Charlottesville: A Christian Perspective

The rally and subsequent violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend has dominated the news. I want to comment on it as I trust a Christian should, starting with some overall statements about groups in general, then on to some specifics.

First, there is no place in a Christian worldview for beliefs about racial superiority or inferiority. Any group claiming to be Christian while simultaneously promoting racial division is not really Christian; it’s merely using Christian cover for its sinful purposes.

The “white supremacists” who staged the Charlottesville rally, ostensibly to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, but actually devoted to racial hatred, are a moral stain on the nation. Neo-Nazis and the KKK were prominent in their ranks.

They should be called out for what they are: immoral, hate-filled hypocrites.

Second, there is no place in a Christian worldview for those in a minority group to rise up and call for violence, regardless of the treatment they have received. Members of Black Lives Matter, spurred on by their own bitterness, have promoted violence against law enforcement officers, painting them all with the broad brush of a stereotype—which is the very thing they claim to be opposed to.

Third, there is another group out there calling themselves “Antifa,” which is supposed to mean they are anti-fascist. The strange thing about them is that they use fascist tactics to make their point, thereby becoming in practice what they say they oppose in theory. They were part of the violence in Charlottesville, although you don’t hear much about that.

Interestingly, though, a New York Times reporter at the scene did tweet this: “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”

This movement also is anti-Christian and should have no place in the heart of anyone calling himself/herself a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Now, on to the specifics.

The primary blame for what occurred in Charlottesville rests with the white supremacists. They staged the rally, knowing full well it would spark a counter-protest. They wanted a reaction from the extremists on the other side to try to make their point more pointedly.

They succeeded, if indeed you can describe what happened as a success.

Moreover, this group of sinful racists (a tautology, I know) tried to carry out this rally in the name of Christian faith, political conservatism, and as an arm of what many see as the Trump agenda.

It was not Christian, it was not representative of true conservatism, and Republicans nationwide have denounced the actions of these racists. That won’t stop the media, however, from constantly trying to make those connections.

The only sliver of accuracy here is that Trump did rely on their votes as a segment of his support in the campaign. Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, when he ran the Breitbart website, actually referred to it as a platform for the alt-right (the term used to incorporate such racists and others who sometimes lend them credibility with their “America First” ideology).

David Duke, one of the more prominent white supremacists in America, spoke at the Charlottesville rally and said the following: “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Please note that I’m not saying Trump is a racist; I’m simply saying that many white supremacists see him as their hope to fulfill their racist fantasies.

Trump’s response to the violence was technically accurate: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.”

I can read that and say I agree. But I can also read that and wonder why he refused to single out the one “side” that created the problem this time. It’s as if he doesn’t want to go the entire way and point out that white supremacists were the real culprits in this particular event.

Usually it’s Trump’s words that get him into hot water; for the first time in my memory, it’s now what he didn’t say that’s causing the problem. Trump has this uncanny ability to make things worse.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, says explicitly what our attitude must be. He tells us to put aside “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech” from our mouths. He then goes on to say that through Christ we are being renewed:

A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

He concludes the passage with these positive words:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

The groups I mentioned in this post are opposed to forgiveness, choosing instead to highlight their grievances. Nothing about any of them is remotely Christian, and it’s incumbent upon Christians to be clear about that. We cannot allow a false image of the faith to gain predominance.

Those Closest to Trump

Last week, I gave an overview of some of Trump’s picks for his cabinet, both the solid ones and ones I consider questionable. I omitted a few (hard to cover them all), but I should mention in passing the choice of Rick Perry for energy secretary (very good) and Elaine Chao for the Department of Transportation.

There are mixed reviews on Chao: she served as secretary of labor previously, where some said she did very well, but there is criticism that choosing the wife of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not exactly a prime example for the drain-the-swamp battle cry.

Many Trump supporters have high hopes for what he will accomplish, for sure:

That would be nice, but I’ll wait to see what kind of results we get.

