Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fear Not.

I haven't written much in the past 6 weeks. I have thought very much, but I haven't written much. That's because I haven't had a clue of what to say. What do you say about a government that invents "alternative facts"? What do you say to a populace in which many believe those facts? What do you say when you're a Christian, one of the categories of people counted upon as supporters of this crazy, press-blocking, twittering government?

It's mucky out there these days!
I realize one of the problems I have in responding is that I have two lenses to look through that affect what I think and want to say: I am a proud American citizen, and I am a Bible-believing Christian. Sometimes, the two lenses are in alignment; sometimes they're not. In this particular case, there is no conflict for me: Donald Trump's America offends me as an American and as a Christian.

As an American, I agree with Rep. Darrell Issa in calling for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Trump Administration's ties to, and vulnerability to, Russia. I cry out, as an American, about the blocking of certain credentialed reporters' access to a presidential news conference, seemingly because of their criticism of President Trump.

America has long been a land of immigrants. In light of the humanitarian crises in several Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, my American roots demand the acceptance and succor of refugees. Certainly, we want security vetting of those we accept, but accept them we should.

I believe that President Trump must account for his potential conflicts of interest. Nothing in his past or his present ethics makes me trust that he will act for the benefit of the American people instead of his own economic gain, and there are clearly perceived conflicts of interest to account for. He should be transparent and open, releasing his tax returns, creating a blind trust, and purposefully distancing himself from his business empire.

And as a Christian? How do I speak as a Christian?

In favor of the refugee and the oppressed, because Christ calls us to care for "the least of these."

In favor of praying for our government, even if it was not our preference at the election, because we are called to pray for our leaders in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

And, as I was reminded of this morning by a lifelong Christian friend, I need to remember to "Fear Not."

All is in God's hands. Even Trump and his twisted presidency. Over 360 times in the Bible, God reassures us that we need not fear. No matter what the circumstances of our lives. In good times and bad. In security and insecurity.

Fear Not, America. Resist, yes. But don't be afraid. This is in God's hands. Fight for truth. Fight for the refugee and the oppressed. Stand up for Right. But do not be afraid.

P.S. On a totally different piece of this puzzle, I urge you to inform yourself regarding the current events in our country. Read from the Right. Read from the Left. Don't believe the veracity of anything until you have confirmed the facts. Go to the primary sources, as I have told my students for 3 decades. Read what the people involved are saying, on both sides. Try to find objective news sources, which is extremely difficult right now. But inform yourself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Representative Sean Duffy

On Tuesday, February 7, 2017, Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wis) was interviewed by CNN's Alisyn Camerota. The subject of the interview was the White House's claim that the media were intentionally refusing to cover terrorist attacks. The interview can be watched in part here. I watched the video because I was interested in hearing the Republican view on this topic. I'd already read an article from the Left. I am intentionally trying to listen to "both sides" of issues, and I'm finding it very interesting.

This interview, though, took a turn that horrified me. Representative Duffy insisted that Islamic Extremist Terrorism was more valid, more important, more real than any other threat we Americans face. He argued this despite the interviewer's attempts to bring his attention to White Supremacist Terrorism, like the attack on a mosque in Quebec City last week.

Rep Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) actually said (at 1:44 on the video, about the attack on the Charleston church that left 6 Black men and women dead), “Look at the good things that came from it! Nikki Haley took down the Confederate flag; that was great!”

Seriously, Rep Duffy? You can look at the taking down of the Confederate flag like the attack and the 9 deaths were worth it?  I can’t begin to fathom the depth of callous disregard for the life of African Americans that it takes to think that.

“There’s no constant threat that goes through these attacks (attacks from White Extremists)," Rep. Duffy insisted.

Um… no constant threat if you’re White. I am appalled at the White Privilege Duffy enjoys and ignores to be able to say there is no constant threat from White Supremacists’ attacks. Ask my African American daughter if she feels a constant threat. Ask her friend Phil Castillo… Oh, but you can’t because he’s dead. Ask his girlfriend. Ask his children. Ask any parent of a Black teenage male. Ask the congregation of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi. Ask the families of the nine victims in Charleston, WV.

It is nearly impossible to find unbiased news right now, so I am trying to read and listen to and watch primary sources. This is what I encourage my students to do in order to discern what is true; take the filters away and try to interpret the events themselves. So I watched the interview myself. I urge you to do the same. 

For me, the bottom line in this interview was that Representative Sean Duffy (R) from Wisconsin, clearly established that he has no understanding of the threat of White Supremacy, that he holds no affinity for his African American neighbors, and that he does not recognize his own White Privilege.

Wake up, Rep. Duffy. We, the People, are watching. Listening. Evaluating. And we will be voting.