we all know this to be true, because we’ve experienced racism in Freemasonry. I have had a South Carolinian brother proudly tell me that “We don’t have no n***** Masons in this state” when I asked him if they recognized Prince Hall lodges. I have watched traveling Brothers bothered by the color of skin of some of the men in my lodge and become truly disturbed by the sight of the Koran on my lodge’s altar. I have had a man who nearly joined a Masonic lodge ask me if “Masons in South Dakota wear their white hoods to lodge like the guys in Alabama?” (he never joined by the way). And no, I’m not criticizing the south. I’m criticizing men that have been allowed into our fraternity that maintain their bigoted views of the world.
Nevertheless, we will ignore this problem. We missed the point. We were so eager to disagree with those “Quasi-Masons” and the more rebellious Brothers out there that we were only concerned with defending our Grand Lodges and ignored the fact that there is irrefutable evidence of racism in the fraternity. Something tells me that Georgia is not the only place that it exists.
I am sticking with this cause. If we won’t take this opportunity to rid Masonry of racism and bigotry then we are nothing but hypocrites. It was a whole lot easier to be in the back of a Civil Rights march in the 60’s than be Martin Luther King and it was a whole lot easier to support segregationist governments than be in the back of a march.
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