Thursday, August 17, 2017

“GOOD” WHITE CHRISTIANS, DONALD TRUMP, AND WHITE SUPREMACY



©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is A Verb!
August 17, 2017

It has been interesting to observe reactions by “good” white people who claim to be followers of Jesus and also supporters of Donald Trump in the past several months.  And it has been “interesting” to observe “good” white followers of Jesus who are Trump supporters struggle to explain their disappointment and shock surrounding last weekend’s tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  There, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, neo-Fascists, Ku Klux Klan sympathizers, and others associated with the so-called “alt-right” movement physically assaulted and threatened counter-protestors, including people assembled for a Friday evening prayer and preparation service at a Charlottesville church.  The next day they attacked counter-protestors.  After those attacks, a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed and 19 other persons were injured by someone who rammed into a car into them as they were walking away from the site of the violence.

It has been “interesting” to observe “good” white politicians who claim to be followers of Jesus and also Trump supporters as they’ve tried to distance themselves from Mr. Trump’s full-throated claim that the people who carried torches and shouted racist and anti-Semitic chants as they marched toward the church where counter-protestors were praying were “many fine people.”

It has been interesting to watch Southern Baptist and other neo-fundamentalist clergy and laypersons who voted for Trump in overwhelming numbers and, by doing so, elected him to the presidency.  The common theme running through their responses to what happened in Charlottesville has been a call to prayer and re-affirmation that racism and bigotry run counter to the gospel of Jesus, as shown in this article (http://bpnews.net/49363/charlottesville-violence--sbc-leaders-urge-prayer).

But white evangelical Christian leaders have not criticized President Trump since Charlottesville.  When have you seen or heard a local pastor of a congregation of Trump voters criticize Trump’s statement that the crowd of torch-carrying and slogan chanting people who marched on and surrounded a Charlottesville church where counter-protestors gathered for prayer and preparation included “many fine people”?  “Good” white evangelical Christians have been practically speechless since the November 2016 presidential election despite the fact that news outlets, in-depth magazine reports, and even Facebook and YouTube postings have detailed acts of hate speech as well as physical and online acts of racism. 

Given what happened in Charlottesville, white Christians who voted for Donald Trump should remember what John Pavlovitz, a member of the pastoral staff of a white, non-denominational evangelical church in Raleigh, North Carolina, wrote on his blog the day after Donald Trump’s electoral victory in a post titled White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump:  Fix This, Now (http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/10/white-christians-who-voted-for-donald-trump-fix-this-now/).  

We Christians like to talk about Hell a lot, so let’s talk about Hell a little.




They need to hear from Elijah-like prophets – such as John Pavlovitz.  They will not do so from one reason.  Their preachers are not like Elijah, not like Pavlovitz, and not like Jesus.They need to hear from Elijah-like prophets – such as John Pavlovitz.  They will not do so for one reason.  Their preachers are not like Elijah, not like Pavlovitz, and not like Jesus.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

HAIL TO THE US WHITE SUPREMACIST LIAR IN CHIEF

HAIL TO THE US WHITE SUPREMACIST LIAR IN CHIEF
©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is A Verb!
August 16, 2017

Yesterday President Donald Trump of the United States delivered unscripted remarks that confirmed what many people across the United States and throughout the world have long understood:  he is a pathological liar and apologist for white supremacy and white nationalism.

Yesterday Mr. Trump’s remarks confirmed these words I wrote in my August 15 blog post: 

We should not believe President Trump is concerned about racial equality and opposes white supremacy ideology.  We should not believe he does, has, or will condemn, denounce, and disavow anyone associated with white supremacy and “alt-right” groups such as neo-Nazi sympathizers and the Ku Klan.  We should not believe any claim Mr. Trump makes about being opposed to racism, bigotry, and hate-based violence against racial minorities.

Yesterday, Donald Trump spoke approvingly of people who carried torches and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans Friday night as they marched in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest removal of a statute of General Robert E. Lee.

Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed that those people were not white supremacists, but were marching in support of “culture” and “heritage.”

