2/18/18

Reagan Conservative or Lincoln Republican?

By: Jonathan Harris

The Gipper casts a long shadow, at least with reference to modern GOP political candidates. We’ve all heard the campaign speeches invoking Reagan’s leadership, praising his accomplishments, and harkening back to the America of the 1980s. Republican voters are still lead to believe every four years that they are voting for Reagan’s next term regardless of the often-time obvious differences between whoever the current nominee is and the 40th president. Nevertheless, Reagan remains the template both for winning and for governing. His cowboy boots are hard to fill, unless of course your name happens to be Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln and Reagan have a lot in common right? They were both Republican presidents, and today’s Republican candidates are universally obligated to eternally remind us all of this fact. While it may be true that both do share some things in common, such as commitment to a strong military; an honest look at the political philosophy of both men will reveal mutually exclusive principles concerning the structure of the national government. Though perhaps imperfectly, Reagan did attempt to stand in the tradition of Jefferson, a rarity in modern times. Lincoln’s descendants, who are obvious by certain “family resemblances,” can be spotted in both major political parties. Indeed, the quintessential progressive of the early 20th century, Woodrow Wilson, though he had strong feelings for the South (he was born in Virginia), adored Lincoln for his methods, namely his circumnavigation of the Constitution. It is not a stretch to say, there likely would not have been a Wilson, if there were never a Lincoln. The progressive era would either have looked much different, or would not have been progressive.

Many of today’s Conservatives would be appalled to hear the name of their Republican hero sharing an unfavorable mention with a Democrat president like Wilson. This reaction is understandable. They would not want to hear Reagan’s name used in a similar manner. But a significant difference exists between Reagan and Lincoln: a difference so fundamental that it allows Reagan’s reputation to escape Lincoln’s predicament. 

Here is a pop quiz to illustrate this difference.

Three quotes are listed below. One comes from the mouth of Ronald Reagan, another is the voice of Abraham Lincoln, and the third is a figure to be revealed on the other side of the quiz. First, try to guess which quotations belong to Reagan and Lincoln. Then, determine which quotation “does not belong.”

Quote 1
The states that make up the American Union are mostly in the nature of territories. . . formed for technical administrative purposes. These states did not and could not possess sovereign rights of their own. Because it was the Union that created most of these so-called states.
Quote 2
The Union is older than the States and, in fact created them as States. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. The Union threw off their old dependence for them and made them States, such as they are. 
Quote 3
All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal government.
If you guessed that the second quotation belongs to Lincoln and the third quotation belongs to Reagan you would be correct! Ronald Reagan’s quote is also clearly out of step with the first two and therefore “does not belong.” Now for the unavailing of the mysterious first quotation. The author is neither a member of the Republican nor the Democrat party. In fact, he is not an American at all. The first quotation is actually an excerpt from "Mein Kampf" written by Adolf Hitler. Hitler looked to Lincoln’s centralization of American states as an model by which to centralize the twenty one states of the Weimar Republic. Reagan is the only one of the three who believed that the Federal Government is a creation of, and therefore accountable too, the States.

Reagan’s disagreement with both Lincoln and Hitler is not a trivial one. It is fundamental. Lincoln believed the States ONLY became a legally significant entities at the point in which they adopted the Constitution. "The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status," he stated. However, was it not delegates from "States" who gathered together in Philadelphia?  Indeed, the Constitution itself reads, "We the people of the United States. . ." Lincoln emphasized the word “people” as a way to create a direct connection between the national government and individual citizens while bypassing the States. What Lincoln missed is that the word "people" was not a substantive insertion. The original draft of the preamble read, "We the people of the states of the States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, etc." It was the committee on style that decided to withdraw the names of States whose ratifications of the Constitution were pending. Substituting the names of the individual States for “United States,” made the document less presumptions and more marketable.

Lincoln’s vision was for a perpetual national government with a common purpose uninhibited by the varied interests of States. His legacy with respect to this point is undeniable. West Virginia was illegally created by the executive, martial law was declared in parts of Maryland, Tennessee, and Missouri, while States that wished to peaceably secede were invaded. Because of the circumstance of a war, Lincoln was much more successful than Reagan at accomplishing his agenda. For all of Reagan’s effort to give responsibilities usurped by the national government back to the States, he could not even gain the political capital necessary to eliminate the Department of Education. Nevertheless, his vision, inspired by Thomas Jefferson, does live on. Perhaps the turmoil in the Republican party has something to do with this. Two mutually exclusive visions living beside one another represented by two seemingly immovable sacred pillars. Both cannot live together indefinitely. To borrow Lincoln’s utilization of Jesus’ words, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Traditional Americans must decide, will they be Reagan Conservatives, or Lincoln Republicans?

2/14/18

The Insanity of Infidelity and The Sacred Beauty of Monogamy


A husband comes home from work on a chilly January day. He parks his car, walks up the sidewalk to his front door and unlocks the deadbolt. He removes his heavy coat and scarf, hanging them on the vanity but clutches to his briefcase, neglecting to put it down. As he enters the hallway he hears the muffled sounds of laughs and giggles coming from his bedroom. He starts to walk up the stairs somewhat slowly in an apparent effort not to overly announce his arrival. The sounds get louder as he approaches the end of the hall. He slowly presses the door open, and what we all expect next is happening. His wife and another man are wrapped in each other’s embrace… in his bed… right in front of him.

What happens next?

Well, if this a country song (especially one from the 1960s) then the man draws his 44, which he has on him at all times, and without hesitation unloads every last round on the two people in front of him. Once the neighbors call the police the man is locked up and spends the last few hours before his hanging regretting that he killed his wife and her lover… or he doesn’t regret it, It really depends on the song.

If this is a modern biographical drama then it’s at this moment that the man, without uttering so much as a “what’s going on here?” drops his briefcase and rushes down the stairs, out the door and into his car. He drives straight to his place of employment and tells his boss that he quits the monotonous job that he’s come to hate. He then goes straight to the airport and begins to travel the world to find his true self on the African plains, the Asian steppes and the Paris streets. He finds multiple lovers along the way and finds his true self.

If this is a romantic comedy then the man gets upset. Very upset. But we never really see this part, as it’s just alluded to years later to indicate why he’s so depressed. Another woman (you know, the one he should have been with all along from his hometown) swoops in the save the day and he finds his happily ever after with her.
      
If this is an academic scholarly journal, TED Talk, an article by the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed or even CNN, then the man tells his wife and her co-adulterer, “Hi!” He then places his briefcase neatly under the windowsill and goes proceeds downstairs to make them both coffee and then start on dinner for three of them… and the kids when they get home from school.

