Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time is come.” I hope that’s true because the time has come for people of color to get justice in this country. We must press on for real change. We simply cannot lose this momentum. Too many lives have been lost to get people thinking and moving; to break free from the grip of our nation’s history. That’s why it’s important to me that some white Christians stop being a silent, and worse, a vocal drag on our progress.
Since my last post, I read a very disturbing blog post entitled Do You Know What Really Killed George Floyd? In it the white Christian blogger argued that it was Floyd’s drug addiction that got him killed. She suggested that Chauvin’s knee on his neck was “incidental”, saying, “And he may well have survived the encounter if he wasn’t suffering from severe heart disease, high blood pressure, and a load of meth and fentanyl in his system.”
This came from a Christian. And when I challenged her hurtful post, she claimed she wasn’t trying to be intentionally hurtful, then lamented her inability to get me to understand the “truth.” I am still haunted by the comments from those responding to her racial triggers. One even suggested that a legal lynching of Chauvin was taking place. Can you imagine?
I also listened to a sermon by a white Evangelical pastor of a church in Phoenix Arizona. The sermon title was, A Biblical Response to Racism and Injustice. In it, he never actually addressed racism or injustice. His sermon was historically predictable and equally damaging. Racism is sin and the response to sin is the gospel. Yet oddly, or maybe it’s not so odd, he decried sin so generally as to encourage his congregants to do nothing. He didn’t even encourage them to share the gospel. While he did not directly condemn the actions of the police in the Floyd case, he did talk about the the Marxist underpinnings of the the BLM movement. In the end he simply said wait; justice will come. While true that’s not a biblical response to racism and injustice.
I reached out to that pastor. I told him as a fellow pastor I was deeply disturbed by his sermon. I offered to talk to him offline. I haven’t heard from him or anyone associated with the church. I shouldn’t be surprise given the fact that in the sermon, effectively dissuading his members from listening, he said he didn’t need to listen to people of color to know what the Bible says about racism or injustice. He actually said that. How incredibly prideful is that? He used the Gospel to effectively quell a movement toward justice. As if the Gospel works without the actions of people. He knowingly, or unknowingly, attempted to slow the building momentum, allowing the great grip of the status quo to do it’s work.
I have reason to be hopeful though. In the time since my last post I have also read much from my courageous white brothers and sister who are listening. Some for the first time. Many are compelled to step out from behind the veil of silence. Many are saying and have said that they stand with people of color in this long awaited time for change. They too recognized it’s time has come; it’s moment is now.
They are not afraid or ashamed to talk about race and to acknowledge systemic racism. They also know what they are risking to do so. Some of the comments on their posts also haunt me. They are dodging the political epithets hurled their way by their friends and choosing to stand with us. To all who have, I’m so grateful to the Lord for you. You are proving to be a neighbor and demonstrating the love that is the essential quality of the Kingdom. Thank you, and I love you too.
I went back and visited the post you mention here, the one claiming Mr. Floyd killed himself, not the cop. I left my comment disapproving it. I spoke up against it.
I did not try to reason with the blogger there. I think reason was tossed out the window. I have tried to reason on other topics there before and found it difficult.
The blogger shows no understanding or interest in the fact that this cop could have, at any point in the interaction, changed tactics and saved Floyds life. She reviewed Floyd’s record (presumably she found accurate public records which demonstrate he was a sinner and an addict). She made no such review of the officer’s record, yet I have seen it reviews on CBS News, and he had multiple complaints before this incident.
So what if Floyd was high? That mattered in other contexts, but not this one. He needed help? He needed to make some personal changes?? Well so do I! But that does not mean a cop has the right to choke me to death.
She makes no room for the cool, smug demeanor of that cop as he killed George mercilessly and casually despite pleas from passersby who plainly could see the excess of his tactics. And she wants to blame George for this.
The redeeming value she seems to be aiming at with this post is to call attention to addiction. I think she destroyed her presentation of that with her deeply offensive and misguided effort to blame Floyd. She could have just written a post about addiction instead. That would have been helpful. But she chose to turn this killer cop story into an addiction story, and did a horrible job of it. (I can’t imagine how it could be done well anyway.)
