Confessions of a Privileged White Male

I am a white male.  I grew up in the suburbs, went to Catholic school for almost all of my primary/secondary educational career.  As such I eat, sleep, and breathe white privilege.  I walk and talk white privilege.  I ooze white privilege out of every pore of my being.  This should sit me down and shut me up in any discussion of race relations, as I have no possible way of identifying with the struggles faced by other minorities and specifically African-Americans.

But I am a blogger.  As such it is part and parcel of my vocation in life to offer my unsolicited opinion on subjects about which I know nothing and about which I would be well-served to just shut the hell up.

Here is what I would like to say:

Once upon a time the accepted method of argumentation, specifically in the college classroom, was “I believe A, and here are my reasons.”  But things have changed and now the accepted method of argumentation is “I am X, and as such it offends me that you claim B.”  This was starting to happen in many places back when I was in college.  Now it is all over the place.

Ironically, those of different races who use this method of argumentation undercut the very understanding that they seek, or claim to seek at least.  It is as if they are saying “I need you to understand me.  But you can’t understand me.”  Faced with that, many just walk away and abandon the project before they even start.

As stated above, I eat, sleep, and breathe white privilege.  I ooze white privilege out of every pore of my being.  This blinds me to an awful lot.  I get that.

White privilege is real.  For too long the white narrative has been the dominant one in our culture, and it has shaped our culture such that there are many opportunities open to me that are just not open to those who are not white like me.  I get that.

But is it really true that I have nothing whatsoever to say, nothing of value whatsoever to offer a trans woman in Sri Lanka?  Or a black man on the southside of town?  Does the color of our skin really preclude the possibility of speaking to anyone outside of our own race and life circumstances and whatever other categories we have been assigned, or have assigned ourselves?  If that’s all there is then hey, let’s all live atomized and balkanized in our own separate worlds where we can understand others and be understood by them.

This is one of the great lies of modernity, that there can be no understanding outside of whatever racial/social/cultural niche we inhabit.  That our race, our socioeconomic status, our gender, our sexual orientation, our disability or lack thereof, or any other such characteristic that you care to mention, define us so completely and totally that our capacity to understand and be understood is limited to those who are exactly like us and there is no possibility of understanding or being understood by anyone who looks different.

Am I truly defined by the white privilege that oozes out of every pore of my being?  I refuse to accept that, and I think you all know better as well.  The most important things we can possibly know about people, we learn by living in community with them.  By seeing how they respond to adversity, by learning who are the greatest influences and what are the defining experiences in their lives, by seeing how all these things shape their character and form their deepest values.  These are the deepest and most important things we can know about others, and they are not determined by the color of one’s skin.

If You Still Support Donald Trump After This Week

This has been a very sad and very difficult week in our nation’s history.  For those of you who have been living under a rock lately, let me catch you up and then let me try to wrap it up and put a bow on it, to the extent that is possible at this point.  A wound has been ripped open in our nation’s psyche and this will not just go away because the 24-hour news cycle is moving on, so I reserve the right to come back to this if future events warrant or if I feel like it.

ICYMI:  Several white supremacist groups, including the KKK and the Neo-Nazis, descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the proposed removal of Confederate statues.  The protests turned violent when one white supremacist took a muscle car and plowed into a group of people who were counter-protesting the spectacle, killing one and injuring several others.

In the immediate aftermath, Donald Trump made a statement that there was blame to go around “on many sides”.  Faced with mounting pressure from his critics, Donald Trump made a follow-up statement on Monday singling out the white supremacist groups for condemnation.  But this statement felt forced and disingenuous.  Sure enough, Donald Trump reversed field the next day and issued another follow-up statement that laid blame on both sides.

At this point, it is perfectly clear where Donald Trump’s sympathies lie.  By equivocating blame, Donald Trump made an unquestionable statement that he stands with the white supremacists.

Trump supporters:  OK.  I am sure that you had your reasons for voting the way you did this past fall.  This was a very difficult election, and none of the available options was particularly appealing.  Honestly, I wish there was a way that both could have lost.

