Charlotte: Some Facts

The riots that have broken out in Charlotte are supposedly inspired by the racism of the police in that city. Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, was killed by a Charlotte police officer who said Scott emerged from his car with a gun.

brentley-vinsonThe officer who shot Scott was Brentley Vinson, whose photo is here.

Now, if you are blind and someone else is reading my blog to you, you have an excuse for not knowing that Vinson is black also. But if you still have your eyesight, there is little excuse for believing that this shooting was racially motivated.

Vinson is a Charlotte native who followed in the career path of his father, who also is a police officer.

By all accounts, Vinson has been a role model to all, a star football player in college who has no record of ever having caused trouble in any way. And his college was Liberty University, which tends to make me think Vinson is a committed Christian.

The Charlotte chief of police, also a black man, says Scott did have a gun. The investigation continues, but I somehow doubt that the police chief is a racist against fellow black citizens.

No matter. As far as the protesters are concerned, the whole episode is awash in racism, thereby setting aside such obstacles as logic and facts. CNN is now reporting that 70% of those arrested in the riots have IDs showing they are from out of state. What we have here, apparently, are roving protesters who show up wherever they can create greater havoc.

We are being treated to constant coverage of the Charlotte situation, but I’m not going to fan flames of discontent by showing photos of the rioters. Instead, how about this one?

charlotte-protester

I also like this one, depicting North Carolina highway patrol officers kneeling in prayer before risking their lives to help stem the violence.

officers-praying

Some people want to foment hatred and division. Today, I prefer to highlight those who seek to bring peace to a troubled city.

Baltimore: The Deeper Issues

Baltimore is burning. What, exactly, is happening? There are many layers to this; most people focus on the superficial ones, the ones most clearly visible, but there are foundational problems that have led not only to this particular incident, but to an atmosphere like this that is sweeping our nation.

Freddie GrayThe top layer has to do with the arrest and death of a young black man, Freddie Gray. We still don’t have all the facts about what occurred. The investigation is apparently still ongoing. However, the lack of information is part of the problem. No one knows what led to his arrest in the first place. By all accounts, he was not actively involved in wrongdoing. Yet because he ran away from the police, he was arrested. While in the police van, something happened; he was so severely injured that he died shortly afterward.

Yes, that’s suspicious beyond question. Yet there have been no formal accusations against the officers, no explanation as to what took place in that van, and this gives the appearance, at least, of a coverup.

Stephanie Rawlings-BlakeProtests began peacefully, but by last Saturday, they began to change. As violence broke out, another top layer to this episode was added. Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in her desire not to crack down immediately on the emerging violence, actually made a public statement that she had ordered the police to give “space to destroy” so that the protesters wouldn’t be harmed. Since when does a government provide a license to destroy? Later, she angrily insisted she hadn’t said what she really said, and that the media were misinterpreting her statement. Well, if that’s the case, the protesters who easily turned into rioters “misunderstood” her as well, and decided they had the “liberty” to turn this into large-scale violence.

Suspect Dies BaltimoreYesterday, that’s exactly what happened. As the school day ended, students, urged on by comments in social media, began to riot. Police were attacked, many were hurt, with one policeman described as “unresponsive.” I haven’t yet heard an update on his condition. Businesses in the community, largely owned by minorities, and the places that provide jobs for the people in the community, were torched. Police cars also were set on fire; wholesale anarchy prevailed.

The police simply weren’t prepared for this. Did that have something to do with the attitude emanating from the mayor’s office? We now hear they were told to stand down, to hold a perimeter, but not get too involved in stopping the looting, burning, and outright riots. Mayor Rawlings-Blake was missing in action for many hours before finally facing the media. Utter chaos reigned, and the entire city is now on a virtual lockdown.

Those are the facts of the top layer of the problem. But it all goes so much deeper.

Naturally, some want to turn this into a racial issue. Yet keep in mind that the mayor is African-American and the police force, unlike in Ferguson, Missouri, is nearly half-black, half-white. No, the problem is greater.

One has to know history and government philosophy to realize what has happened over the decades to lead us where we are today.

Losing GroundAs well documented in Charles Murray’s superb book that was published in the 1980s—Losing Ground—the black family was intact prior to the policies of the Great Society, which pledged to end poverty in America once and for all. Government largesse began on a large scale, making the government the source of sustenance for the underprivileged, and replacing the father in the home. Marriage in the black community was practically destroyed. Statistics now show more than 70% of children born in these minority communities grow up without a father. Some people don’t mind that; they think that’s an “improvement.”

