One of the more common charges made against American society in these tumultuous times—even in public prayer—is that we suffer from systemic racism, systemic injustice, systemic police brutality, etc. What is meant, apparently, is that these defects are fundamental components of our national institutions. And furthermore, the underlying charge is that these social, economic or political evils were and still are intentionally perpetrated by those privileged segments of our society who allegedly benefit from them.
However, uncovering indications of racism by particular individuals or examples of injustice in specific cases only indicates that these terrible flaws exist, not that they are inherent to the American system. To unavoidably risk redundancy, allow me to put it this way: something which is “systemic” to a “system” is a native part of that very system. That the system has problems (or, as we say today, “issues”), such as a gasoline engine with a clogged carburetor, indicates a lack of maintenance or due diligence, not an inherent design problem.
Consider another metaphor: our highway system. Are car crashes systemic to the highway system? In other words, are highway accidents a component part of the vision or plans of the highway engineers? The answer is, I believe, obvious. And, while neither highway accidents nor incidents of police brutality (or other injustices) should be described as “systemic,” they can and should be defined as unacceptable and treated with every preventive and curative measure available.
But, these measures, among rational people, do NOT include violence, thievery and arson.