She did not list off her own sins by way of confession at all, but we may safely presume she has a sin life like anyone else. Based on her reasoning though she should take the blame if a cop kills her too.
On the other end of all this, I find a group, mostly of white Christians (AS YOU HAVE POINTED OUT) banding around this terrible post in a group effort to miss the point, to obscure the point, and to make out like they are doing the truly important and deeper good by pointing out Floyd’s sins in this story.
I don’t think I need to do some deep psych profile here to suggest that the white people in this little wagon train are scared. There is a fragile worldview and world order which just took a beating the last few weeks. I have been slow to see this in my own family and friends, but honestly I think the corner was turned when Barrack Obama was elected president. I was all excited about getting a black president when that happened, and I bought a commemorative ball cap to wear my excitement at the time. And I was met with silent scorn and under-the-breath dissent in my circles of relations waaaay back then.
I did not vote for Obama, but I think he was a really even handed and patient man. I think he was thoughtful and wise. I think that most of the things he did and tried to do were pretty good. But I watched as conservatives and Republicans, certainly those representing us in congress and elsewhere, opposed every little thing he said and did every day as if he were Satan himself. And most of the complaints were superfluous crap like the birther controversy.
Nobody wanted to come out and say this was because we dreaded a black man being our leader, but that is the one thing that keeps making the most sense of all that nonsense with the simplest explanation. And ever since then, we have gotten a lot more articulate about our racism.
Thus I think a good many of the white brothers you address in your post are really wresting racism, both blatant and latent. I am not hater, never have been, but even I am wresting anew with my own insensitivities, my slowness to change, and my quickness to excuse.
I have not told you this, and it is to my own shame, but the first time I watched the George Floyd killing on TV, I kept trying to justify it in my mind. I kept wondering what happened previous to this video footage, what is going on behind the camera. What could possibly justify this cop?
Not that I thought he did everything right automatically. I am not saying that. But I was giving the cop the benefit of the doubt as my mind raced through possible worthy explanations for such behavior. I am white enough and law enforcement enough to give the cop the first benefit.
It was only on the second viewing that I was satisfied that this was really bad, and there almost surely is not worthwhile explanation.
It was the third or fourth time before I really soaked in just how smug that cop’s expression was with his hand in his pocket and just killing this man without a care in the world.
I was a lobster slow cooking my way to reality. None of my black family or friends had to slow cook it. They saw a brother, a father, a son, an uncle begging for air and dying a most unjust death right in the first few seconds of aired video. The shock was immediate.
Look, I want to hear both sides too. I still do. But it is self evident based on video that Floyd did not need to die. He could have survived that arrest if any of those cops there that day had just cared for his life. It also looks extremely likely (basically I cannot imagine how it could be explained away) that the cop was just soooooo smug and indifferent to human life. It also is hard to explain, barring some previous personal interaction (and even then it likely cannot be explained away), how this cop came to kill Floyd so carelessly and smugly for any other reason than race. I am willing to hear the other side try to explain that if they want to try, but I cannot imagine how they would reasonably explain any of that away.
I think the face value of the video almost certainly represents exactly what happened. The cop didn’t like George, and felt he could kill him without repercussion based on race. Any defense against that has one serious uphill battle. But I am sure that we cannot defend that cop by saying: Oh no. The cop didn’t kill him. It was the addiction! What a freight train load of crap!
Addicted suicide by cop?
That is what the post should have been entitled. And it is so utterly STUPID that the author should be embarrassed.
I am sorry our brothers and sisters in Christ are saying that. It is insulting, stupid, and hurtful. And I denounce it. And I am sorry that it is out there.
I will pray for my sister now, and hope to do better myself.
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X this is were I need to listen to understand. I really believe the blogger is an intelligent woman. I also would be my mortgage that she has an authentic relationship with Christ. I’m not new to her blog. I’ve been a follower for some time now and I have enjoyed reading her posts. Which makes this particular post all the more puzzling.
