That’s what the mob said of our sinless Savior, while at the same time demanding freedom for the known murder and insurrectionist, Barabbas. See Luke 23:18-25. Today we are seeing a variation of that mob mentality, which I find ugly and repugnant.
Something that’s getting spun, slanted and twisted in the media about the recent violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia really bothers me. I keep hearing about the scourge of white supremacists, something no reasonable person could find an acceptable political rationale. There is no end to the mantra, “They are bad, bad bad!” Yet the claim these extremist groups make to represent the political right is utter nonsense. And what I find even more irrational is that the press on the left seems intent on characterizing the entire political right as the same as these racist thugs.
Conservatism is not an expression of hatred, racism, bigotry or the devaluation of any human being. And yet the politically correct opinion is that everyone who does not go along with the progressive agenda — particularly conservatives, Republicans, whites, Christians or anyone who supports President Trump — is no better than and no different from racists who would violently oppress those they hate.
Much of the media blames what happened in Charlottesville on Trump and his supporters — “white nationalists, who were thrilled to hear Trump mock the Black Lives Matter movement on the campaign trail and declare that ‘all lives matter’.” I got that quote from MSNBC. So, if you believe in nationalism and happen to be white, you are no different from those hate-driven terrorists. And I find it very revealing that to say all lives matter is construed to be racist. The Black Lives Matter movement has made it abundantly clear that white lives don’t really matter to them. But somehow they consider themselves absolved from any accusation of racism.
I confess I have purposely tried not to pay much attention to the Charlottesville violence. It’s deeply troubling to me. It takes two to tango. The white supremacists weren’t alone. They were met with extreme opposition. What I have heard is that what initiated the problem was the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The decision was made to take the historical statue down because it was deemed racist and offensive to black Americans.
I believe history shows that Robert E. Lee was an honorable and noble man, not a racist. Though he had led the Confederacy as an enemy of the United States, upon his surrender he, along with his troops, was treated with respect. Just two months before the close of the Civil War, President Lincoln concluded his second inaugural address by saying, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
It was in this spirit of binding up the nation’s wounds that our nation drew a line and tried to move forward, beyond the tragedy of that great conflict. The slaves were free and the Republican government (those on the right) made good faith efforts to see that former slaves were given equal treatment under the law. But it was Democrats (those on the left) who reversed Republican decisions and sought to keep African Americans oppressed. Read Black Yellow Dogs by Ben Kinchlow, Morgan James Publishing, LLC 2008.
Our civil war ended 152 years ago, yet extremists of every ilk are still trying to fan the flames of hatred. At this point, rational people need to get their ducks in a row, unless we want to repeat history. First of all, who started the violence? Was it those racist white supremacists? I heard that they had originally planned a peaceful demonstration against taking the statue down. Would they have turned violent had they not been confronted by equally enraged counterdemonstrators? As much as we love to hate them, even racists have the right to protest the removal of the statue of an important historical figure. But because they are racists, many tend to feel justified in not allowing them freedom of expression, and using force to shut them up.
Another one of those ducks is the name game. While white supremacists may call themselves the “alt right”, it is a poor and inaccurate political description, intentionally designed to give those extremists a sense of association with respectable conservatism. Unfortunately, that perception is turned around, and instead of making them look good, it makes all conservatives (those on the right) look bad. The fact is, as much as the left tries to paint the right as a bunch of bigoted, racist haters, it simply is not true. It’s an intentional lie. And the lie comes from the left’s own hatred.
What a word picture they paint: Nazis! Fascists! Heartless extremists on the right with less concern for people of color than they would for animals! And it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that what they mean is ALL white people on the right are fascists, which is itself nothing less than the most extreme form of racism and bigotry.
It is a fact that fascism is a political movement of the left, not of the right. Nazis were socialists, not conservatives. The real fascist movement in our nation today is from the left. On college campuses they only want to allow the free expression of politically correct ideas. They seek to stifle conservative speech everywhere.
And while it goes without question that white supremacists are entangled by their own hatreds, they represent a infinitesimally small part of what drives the American psyche. Far more troublesome to me is the fascist insistence coming from the left that says if you hold an opinion contrary to what they deem proper for the “greater good” that you must be shut up. That is not freedom. That is tyranny.
The final duck, looking for its spot in the row, is the question of Christians. Not just how Christians should respond to these kinds of violent confrontations, but even more telling, is how does society see the attitudes and values of Christians? What does society think Christians think about this issue? It is distressing to consider because extremists such as the KKK can claim to be Christians but that doesn’t make it so. Anyone can say they are a Christian. And yet we keep hearing Christianity misrepresented as a form of bigotry and hatred. The sad result is that statements made in ignorance generate hatred in audiences who believe and react to those lies.
So then Christians feel they must be defensive and post quotes such as Albert Mohler’s “Racial superiority in any form is a heresy.” Of course that is absolutely true, and obviously so. But must we as Christians feel obligated to make such affirmations in order to prove we have no association with skin heads, nazis, white supremacists or the KKK? My faith and my politics didn’t do anything wrong!
Nothing about what happened in Charlottesville was related to the Christian faith or to conservative politics. It was a criminal product of racism — on both sides. Those on the left are not without blame. Their fascist intolerance for the freedom of expression of all citizens set the stage for violent confrontation. Freedom of speech means nothing unless those whose views are in opposition to the majority — even hateful — are given equal protection to express themselves.