If this is the Old Testament around the time of Moses, Aaron and Joshua, then the man, at the sight of the sin in front of him, wears a agonizing grimace at the realization that his wife has committed not only a crime against him, but against God. He walks slowly out of his tent and proceeds to tell the elders what happened. At this point the two intrepid lovers are frantically dressing and trying to escape what they know is coming – but it’s too late. As they exit the tent they are surrounded by a group of about 15 men, all with large beards and serious eyes. Behind the men are hundreds of other observers. The 15 men ask for three witnesses. The husband steps up with his head down. “I am a witness.” Two Hebrews from the proximate tent step forward, an old couple with sadness on their faces. “We are witnesses,” they both say in low voices. As the disheveled adulterers look around for any hope of salvation, they realize there is no way out. They have been caught in the act. The oldest looking man of the 15 elders sighs deeply. “Outside the camp” he mutters reluctantly. The woman starts to scream, begging mercy – her husband’s eyes start to fill with tears. The other man turns toward the wilderness and starts to walk with his chest puffed and his gaze fixed. The screaming woman is dragged by cloak after him. After about a half mile walk the crowd encircles the two adulterers. The woman stops screaming and begins to quietly weep. The old man reminds the two why they are about to be stoned, reciting the Law. The crowd picks up rocks and begins to throw. One by one the flesh is pummeled, bruising and bleeding. Both of them are knocked to their knees within seconds. The man retains his posture, resolute on meeting his end with some shred of dignity. The woman begins to scream again, but all of a sudden her screams are cut short by a large stone that slams into her temple. Her body hits the ground and blood pours over the dry sand. It’s at this moment that the man, now bleeding profusely, realizes what is about to happen – he is receiving earthly justice, but cosmic justice is waiting for him on the other side of death. His heart jumps into his throat as another stone strikes the back of his head, taking away his vision. As his world quickly fades to black he begs and pleads God with every fiber left in his being to forgive him of his sin – but before his thoughts are completed brain is destroyed by a large stone that hits his forehead… thrown by the woman’s husband.

Let’s just take a moment for a deep breath.
OK, we can now proceed.

Adultery is an incredibly emotionally charged issue. Books, plays, movies, television shows and an innumerable number of songs have been dedicated to the subject. Indeed, most can think of some example of how adultery has affected them, even in some small way. This may be from the mere discomfort of watching a television show or movie where the character you were you were rooting for commits adultery, or by the profound betrayal of having a spouse or parent do so. Growing up in a pastor’s home, I was well aware of infidelity from a young age, often hearing about situations within and without the church that my father was involved as a counselor/go-between.  It was always something that made me incredibly uncomfortable – even insecure, regardless of the fact that my parents’ marriage was solid.

From where did this discomfort come? Is the stigma around adultery merely a social construct that should be either ignored or suppressed? After all, monogamy is not the norm, nor has it been throughout the history of the world. If you want a brief overview of the secular view on monogamy, go to youtube.com and search “TED-Talk: monogamy.” You will be presented with a series of talks from psychologists, sexologists and sociologists speaking to the fact that monogamy isn’t “natural” [i] that divorce rates in the US are actually dropping. But does this reflect an increase in faithful marriages or simply a fallen rate of marriage in general? throughout the world today or throughout history, and there may even be benefits to “straying” from one’s partner (again, I would have endnoted this article, but a mere 10 second online search will demonstrate a cornucopia of examples). The message from academia is clear: monogamy is an outdated and backwards idea – we were not meant to live monogamously and the practice is not mirrored in the animal world, and since we are by definition animals, it is not applicable to us either (note: this idea must assume evolutionary psychological principles).  The trend within academia is that the culture at large follows academic “research” and theory by about five years – at least by my somewhat subjective estimation from 10 years attending and working in institutions of higher learning. This means that the majority of the generation following millennials will probably assume the maxim that monogamy is an outdated and unrealistic idea – after all, if they’re parents couldn’t stick it out (generation X, Y), why should they assume that they will be able to? It has been noted

There are blatant and gross problems with the attacks on monogamy coming from the halls of institutions of higher learning and newsrooms. First is the problem of consistency. While hypocrisy does not negate the truth, there should be an added degree of skepticism for anyone or any movement that refuses to abide by the standards they advocate for everyone else. The fact of the matter is the majority of those advocating for a lapse in the moral standard of one partner for life generally have one partner for life (recommended reading: Charles A. Murray: Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010). We have a situation where those who claim monogamy is a foolish standard and idea are typically monogamous – in other words, they scoff at the standard but prefer to live by it and enjoy its benefits. This typicality extends into many other social issues (abortion, same-sex relationships, transgenderism, drug use, etc.).

The other major problem with the attacks on monogamy stems from a misunderstanding of virtue and goodness. Those within a Judeo-Christian framework will typically understand the fallacy of assuming that something isn’t ideal because it isn’t normal. Indeed, lying and stealing are the norm in every part of the world, yet one would be hard pressed to find a country where there does not exist some type of justice system to sort out the problems caused by such vices. Genocide has been common throughout history, yet few in academic circles would advocate the perpetuation of such upon any people group. Normal does not equal good, in fact, it often (perhaps even usually) equals bad. Time and space restrict further extrapolation, but I could go into the statistical benefits of monogamy as the building block of society and how a two-parent (man and a woman) essentially contribute to the nurture and development of the human family. However, I would like to take a slightly different course.

While a solid case for monogamy could be made by detailing the dangers and outlining the imperfections of anything that’s not monogamy, I think a better course of action is to paint a positive picture of what true monogamy looks like, how beautiful it is and so argue to the point of why it should be maintained as the only standards for love. For those who have a good marriage (they’re spouse is their best friend, true confidant, number one support), trying to express the goodness of their state is almost like trying to explain being in a good relationship with God – only living the same experience can fully prove it. However, from the outside there are still obvious areas of note. For one, monogamy (in the abstract sense) is the only state that truly fulfills the need for companionship by fulfilling every emotional and physical need. It doesn’t always work this way, but the purpose of monogamy is to act as such.  Those who have good marriages will attest to this fact – I can attest to it. There is no person on this earth that I love to the degree that I love my wife. I try my best to demonstrate this to her in words and poetry, but the full expression of this feeling requires more than words, as it is a spiritual/metaphysical truth. I would take a bullet for my wife in a heartbeat – I would never have to think about it. This willingness to lay down one’s life for a spouse must be the epitome of human love, indeed as it extends beyond death; monogamous love requires that I also lay down my life on a daily basis, putting her needs, wants and even desires before my own, as the fulfillment of hers becomes the fulfillment of mine (we Christians see this as a direct picture of Christ and the Church, and I would argue this is best understood within a Christian context). However, this companionship also extends beyond sacrificial love: my wife is my best friend. Again, one would have to experience this to really appreciate it fully, but when I got married my time devoted to friends other than my wife changed – it didn’t mean that those relationships mean any less, indeed, they only grow more intimate and special with time, but my wife now has my primary attention and I’m happy to give it – I love to be with her.

