Let Justice Roll Down: Thoughts from John M. Perkins

Today a copy of John Perkins’ 1976 autobiography, Let Justice Roll Down, arrived in my mail box as a gift from a friend. I looked for this book as a part of my research into John MacArthur’s claim that he and Perkins traveled to Memphis on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I reported the results of my research and my interview with John Perkins’ daughter in a prior post.

In this book, Perkins mentions the support he received from John MacArthur’s father but doesn’t mention anything about going with John MacArthur to Memphis on the night of MLK’s death. I think that would be a story I would include if it had happened to me.

Social Justice

What is striking about this book is Perkins’ commitment to social justice. I say it is striking because Perkins has declined to speak on the record about the MacArthur story, choosing instead to allow his daughter to speak for him. Deborah Perkins has supported the story of Charles Evers who said he didn’t go to Memphis with MacArthur and Perkins that night.

Why is it striking to me? John MacArthur has gone on record as criticizing the social justice movement in the evangelical church. He promotes a critical statement on social justice which seems to cast doubt on much of what John Perkins has worked for.

As I read Perkins book, I came across these words:

The contribution of the civil rights movement to the black man’s struggle for justice and equality is one that is undeniably great. And this is so, because those who led the movement were committed men and women. They were committed to the cause. And to the struggle.

But how sad that so few individuals equally committed to Jesus Christ ever became part of that movement. For what all that political activity needed — and lacked — was spiritual input.  Even now, I do not understand why so many evangelicals find a sense of commitment to civil rights and to Jesus Christ an “either-or” proposition. (p. 99).

Perhaps, Rev. Perkins should ask his friend John MacArthur why so many evangelicals can’t walk the gospel and chew social justice gum at the same time. Or maybe John Perkins could help MacArthur understand his point of view.

Later in the book, Perkins wrote about the ostracism his children experienced in the all white schools of Mendenhall, MS. No Christian leaders, parents, or students spoke up to support them. He wrote:

I had to just watch. It hurt. The question kept popping up inside me: Does the gospel  — that is, the gospel as we presently preach it — have within itself the power to deal with racial attitudes? The thing that hit me was that the supposed presence of the gospel was simply not effective in terms of human relations. If evangelism is truly on the side of God and His love, then it should never allow itself to look like it’s on the side of a bigot-producing system. (p. 108).

I know which side I want to be on. To be fair, I believe most people want to be on the right side. However, I invite anti-social justice warriors to ask themselves why Perkins’ question is just as relevant in 2019 as it was in 1976.

Trump Boosts Promotional Video Which Borrows White Nationalist Logo (UPDATED)

UPDATED: Mediaite posted an op-ed from an anonymous meme-maker who claims the logo is innocent. While I think it is good of Mediaite to provide a forum for a possible explanation, I don’t know enough about “Carpe Donktum” to evaluate his/her claims. I also need to add that I originally thought the ad came from the Trump campaign. However, it was produced by a supporter of Trump and retweeted by the president. I have corrected my post to reflect that.

…………………

Somebody supporting the Trump re-election effort is too familiar with white nationalist symbols. Recently, Trump retweeted a video that ended with a lion logo surrounded by red, white, and blue which has been promoted by a white nationalist group. Watch:


As first reported by Mediaite this morning, Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski found a tweet from white nativist group VDARE using the logo in 2016 and showed it next to the final shot of the Trump/Pence video.

Note the 2016 date. The logo is the same as the one used in the Trump/Pence ad just this week.

The Lion’s Guard

The logo is also associated with a group called “The Lion’s Guard.” This group (which was promoted and praised on white supremacist site Daily Stormer in 2016) aims to provide security at Trump rallies and was removed from Twitter for awhile. They are back now with the same logo.

Note the slogan on the group’s website:

Better to be a lion for a day, than a lamb for eternity.

The slogan is a simpler version of a quote attributed to Mussolini:

It’s better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.

In 2016, Trump retweeted this quote knowing the attribution was to Mussolini:

Donald Trump and/or his social media team thought it would be a good idea to promote a symbol which communicated nativist themes. They who have eyes to see, let them see.

 

 

 

Who Agrees with Tucker Carlson About White Nationalism?