Some of the jobs closest to Trump don’t require Senate confirmation. They tell you the most about who Trump trusts.

First on that list would be Stephen Bannon, formerly of the Breitbart website. All kinds of opinions have been offered about Bannon. My view of him is somewhere in between those who view him as the devil incarnate and those who see him as the policy savior.

With the lofty title of chief strategist, Bannon will apparently be responsible for guiding Trump in his decisions on what policies to push for and how to get the job done. Bannon is hard-driving, which can be good for such a position, but he also can alienate people very quickly.

My first acquaintance with Bannon was positive. He was one the writers/producers of a video that I use in my course on Ronald Reagan and modern American conservatism.

That video, In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, details Reagan’s decades-long fight against communism and the strategy he used to take down the Soviet Union. It is a powerful video, one that offers a clear corrective to the liberal interpretation of events that led to the Soviet downfall.

The quality of the video is outstanding, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet seen it.

Bannon’s latest position at Breitbart, though, gives me pause. I don’t accept the cry of “racist” that some would level at him. I am concerned, though, that he allowed that site to be a provocative place where the so-called “alt-right” felt comfortable. I want nothing to do with them, as they are far too close to neo-nazism for me.

Bannon is no racist or Nazi, but when you play footsie with those who are, you tarnish yourself. Just so you know, I used to be a contributor to Breitbart’s Big Government site, so I have no axe to grind here. During the election, though, I stopped reading anything from Breitbart, as I saw it devolve into a Trump propaganda mouthpiece, willing to smear other candidates in its devotion to Trump.

I’m definitely wait-and-see with Bannon.

Another controversial appointment is former general Mike Flynn to serve as Trump’s national security advisor. I’ve watched Flynn being interviewed on news programs, and again, I’m a little torn.

Flynn’s positive is that he understands the Islamist threat. His negatives are that he is potentially too emotional, too open to conspiracy theories (like his boss), and perhaps far too friendly to Russia, which I continue to see as a threat to our national security, not an ally.

As with all of Trump’s questionable choices, I simply hope and pray for the best.

Finally, there is the very first decision on personnel that Trump made: installing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. That decision was probably wise, as Trump needs someone who can work well with the Republican party overall.

Priebus, as chair of the Republican National Committee over the past years, has shown himself to be someone who can navigate the perils of politics. I’ve not always been a big fan of his, especially when he seemed to jump on Trump’s train much too soon and shut down any opposition to Trump at the national convention.

Yet if Trump is to succeed working with the party he so recently joined, he needs someone like Priebus to act as a guide.

I believe I’ve covered most of the key players in the upcoming Trump presidency. I hope the good ones can have a positive influence on him and his policies; I hope the questionable ones are either denied confirmation or will not detract too much from what this administration needs to be to reverse the political course of the nation.

Let me add this, though: reversing the political course is not enough; it’s the spiritual/moral foundation that is in need of the greatest repair, and that will never come through politics. Christian influence on the culture remains the top priority.

Race, Sherrod, and Victimhood

Racial issues ought to be receding in America. Yet they have once again intruded onto the national consciousness. It all started [at least the latest round] when the NAACP passed a resolution calling on the Tea Party to excise the racists in their midst. No real evidence was presented that racism was a major problem within the movement, but that apparently was beside the point. I commented on this in my July 14 post, if you want to review it.

Let’s be honest: the NAACP’s only reason for existing is to fight racial discrimination. If it isn’t a big threat, its reason for being is called into question. Consequently, it is necessary to manufacture a racial divide to maintain relevance as an organization. Sad, but true.

Obama was supposed to be the harbinger of racial healing; he was going to usher in a post-racial society. That was before he accused the Cambridge police of acting foolishly [without real evidence] in regard to his friend Louis Gates. That was before his Justice Department decided to drop the case against the New Black Panthers and accusations that the department was not going to enforce any laws for white defendants in racial cases.