Another area that aptly demonstrates the beauty of monogamous love is in sex. Unfortunately, this is probably the area of primary cultural distortion, at least in the Western World. Sex is worshiped in most of our societies as the height of human enjoyment and ecstasy regardless of who one is having sex with – it’s self-fulfillment that matters the most, the other person is merely a tool to get there. If one takes a step back and really considers this view of sex, it’s actually a bit disturbing. It essentially boils human kind down to their most basic urges and then says: “Enjoy yourself! Your sexual expression is the highest form of self-realization. ” I should say upfront that I have not experienced sex with anyone other than my wife – some (for example, the academics mentioned above) may scoff at this as being inherently ridiculous. Afterall, how can one know if one is “compatible” with another without making love (I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this). I see the situation as being completely backwards. The one who commits themselves to one person for life never has to worry about the sexual compatibly of their spouse. Sure, it may be a bit awkward at first, but instead of a never-ending search for fulfillment the husband and wife build upon their sexual skill and technique with each-other and experience increasingly better intimacy in a setting that is completely secure. Indeed, there cannot be too many things as beautiful as the intimate love between a woman and a man who have committed their bodies to one another for the rest of their lives.

Finally, the area of family is exemplary of monogamous beauty. Again, statistical analysis of family trends in our society could demonstrate the importance of a father and mother figure within one home (and how this model contributes to the creation of productive, happy citizens), but instead I’d like to think on the micro stage. A look at one’s own life is all that’s necessary. While we know that circumstances don’t always equivocate to outcome, one need only consider one’s own circumstances to reflect on how they’ve contributed to the person they’ve become. For myself, having two committed parents who knew why they loved each other and followed through on their marital vows, I never had to wrestle with a host of issues that typically accompany the children of absentee fathers or mothers. This is not a boast. In a culture obsessed with “privilege,” the blessing of coming from a solid family foundation is frowned upon, but I thank God every day for the incredible benefit of having a not only a positive upbringing to reflect upon, but an exemplary model of a monogamous, loving marriage to aspire to. This is not to say that simply because I had a model nobody else can or even that I’m guaranteed success in my marriage because my parents were, but I don’t have to ask what a successful marriage is – neither does my wife. This gives us a figurative leg up in navigating the difficulties of marital life and living. Again, this is not to say in the least that someone who doesn’t come from ideal family circumstances won’t be able to model them in their own marriage (after all, many who are faithfully monogamous have as one of the chief goals is to do the opposite of what was modeled for them in their childhood).       

What is it then that distorts the beauty of monogamy and makes it seem outdated and a miserable state of existence? There are a number of factors at play. For one, the overall cultural tone, influenced by academic “experts,” paints monogamy as an oppressive institution (think “Handmaid’s Tale”). Children who are indoctrinated with these ideas from kindergarten to their graduate degree will no doubt be influenced by it. However, the more powerful source of distain for monogamy comes from the example of bad marriages – i.e., those who either failed at monogamy or made it seem so miserable that their children/anyone who looks upon their union never want to experience something similar and so forsake the practice altogether. Negative examples are profoundly powerful, and the most effective measure for the propagation of monogamy is simply to provide a positive example among the negative ones.


To return to be beginning narrative of this piece, what should be the course of action for the husband who finds his wife has been unfaithful? Well, this isn’t ancient Israel and there is no civil mandate to execute an adulterer. The fact remains that the wife in the situation has nullified the marriage covenant by violating it in the one area it can never be violated without the threat of dissolution. The husband is free to divorce – but he’s also free to forgive. Either decision may be castigated by the society at large because he chose to be monogamous in the first place. But let’s be honest – the whole situation could probably have been avoided if all parties involved simply valued and held sacred the beautiful institution of monogamous marriage between a woman and a man.



[i] http://time.com/4575495/divorce-rate-nearly-40-year-low/

2/9/18

Secularists: clueless on how to solve the porn problem

By: Jonathan Harris

In a recent New York Times article entitled, “What Teenagers are Learning from Online Porn,” readers are taken through a sea of debauchery in which the sexual problems resulting from online pornography’s effects on teenagers are lamented. Reading the article will prove to be both a waste of time and a potential exercise in mind corruption. The important thing to know stems from analyzing this paragraph:
for around two hours each week, for five weeks, the students — sophomores, juniors and seniors — take part in Porn Literacy, which aims to make them savvier, more critical consumers of porn by examining how gender, sexuality, aggression, consent, race, queer sex, relationships and body images are portrayed (or, in the case of consent, not portrayed) in porn.
That’s right, in order to fight the harmful effects of pornography, one high school has decided to pilot a porn literacy class. The specific details of this course frankly are not even worth mentioning (hint- role-playing is involved). Why is this important for you to know? Simply for this reason- secularists are utterly and completely inept and incapable of solving the problems they themselves have created. No one in their right mind would ever think it to be a profitable endeavor to help alcoholics to be better consumers of alcohol by role-playing drinking scenarios, yet here we are. It is against the religion of secularism to suppress perverted sexual impulses, so instead the goal becomes to channel these impulses in supposedly less harmful ways. It will never work. Repenting and forsaking sexual sin is the only road toward decreasing sexual abuse. Not only is God’s way better, it is not so utterly stupid and self-defeating.

1/26/18

An Open Letter to Young People Leaving the Faith

By: David Harris

So you’ve decided that you’re no longer a Christian. You don’t believe the basic tenants of the faith, you now consider its traditions and practices to be a waste of your time and you maintain that you’ve actually felt this way for quite a while – you’ve just now been able to come to terms… to peace with where you stand. You know that you’re family (or perhaps your friends/community/etc.) isn’t happy about this - they don’t understand why you would turn your back on what you’ve been raised in. But in your mind it’s more their problem – after all, you’re only being true to yourself – how you feel, how you believe, how you want to act.

I want to have a discussion with you – not an argument, not a finger-pointing session – just a discussion of this decision and some things that you may not have thought about. Now, truth be told: some things I say will offend you – there’s no getting around that, but to be fair, the very fact that you’ve left your faith offends me a bit. I have to be honest. So let’s both try to have a little understanding and grace. I don’t have any interest in cutting all ties with you because you’re not a Christian, but I obviously will view you in a different fashion. You weren’t born yesterday – you know what the Bible says about those who leave the faith (they were never a part of it to begin with).


I think I’d like to start this discussion by reminding you that you’re not an anomaly. Maybe this is just because I tend to think on a sociological/cultural level. You’re a product of the West and Western Culture. While this traditionally meant that you would be raised in and probably adhere to some stripe of Christianity, it now increasingly means that either you’ll be raised as “nothing” in regards to religious affiliation, or it means that if you did, you’ll statistically abandon that faith in early adulthood. Thus for years, you were “already gone” (to quote Ken Ham). You are part of a larger trend of young people, millennials, who are leaving the church – in droves. Why do I go into this? Because your decision isn’t anything special in a zoomed out sense- I could make a decent argument that you’re just part of a movement within a larger cultural trend that is going increasingly secular.

I know, I know, that doesn’t really matter to you much – I think my even thinking about the cultural trends and how your decision fits in them just goes to my distrust of “going with the flow” in general, and I view your decision as more or less just going with the flow. However, I realize that you are an individual person. You have thoughts, feelings and emotions that I don’t wish to diminish. I am interested in your story, your journey and your ideas and am perfectly willing to listen and discuss them. However, I need to tell you – regardless of who you are and where you’re reading this, I feel that in some way, I know you. You see, I’ve seen you and others like you do the same thing since the time I was very young. It’s almost like clockwork; I wasn’t and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised when I found out that you didn’t believe.  
    