To me, it seems obvious that white nationalism is a problem in America. However, Tucker Carlson famously said it isn’t. Even after Charlottesville, the church shooting in South Carolina, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the El Paso massacre, Carlson said it ranks low on America’s problems.

I wondered who agrees with him and found, as many people quickly pointed out, that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke cheered Carlson on.

This is not good company.

Who else?

C-Fam’s Austin Ruse

The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway

The Federalist

Talk Show Host Vicki McKenna

Kellyanne Conway defended Carlson. “But what about Antifa?”

The Stream’s John Zmirak and Eric Metaxas

John Zmirak is a Senior Editor at The Stream, a Christian online publication conceptualized by James Robison. I responded to this tweet:

And then Zmirak replied:

After that tweet, Zmirak blocked me. Eric Metaxas retweeted Zmirak’s original tweet.

League of the South is Ready for Battle

This weekend the League of the South is having their annual convention in Florida. According to the League, they are ready for war. The League was one of the groups who did battle at Charlottesville. The League’s leader Michael Hill, wrote this in 2014:

But what about that liberal canard that says that no matter how well armed the citizens are, they will never be able to defeat the modern military in a toe-to-toe confrontation? First, that presumes that the US military would fire on its own people, a question whose answer we do not know. And, second, it presumes that the fight would be a conventional one. More likely, it will be Fourth Generation Warfare, which is just another way of saying guerrilla war.

In 4Gen Warfare the lines between the military and the political, economic, cultural, and social are blurred past the point of recognition. To oversimplify, the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.

4Gen Warfare doesn’t require that the populace be armed equal to the military and law enforcement. In fact, having such firepower, with few exceptions (such as full-auto “assault weapons,” silencers, and a handful of other esoteric toys), would be a logistical and tactical burden to the common 3- to 5-man group so common in this type of warfare.

Make no mistake about it, the League and groups like it engage in rhetoric unlike any Scientologist or evolutionist. They are dangerous with enough numbers to create terror and motivate criminal activity.

According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, white supremacist groups account for a significant number of criminal investigations. Watch:

While white supremacist* motivated crime isn’t the greatest threat, it isn’t trivial and one should question the motives of anyone who minimizes it.

Additional information: See this report on domestic terrorism 2018. Yes, the numbers are small but the potential damage is great and the threat appears to be growing.

 

*white supremacy and white nationalism have been distinguished by some as the difference between attitude and political objective. Supremacy is an attitude that whites are better than other races; nationalism is a political objective of make America a majority white country or favoring segregation. It is hard for me to make much of a distinction in attitude. To me, it seems to be a rationalization of racial prejudice to claim white nationalist political goals while claiming to have no bias toward people of color. For the purpose of this post, I am considering the terms synonyms.

Fox News Pundit Tucker Carlson Says White Nationalism is a Hoax and Not a Problem

In the wake of the El Paso shooting, Fox News pundit with the ear of the president Tucker Carlson told his audience that white supremacy isn’t a problem. Watch:

Carlson said in his rant said, “the combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium.” This is supposed to comfort his audience by suggesting that groups with small memberships can’t be a problem.

Small But Deadly

I counter by noting the membership of the group behind the 9-11 bombings was never large, numbering in the thousands according to this report.  According to a Center for Strategic Studies report, the core membership in al-Qaeda is currently fewer than 1,000. However, the report suggests that al-Qaeda is in a resurgence and continues to be a threat around the world. The movement is decentralized and numerically small but nonetheless remains a threat to our security.

Small groups can coordinate efforts and create terroristic threats as the Unite the Right rally showed in Charlottesville. This lawsuit filed against various white supremacists outlines actions taken by small groups of white supremacists to plan violence. One of the defendants in this suit is accused of using the web to plan violence at Charlottesville. The suit alleged that:

Daily Stormer established “meet ups” and chat rooms that coconspirators and attendees used throughout the August 11 and 12 weekend to coordinate their violence. The Daily Stormer released its own poster promoting the “rally” that read, “UNITE THE RIGHT/ Join Azzmador and the Daily Stormer to end Jewish influence in America,” accompanied by a Nazi-like figure wielding a hammer, ready to smash a Jewish star. For months before the Unite the Right events on August 11 and 12, Anglin organized his followers to attend and prepared them to commit racially motivated violent acts in Charlottesville. Although Anglin did not attend the rally himself because he is currently in hiding in order to evade service in connection with a separate lawsuit relating to events in Whitefish, Montana, Anglin orchestrated the movements of Daily Stormer followers and incited them to violence on a live feed contemporaneously with the events as they occurred on August 11 and 12 in Charlottesville.