Yesterday, Trump challenged journalists who questioned his support of the white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville by equating the historical relevance of slaveholding Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – who were instrumental in founding the United States – with Confederate General Lee and General Stonewall Jackson, men who forsook their sworn oath to defend the United States and, instead, committed treason by waging war against the United States in a failed effort to destroy the union and maintain an empire where Africans were held, bred, bought, sold, transported, raped, beaten, and otherwise brutalized to force them to work as slaves.    

In one appearance, Donald Trump reminded the world that he is a liar.

In one appearance, Donald Trump reminded the world that he is untrustworthy.

In one appearance, Donald Trump shamelessly and brazenly flaunted disloyalty for the office he holds and the nation he is sworn to lead for equality and justice. 

In one appearance, Trump disrespected the sacrifices of men and women – from this nation and elsewhere – who courageously served, fought, bled, and died to save humanity from the white supremacist ideology of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler.

In one appearance, Trump did more than even his worse critics might have imagined likely when he openly invoked the rhetoric of white supremacists such as David Duke (a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard). 

Donald Trump lied yesterday when he called the white protestors who carried torches and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans “peaceful.”  Read what Brian McLaren wrote about the Charlottesville experience:  http://auburnseminary.org/what-i-saw-in-charlottesville/.
Watch Joy Reid’s MSNBC interview with Rev. Traci Blackmon about what actually happened Friday night:  http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/trump-is-lying-about-charlottesville-says-witness-1025515075632.   Read and watch this report about Rev. Blackmon’s Saturday experience in Charlottesville:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/gotta-go-gotta-go-black-pastor-bolts-joy-reid-live-interview-as-white-nationalists-attack-fellow-pastors/#.WY82AMx3h5I.facebook.  (Full disclosure:  Rev. Traci Blackmon and I serve as trustees of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (www.sdpconference.info).  

The world knows that what Trump said about what happened in Charlottesville is factually untrue.  Trump’s remarks were not uttered by mistake.  He lied. 

The people who chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans and marched with torches to surround a church Friday night where Rev. Blackmon and others were assembled to prayerfully prepare themselves and encourage one another before Saturday were not “good peaceful people,” as Trump claimed.  They were white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and neo-Fascists.  Yesterday the President of the United States claimed what those people did Friday night was morally and ethically comparable to what Rev. Blackmon and a church filled with praying men, women, and children did. 

As a follower and minister of the gospel of Jesus, I denounce Donald Trump and reject his wicked effort to spread the deceitful message of white supremacy under the guise that doing so will “Make America Great Again.” 

Sadly, I anticipated we would come to this predicament after Trump was elected.   That is why I wrote these words in The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope.

“Cooperative Baptists – along with others who follow the gospel of the extravagant generosity and radical hospitality shown in the ministry of Jesus – must now engage in tough thinking about prophetic choices and commitments on what it means to understand the demands of following Jesus.  Stark differences exist between the ethics of Jesus and the ethics of President Trump – and should inspire followers of Jesus who believe in social justice to refuse to forsake Jesus in favor of the newly elected head of state.

For starters, followers of Jesus must decide whether to condemn white Christian nationalism as a heresy against the gospel of Jesus Christ… People who supported, voted for, and now cheer President Trump, while professing to be followers of the One who saves, must be challenged as committing heresy.  White Christian nationalists, by supporting politicians and policies that oppress immigrants [and others], demonstrate an irreconcilable contradiction.  At best, their claims of allegiance to Jesus are ill-conceived.  At worst, their claims of allegiance to Jesus are fraudulent.  Any claim that one has welcomed the holy immigrant into one’s heart and professed Jesus as the center of one’s faith and living – while practicing xenophobia and other unwelcoming behaviors… - is beyond unpersuasive.  It is moral and ethical nonsense bordering on insanity. 

