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How Should Christians Respond to the Capitol Riots? | Part 3

Part 3: A Thoughtful and Needed Response

This is the third and final part of a continuation of an essay entitled “An Unexpected Response to the Capitol Riots”

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Here are some general principles that every BLM protestor and every fraudulent election protestor should agree on:

1. Violence is not the path forward for a good and decent people.

2. As Americans we must seek to have a society that punishes evil acts justly.

3. We cannot ignore acts of racial injustice or voter fraud regardless of our political persuasions.

4. We must seek peaceful solutions through legitimate government oversight.

5. We must seek the common good of all even those we disagree with.

6. We must acknowledge the hypocrisy of only calling out violence in the people we dislike.

7. We cannot allow censorship of ideas. All good ideas must be advocated for and all bad ideas must be shown for their negative consequences. But this must occur in the marketplace of ideas. Unilaterally eliminating ideas without discussion or thought is itself an act of bigotry.

8. People rioting under the banner of an idea do not necessarily make the idea evil. We must be able to distinguish between the people who would perpetuate evil in the name of the idea and the reasonable conclusions of the position.

Here are some important conclusions in light of the above information:

The media coverage of these events amounts to nothing short of outright lies. The coverage of the Capitol riots have painted the violence in its proper light while the coverage of the looting and rioting connected to BLM included excuses and at times encouragement. While the cities of America were burning CNN reported that the protest were “mostly peaceful.” On the other hand, the President’s call for a peaceful gathering in his speech has gone unacknowledged. Furthermore, the media has repeatedly blamed him for the response. At the same time, it is a known fact that Antifa members have been arrested for their involvement in the violence. No coverage has brought this aspect of the story to light. Furthermore, the expanse, frequency, property damage, and number of lawless acts are easily enhanced by one hundred fold in the many and multiple riots and looting done in the name of racial justice. The two events do not compare in their scope. While many who are fighting for racial equity are not represented in these groups, unfortunately far too many refuse to disavow the tactics. We can definitively say that one was far more significant in its devastation and we can further say that popular culture has pretended the opposite.

We can also say that President Trump has been blamed for both outbursts. On one hand he is blamed when people destroy cities and loot in protest to his agenda. The rhetoric of the BLM movement is held blameless. On the other hand, the President’s rhetoric is blamed when people riot while standing for his agenda. This inconsistency is illogical. If a person’s rhetoric is to blame for rioting then the BLM movement must be held accountable. But we should not and cannot blame an ideology for unruly outburst done in its name. This is not to say that those who directly encourage people to loot, riot and steal should not be held liable. But when looking for examples of directly encouraging violence we find that it is not Trump who is guilty of this type of rhetoric by leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters as quoted above. Laying the blame of unruly people at the feet of President Trump fails to hold accountable the evil doers in our society. It further recognizes the many good people can hold dissenting positions without acting in violence. Greater than the rioting on either side, is the existential divide the media is placing between the ideological positions of everyday Americans. The product of refusing to portray the events as they really happen and constantly labeling those who refuse to accept a one sided narrative as racist or hateful will only fuel the violence we are experiencing. Those who accept the narrative will only be capable of seeing those who reject it as bigots needing to be expunged from society by any means, including violence. Those who reject the narrative will become frustrated by the unfair and constant barrage of false accusations about their character. Rather than continue to kindly disagree such frustration will sadly turn to embracing the false label furthering the divide. At some point if someone is constantly being called a violent bigot, a breaking point may cause them to embrace what they once rejected resulting in the violence we saw at the Capitol. Yes, we must condemn the lawlessness and violence. But until the media is willing to report events with honesty and free of significant bias, we can only anticipate greater outrage and more bloodshed from both sides. It is only the truth that will set us free.