I really don’t understand how her and those who commented could reach the conclusion they did. You mentioned they were afraid and that their world view was fragile. Is that it? In the absence of a reasonable answer, I’m left with what I fear most; that they know better and are simply responding to a blind hatred or worse, a visible agenda.
Help me not settle on that.
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I’m glad you find her normally better than this post. I have not followed her with great interest, but I have encountered her a few times over the years, yet I too have never dealt with such nonsense.
However, I recently tried to reason with her and her follwers and found it futile. She was respectful, and I thanked her for that. It is an important part, to be sure. But that was it.
I cannot diagnose the problem like from a God’s eye view. I can only tell you what I see. And I do see it from a white man’s shoes. I have been privy to conversatons behind closed doors on some occasions which revealed crass attitude that shocks me.
I will cut her the slack required to learn and grow. I need that too. And I do not simply cave to black reasoning simply because it is black. I have been thinking a lot about a lot of related issues, and I look back at the trial those cops in Simi Valley got before the 92 LA riots over Rodney King’s beating. I have sat on a murder trial before. I decided a case in a way I personally choked on, but the instructions were to decide if the killing was lawful. We decided it was. I hated the law. But that was a white on white killing in that case, and I was very young. We made the decision according to the law, as we were told, but I still do not believe it was justice. We let one cowboy blow away another cowboy with a shotgun blast because he was insulted and got his cowboy hat nocked off his head. He might have been slapped in the face too. And the cowboy who was offended actually left the scene and came back and killed the other one. And as we read the law in Colorado at that time, it looked like it met the criteria of self defense. As we read and re-read that law, we determined that if you slap me in the face and walk away, I can run home, get my gun and hunt you down all night long, shoot and kill you, and it is self-defense.
(I do not currently have the quote of that law at hand, but I certainly remember how we determined we couild drive THAT truck through it.)
It made me sick to do it, but I voted to acquit. And we did.
But that really was not justice.
I recall the Simi Valley jury determining that the cops were adhering to LAPD policy. I have watched documentaries since about it, and I see how those policies and their understanding of them COULD have manifest the way they did in that beating. But I also notice that the venue was changed to a venue favorable to the cops. And I see that justice was not had. IT MIGHT have been lawful, but it was unjust laws that got us there – IF THAT IS REASONABLE.
Glad I wasn’t on that jury too.
I think we need justice. I am not nearly as concerned about the punishment as I am about the reforms. But that one guy with his knee on the neck of a dying man not resisting him let me know that cop should never have been entrusted with that job. I will not defend him or plea mercy for him. But more than anything, I think he needs to apologize, show contrition, and accept his lumps. If he truly repents, maybe he could write or speak out about what he did. It would never bring Floyd back, but his heart needs to change, and so do a lot of others.
The armchair quarterbacking you see in that post is inexcusable. There surely are reasons for it, and we need to address them, but that garbage needs to be retracted and work needs to be done to heal the insults to injuries there. I would favor that.
I don’t need sinless people to be my martyrs. King David was a great hero of my faith, but he was a murderer, a liar, an adulterer. He should be ashamed of that. Martin Luther King Jr was a great man with a great cause, but he betrayed his marriage. I am very sorry for that, and I am aware of it. And it shows he had feet of clay too. But it does not mean he is not a martyr or not worthy of his cause. Abraham too, slept with the slave girl! At his wife;s suggestion!!! And then she decided she didn’t like the girl! Terrible behavior coming from some of my greatest heroes.
So George Floyd had a problem with addiction. This does not mean his death doesn’t make him a martyr.
I denounce that. I am not sitting silent, but speaking up. I hope the lady will review her own remarks and the damage they do. I will favor that.
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I am back again. (Not blogging as much these days due to priorities changing – temporarily, maybe.) But I am interested in our conversation, and it is not far from my mind even in between visits.