Perhaps you were concerned about terror attacks in Paris and Brussels and concerned that lax immigration policies typically favored by Democrats could lead to similar occurrences here on American soil.  Perhaps you were concerned about American manufacturing jobs vanishing overseas and the devastation this has wrought in certain parts of the country.  Perhaps you were concerned about Hillary, Benghazi, the emails, and if she really was that bad there was no way in hell you could support her.

Some of you have disabled children who will be at or near the front of the line if the death camps come to America.  Some of you are otherwise decent people who are struggling to make sense of it all.

But at this point, ambiguity has been replaced with clarity.  We all know now that Donald Trump stands with those who murdered six million Jews and others in Europe for no reason other than their race.  If you still stand with Donald Trump after this week…well, that option is not open to you if you are a decent human being.  Or a human being at all.

Does Donald Trump Think Badly of His Supporters?

Today I direct your attention to this opinion piece at CNN.com.  For those of you who missed it, there was a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville this weekend to protest the proposed removal of Confederate statues.  One white supremacist used his car to murder one young woman and injure several others who were there to protest their actions.  Donald Trump, in his statements this week, made it abundantly clear that he is with the white supremacists.

But why?  Why has Donald Trump gone out of his way to make it clear that he is with white supremacists?  Commentator S. E. Cupp offers his opinion:  Donald Trump has them confused with his base, the largely white and economically disenfranchised voters from the flyover states.  In Cupp’s opinion, Donald Trump will not change course until/unless an overwhelming majority of his supporters yank their support and let him know he is wrong.

Donald Trump Shows His True Colors

So I got home late tonight to find this gem sitting out there on my Facebook feed.

This afternoon Donald Trump issued a statement that, basically, both sides were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville this weekend.  This was a reversal of field from yesterday’s statement, in which Donald Trump yielded to pressure from his critics to specifically denounce racism and single out the racist groups who were responsible.

If you suspected that yesterday’s statement was disingenuous, well, here’s your proof.

By saying that both sides are to blame, Donald Trump basically said that his sympathies are with the white supremacists.

David Duke got Donald Trump’s message loud and clear.  He took to Twitter as follows:  “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa”.

There you have it, people:  Donald Trump is a racist.  He has made it abundantly clear that he stands with the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, and all manner of other white supremacists.

If you doubted that before today, doubt no more.  Donald Trump’s statement has removed all possible doubt.

If you continue to stand with Donald Trump after today, then you are just as much a racist as he is.

Mr. Falwell, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Graham, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Jeffress, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Grudem, your phone is ringing.

There’s Our President

This afternoon Donald Trump issued a statement on the protests and violence in Charlottesville.  He succinctly stated that “racism is evil”.  He called out the KKK and white supremacists specifically.  He even offered words of remembrance for Heather Heyer, who paid with her very life for the hatred that was expressed on the streets of Charlottesville.

It all sounded so good.  It all sounded just right.  Trouble is, Donald Trump had already betrayed every word he spoke today.  Given the chance to be presidential and denounce the Neo-Nazis who took to the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday, he instead saw an “…egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides.”  He took two whole days to deliver today’s statement in which he finally denounced the evil of white supremacy by name.  And even today’s statement came only after self-congratulatory remarks about the economy and a nasty early morning tweetstorm in which he denounced/ridiculed Kenneth Frazier, a black CEO, for resigning from an advisory panel of business executives in protest of Donald Trump’s handling of the events in Charlottesville.

There’s your president, ladies and gentlemen.

There’s my president.

Contrast this with the statement issued by another influential Republican on Saturday:

It’s tragic and heartbreaking to see hatred and racism once again mar our great Nation with bloodshed. Heidi’s and my prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the ongoing violence in Charlottesville. The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans to speak their minds peaceably, but violence, brutality, and murder have no place in a civilized society.

The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate. Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.