Refusal to condemn white Christian nationalism as a heresy against the gospel of Jesus Christ amounts to affirming, even by inaction, allegiance to and support for President Trump and his threatening political policies and practices.  Followers of Jesus cannot be faithful to the rule of President Trump and be faithful to the lordship of Jesus Christ.  To be faithful to Jesus requires that we oppose Trump…

Jesus declared in the lesson of the Good Samaritan that the greatest commandment is to love God with one’s entire being and to love others as oneself.  This means that followers of Jesus must now, with the rest of the world watching, decide how to be prophetic followers of the Palestinian Jew whose parents migrated with him to Egypt to escape genocide.  While the rest of the world watches, disciples of Christ must decide whether and how to operate twenty-first-century versions of the Underground Railroad and create a sanctuary movement in opposition to President Trump’s campaign pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.  While the rest of the world watches, followers of Jesus must refuse to provide religious cover to Trump’s policies towards people who are vulnerable. 

The rest of the world will continue to watch to see if followers of Jesus are truly obedient to his call to lay down our lives to protect people who are poor, sick, racial minorities, Muslims, LGBTQ, disabled, laborers, workers, and other targets of President Trump’s oppressive campaign promises and executive policies.”   


What will you do to stand against President Trump?  How will you confront, condemn, denounce, and overcome the heresy of white supremacy and white Christian nationalism?  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

THE TRUTH WE SHOULD REMEMBER ABOUT DONALD TRUMP THANKS TO MAYA ANGELOU AND OPRAH WINFREY

THE TRUTH WE SHOULD REMEMBER ABOUT DONALD TRUMP THANKS TO MAYA ANGELOU AND OPRAH WINFREY
©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is A Verb!
August 15, 2017

Politicians, news commentators, public figures, and other people are unhappy about President Donald Trump’s reactions to the vicious conduct of protestors associated with neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan, and other so-called “alt-right” groups last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Their concerns include why Mr. Trump spoke about hate and bigotry “from many sides” on August 12 when the world watched news footage showing neo-Nazi, KKK, and other “alt-right” people attacking counter-protestors with torches and pepper spray the evening of August 12.  They are disappointed that Mr. Trump waited until Monday – two days after one woman was murdered and 19 other people were injured when an “alt-right” sympathizer allegedly rammed his car into them as they walked down a Charlottesville street – to expressly denounce and condemn white supremacy.  They are displeased that Mr. Trump did not include the worlds “alt-right” when he belatedly condemned white supremacy and neo-Nazi and KKK sympathizers.

I understand the displeasure and disappointment with Mr. Trump’s reaction to the racial bigotry, claims of white supremacy, and acts of cruelty the world witnessed last weekend in Charlottesville.  Yet, I am not surprised by Trump’s reaction – nor impressed by anything he says or does to appear opposed to racial bigotry and white supremacy – because I remember a lesson Oprah Winfrey received from Maya Angelou:  When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.  A short video of Ms. Winfrey and Dr. Angelou chatting about that lesson can be found on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) at this link:  http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/When-People-Show-You-Who-They-Are-Believe-Them-Video.

The world knew long before white supremacists went to Charlottesville last weekend that Donald Trump cannot be trusted about racial equality.  His history of personal and commercial racism spans his adulthood, as shown by a 2016 Fortune Magazine article:  http://fortune.com/2016/06/07/donald-trump-racism-quotes/.    

It was clear long before last weekend that Mr. Trump supported white supremacy and violence against persons of color and protestors.  As the New York Times reported yesterday – see https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/us/politics/trump-charlottesville-protest.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news – Trump was hesitant during the presidential election campaign about denouncing support from David Duke, someone long known for his association with the Ku Klux Klan. 

And after a white man sucker punched a black protestor who was being escorted out of a March 2016 Trump campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Trump openly spoke of “the good old days” when the response to protestors was to “treat them very, very rough, and when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily.” https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/10/donald-trump-rally-protester/.

Trump’s response to the white supremacist instigated violence in Charlottesville didn’t surprise me because – as I wrote in The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope – President Trump is “a remarkably misguided and unfair leader” who is “a remarkably ill-prepared and unjust president.”    