I have now argued against the other blogger now on your blog a couple times. I see no point in it on her blog, but I am running out of steam for it here too. However, I was compelled, based on your post here to go lodge my disapproval there too. To stand and be counted, to leave my mark there for the world to see. To be a white brother who speaks up rather than sits by silently.
When I was a kid, my dad often referred to the Nazi holocaust in various times and ways so that even as it pertained to my faith, I gave that a lot of thought too in my formative years. I HOPE I am the kind who would have spoke out against that in Germany at the time, that I would have worked to save Jews, even at risk to myself. To be silent has its place, but it has its limitations too. I try to be wise about it.
I think the lady’s blog is more spicy than smart. I do not claim she is stupid or that her blog is, but I think she attracts readers for the shock -n- awe value. Some of her stuff is smart, but I am not convinced it always is or that it always is helpful. You have more experience there than I do, it seems. So I should defer more to your opinion, really, but this is how I experience that blog. It seeks the raw nerve to make a splash with, and then tries to justify whatever opinion is on tap that day to push readers to think new thoughts. I respect that. I do that.
I am a one hit wonder FOR THE MOST PART. I try not to stray far from Jesus and homeless on my blog, and to the extent I do stray, I generally try to tether my comments back to that focus somehow. That means I pretty much say the same thing over and over and over – always looking for new ways to package it. And I am at odds with my white brothers in the faith there because we are betraying Christ routinely. I am and have been part of that problem too, and in some ways, I still am. But that is not strictly a racial thing, though it frequently overlaps.
Thus I do have a dog in this fight, at various levels and in ways I would rather not. I am so much more comfortable with it not being my problem. I have been able to keep racial issues at the margins of my life for most of my life, all while trying to care a little more all the time too.
Yes, I have black friends and family. But they are not a part of my daily life at this point and we rarely have run into racial injustices together – certainly where I am aware of them.
I have a black son (sorta).
(sorry, you don’t know this, but I have frequent interruptions as I try to type messages here. I try to maintain my train of thought and manage typos and so forth, but that is a real challenge!)
Anyway, where was I?
Yeah. He is not my blood kin, and he was raised by his single mother by-n-large, but also by my wife. By the time he graduated high school, we had legal guardianship of him, but he did return to his mother’s home on some occasions. But it was a troubled home in many ways too. I won’t go into those details.
He seems to be doing pretty well for himself as a young man in his early twenties now. He has an associates degree and an interest in law enforcement. I encourage him to shoot high and maybe advance the ranks of the local agencies, sure, but if, while he is young, he wants to go to college (not required for local agencies), he should seriously consider law school and/or the FBI and such high level careers.
However, he has discovered a talent for sales, and has begun making a very good living money-wise with that. It has slowed his college plans and other goals. Thus that may all be a bit confused right now, but not in the way that tanks his life all together.
All that said, and I recall how he ran from the cops a few years ago when they were busting up a group of his friends. He managed to get away and was never caught. But of course he told me about it, and I am mortified by the story. The officer actually entered the scene with a drawn weapon ready to shoot. He managed to get the slip undetected, for if he had not, the officer very well may have fired on him. (We can only guess, but recent body cam videos and cell phone videos demonstrate that kind of reaction is far more common than us white people typically realize.)
You can bet your bottom dollar and your mortgage, that I have advised him not to get in such scenarios to begin with. Yet, that is a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-did-when-I-was-young speech. I never got chased by the cops, but I did get arrested once. I had a number of brushes with law enforcement late at night. I can easily imagine his scenario all up to the racial component. And I am old enough and wise enough to see that the odds were in my favor and against him.
The boy recently introduced me to his young girl friend as his father. I am the closest to that he ever had, and so I will claim him/that. I HOPE that means he sees my advice as that of a loving father. Yet, I sense I have floated it out across BOTH a generation gap and a racial divide. And I feel, just like anti-maskers preach, that I have settled for injustice in favor of safety by telling my black kid to be extra good and compliant, even more than his white brothers and sisters.
And the thing that just kicks me in the jimmy is that I know he might be totally compliant and still pay the ultimate price. And then it will have been a defeat for justice.
