It occurs to me with increasing frequency that I somehow have membership in a minority group that is far from popular in this land of the free and home of the brave. The trouble is that I am a WASP, a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. It distresses me even more to discover that I and my kind are not only disliked but also disorganized. No one now can criticize a Black or a Jew or an Irishman, and Frank Sinatra is very protective of the Italians. Practically all the words that I learned to use on “foreigners” I have had to clean out of my vocabulary. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to can blame a WASP for anything, and do so with impunity. It is time to organize!

We are even told that we cannot organize because we are already organized; it seems that we all belong to the Establishment. The Establishment controls the government (except for the Irish in Boston) and all the money (except for the Jews in New York) and all the big businesses (except for those we don’t control, like the news media, for example). And I belong to this establishment? Just exactly where do I hook into all this power structure I hear so much about? And even if I should belong to the Establishment, I certainly didn’t join it; I have no membership card, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to resign. Assuming I am in the Establishment and assuming I should like to get out of it, just where do I report in?

So how do we WASPs campaign for our own protection? Take the fact that I am white, for example. What am I supposed to do about that? Maybe we should start a “White is beautiful” campaign. I might have a go at that, but my last trip to the beach was too discouraging. There are some whites who are beautiful, but my general impression at the beach was that there is an awful lot of white skin around that is very discouraging to look at. Besides that, most of them weren’t white at all. Sometimes when I am not at my best I look a little green or a little gray; when I start to sunburn I get pink, and by the end of the summer I have freckles. If my “White is beautiful” campaign begins with me, I really don’t think it can get off the ground.

Then there is the little problem of being Anglo-Saxon. Maybe I can start a campaign about being proud of my ancestors. Well, I am. But I see no reason to try to dress the way they did, nor wear my hair the way they did. I never did like kilts in spite of the fact that my Scotch grandmother thought that I had very nice knees “for a boy.” A great-uncle of mine who made some money looked up the family tree and managed to get a tartan and a coat of arms. He also discovered two relatives who were hung for treason and a couple of others who stole cattle. Historians tell me that the Angles were the dumbest slaves on the Roman slave market and that some of my Anglo-Saxon relatives were painting their bodies blue and practicing canabalism while people were civilized all around the Mediterranean Sea. Gregory the Great sent missionaries to my folk in spite of those who argued that the Anglo-Saxons would be too stupid to understand the Gospel.

All in all I am proud of my ancestors—they have done some pretty grand things. Still, I see no reason to try to live the way they did or look the way they did. I have it on good authority that many of them were dirty; in those days a bath a week was considered a bit extreme.

Being a Protestant is a more serious matter. I like the way the Protestants got under way and I like the sorts of things they stand for, even though they do not stand for them very often and very well.

The word Protestant began with the second Diet of Spires in 1529. What had happened between the Romanists and the Lutherans had really reduced itself to a battle for religious freedom. Religious freedom was a new idea, and it took a long time for it to become popular in Europe.

The battles for religious freedom were the groundwork for all kinds of other freedoms, and still are. As Principal Rainey pointed out about fifty years ago, “freedom is one thing.” Men do not fight for freedoms but for freedom. The second Diet of Spires was of basic significance in this battle, which is far from over. It is no accident that in our day churches, in spite of their failures, have been well to the front in the battle for civil rights. And even those who disdain the Church and leave the Church nevertheless learned their lessons about freedom at their Mother’s knee.

At the Diet of Spires certain Protestant rights to spread the Gospel were cut off by state and church control. The Lutheran minority appealed, in what was called An Appellation and Protestation, against the findings of the Diet. These words abide: “Then they must protest and testify publicly before God that they could consent to nothing contrary to His Word.” Out of this came the honored title, which was really a nickname, “Protestant.”

So now we have it. A good Protestant will “protest” and “testify,” or if you like, “protestify.” He will do so under the Word. He will do so for freedom. And he will do so for everyman’s freedom. I don’t think the WASPs should be ashamed of being Protestant, but I do think WASPs should be ashamed in these days if they do not live up to their name.

Right now there are a lot of places where we might get going for Christ and freedom in the matter of testifying to the truth and protesting all injustice. Maybe other minorities are waiting for us to put our money where our mouth is.


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