The point is large numbers are not necessary for great harm to occur. Surely Tucker Carlson knows this.

In fact, the parallel to global terror groups should stimulate greater efforts to monitor and intervene in these domestic terror networks. Far from a hoax, white nationalist groups are emboldened in recent years. I have been following these groups for about a decade and I think they are as potent as I have seen them.

Daniel Dale and FBI Director Wray brings the facts on why white supremacy is a problem.

The Charlottesville Rally Wasn’t about Robert E. Lee as a General

President Trump doubled down on his claim that very fine people were in Charlottesville to show support for the statue of Robert E. Lee. When asked about that comment, he said he answered that question “perfectly.” Then he discussed his view of why some of the people were there. Watch:

A review of Trump’s comments from the Charlottesville news conference shows that he condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in one breath but in other comments he suggests that there was some other group of Lee statue supporting people who gathered with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In this theory, these “very fine people” were there only to support the statue which isn’t a bad thing in his mind. I maintain it is entirely right and proper to question the wisdom and character of anyone showing up to a rally convened by neo-Nazis and and white supremacists. If neo-Nazis show up in my town and rally against drunk driving, I am not going to carry a sign in that march even though I oppose drunk driving.

In my view, it is not noble to support the myth of Lee as a great statesman and General. However, I do know that some people do think that and do so sincerely. Their desire to uphold the Lost Cause blinds them to a complete picture of Lee. What makes me think Lee worship is a smokescreen is that the activities of the weekend were not about Lee. When the tiki torch marchers gathered around Lee’s statue, they didn’t sing tributes to Lee or chant “General Lee is my favorite General.” They chanted, “You will not replace us.” Watch:

The “us” in this chant referred to white people not members of the “Lee is my favorite General” club.

Those people weren’t there because of their love of military history. If they were there for Lee at all, it was because he represents white supremacy. What is very fine about that?

Giving cover to Trump’s distraction, people like Dinesh D’Souza and Matt Walsh want to make Charlottesville about Robert E. Lee as a General. It wasn’t.

 

Image: By Cville dog – Own work, Public Domain

Jackie Robinson Day

April 15 marks the day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. The executive who signed him with the express purpose of combating racism was Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I share a hometown with Branch Rickey — Portsmouth, Ohio — and was always reminded of his legacy because I played high school baseball in Branch Rickey Park (pictured below).

To me, Branch Rickey’s role in this story is sweet irony. White supremacy was strong in my hometown. For most of my life there, African-Americans were segregated into neighborhoods surrounding a large public housing project. There was strong prejudice and discrimination, even among Christians. And yet, Branch Rickey left that small town to make history in the big city in a way that changed attitudes about race forever.

A 2011 CNN article on Rickey explains the role of faith in his decision (read the entire transcript here) but I will close with this paragraph:

When a well-known journalist of the era told the Dodgers general manager that he thought “all hell would break loose” the next day with Robinson due to take the field for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger, Rickey disagreed. “My grandfather immediately responded to him, ‘I believe tomorrow all heaven will rejoice,’” the younger Rickey said.

Up is Down: Dinesh D’Souza Says the Civil Rights Act Was Part of Progressive Bigotry

Image: The Osceola (AR) Times, Nov. 19, 1920

On Twitter, Dinesh D’Souza is on the defensive. He desperately wants the Democratic party to be a party of bigotry and racism, not just during the 1800s but continuously through to the present. Given that Democratic president Lyndon Johnson supported and signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, it is hard to make the case that Democratic party remained the party of racism. However, D’Souza is persistent. He invokes the well-known racism of Johnson as a Senator which to him is proof that the CRA and VRA were not what they seemed.

In a tweet, political scientist Phil Klinker informed D’Souza that no one disputes Johnson’s racism. He then asked D’Souza:

Are you arguing that LBJ’s legislative achievements–the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts–were part of some racist design on his part?