So, at this point we have the Obama administration and the NAACP making race an issue.

Then, in response to what the NAACP had done with its resolution, Andrew Breitbart, who is the brainchild for the Big Government site and many others, broadcast a video of a Dept. of Agriculture employee named Shirley Sherrod apparently showing her racism toward whites. Sensitive now to the charge of racial politics, the administration immediately fired her. When the full tape was eventually seen, it showed that she was trying to say she had gotten beyond race as the determining factor in life. Then they fell all over themselves to hire her back.

In either case, no one did much checking. Getting all the facts didn’t seem to be a priority.

Was Breitbart wrong to do what he did? Many are jumping on him for releasing a partial video, yet he says the point was made no matter how the video ended—the audience [an NAACP crowd] liked her comments about not wanting to help a white farmer. He says that reveals the attitude of the organization, which was his main point.

Meanwhile, Sherrod has become somewhat of a celebrity. Yet it is obvious she is not really a heroine. Her Marxist approach to policy is highlighted in the video, and it appears she not really over her focus on race. She is now calling for the Big Government site to be shut down by the government. So there is no longer a First Amendment?

She’s also accusing Fox News of wanting to push blacks back into segregation days. On what basis is she making this accusation? As one commentator has noted,

Despite Glenn Beck being one of the very first people to stand up for Sherrod; despite the Obama administration dismissing Sherrod before Fox ran the footage; despite Bill O’Reilly being the first cable news host to show the FULL video to reveal its context; and despite Fox’s Bret Baier inviting Sherrod to appear on the network a number of times, she has declined and instead given exclusive interviews to the likes of Media Matters and MSNBC–groups who are seizing this opportunity to attack Fox News. 

Media Matters calls the “Sherrod smear” a “wake up call” not to trust Fox.  Sherrod’s so cozy with the far-Left, she granted the propagandists an exclusive interview to play up the “victim” card against Fox and Breitbart, all the while ignoring the people who actually fired her.

Sherrod was not treated properly by the administration, and she should not have lost her job for the reason cited. Yet, as the facts above show, she was not the victim of a Fox agenda to roll back civil rights. No one bothered to get the facts straight when she was fired. Now she doesn’t care to get the facts straight regarding how Fox handled her story.

If this is the path she has chosen to take, she doesn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy.

Demonizing Dissent

Remember the scene a couple of weeks ago as the Democratic House leadership left one of the House office buildings to walk outside to the Capitol? Speaker Pelosi was carrying a rather huge gavel.

They were in an exultant mood—healthcare was about to pass. This march was obviously intended to go straight through the crowd of protestors who were begging Congress not to pass the bill.

It was during this march that an alleged incident occurred. Accusations later were lodged against the protestors for using racial slurs against African American congressmen. The accusations received eager coverage in the media. Suddenly the “Tea Partiers” were racist degenerates, not concerned citizens trying to stop their nation’s slide into financial ruin.

Fighting back, one conservative leader, Andrew Breitbart, has offered to pay the United Negro College Fund $100,000 for any video proving the allegations of racist language being used that day. Video cameras were everywhere. Breitbart is still waiting for the smoking gun video that proves the accusations are true.

A game is being played here.

With a little help from their media  friends, the Democrats hope to smear honest protest with the dreaded label of racism. They don’t have to look far to find those helpful media people. They’re already well trained and prepared to stereotype.

Honest reporting is a rarity.

And what of that “march”? Why did it even occur? Representatives never do that. They always use the underground tunnels that take them directly from their offices to the Capitol. They knew the grounds were filled with protestors. Could this have been a deliberate attempt to create controversy? It has become obvious they don’t really know what to do with those who are involved with the Tea Party movement. They’re not sure how to counteract their appeal. So why not brand them racists?

It’s an underhanded and deceptive strategy. But they’re practically beside themselves trying to figure out what to do.

On April 15—tax day—tea parties will be held all across America. I plan to attend one—my first.

And I am not a racist.