These bigots want to tear our country apart, but they will fail. America is far better than this. Our Nation was built on fundamental truths, none more central than the proposition “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Ted Cruz, ladies and gentlemen.

Did you ever think we would reach the point of wishing that Ted Cruz was our president?

Yet here we are.

People:  We just had a national tragedy, in which Donald Trump had a prime opportunity to at least appear presidential.  Instead we come away wishing to God that Ted Cruz–Ted Cruz!!!!!!!!!–was our president.

Something is very wrong here.

A Massive Failure of Basic Christianity

ICYMI:  Several white nationalist groups came together to protest in downtown Charlottesville this weekend.  Someone, presumably affiliated with the white nationalists, took a car and slammed into a group of people who were protesting their display, killing one and injuring several.

Donald Trump, our president and racist-in-chief, spoke thusly:

“The hate and the division must stop and must stop right now….  We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Notice that there was no specific mention of racism or white supremacy in this statement.  You can rest assured that this detail will not go unnoticed by the white supremacist groups involved in this outrage.  They will probably even take it as an endorsement, just as when Richard Spencer and others of the alt-right lunatic fringe took Donald Trump’s delayed, halfhearted “disavowal” of David Duke as an endorsement.

Evangelicals:  If you supported Donald Trump, you will have to answer for this.  These are the people whom you linked arms with to get your Donald Trump into the White House.  Your linking arms with those who preach and practice unmitigated hatred against those who are not white, in support of a candidate who has made said hatred a cornerstone of his message and agenda, is a MASSIVE failure of basic humanity, basic Christianity, and basic love.

I don’t need to tell you that the Lord hates this.  You already know.

Mr. Graham, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Falwell, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Jeffress, your phone is ringing.

Mr. Grudem, your phone is ringing.

I have said this before and will say it again:  Think about this through the filter of “What does love require of me?”  If you can make a convincing case that what love requires of you is to link arms with racists and white supremacists of the worst kind in support of Donald Trump and his agenda of hatred and anger against those who are not privileged white Christian males…no.  There is no such case to be made.  This is not what love requires of you.  That’s all there is to it.

Well Done, Joel Hunter

Today I direct your attention to a megachurch pastor who has built a legacy of doing things the right way.

Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Community Church in Orlando, Florida, is stepping down from his pastoral role in order to focus on ministry outside the walls of the church.  Here is part of his announcement:

I believe God will continue using Northland in wonderful ways, but He is calling me to focus my life on a new season of ministry outside the four walls of the church.

When I knelt at the altar to give my whole life to Jesus, I was a part of the Civil Rights movement. My focus on Jesus was not only for personal salvation after this life but also for compassion towards the marginalized in this life. My call to follow Jesus and serve the vulnerable is stronger than ever.

Jesus often taught in different synagogues but the bulk of his teaching and work was outside established religious settings. Following his way, I will seek to include the unincluded in the Kingdom.

Under Hunter’s leadership, Northland grew from a church of around 200 in 1985 to a multisite congregation of 20,000 presently.  Northland was among the pioneers of the multisite model in which different church campuses are connected via digital streaming.

As a spiritual advisor to president Obama, Hunter modeled the way in which we evangelicals ought to be using our influence to shape the political discourse in our nation.  He and his church were actively involved in the push for racial reconciliation following the Trayvon Martin shooting of 2012 and in the response to the Pulse Nightclub tragedy of 2016.

From a 2008 interview with Christianity Today:  “There is great potential for the church to be part of the solution to the problems in our culture and the problems in our world, …if we can build coalitions that help enhance the common good that also enhances the Christian social agenda.”

This article in Christianity Today notes all the ways that Hunter has been involved in both church and public ministry over the years.

A sampling of Hunter’s writings from around the web:  In “Can I Have My Bible Back?”  Hunter contrasts a proper understanding of the story of Scripture with the positivist view so prevalent in present-day evangelicalism which sees the Bible as a storehouse of authoritative, propositional truth.  In this short BioLogos video, Hunter gives his take on how to address difficult subjects in church.