A Path Forward In the middle of writing this piece I received the devastating news that a man I admired greatly had passed. Fred Levin was one of the greatest attorneys who ever lived. His victory over big tobacco in a groundbreaking lawsuit is estimated to save over 100,000 lives every year. He is known for being one of the finest courtroom litigators. His pioneering of structured settlements and tort law literally revolutionizing the way clients could be benefited through the legal profession. For his many accomplishments the Law School at the University of Florida bears his name. I will never forget the final conversation I had with Fred. Before he said goodbye, he said, “I love you.” It is in those three words, I love you, that I think we must find our way forward. What you do not know about our relationship was that while Fred deeply respected my opinion, he deeply disagreed with me. Fred and I were both people who could articulate our positions with passion and discernment without taking cheap shots at each other’s character. We had many conversations about issues we disagreed on but we were always able to end those discussions with kindness and civility. Fred loved me and I loved him. It is useless to argue about what is true if you do not care about the people your truth will influence. If you are arguing for social justice, you cannot be motivated by a selfish end. Your purpose cannot be to increase your platform, to increase your wealth or to somehow benefit your life. The goal of social equality cannot be a vengeful reversal of a broken system. It must be for a true and genuine love for those who are marginalized. If you are arguing for free and fair elections you must not take up such a cause so that you can retain power for yourself. The desire for open elections must be a world where the voice of the individual should be heard and valued. Hate and violence cannot be directed at those who do not see or understand your position. They too cannot be marginalized. What has become clearly evident is that people on both sides have developed deep lines of hatred for those who do not hold their positions. They use words like racist and bigot for people who simply disagree with their position. For me in a time where cultural division is rife, lines are being drawn and love is lost I wanted to analyze why Fred and I could love each other while still holding strong disagreements. Here Here are ten reasons Fred and I had such wonderful debates while still remaining friends:

1. Fred and I always focused on the issue and did not connect moral judgements to what we believed were wrongly held positions.

2. We were committed to finding the truth not proving we were correct.

3. We respected each other enough to seek out understanding instead of assuming. We attempted to find the logical reasons for why the other person would hold the conclusion rather than assume they were evil or hateful.

4. We looked for common ground and emphasized the places we did agree.

5. We thoughtfully listened to and considered each other’s ideas.

6. We were not afraid of being proved wrong.

7. We believed the position we held would genuinely help the other if they could be convinced.

8. We did not use cheap tricks, name calling, or emotionally driven tactics.

9. We could concede when a point we made had been proved wrong.

10. We viewed debate as a healthy way to learn and grow.

As I say goodbye to a man I deeply admired and am honored to have had such a unique friendship my hope is that others will be inspired to lay down their hate, to fight for what they believe is true, and continue to love those who do not view the world the way you do. I love you too, Fred. I miss our conversations greatly!

A Note About Love Love cannot be an excuse for accepting someone’s wrongly held belief. To love is not to say you are always right and always agree with you. As my relationship with Fred Levin demonstrated you can love someone without agreeing with their ideology. Authentic love pushes us to find what is true. Real love does not blindly accept untrue ideology. Furthermore, love calls us to contend for what is true and provides an emotional governor that restrains us from acting in violence as we seek to persuade those who disagree with us.

Conclusion As we consider the Capitol riots, rational thinking persons have no choice but to condemn the violent behavior. We must seek decency and order in our pursuit of what is true while distancing and admonishing those who would subvert the rule of law. As a nation our repudiation of violence cannot be isolated to this single incidence. Lovers of decency, law and order must reserve an equal measure of admonishment for those who recklessly destroyed American cities and looted American business in the name of social justice. To denounce one while staying silent about the other is hypocrisy of the highest order. Such hypocrisy has no interest in the good of humankind but seeks only to curtail violence when it is aimed at a political ally. Honesty is the best policy. We must hold media outlets accountable to report an accurate picture of the events occurring in our nation. The one-sided reporting and bias is responsible for the deep divides being drawn. Those who see the truth must speak the truth. We must act through our votes and public advocacy. Our voice must be motivated out of selflessness for a better world and such motivations can never produce emotional or violent outbursts. Our freedom does lie within our ability to set aside what is true for purposes of pseudo unity. Freedom comes from finding and knowing the truth. We must know what is true and “the truth will make us free.”

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

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