We should not believe President Trump is concerned about racial equality and opposes white supremacy ideology.  We should not believe he does, has, or will condemn, denounce, and disavow anyone associated with white supremacy and “alt-right” groups such as neo-Nazi sympathizers and the Ku Klan.  We should not believe any claim Mr. Trump makes about being opposed to racism, bigotry, and hate-based violence against racial minorities.  Trump announced days ago during a Fox News interview that he is “seriously considering” issuing a pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a 2011 court order to stop illegal detentions of persons who appear to be Latino on suspicion that they were undocumented immigrants:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/14/trump-seriously-considering-pardon-for-sheriff-joe-arpaio.html.   

Mr. Trump’s personal and commercial history – of white male supremacy and patriarchy, racist and misogynist bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, pathological penchant for violence and oppressiveness towards people of color, immigrants, women, disabled persons, lower income people, and other marginalized persons – was clear long before the events last week in Charlottesville.  And, Mr. Trump’s association with “alt-right” ideology and his embrace of “alt right” ideologues is indisputable.  He named Stephen K. Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist. 

Maya Angelou counseled Oprah Winfrey that “when people show you who they are, believe them.”  Winfrey adds, “believe them the first time.”  Donald Trump showed the world long ago that he is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, and psychopathic bigot who will lie, cheat, and mistreat others without hesitation or the slightest twinge of conscience. 


Believe him.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

HOW WHITE SUPREMACY AFFLICTS U.S. NOTIONS ABOUT EQUALITY

HOW WHITE SUPREMACY AFFLICTS U.S. NOTIONS ABOUT EQUALITY
©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is a Verb!
August 3, 2017

            The New York Times has exposed a new initiative of the U.S. Justice Department.  At the apparent behest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department is recruiting and intends to hire lawyers to investigate whether affirmative action programs in higher education institutions discriminate against white applicants.  Those investigations will likely lead to “possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”  According to the front-page Times article that appeared in its August 2, 2017, national edition, [“s]upporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.” 

This initiative is the latest evidence of the way white supremacy affects how people in the United States understand equality.    The American myth about equality has always been contaminated with and by white supremacy.  When the Declaration of Independence was signed, the men who signed their names to its assertion about a “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal” were (1) white and (2) convinced of their right to rule over all other persons, including white women and all other persons.  White men viewed other persons as fractional beings.  Blacks were counted as three-fifths of a person for tax purposes, but were non-persons in the eyes of society and the law otherwise.  Women were denied any voice (vote) in this society for more than a century.    

The U.S. Civil War claimed the lives of over 600,000 combatants.  Their deaths were the military price our society paid for white supremacy; but it was not the only, nor even the highest, price.  Millions of black persons were enslaved, traded, robbed of the monetary value of their work, raped, beaten, and otherwise brutalized under a system that was declared legal from the birth of the nation until the Civil War ended in 1865.  Meanwhile, the manifest destiny mindset that drove white politicians and captains of commerce to invade and steal land on which Native Americans had lived for generations – if not for centuries – drove them to encroach on, steal, and otherwise wrongfully appropriate land owned by Mexican Americans.  Again, this was called legal.

Attorney General Sessions personifies the white supremacist mindset that has afflicted U.S. legal thought about equality.  According to that perspective, any measures that work to benefit people who are the descendants of race-based injustice must not disadvantage white persons who are the beneficiaries of the legalized oppression and inequality set up and operated by white men throughout U.S. history.  Equality means whatever white men are willing to tolerate, not what is required to redress centuries of legalized white male privilege.   

Whenever people insist that equality requires “color-blind” approaches to social justice, we should remember that this society has never been “color-blind.”  From its birth, notions of social justice have been driven by white supremacy and white supremacists.  Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were white supremacists.  The same must be said about almost all of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court whose case decisions are studied by law students, pondered by law professors, and applied by state and federal judges.  The body of law produced by those jurists, scholars, and practitioners contains a white supremacist mindset that views policies and practices which benefit persons whose lives and histories are traceable to the victims of white supremacy as “reverse discrimination.”  The pervasiveness of white supremacy has seldom been admitted, let alone challenged, by most of the legal profession.  The profession has rarely, if ever, admitted its complicity with white supremacy. 