Is my eye-rolling at your abandoning your faith coming from a sense of pride? After all, of the many peers that also grew up in Christian homes around me, almost none maintained a faith beyond high school – even fewer through college, but I did, despite attending one of the most left-leaning and Christian hostile schools around. Instead of giving into the pressures to conform to secular culture I dug in even deeper – every assault on my faith becoming another shovel-full out of the Christian trench I endeavored to dig around myself. By the time I graduated with my Masters degree, I had been beat up real badly, but the enemy had dispersed, my weapon was still in my hand and I was still standing on two feet. Maybe I have reason to be proud? Proud that I stuck it out while others didn’t. I kept praying, I kept reading my Bible and I kept developing a Christian worldview. But no. I have no reason to boast. I sincerely believe that it was God and not me that kept me in the faith – if left up to me, I would have run for the exit. The world is enticing. Illicit sex is fun. Alcohol tastes good. Drugs take away the pain, depression and questions. Swearing makes you feel good about your command of your own tongue. Anger is like taking a pill that makes you feel twice as strong. The problem with all these things is that the next day you feel worse than you did before. No, it was God that kept me in the faith, not me; I understand the enticement.

I’m sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. You don’t even believe what I’m saying. Do you not see how difficult it is to even have a discussion about these things when the common ground you thought you once stood on erodes away? When you don’t believe that God had a hand in any of these things anyway… or do you? Here’s what I’ve observed: For years I’ve watched young people drop their faith like a heavy bag of potatoes – but I’ve known almost none who have done so for reasons that have anything to do with ideas – i.e., are openly challenging the tenants – the foundations of Christian belief. Instead, the abandonment is nine times out of ten associated with a desire to do or act ways contrary to biblical teachings. Usually this is eloquently termed as “I want to do what I want to do.” What is often so puzzling to me is how much those who decide that they want to do what they want to do end up doing so much of what they’ve always done... sorry, that was a bit of a tongue twister – let me clarify this.

Essentially, you want to hold on to the basic tenants of the morality that you were raised in. You still want people to do unto you as you would do to them. You don’t want people lying about you, and you don’t want to be a serial liar about other people. You want to maintain this shroud of Christianity without adhering to the parts that make you uncomfortable. You obviously haven’t given up morality in total – you still, at least it seems, believe in justice in a civil sense – you just don’t want to believe in cosmic justice directed toward you in a personal sense. I guess my overarching question is related to the idea that you want part of the system but not the whole – you want the benefits without the costs.
Why? Why would you accept the practical tenants of the faith you were raised in, yet deny the parts that make you feel guilty?

I think I know why.

You’ve been told by a lot of people that it’s better for you to be honest with yourself than to live a lie – you’re better off “out in the open.” Let me qualify what I think is true about this idea very quickly: You are indeed better off not being a hypocrite – at least in terms of being in the Body of Christ, being involved in ministry – possibly even teaching younger members of the church – the Bible indicates that judgment is worse for those lead others astray. It’s also better not to string others along who think you believe one way when you actually believe another way. However, I find a fundamental problem with telling you that you’re “better off being honest,” and it’s this: you’re not any more honest – you’ve merely become a mirror image of what you were. Whereas before you were a “Christian” but didn’t want to accept personal Christian morality and yield to the commands of the Bible, now you’re secular but don’t want to yield to the commands of secular morality – you still want to hang on to the vestiges of  system that you’ve always lived in. While you may deny this, it’s inevitably true as long as you continue to value any good thing – because all good things come from God, from the convenience of your smart phone to the nurse who went out of their way to make sure you were cared for after your accident, checking on you every half-hour instead of chatting up with her co-workers while you suffered. These may seem unrelated, but they both exist because this culture is founded on Christian principles.
Where am I going with this? I want to think about the more macro results of your decision. The focus on the personal nature of the Christian faith should not be underplayed. I sincerely hope that the abandonment of personal Christian morality will eventually result in a providential return to the Christian faith for you, and it’s possible that right now being “honest with yourself” is how that is to be accomplished. However, I want to briefly consider the rest of us for a moment. As I mentioned above, you are part of a larger trend. While you probably want to hang on to much of Christian morality in a general sense (in other words, you want to be nice and want others to be nice to you; you still want to live in a culture and society framed and founded in Christianity), you’re joining a force within society at large that is damaging and destructive. Where there isn’t adherence to the Ten Commandments then there is a guaranteed greater amount of suffering. More crime, more misery, more death. Look around the world and throughout history if you don’t believe me. The happiest and most prosperous societies are and have always been those that have the most direct interaction with the Christian faith.

A lot of my Christian brothers and sisters might chide me at this point – after all, am I hinting at forcing my morality on others… on you?!

In a way I guess I am, or at least I would. I know that I lack the authority to impose Christian morality on you in most circumstances, but when you’re in my home, you’ll follow God’s rules (by the way, you’re always welcome – don’t misread my tone).

Why? Because what you do affects the rest of us. It affects me, my wife, my family – we would all be better off if you would at least live by the biblical standards of morality. Luckily you’re still dishonest with yourself enough that you follow many of these standards. My point and plea is simple: If you’re going to accept half, why not accept whole? Why deny the parts that make you uncomfortable? You know that you’re life is going to be uncomfortable regardless, right? You may think that you’re just adding freedom to your life, but that freedom’s twin is misery – you will still suffer, it’s just that your only remedy will be either pleasure or misguided self-righteousness (as is found in false religions).  

Look. I’ll always care about you. I’ll always love you. You can always count on me and call on me when you need a friend. But I’m not going to tiptoe around you just because you've changed how you want to live, what you believe or are just having an identity crisis. Instead, how about you tiptoe around me? I know what my morality is and where it comes from - and I'd be happy to welcome you back to it, even if you're just working through everything and aren't sure what you believe. We could talk about it, discuss it and even debate it. I may be a busy guy but I'll make time because you're important to me. 

My friend, you’re an unregenerate sinner. That’s what you’ve always been. But it’s not too late. Repent. Believe the gospel. Come to actually know the One whose death has the power to pay for your sins. You have the benefit of already knowing the Bible. Use it.

Then you won’t care a bit about being true to yourself. You’ll just want to be true to Him.

1/24/18

A Review of "Look Who's Back" by David Wdendt


by Frank Russo

Imagine how one of history’s most notorious mass murderers would react if he awoke in modern day Germany? Imagine no longer for you can now see it for free on Netflix,(although I wouldn't recommend it),.
 
Our erstwhile Furher awakens in 2011 Berlin and is promptly confused. He sees a city that is currently not under siege by Russian forces and a noticeable lack of rubble, his first interaction being with three young soccer holigans who he mistakes for Hitler youth. He wanders away into crowds before the Brandenburg gate where he is mistaken for a Hitler impersonator. What follows is a slapstick comedy and possibly the only funny part of the film. Confronting a mime, taking pictures with tourists and being maced by a German mother taking her child out for a stroll before crashing into a newspaper stand and finding out that the year is 2014.

