Thursday, August 08, 2019

The Intractable Now

I believe that Americans, as a completely fractured society, are rapidly reaching the intractable point of no return. For example, two Democratic presidential candidates (Beto O’Rorke and Elizabeth Warren, for the curious) have this week labeled the President of the United States as a white supremacist. On Monday, August 5, 2019, the New York Times, either the Most Revered Newspaper in America or America’s Biggest Purveyor of Fake News, depending on your perspective, labeled Trump as “a white nationalist who inspires terrorism.” During Trump’s Big Hospital Tour/Campaign Rally yesterday, the vast majority of the surviving victims of the recent mass slaughters in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio declined to meet with him. They would rather not hang out with the President of the United States than hang out with him. The Trump publicity machine said, “Hey, it’s not every day you get a chance to meet the President!” And they had trouble drumming up any interest. These are big, bold statements and actions, and they allow for little or no nuanced interpretation. Someone who is sorta, kinda a white supremacist makes no more sense than someone who is sorta, kinda a Nazi. The very terms themselves are extreme and repulsive, unless you happen to be a white supremacist and/or a Nazi, in which case, I suppose, you would be a fan.

For the record, and to the surprise of no one, I believe that Trump is a white supremacist and white nationalist who inspires terrorism. I absolutely believe that. There’s not a doubt in my mind. He’s shown the reality behind those concepts again and again, day after day, rally after rally, tweet after tweet. He is remarkably consistent in his hatred, racism, xenophobia, and divisiveness. Well done on the consistency, Don.

But I wonder what happens next.

Wars – civil wars, at that – have been started for less sacrosanct reasons. Opposition to slavery has nothing on opposition to racism and xenophobia. They are, in fact, remarkably similar and interrelated causes. Currently, the nation is not only deeply, perhaps intractably divided, but it is deeply, intractably divided over fundamental core values about the worth of human beings. What is at stake is the kind of country America wants to be. As a tangential or core issue, depending on your point of view, what is also at stake is what Christianity means and how it is lived out among its followers. This is truly the kind of deep division that sets brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. If your neighbor is a white supremacist or a Nazi, it matters little that he once shoveled your driveway one winter when you were sick. Principles top pragmatism, and some people still maintain that some principles are worth dying for. Americans believed this as recently as World War II.

If a second American Civil War happens – and I’m not convinced that it won’t – I won’t be shooting the guns I don’t own and don’t want. I’ll probably be one of the first casualties. I’m not going to fight. Oh well. But I’ll pick a side, and it will be the side that opposes white supremacists and white nationalists. I’ll pick the side that insists that all men, and women, are created equal. I’ll pick the side that insists that God so loved the world, not God’s own U.S. of A., that he sent his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. I’m willing to die for those things, even if it’s Christians who are opposing me. And the way things are going, it probably will be. This remains the greatest disappointment of my life, here in these latter intractable days.

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