They are wrong.

Poverty increases exponentially in single-mother homes. Lack of discipline in the lives of the children becomes commonplace without a stable environment that is based on a two-parent family. Couple this with an education system that no longer educates, and the problems increase.

On the political side, what is now occurring in Baltimore is hardly the fault of conservatives or Republicans. That city, as most cities in America, is, and has been for many years, controlled by the Democrats. What we see is the fruit of policies promoted by the philosophy of government championed by progressives. In one sense, Baltimore is the progressive utopia. It should be a lesson to us all.

Biblical WorldviewBut now go one layer deeper still. Why do we allow all of this? What is the root cause? It’s simply this: we have abandoned our Biblical basis for thinking and acting. Our culture—led by the media, the entertainment industry, the education system, and the progressive politicians—has rejected eternal concepts of right and wrong delivered to us by God. We have set up our own gods, devised our own morality, come up with our own “solutions,” and promised our own version of heaven on earth.

When a society abandons that which is designed to preserve it, last night in Baltimore is one example of the result. The Biblical principle still holds: we reap what we sow. And we have been sowing some poisonous seeds for quite some time.

So, yes, let’s do what’s necessary to handle the top layer of issues: indict anyone, policeman or rioter, who has violated the rights of another. But we cannot stop there; we need to return to our Biblical roots. If we don’t, we will only be putting bandages on the cancer that is eating away at us. We are a culture in distress, and only the pure Gospel message will change that.

Personal Accountability & Ferguson

The smoke (literally) has not cleared totally on the Ferguson riots. Since I wrote my blog a couple of days ago, protesters/criminals have continued to cause problems. The National Guard, which was conspicuously not called in by Missouri governor Nixon on the night of the grand jury decision, has helped calm the area, working in tandem with the police and state law enforcement officials. That’s probably not what most National Guardsmen signed up for. Our military is supposed to protect us from invasion, not from ourselves:

Danger Zones

The looters and rioters, setting fire to businesses and endangering lives, are not exactly focused on the presumed reason for the protest. Michael Brown doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of their thoughts; they are far more interested in destruction and grabbing “stuff” for themselves:

Stand for Justice

For instance, what did the woman who ran a cake bakery do to incite riots? Wasn’t she in business to offer a product to the community? Yet the destruction was indiscriminate.

Black Friday

Perhaps the most redeeming story to come out of this fiasco is that this woman has now received over $200,000 from Americans across the nation to help her rebuild her business. That’s the real America, which is far different than the racially divided country the media portrays.

Speaking of the media, some have pointed fingers at them as possible co-conspirators in this unfolding story:

Ideas

I have no problem with the media being on the scene to describe what’s happening on the ground, but whenever the line is crossed from reporting to agitation, there can be grounds for pointing those fingers.

But if we really want to get to the source of what occurred in Ferguson, there’s only one place to go:

Brown

It’s called a principle of personal accountability for one’s actions. It’s a principle that can be forgotten in the midst of turmoil, yet we need to constantly remind one another that each individual is a free moral agent given the ability by God to make decisions. Ultimately, no matter how one is raised, no matter how many wrong influences there are in one’s life, we all have to answer for ourselves. Our decisions are not predetermined; we still have the ability to choose, regardless of our environment. Society is not to blame.

Ferguson & the Rule of Law

Robert McCullochAt about 9:15 last night, I, along with countless other Americans, started listening to St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch provide the factual information that led the grand jury to refuse to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

McCulloch went to great pains to explain that decision. He also went into the kind of detail that prosecutors don’t normally go into publicly in an attempt to appeal to the reasonable portion of the citizenry that justice was served. In fact, after the press conference, all the testimony from the grand jury deliberations was released for the public to read. That’s called transparency.

He was both sympathetic to the family that lost its son and methodical in his rundown of the events of that day when Wilson shot Brown. The evidence, he said, showed Brown’s DNA inside Wilson’s car, on Wilson’s shirt and pants, and, most significantly, on the policeman’s gun. The evidence, therefore, backed up the story that Brown attacked Wilson while the officer was still inside his car.

McCulloch then thoroughly explained the various eyewitness accounts and how some of them didn’t comport with the facts. The majority of the eyewitnesses, though, were clear in their testimony that once Wilson got out of the car, Brown again came toward him menacingly. That’s when the fatal shots were fired. McCulloch also emphasized that those eyewitnesses were black, not white.