In a strange turn of events he is found by a struggling filmmaker who believes him to be a method actor. What follows is a tour of Germany where Hitler has “unscripted” as per what the film says, interactions with everyday Germans. This style,made famous by “Borat” and “The Dictator” films, plays out again with forgettable humor. The only scene I can remember from this segment is Hitler's confusion on the new usage of “the n word”. I saw the film 15 minutes ago as of writing this. Of the only non political part of the film that's all I remember. Ohh and he shot a dog.

The Furher and his antics then get a television show where he begins broadcasting speeches to the masses, who find it funny and comedic. This culminates in a film deal, a quick realization that he's the real deal and a twist in which Hitler is shot, but only within the film within the film. He then drives off signing copies of his book while he extrapolates on how the current political situation in Europe suits his purposes over footage of different neo Nazis groups and leaders tainted with the extremist brush. Cue dramatic music.

It wasn't a good film. It had funny parts, but only for those historically astute on the third Reich. It wasn't nearly as vulgar as “Borat” but neither was it as funny as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in “Hold that Ghost”. It was a preachy anti Hitler film that utterly failed to prove its own point.

Let me extrapolate on that. I'm not against anti-Nazi films. I love them. The third Reich rightfully deserves to be loathed. However, this film didn't do that. It's portrayals of German citizens as xenophobes doesn't pass the test. Whenever the topic of immigration comes up they speak of crime and how the immigrants are not making Germany better. The film doesn't show any of this of course but you can find the evidence of that. (Sweden is the rape capitol of Europe, Brussels, Paris, Cologne,). The one neo Nazi they openly interview and insert, (a scripted encounter with an actor), says that he would follow everything Hitler would do ). The attempts to caricature ordinary Germans as Nazis fails. The only only who makes racially charged comments in this film is Hitler, (and it's only once at the end),.

The film also fails in even making Hitler look bad. When Hitler speaks he speaks about how the mass immigration is changing the German character to a point of it being non German. He speaks about poverty, unemployment and how television exists to distract the masses. He seems rational and that's the scary thing. Germans by and large begin to support this “actor” without any real opposition, even in Germany. This is simply a ridiculous idea in the era of scrutiny that exists in the modern era but for the sake of film I'll overlook this nuanced point of everyone loving Hitler because he's “funny” on the t.v.

Everyone is using him for their careers and the money making opportunity he represents and at this point  the filmmaker who discovered him realizes he's really Hitler and grows a conscience, (Nazis being okay as just a joke as opposed to being serious apparently), and confronts him with a gun. He talks about how evil Hitler is and Hitler sagely smiles and extrapolates on how people elected him, (not necessarily true but true in spirit), and how everyone is just like him inside  and that he can't be gotten rid of. He asks if banning elections would make Sawatski, (the director), happy.

What it all comes down to is this, the only argument that this anti-Hitler/anti fascism film puts forth is Hitler himself. His name alone. That’s not an argument for why we should embrace the leftist dream of modern progressives this film obviously supports. I should  like massive immigration of people from nations that hold contrary values to that of one’s own that demand that nation change because Hitler wouldn't like it? Hitler loved Dogs and hated smoking as well. That doesn't mean I should strangle my dog and light one up. If you're going to virtue signal on the merit of one character go all the way. The  fact that this is obviously an allegory for the rise of right wing nationalist leaders in the vein of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, (despite predating the latter it's not too far that leftist fans would use the film as a critique of Trump). The sad fact of the matter is that saying “He's Hitler” isn't a real argument. The Nazis are evil yes, but if a populace is not intellectually engaged and explained to why you're not making a case. For me I was taught about the evils of the Third Reich my whole life until certain negative influences started to poke holes and I asked that one question that can destroy world's. Why?

From a Christian worldview we can provide an answer in the brotherhood of all men under our creator. However this film does not have a Christian worldview. In fact if I recall it portrayed Christians negatively though I can not remember the exact moment or scene, (it's a very forgettable movie if not for it's outlandish premise). The issues experienced in Germany were not made up. Inflation, hunger, poverty and national humiliation. Hitler was not an anomaly. In fact he was a logical next step if one looks at history and his sin is no greater or less than the men and women who shared his vision and indeed attempted to carry them out.

The film depicts people as “good” who, while seduced by Hitler’s speeches, would wake up in the end. Hitler and people like him are just evil. But how many people do you think are “like” Hitler? I know I was, possibly still am. Angry, nationalistic and aware. The key difference is Christ who has the power to strip away racial hatred and envy. This film does not have that as it's premise and thus has no room to condemn. In fact if anything it makes a case for Hitler. If people are so easily led by speeches and “Nazis are under our beds” as the closing monologue would have you believe then what hope does this world have without Christ? All one can truly say is that these things will end only when the title character of “Look Who’s Back” is the Messiah.

The language, the blasphemy, the poor message and obvious leftist smear of everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders as a Nazi make this film unwatchable.

1/22/18

How to engage Social Justice Warriors- My experience at Silent Sam

By: Jonathan Harris
If you prefer listening to this true story, click the youtube player below.




Maybe it was Southern heritage, the honor of a family name, or Christian conviction. Or perhaps I just needed to prove something to myself. More than likely, it was a combination of ingredients that motivated me to confront the social justice warriors staging a non stop sit-in below the Silent Sam statue at UNC Chapel Hill. The statue itself, depicting a student enlisted in the Confederate army, had stood for 104 years, originally erected in honor of the 50th year anniversary of the beginning of the War Between the States and paid for by fund-raises sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and university alumni. Though the soldier depicted carries a rifle, it was nicknamed “Silent Sam” since the Canadian sculptor John Wilson purposefully did not include a cartridge box on the soldier’s belt making it impossible to fire the figurative weapon. Sam stands to this day right by the Battle-Vance-Pettigrew building facing North, a symbol of the university students who withdrew from their studies in order to protect their homes, state, and country.

The protestors had already been on campus for a week before I decided to engage them. Listening to local media outlets praise their “noble” stand made me feel sick. I found myself angry with each new report. Is this the America I live in now, where trashing the reputation of brave men defending their homes is considered heroic? What will it mean for my children to grow up in a world where duty, honor, and sacrifice are no longer sacred? I had already been offering up my grievances and advice to the to the most efficient complaint department I knew of—Facebook.

And then something happened—conviction set in. I knew I could write social media posts all day but the protesters would likely never see them, and even if they did they would probably not be convinced by my arguments. I would just be another faceless man behind a screen shining a spotlight on their immaturity and causing resentment toward myself. I would be accomplishing nothing except to solidify their already fool-headed notions. What they needed to see in me was the same thing that I needed to see in them—worth. They were not, as my previous pattern of thought suggested, the enemy—though they were being used by him—and I was not their enemy.

