I try not to be political on this blog. That said, a few thoughts on the matter of the KKK, #Charlottesville, #Nazis, #monuments, and #racism.
1. The United States of America has a storied history with race and equality. These 50 states have not always been on the same page about the matter, or the history of the matter, and I daresay, they aren't now. It should come as no surprise, to anyone, that some US monuments are controversial in nature. Let's be honest about the past while advancing liberty and justice for all. We should defend freedom of speech while condemning the doctrine of #whitesupremacy in the strongest, clearest terms. I pray that one day and soon, the vile notion that one skin color is better than another will at last be buried in history's grave of forgotten lies.
2. The offending monuments in question are older than I am. Why are they so controversial now, and not two years ago? Or twelve years ago? I suppose we could say that things change, culture changes, causes mature. A car-turned-weapon, a deplorable rally, and a tragic death raised a national outcry and rightly so. But is that the whole story? Maybe. I wonder. It's a question worth serious consideration. This issue is far more important than anything Trump did or didn't say. Trump needs to be clear about his position. The "both sides" comment is repugnant and beneath the office of the Presidency. Trump needs to remove all ambiguity about where he stands. Trump needs to get his act together. Trump, let's face it, is way in over his head. Most importantly, we should not trivialize the issue of race and equality by making it about one man. This issue deserves better than Donald Trump.
3. #Nazis are bad. Evil. Wicked. (And virtually all of them, except for a few very old men in hiding, are now dead) Nazis butchered seven million Jews. Nazis should be called Nazis. What we see today are pathetic imitators of bygone fascist mass murderers. Today's white supremacists have said and done vile things, evil things, and a young woman lost her life. I hope justice is served, hard and cold. But Nazis? Today's culture has too little regard for that word. By the way, the father of the woman that died has chosen to forgive her killers. We should follow his example.
A bit of context about this...a fraction of a friend's family escaped Nazi Germany. Most of his ancestors were killed by the Third Reich. His family lost generations to the Nazis. Decades later they saw some small measure of compensation from the German government for the horrors inflicted by the Nazis. His family's wealth was confiscated, dozens were killed, and for that some recompense was given. This story is by no means unique. Money for shed blood is an insult, part of the murderous legacy of the Nazis. The term "Nazi" should be applied only with great fear and trembling. To label today's white supremacists as Nazis is to do the real Nazis of the 1930s and 1940s a favor. I will not diminish the evil perpetrated by the Nazis by equating them to today's white-first thugs.
4. Part of me would like to break a few jaws. I'd enjoy it. A lot. My family is multi-cultural: all manner of European ancestry, and Korean and Latino heritages swirled together. My nephew is half Korean, half white, with a Latino last name. My nephew's daddy, my BIL, was adopted by a beautiful man named Jesus (hay-zoos). Solomon Garcia is my nephew, my guy. (Jewish first name, Hispanic last name, half Korean - I love that) He's MINE. So, yes, I'd like to break some jaws. But my Christian faith dictates otherwise. So, I'll break bread instead and say this: I will pray for the racist/KKK/angry-white-men to become overwhelmed by the enormity of their sins, repent, and find Jesus. After all, the Bible is clear on the matter of human fallibility. "All have sinned." It also says that God is not a respecter of persons...in other words, all are created equal in the eyes of the creator. So says the good book and that's good enough for me. I won't start a fist fight with a racist. But I'll finish it if necessary. Remember, soft targets and open palms: groin; nose, throat; ears; eyes; joints. Smile.
5. Hate is not righteous indignation. Righteousness indignation should not lead to hate. I fear the two are being confused and that doesn't bode well for the future of this country. This country needs to think a second time.
Folks, we need to know how to win and lose, and how to graciously do so in either case, while respecting the law and the freedom of choice we are blessed to have in this great nation.
Obviously, there's a sea of all ages struggling to process Trump's win. And there's another sea of folks that are all too happy to gloat about the big, historic win. Our country is oil and water, and we're going to be shaken together whether we like it or not.
Let kindness rule the day.
If you didn't vote Trump, I'm sorry. Disappointment is never welcome. I don't know how you feel. If you're frightened, that's the last thing I want for you. And I can promise you this, no matter our political differences, if Trump tries something illegal or unconstitutional, like rounding up Muslims similar to what happened to the Japanese Americans during WWII, I'll proudly stand with you against it. If legal immigrants are harassed in the nation, I'll fight against that. If ICE squads storm America's streets in some Gestapo-styled cleanse, I'll speak out. Illegal immigration is a problem that must be addressed with both truth and grace. We are a nation of laws and compassion. It's not an either/or proposition.
I'm not in your shoes but I can at least try to relate to you, to some imperfect degree, by drawing from my own past. Years ago, my family moved from Colorado to Hawaii. My sister, a Korean American (adopted at age 3 months), for the first time found herself surrounded by people of all ethnicities, including folks from Korea and Japan and China and across the Pacific Basin. Hawaii is a wonderfully diverse melting pot. But our family encountered the unexpected. We were a white family with a little girl of color. My sister looked "local" but her middle-American upbringing stood out like a signal flare in a midnight sky. She was ostracized, and called names by her classmates. "Banana" means you look local on the outside but on the inside you're not one of us. I could share other injustices. There was that white family whose disgust over our "mixed" household was impossible to ignore. Their words hurt.
My parents told us to love and to let it go. We did so imperfectly.
I experienced great disappointment eight years ago. On most issues the President and I stood apart. His skin color was a non-issue. I wanted to know about the man. He's a good father, husband, and a great orator. At times I was deeply troubled over what he said and over what he might do. At times I feared for my country, my faith, and my family. For eight years I pounded into my own skull, as best I could, and my son's, that while we disagreed with the President on issues, we still respected the office and the man. (Even when in our eyes he wasn't acting worthy of it) And, we prayed for him, which at times was hard to do; in retrospect we didn't pray for him nearly enough.
For the record, I did vote Trump. Trump was not "my man" or my first, second, or eighth choice. He's said deplorable, indefensible things. I took him seriously on some policy issues but not literally on the stupid, ugly things he said. I do believe he was/is the better choice of the two viable candidates we were given. We could debate Hillary over Trump. Both are deeply flawed and both have said and done deplorable things. I'm just not interested in arguing over the prize for least worse sinner. I still have major reservations about Trump. He needs my prayers too.
Let's be honest. You already made up your mind over what you were willing to forgive or tolerate or overlook or pardon in your candidate, and so did I. Like President Obama said eight years ago, that's what elections are for. What matters now is how we move forward.
Civility and kindness must rule the day. The only alternative is hate. And neither one of us can afford that.