The grand jury, which was selected to represent the entire county, and included various minorities, three of whom were black, came to their decision after weeks of attention to the details. He praised the grand jury members for their willingness to extend their time on this jury by two extra months, just to ensure that the truth could come out.

Overall, I was impressed by McCulloch’s professionalism and desire for an honest outcome. He spoke both movingly and convincingly, even when answering questions from hostile members of the press in the courtroom. He was decorum personified. Yet one of those reporters had the nerve to shout at him as he left the room, “Are you going to sleep well tonight?”

Ferguson RiotsThat shout was the signal that this was going to be a long night. All that professionalism and appeal to reason went for naught, as the assembled crowd rose up in anger and began destroying their own city. Stores were looted, buildings burned (some businesses will not ever reopen again), and chaos ensued. The police are coming under fire today for their weak and inadequate response. Apparently, the desire not to be seen as oppressive overcame common sense. Appeasement of violent civil disobedience is a recipe for further violence.

The rioters were both local citizens and those from groups outside the city. They were a motley assemblage of Marxists, anarchists, and just plain old criminals who wanted to get something free for themselves. Reporters on the scene showed live shots of people breaking into stores and taking out everything they could carry; alcohol seemed to be high on their “shopping list.”

All of this in the name of justice? What justice was meted out to local businesses that were devastated? How did that help the community?

And what of Michael Brown himself? Was he a hero? A martyr for some cause?

Evidence shows that just prior to the shooting, he had robbed a convenience store, treated the store employee roughly, and then scuffled with Wilson. The toxicology report after his death revealed he had marijuana in his system. Is this really the poster child for innocence? For what cause is he a martyr—the right to steal?

Obama Ferguson StatementPresident Obama chose to come out and make a statement right after Mr. McCulloch finished his press conference. Perhaps the most ironic comment of the night was his opening line about how we are a nation that abides by the rule of law. After his executive order on immigration last week, it was nice to witness his “conversion.” Rule of law is a useful concept, depending on the circumstance.

I listened to his entire monologue. After a while, it rambled and seemed to lose a lot of coherence. I don’t think it inspired confidence in many. And while he was speaking about the need for peace, the split-screen showed the beginnings of a riot as a police car was in the process of being overturned.

Something else was missing from the president’s statement: any concern whatsoever for Darren Wilson, who has been exonerated of murder, who acted in self-defense, and whose life from now on will be forever changed. Will he have to live “underground,” in fear of retaliation? What occupation is now open to him? Will he be given a new identity? Facial reconstruction? The president never even mentioned him by name.

In my opinion, both the president and Eric Holder have done nothing but inflame this situation from the start. Their public empathy for Brown and his family only made things worse, implicating Wilson as the culprit before all the facts were obtained.

Racial Fire Dept

Al Sharpton is due to arrive in Ferguson today. I don’t use the “Rev.” in front of his name; it’s an oxymoron. Not only is he one of the primary racial agitators in America today, and has been for decades, but he also is considered a special outside adviser to President Obama. He goes to the White House often. That, in itself, is a disgrace to this administration.

Sharpton

They should be embarrassed by this connection, but embarrassment is a quality to which they seem immune.

The activities last night were a blot on America, but not for the reason the protesters believe. The rule of law was attacked once again and emotion took precedence over reason and the facts.

John AdamsI’m reminded of a famous quote from John Adams as he defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial. This was a highly unpopular thing for him to do, with possible repercussions to his career and life. Yet he did what was right, and he ended with this statement:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Wishes, inclinations, and dictates of passion ruled the night. What awaits us in the aftermath? Continue to pray for God’s mercy on a nation that increasingly doesn’t deserve it, yet desperately needs it.

French Fried

Overlooked while focusing on American election news are the riots taking place in France. Like most European nations that have gone the socialist route, France has had to reappraise its ability to provide such extensive government services. Hence a move toward austerity measures that have led to outrage among the socialized masses. What terrible policy has the government proposed? Raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Wow, how mean-spirited can a government get?

Police have had to crack down on the protesters.

If you don’t get that one, study it for a while.

While Democrats in America accuse Tea Party people and other conservatives of being extreme, they are silent about the extremists at the other end of the spectrum—the French violence emanates from the communists in their midst. We seem to have a hard time recognizing genuine extremism.

Well, I don’t want America to become like Europe, either. Yet we have a segment of our society that loves all things European; they think Americans are backward and unintelligent. You can see them basking in the glow of the sophistication Europe has to offer:

May it never be.