A plan formed in my mind. I would give myself an opportunity to view the protesters as men and women made in the image of God. I would look into their eyes and see humanity even if they could not find humanity in the heroes of traditional Christian America. I could only hope that as we interacted something inside of them would recognize the same intrinsic worth in myself.

And so I set out on a Sunday afternoon with two large packs of sports drinks in tow. I knew the old adage, “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” Now it was time to put it to the test. After all, it was better than sitting at home angry! As I approached the Confederate monument I could see about 15 or 20 people loitering in the shadow of Silent Sam. There were a few older folks and a few minorities, but most of the protesters were young caucasians not much younger than myself. The area surrounding the statue was fairly messy, and among other signs attached to the base hung a large black sheet of fabric with white lettering covering up the interpretive plaque. The sign read, “We will not be intimidated by Silent Sam.” Two smaller signs contained the messages, “No Hate,” and “No Fear.”

I walked past a male guitarist singing protest songs toward two student-aged females sitting on a bench. I proceeded to ask if they and their friends would like some Gatorades seeing as the temperature was so hot. They were both appreciative and kind, doubtless miss-taking me as a supporter of their cause. I asked one of them to take a picture of me in front of the statue which she was more than happy to do. I then inquired as to who the organizer of the protest was. They both pointed to a young student seated on a bench with five or six fellow students perched around her in a circle. I approached the group with more excitement than trepidation. The organizer was the same person I had seen on a local news broadcast the evening before. “Perhaps I could reason with her,” I thought? “They look harmless enough?” I interrupted the discussion to ask where I could place the sports drinks I had brought for them. She thanked me and motioned toward a table behind her. I set the drinks down and made my first move.

“Would you mind if I sat with ya’ll and asked a few questions?”

The organizer warmly replied, “Of course, discussion is what we’re all about,” as she moved over to make room for me on the bench.

Smiling, I accepted the offer. I could feel the anticipation as the group silently waited for what I had to say. I started with an opened-ended question.

“Why are you all protesting this monument? I know what the news says, but what is your personal motivation?”

A skinny looking young man with a fair complexion suspected something. He stared into my eyes and in a condescending tone challenged, “What do you think we are protesting?!”

I gently responded, “I assume racism?”

He verified my answer, nodding his head in agreement.

I followed up my inquiry. “If you’re all against racism why not go down the street to Planned Parenthood where three times as many black babies as white babies are being killed right now. Wouldn’t that serve your cause better than protesting something that allegedly happened more than a hundred years ago?”

The cat was out of the bag. I had shaken the beehive and the stingers were coming out. All at once those in the circle frantically interrupted each other trying to catch my attention so as to refute me. It was then I realized the power I wielded. I could effectively select which protestor I chose to engage. Since I was at best a misguided young man and at worse an enemy to the cause of social justice from their perspective, whomever set me straight or humiliated me would be the hero to their comrades. As the one and only villain, I could choose whom the hero to oppose me would be.

To avoid confusion, I pointed toward each student I would engage with. The others quieted down as I listened to each argument for a pro-abortion position. A female student told me that abortion reduces the number of children raised in dismal circumstances. I pointed out that one could also make the same argument for slavery since living conditions under American slavery were superior to tribal living. Another student asserted that a fetus was not a person. I asked why someone who was pro-slavery could not also define a slave as a “non-person?” It was rationally argued that the decision to abort should be a private one made exclusively between a woman and her doctor, without government interference. I inquired why the decision to own a slave could not also be a private one made between a slave master and a slave trader? My intention was to use the protestor’s cartoonish conception of slavery against their “sunshine and roses” view of abortion, thus hopefully encouraging them to second-guess their ethical system. It seemed to be working. At least, they were running out of arguments, or so I thought?

One of the more memorable moments of the whole encounter came next. A male student asked me, “What if I go out one night, get drunk, forget about protection, and have sex with a girl I don’t know? I don’t want her to be punished with a baby.”

I wanted to cry. “There is a better way,” I encouraged him. “My wife and I are Christians. We chose to abstain from having sexual intercourse until we said our marriage vows a year ago. If we had an accident, our child would be born into a stable home with two parents who loved each other.”

It was like the world had stopped. A miracle had occurred. A full second of silence. The look in the young man’s eyes told me he had no idea what I was talking about. As I scanned the faces in the circle I felt as if I could read their thoughts. “Is what he described even possible?” I sensed them saying internally. “Who does that anymore?” their awkward expressions seemed to query.

Out of the corner of my eye I could tell the pale looking man was visibly angry. Years ago a street preacher told me about how he used hecklers to draw a crowd. Engaging with a bully draws an audience and spreads the message, especially as listeners contrast the message of the bully with that of the preacher. Bullies aren’t generally looked upon favorably. I pointed at the pale looking male student who had been trying to interrupt repeatedly.

“Even if abortion does target black communities,” He forcibly contended, “This monument is racist, so why would you support it?”

Previously, I had evaded a similar argument that got lost in the cross fire of discussion to which I responded with a passing remark that identified me as a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and hence a likely Silent Sam supporter. It was now up to me to defend the Confederate memorial. Fortunately, I had already contemplated what I hoped to be an unexpected and effective response. The stated contention of the social justice warriors was that memorials to Confederate soldiers were monuments to slavery and by extension racism. The problem with this state of affairs was the offense such displays formed in students. I knew there were two primary problems with this interpretation. First, there are no interpretive markers or plaques on any Confederate memorial that say anything positive about racism or slavery. Second, it is the way someone is conditioned to think about a statue that causes offense, not the statue itself. If I could motivate the protestors to question their conditioning based on the meaning behind the interpretive plaque, I may be able to introduce them to a paradigm that not only made sense of Confederate memorials, but perhaps reality itself. I responded.

“I have three grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. Two of them were killed during the war. They were dirt poor farmers, owned no slaves, and had a choice to make. Either defend their families, homes, and property, or watch them get destroyed by Federal troops. The local church where the family records were kept was burned by Sherman’s men, and it was not until recently that we were able to even trace our genealogy because of it. When I see this statue, I don’t see a statue to politicians or governments, but to soldiers. And while this statue is meant to honor the students of UNC, I think about my grandfathers and their sacrifice when I look upon it.”

I sensed a small amount of empathy as I ended my short speech. Millennials, such as myself, are accustomed to associating victimhood with virtue. To even ponder the plight of a Confederate soldier in victim terms was an immense accomplishment toward challenging their conditioning.

Not everyone was positively affected however. The student who had challenged me was gaining color in his previously pale face. He started rambling about an article in The Atlantic on Robert E. Lee. I informed him of Dr. Brion McClanahan’s refutation of the article. He told me that secession was treason. I countered by citing the ratification agreements. He asserted that a Confederate statue killed someone in Charlottesville two weeks earlier. I asked how we could even have a rational discussion if it was ok to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects. This particular argument he did seem to realize was not a very advantageous one, but not to be undeterred, he moved on to yet another attack. Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy, believed whites were superior to blacks. I asked him if he was in favor of tearing down monuments to Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman since they felt the same way. To this remonstrance he astonishingly declared with defiant indignation, “No, Sherman is a hero and should have killed all the Southerners!” This did not go over well with his friends, who at this point seemed more interested in converting me than destroying me. One of them advised him to cool off and listen, a prescription he did not take, instead opting to leave in a furious huff.

