On Charlottesville

Yes, me and everyone else in the world have something to say on this subject.

First, let me address the Statue Issue.  Ostensibly, the protest was about the removal of a statue of Gen Lee.  It degenerated quickly but let us examine the original idea: that removing this statue is fundamentally a bad idea.

I agree.  Not because I like the Confederacy or I value Lee as an archetype of some ‘White History’.  He isn’t White History.  He is American history and in order to truly understand ourselves we have to accept our history as it stands.  It is warty and ugly but also beautiful and generous.  Say his statue stays in place and a child looks up from his phone or her iPad and notices it enough to ask “Who is that and why does he get a statue?”  Then a parent can say “He was a person whose friends and biographers describe as a good and generous Christian gentleman whom everyone liked.  He loved his country, his way of life. But at the same time he owned slaves and fought to keep slavery legal.  How do we reconcile that?  How do you explain how a man who had so many good qualities also did such wrong things?  Why do you think he thought his way of life was OK?”

In other words, like every other statue or monument in the world, it becomes a teaching moment.  Europe doesn’t keep the concentration camps because they thought they were a good idea.  They keep them so the children will ask why and adults will be forced to think.

If we can’t trust ourselves to do that, go ahead and remove the statues and install Brawndo dispensers in their place, because that is where we are.  We’re a sad group of self-pleasuring idiots who cannot apply the past to the present and the future.  Besides, it’s non-GMO, gluten free and has electrolytes!!!

I’ve never actually toured the South.  I presumed there would be museums, plantations with live action folks, and just multiple teaching opportunities.  Imagine today’s 3rd graders, in an integrated classroom, going to a plantation that functioned as one would have antebellum with realism.  Imagine the reaction of the white 8 year old at the side of a black friend to seeing a black person enslaved, beaten, mocked, treated as less than human.  Hope as I do to hear the tremulous tenor of an angry child’s voice “That is not right!!” If such places do not exist they should.

So if the statues exist in tandem with with history, there can be no justification for removing them.  Thus my support for protesting their removal.

HOWEVER, the protest left the statue behind the second the swastika was revealed.  From that point it lost American history.  As a Facebook meme stated: “One cannot be a patriotic American and a Nazi simultaneously.  We literally fought a war to extinguish this line of thought, the whole world was involved.”

White supremacy and Nazism are appalling.  The Antifa movement is equally disturbing.  On its face (based on its name), Antifa is in opposition to fascism but in its behavior it favors anarchy.  Neither the Alt-Right nor Antifa and the extreme left embody mainstream American values.  The Alt-right, while being lumped in with Conservatives, actually favors a large central government.  They dismiss the Constitution as antiquated and irrelevant–a point at which they agree with Antifa.

The important point to hold to here is that neither of these groups encompass the vast majority of Americans.  They remain fringe and minuscule, except for the level of media attention given them

So once again we return to the point that the media is determining the narrative.  They’ve told us who to believe, who to despise, and how to respond.

My personal take?  Be yourself.  Be the Body of Christ in the place you are.  Reach out of your comfort zone.  Love without hesitation.  Dismiss, disregard, and, yes, ridicule calls to hatred.  We are each of us ragamuffins, imperfect expression of humanity and even more so broken beneficiaries and bestowers of God’s loving grace.


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