White supremacists scored a major victory in the 2016 presidential election when white supremacy nationalists and white evangelical religionists combined forces to elect President Trump.  However, white supremacy is not undergoing resurgence under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Rather, we are witnessing the latest mutation of the white supremacy affliction. 

We should not be surprised when the legal profession and judiciary embrace the white supremacist initiative Attorney General Sessions has created for the Justice Department.  Mr. Sessions, like the president who nominated him, is a white supremacist.  The legal profession is dominated by persons who, knowingly or not, hold white supremacist perspectives about law and equality.  Unless those perspectives are exposed, confronted, and challenged, we will continue to fumble and stumble about equality based on the illogical and historically unfounded notion that justice in the United States is “color-blind.”


Whether we admit it or not (and most observers do not admit it), the only way to correct centuries of race-based injustice is to employ race-conscious remedies.  The U.S. is now led by some of the worst thinkers about racial justice in recent memory. It is unlikely that we will be led to becoming more just.  Rather, we are about to go deeper down into the white supremacy rabbit hole.   

Friday, July 28, 2017

THE DISHONOR DONALD JOHN TRUMP PRESENTED BOY SCOUTS

THE DISHONOR DONALD JOHN TRUMP PRESENTED BOY SCOUTS
©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is A Verb!

My wife and I are parents to two men who became Eagle Scouts.  Like other parents, I attended troop meetings with our sons.  Like other parents, I trusted adult leaders to help instill the values of duty, honor, and service in our sons.  So I remember joining with our sons and their fellow scouts as they recited the following words at every troop meeting.

On my honor, I will do my best 
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; 
To help other people at all times; 
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Those are the words of the Scout Oath.

Our sons and their fellow Boy Scouts also recited the following words at every Scout meeting.
A Scout is:
  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.
Those are the words of the Scout Law.

By even the most charitable analysis, Donald John Trump’s conduct – as President of the United States and before he entered that office – violates the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  His personal history does not demonstrate commitment to serving our country, God, or other people.  By no means would anyone associate Donald Trump with what it means to be “morally straight.” 

Donald Trump is not trustworthy.  He is not loyal.  His conduct towards persons in need is not helpful.  He is not friendly, courteous, or kind.  He is obedient to nothing except his self-centeredness.  Trump is not cheerful, but bellicose. He is not thrifty, but extravagant.  He is not brave, but a cowardly bully.  His personal and business dealings are not clean.  Mr. Trump can never be correctly considered reverent. 

In the less than 200 days that Donald Trump has occupied the office of President of the United States he has dishonored his office and those who honorably serve our nation.  He dishonored fallen members of the Central Intelligence Agency while standing before the wall that enshrines their service to the nation.  He dishonored the Constitution of the United States by issuing executive orders that discriminate against followers of Islam and persons from several nations with Islamic majority populations.  He dishonored the Federal Bureau of Investigation by firing former FBI Director Jim Comey because Comey refused to swear personal fealty to him.  He has dishonored transgender men and women who serve in the U.S. military along with their comrades and leaders.  His recent remarks during the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia violated everything Scouting represents. 

Mr. Trump’s behavior as president contradicts any sensible understanding of principled leadership.  We should not expect his behavior to improve.  After all, Donald Trump is 70 years old.  If he were a 7 year old, we would term him a troubled, if not delinquent, child.  Mr. Trump is not a child.  Donald Trump is merely an untrustworthy, disloyal, unhelpful, mean-spirited, discourteous, cruel, undisciplined, bellicose, profligate, cowardly, crooked, and irreverent old man. 

For parents like me who are proud of the role Scouting served in helping our children become people of honor, Mr. Trump’s conduct during the Boy Scout Jamboree was an insult to every noble value and attribute represented by Scouting.  I hope the Boy Scouts of America will not extend another invitation to Mr. Trump.  Our youth and their adult leaders deserve much better from the President of the United States. 


For that matter, so does the rest of our nation and world.