By this time the number of protestors listening to our discourse had swelled to as many as twenty including additional students, members of the community, and what looked like professors. It became necessary for me to repeat the statement about my family more than once as newcomers to the discussion would ask the same questions. I found it especially interesting that as audience members heard me repeat myself, they started creating exceptions for me in their attacks on Confederate memorial supporters. One female student emphatically said, in the presence of the other protesters, “Confederate soldiers fought for hate,” then glancing at me continued, “Except your ancestors.” She wasn’t being sarcastic either. No one said “KKK go away” to me. No one called me a Nazi. I was finally something Southerners have always desired to be—human. A misguided human in their eyes perhaps, but human nonetheless.

Then something unexpected happened. Whatever rapport I had gained I felt was lost in one instant. Wanting to challenge the protestor’s assumptions further I queried as to why the interpretive plaque on the base of the monument was covered by a large sign? My intention was to demonstrate that the original purpose for the monument’s existence was incongruent with the prevailing opinion of the social justice warriors. A fresh face I did not recognize toward my left blurted out, “It’s covering the chair!”

“The chair?” I thought to myself. “What’s so significant about a chair?” I asked the young man to please explain what he meant by his statement.

“You know there’s an engraving on the base of the statue don’t you?” He queried in a tone which resembled the way an adult explains something obvious to a child.

“Yes of course,” I responded. “A young lady in a flowing robe represents the State of North Carolina. She is busy compelling a student to arise, leave his books, carry a sword, and defend her.”

He could not muster his words fast enough. “And who do you think made the chair the student is sitting on?” He stammered.

With a perplexed look I ventured an answer. “The sculptor?”

“No. Who do you think made chairs one hundred years ago?”

I was lost, but still attempted an answer. “Furniture makers?”

“No, slaves!”

“Ok?” I said with a quizzical look. “Even if that is true, which I am skeptical of, why is that relevant?”

He pressed further. “Do you know how much it hurts minority students to have to walk past a statue depicting a chair one of their ancestors likely made?”

“This man cannot be serious,” I thought to myself. “This has to be one of the worst arguments I’ve ever heard, but he seems dead serious about it.” I opted to try to lighten the mood with what I thought was a little humor.

Replying I said, “Well, It seems like a fairly well made chair to me. I think if my great grandfather had made it I would be proud!”

Little did I know it, but I was starting to dig my own grave with some of the students as my refusal to take the argument before me seriously came across as insensitive.

“Slaves built this entire campus!” the young man cried in an elevated tone.

I made what I perceived to be my check-mate move. “So why don’t we tear down the entire campus while we are at it?”

I thought I had won, and perhaps in a few of the protestor’s minds I had. But what came next knocked me off my figurative feet. Standing behind the circle was a middle age woman with blonde hair. Almost shouting she proclaimed, “White privilege exists just as much today as it did back then! Black students still don’t have the same opportunities as whites and Silent Sam continues to represent this fact!”

“What are you talking about?” I said, with some degree of bewilderment. “Of course they have the same opportunities. If anything they have more opportunities through things like affirmative action!”

I quickly learned that technically right and strategically right were two very different things. A sea of rolling eyes and audible scoffs sounded as my comment “triggered” half my audience. About ten protestors exited the conversation. I was beginning to think I would lose everyone when suddenly a middle-aged hipster-looking man carrying a stack of hymnals drew the protester’s attention. I asked an older gentleman, who had taken a position beside me, who the newcomer was. It turned out that a number of different religious groups had taken it upon themselves to support the protest by bringing food and beverages to the students and holding religious services beside the statue. In this case, it was a local Quaker pastor with members of his congregation offering moral approval for the now even more vindicated protestors.

Most of the students declined to participate and as a result side conversations began to form as the singing commenced. I quickly found myself in a conversation with the elderly man and a middle-age woman. The man asked me what at first seemed to be an irrelevant question. “Why do miscarriages take place?” Judging from the smirk on his face, I did not think his question was of a biological nature. I recalled averting his attempts to enter the abortion discussion earlier, but now it was time to face the music.

“Well, as a Christian,” I started off, “I believe as a result of the Fall of Adam nature itself bears a curse. Miscarriages are ultimately a result of sin.”

The old man hung his head and laughed for what seemed like an eternity. “Is something funny about that?” I asked.

Catching his breadth he responded with a shake of the head, “Yeah! You’re worse off than I thought.”

It later occurred to me that my major crime was not that I opposed removing Confederate monuments, but the fact that I was an outspoken Christian. The Confederacy may be offensive to social justice warriors, but I felt most disdained when opposing abortion, favoring traditional marriage, and holding to the doctrine of original sin.

The middle-aged blonde haired woman, who had only arrived on the scene in time to hear my apparently distasteful comments on affirmative action, possessed what I only know how to describe as “indignant curiosity” as she proceeded to half lecture and half interrogate me on my knowledge of the history of race-relations. To her credit, when I answered her questions she did listen, which was reason enough for me to stick around.

As the singing had ceased and our discussion progressed I noticed an audience forming once again. Six protestors sat around me in a semi-circle making arguments, asking questions, and trying to win me to their point of view. The main argument I kept hearing repeatedly was that Silent Sam represented white supremacy because in 1913 Julian Carr asserted in the dedication speech that after the war Confederate soldiers had, “saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South,” and that he had, “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.” Fortunately, I had read the dedication speech before attending the protest and was prepared for the debate. I knew better than to try to defend the speech itself. Though the detestable phrases seem to be more like off-handed remarks in an address of over 3,200 words, a little poison can ruin even the best looking beverage. Instead I made two basic arguments. 1) If we tear down Confederate monuments, we also have to tear down Union ones if we are to be consistent. 2) To claim the erectors of the monument did so for the purpose of white supremacy is simply prejudicial conjecture since they left no such evidence on the interpretive plaque.

After agreeing with the group that Julian Carr’s comments were repulsive, I proceeded to ask why the union garrison did not help the poor half-beaten black lady? Looking around at confused looks I explained. “If you keep reading the speech, after the portion about him whipping the black woman it says that ‘she rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 600 [I miss-spoke, though know one noticed. It was actually 100.] Federal soldiers.’ Carr goes on to say that he ‘performed the pleasing duty [whipping her] in the immediate presence of the entire garrison.’”

To some defenders of Dixie my method may have appeared rather curious. Why would I begin my response by highlighting the dreadful nature of the very affair the protestors are using to bring down the monument? It’s actually rather simple. The social justice warriors were enraged and nothing I said would be capable of assuaging that rage. What I could do however is try to channel their rage, and in so doing show where such anger would lead. The Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer called this form of argument “taking the roof off” since it is meant to expose a bad argument by showing its unseen related consequences.