Back to arguing that other blog a moment:
Let’s just say my cousin Jethro has cancer and it is advanced stages. Let’s say his life is very tenuous and he needs to get his affairs in order because of the cancer. But on his way to the treatment, he gets hit by a Mack truck and killed.
What killed him? Was it the addiction or the cop? Was it the cancer or the truck?
Let’s say he was terminal and no chance of survival. Did the truck kill him or the cancer?
Why is it that such scenarios never have appeared before the Supreme Court? If I sue the truck driver and the trucking company, are they going to defend against the suit saying, “But your honor, he had cancer! The cancer killed him!”
Are these cops who killed George Floyd going to argue that the addiction killed him, not the knee on his neck? I wanna see that!
The lady may be smart, but her post is not. And not only that, but she has had time to rethink it and refuses to reconsider. So she is dug in now. This is not a smear on her entire intellect, but it does threaten to be a self-smear of her entire character. Would you want a Nazi doctor doing your surgery? Might be a pretty good cutter… learned a lot in the torture chambers and all… so do you trust him with your surgery?
This is a Christian matter too, as you have pointed out. We tend to think more in terms of politics, AND we tend, as Americans, to separate those things out. But our politics are now getting enmeshed with science too. Back to the mask and pandemic protocols. We are acting like a mask is some horrible stress on our liberty. But we fought a Revolutionary War for the right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When life and liberty conflict, we make adjustments. And we are not talking about permanent adjustments, but prudent to our time and place and ready to be jettisoned as soon as the need passes. Like the Londoners turning off their lights at night in their homes so that the Nazis could not see where to bomb. Heaven help you if your neighbor thinks he has a RIGHT to keep his lights on, he just marked himself AND you for bombing! But you know what? That really did happen, and yet to my knowledge none of the liberty loving Londoners fought against compliance, and the society as a whole did not slide in some slippery slope fashion into socialism and less liberty. No. They fought and beat back those Nazis by giving up a lot of liberty for that time and place. As does every driver who wears a seat belt. Should we sue the insurance companies for making us have car insurance, or making us wear helmets to ride motorcyles? Where was all that argument five years ago?
Look, she may not be stupid, but her post is. We all have blind spots, but once your dig in… we are done reasoning. I have not won a single inch reasoning there.
Thus, I think you go prophetic – or else you go to war. And prophetic means a lot of things to a lot of people which leads back to reasoning which we are not doing. On that, you need to listen to God and be faithful to what he says.
I think your post is reasonable, and you challenged us white brothers to speak out. So I did. I lodged a disapproval and it is on the record.
What would Jesus do? and how can I translate that into my life?
Well, in dramatic terms, Jesus dies in my place and calls me to take up a cross and follow. To hit that target is divine. But had I been there the day Floyd was killed, I might have urged the cop to put his knee on my neck.
I know that sounds absurd, and the sky is the limit, I think, on what that would have changed. But I really must think it through. That is what Jesus does and what he calls me to as well. To take the punishment for the other – the “sinner”. (In Floyd’s case I see no evidence he needed to be arrested. Perhaps I missed it. I understand the cops were called to a problem for which Floyd may or may not have been involved, thus the questioning would have been fair game, but absent resistance, the knee on the neck was completely unjustified.) Anyway, whether he really sinned or not, I do not know, but he played the sinner role taking the police punishment – and it appears his “sin” was being black (not, as our fellow blogger says, addicted (would this happen to a white addict???).
But that cop was so smug, he had his hand in his pocket.
Listen, I have done “take downs” in my line of work with psych patients. My skill at it has a lot to do with how I came to work with law enforcement myself. And I must say, that cop was in a vulnerable position himself, physically – though obviously not socially. If I had bum rushed him, he would have fallen off of Floyd’s neck. He likely would then draw his weapon and fire on me, but he would have come off Floyd’s neck for sure.
But I could have also just as casually approached that cop’s personal space, knelt down in his face and said, “DO ME TOO.”
I am betting the other cops there would oblige.
BUT, I also bet that it would at that point be enough to change the outcome for Floyd too. I would probably be sitting in jail next to Floyd, both of us alive today if I had been there and done that. THAT is a JESUS thang! And if I wanted to really be Jesus to that situation something – SOMETHING – like that would be in order.
This brings me back to our situation here.
We are talking after the fact. It is hypothetical for me to place myself in a Jesus role at the scene where Bro Floyd was suffering under the contempt and the knee of that cop. But it is not hypothetical to talk about it later. And that lady had written a post under the guise of serving Jesus as she talks about it later. And she is blaming the victim. She is blaming the addiction. She is assigning no responsibility, that I saw, to the cop or to white people who benefit from this system, or to the system or to politics.
Is Floyd’s death really hermetically sealed off from all that? Is it really just a matter of his addition and has nothing to do with that cop’s knee, his attitude, and that of race relations in the world today?
She is missing so much here by far more than just a country mile. And it is obvious today that stupidity has become a political platform. And people are getting very committed to their platforms!
Her post knows nothing of the way of peace. I sure didn’t find it. It knows nothing of intervention, of taking the punishment on behalf of the “sinner.” It blames the “sinner” and leaves us where we started, if not worse. That is just not Christ like. And for me to suggest it is starts taking on blasphemous dimensions.
But… to speak out against it…
Well, you called me out. So I did.
I hope we can keep talking… I sense a change underway, but no guarantee it will produce the good we hope for.
PS… I prayed for the lady and for all of us.
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Good night. Thanks for talking with me. It helps.
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Good. I am glad it helps you. I think it helps me too. I know I want more of this. I am hopeful blessings for the world arise from this kind of exchange.
Thanx for talking with me.
You have had some engineering courses. Then you know that to solve a problem the first thing we must do is properly define the problem. With that in mind, consider: https://citizentom.com/2020/07/04/racism-without-race-reblogged/
Why do we need to properly define a problem? If we don’t solve a problem the right way doing the right thing, we may create more problems than we solve.
Imagine substituting the wrong kind of gear when you are building engines on assembly line. You can insert the gear the right way, but it will still be the wrong part, and it won’t mesh properly. Right way, but not the right thing.
It is a favorite saying of some. If you are not black, then you cannot understand what it is like to be black. However, if there is only one human race, that is not true. If there is only one human race, then what we have to understand is what it is like to have been persecuted. Bad as blacks have had it they don’t hold a candle to the Jews. The early Christians also had an awful time, and Christians are still being persecuted today. If you read some of their history, you will find the Russians have a good reason for being xenophobic. Name the people of almost any culture. They can explain why they hate some other group for persecuting them or their ancestors. The Greeks and the Turks, for example, absolutely detest each other, and their feud is more than a thousand years old, and they are still at it. That sort of hatred is a large part of the problem we have as human beings.
My point is that is just silly for blacks to hold themselves up as victims and expect everyone to kowtow. Yeah, some whites will virtue signal and beg forgiveness on bended knee, but that kind of behavior eventually backfires. Most whites are just going to resent the demand and point out the obvious question. If you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave? If you were white, most likely you would have the same reaction.
As a pastor, your job, and as the member of the Christian church, my job, is to serve others. Our first task is to serve others by spreading the Gospel. We are suppose to love without regard to race, which is not real anyway. We are suppose to care for each other without partiality, not demand partiality. We are supposed to forgive so that we may be forgiven as we have forgiven others.
To solve the problem of hatred, we must spread Christ’s gospel. Only the Holy Spirit can bring love and forgiveness, and that is what IB was trying to tell you, and you know it. What you have yet to do set your racial grievances down at the foot of the cross. Give your hatred over to Christ Jesus.
We all have skeletons in our closets. Grievances. Regrets. Sins we have committed and sins against us. Both imagined and entirely real. We have to give these sins to our Lord. Otherwise, they will just continue to grow and become bigger and harder for us to live with.
And that I hope is what you were taught in seminary. I just doubt it was put into the context of racism.