I followed up my statement with a question. “Why would the union garrison fail to punish Mr. Carr?”

The middle-aged woman confidently spoke. “It was a racist time in our country’s history. That’s why this monument must come down!”

“There it was!” I thought with exhilaration, “An acknowledgment that Federal troops may also have possessed racist tendencies.” I saw my opening and I went for it.

“I believe you are right. This monument was erected during the progressive era when “Birth of a Nation” was popular and Ota Benga, an African pygmy, was on full display in the “Monkey House” at the Bronx Zoo.” The North’s “treasury of counterfeit virtue” was losing money fast. I continued. “In fact, if we take a look at Abraham Lincoln and some of the early republican party’s state platforms we will see a great many racist statements there as well.”

No one seemed to want to argue these points with me. If anything, there was agreement. So I determined to drive my argument in all the way with a question. “If we are going to take this monument down, should we not also take down the Lincoln memorial?”

Turning my gaze to a curly brown-haired student on my right I heard, “Isn’t your argument a slippery slope fallacy?”

“No,” I started off, “A slippery slope would be if I told you that taking this monument down would also mean we necessarily would take the Lincoln memorial down. What I’m saying is the same argument you are using to take this monument down could sufficiently be used to take the Lincoln memorial down.”

The point seemed to have gotten through. He followed up with another question. “Ok, so let’s take the Lincoln memorial down. But first let’s take this one down. Do you agree?”

“No,” I answered once again with a half chuckle. “I’m not really for taking either down.”

“But clearly you admit that they’re both racist don’t you?” the curly haired student pressed.

“No, I merely stated that if you charge Silent Sam with the crime of being erected for the purpose of white supremacy, you could also charge the Lincoln memorial with the same crime.”

“But Silent Sam was erected because of white supremacy! Didn’t you hear what Julian Carr said?” the young student shot back.

One of the things I noticed when I first arrived at the protest was that select quotes from Julian Carr’s speech were readily available, while the interpretive plaque was purposefully covered up. I now had an opportunity to use this circumstance to further my second major argument.

“Let me ask you a question,” I gently stated. “Do you know there’s an interpretive plaque underneath the sheet covering the monument’s base?”

“Yes,” the curly haired student replied, wondering where I was going.

“Do you know what the plaque says?” I inquired.

None of the six protestors surrounding me seemed to know.

“It’s a shame we cannot just read it right now isn’t it?” I said with a smile that betrayed a hint of sarcasm.

Picking up his phone, the curly-haired protestor proclaimed, “I got it here. It says, ‘To the Sons of the University who entered the War of 1861-65 in answer to the call of their country and whose lives taught lessons of their great commander that duty is the sublimest word in the English language.’”

“There you have it,” I announced. “Duty. Duty, is the reason the Silent Sam memorial was erected.”

“Then why was it put up in 1913 when black people were being lynched around here?!” the middle-aged woman frantically declared.

My retort was direct. “The South was poor after the war and it took years to save up enough money to erect many of these monuments. They were erected by the children of those who came home injured or did not come home at all in an effort that future generations would not forget their sacrifice.”

The discourse took a turn at this point and rather than discussing the interpretive plaque we conversed about the merits of nationalism, sacrificing for one’s country, and the curly-haired student suggested I read “A People’s History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn.

When we finally came back to the subject of the monument I asked my first set-up question. “Where do you think the best place to go would be if you wanted to know what this monument stood for? Don’t you think the interpretive plaque would carry the intentions of the erectors more accurately than anything else?”

I could sense frustration mounting in more than one of the protestors. The  middle-aged woman’s face turn read again. “Why don’t you get it!” She rang in defiance. “These men were racists! This monument was meant to intimidate blacks! It was a racist time! It offends black students! We need to take it down!”

Figuratively speaking, it was now time to set my argument’s phaser from stun to kill. “If the purpose of the monument was to intimidate black people, then why didn’t the erectors simply put racially offensive statements on the interpretive plaque?”

Like clockwork the elderly man quickly replied, “They’re not going to put something like that out there for people to read. No one would accept it if that was the reason.”

“So you mean to tell me that in a thoroughly racist culture, the racists who erected this monument were not able to print a racist message on the interpretive plaque because it would offend all the racists?” I admit, exposing the foolishness of this position did cause me to feel my oats perhaps a little more than I should have as a Christian.                   

For the second time that afternoon there was a small moment of silence. The elderly man looked temporarily paralyzed, trying to think of how to respond. In the mean time a student to my left asked me why I would not want the monument to come down given that it offends people. I answered her question but deep down I knew the reason for my coming was complete. I informed her that there were people like me who would be offended if it came down. I also said that the reason for such offense is not because of the monument itself, but because of how some people are conditioned to think about the monument. I made it clear that I would rather help correct the conditioning than rip down a piece of history.

After this it was getting dark and I rose up to say goodbye to my new-found friends. As the crickets were chirping and the lightening bugs flashing I shook the hands of five of the protestors who were left speaking with me, with one of them offering me a hug. I gave each of them a card with my blog address on it which contained some of my writings on Southern history and most importantly to me, a Christian gospel presentation. No one refused my cards. As I made my way past tables of food and students studying in lawn chairs I noticed two protesters, one male and one female, who were part of the earlier conversation that afternoon. Walking up to them I offered my cards which they readily accepted, and then a unexpected thing happened. Both of them profusely thanked me for coming and proceeded to compliment me. As the female student nodded in agreement, the curly haired male student said he respected my beliefs and enjoyed the conversation. I reciprocated his kind words, and as we looked at each other I know we both recognized something deeper in our shared experience than mere arguments or political positions. We saw humanity. We saw value. We saw intrinsic worth in each other.

With a smile on my face and joy in my heart I walked through campus to the parking garage I had left my truck in. Not only had the Lord allowed me to defend his servants and my heroes, but I had been able to expose a group of 25-30 social justice warriors to a Christian pro-Southern conservative who was not a Klansman or a neo-Nazi. I had to wonder if they ever expected to really meet someone like me, even though I am just one of many who feel the same way.

The next day I noticed a comment on my blog from one of the protestors who had visited my website. It read, “Thanks for talking with us at Silent Sam yesterday. I see now that an evangelical viewpoint seems to be an anchor for you. I grew up (mostly) in the Presbyterian church but my dad's death changed all that (long story!)”

Going to her social media page I noticed this public statement about our conversation.
Today a Baptist seminary student showed up at Sam, bringing Gatorade and a highly self-referential opinion about the statues (i.e. "My great-grandfathers fought, they weren't bad people"). Many of us talked with him (he wasn't waving a flag so he just sat down with us) and I'm glad to say there was no ugliness whatsoever. I'm not sure his mind was changed--and I don't know if anyone's mind can be changed by a few hours of conversation--but I know that communication and listening are at the heart of true healing.
For once, I agree with this social justice warrior. Talking to the protestors with a listening ear was not a waste. After all, it was better than sitting at home angry!
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