In a mindbinding response, D’Souza said:

Surely, there are other reasons why a president might support legislation, especially legislation as far reaching as the CRA and the VRA. The real mind twister is his contention that Klinker can’t see the reason due to “progressive bigotry.” The CRA and VRA accomplished the aims of civil rights campaigners and many Republicans. Did they also have bigoted reasons for supporting those laws? I can’t figure out what he is getting at. What would LBJ have supported if he wasn’t a racist?

As I demonstrated in recent posts, numerous Republicans were also quite bigoted throughout the period when other Republicans were supporting Civil Rights legislation. Lily white Republicans in the early 1900s wanted to purge the GOP of African-Americans and were successful in some parts of the country.

If D’Souza diminishes the CRA/VRA due to Johnson’s racism, then what will he do with Warren Harding’s similar sentiment? In Harding’s 1921 Birmingham’s speech on race, he told the crowd that blacks should have equal rights to vote but he added this:

Men of both races may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. . . Racial amalgamation there cannot be.

In his speech, Harding also favorably cited Lothrop Stoddard’s racist book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy to establish the problem of race in America.

Whoever will take the time to read and ponder Mr. Lothrop Stoddard’s book on The Rising Tide of Color, or. say. the thoughtful review of some recent literature of this question which Mr. F. D. Lugard presented in a recent Edinburg Review, must realize that our race problem here in the United Slates is only a phase of a race issue that the whole world confronts. Surely we shall gain nothing by blinking the facts, by refusing to give thought to them. That is not the American way of approaching such issues.

Stoddard’s book was a call to white supremacy and helped stimulate the 1924 Immigration Act which limited immigration from non-Nordic nations. When D’Souza wants to find fault with Democrats, he associates Stoddard with progressives. In his book, The Big Lie, he says this about Stoddard and his book:

Stoddard was the bestselling author of a notorious tract, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, that portrayed the pristine Nordic race being swamped through immigration and interracial marriage by degenerate hordes from other lesser races. Both Lothrop and Gamble became avid Nazi sympathizers who sought to import Nazi sterilization programs in their full magnitude to America

What D’Souza doesn’t tell his readers is that Stoddard was popular among those in the Harding administration and that Republican Harding himself cited this tribute to white supremacy in a presidential speech on race.

The facts don’t fit D’Souza’s predetermined narrative which leads to strange and ahistorical assertions about the bigotry and the CRA/VRA.

 

 

This Migrant Caravan Isn’t The First; Trump is Exploiting This One

For years, caravans of migrants from Central America have traveled through Mexico without a military response from the Trump administration. Like the current movement, refugees flee violence in their home countries and travel in groups to try to make the journey safer.

When the asylum process works some refugees are granted a hearing. Wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet is better than being threatened with violence back home.

Trump and the Republican leadership know that these caravans are not dominated by criminal types. Criminal types prey on the caravans. These are people who seek asylum and want a better life. There is a history of people presenting themselves at points of entry wanting to be vetted. Trump is deliberately obscuring that history by referring to the most recent caravan as an invasion and overreacting by sending troops to the border.

On average, such persons do contribute to the U.S. and benefit the economy and contribute to the social good. Trump’s stereotyping of asylum seekers as murderers and criminals and the recent caravan as a new threat is dishonest.

 

Why Trump’s Anti-Migrant Ad is Terrible but May Work

President Trump has approved an ad which is wrong on so many levels but may work as he hopes. Watch:

The ad uses misinformation and the vivid case of an unrepentant cop-killer to provoke fear. Then the ad offers the protective strategy of voting for Republicans. The ad is terrible because of the misinformation and stereotyping but may work because it gives a strategy to address the fear it creates.

Here are the problems:

Shock! The Ad Isn’t Truthful

The ad claims Democrats let the convicted murderer, Luis Bracamontes, into the country and then let him stay. In fact, he came and went during both Republican and Democrat administrations. Bill Clinton deported him but he came back into the country during George Bush’s presidency. At one point, Trump ally Joe Arpaio had him in his jail but then let him go. It is misinformation to blame Democrats alone for his presence.

Stereotyping through Insensitivity to Sample Bias

Bracamontes isn’t a representative sample of the caravan participants. He is one person who committed horrible crimes. When one actually considers what larger samples of immigrants, documented and undocumented, have done in communities, it is clear that Bracamontes is not representative of them. Crime rates are lower in many of these neighborhoods. Crime rates are not higher in states with large immigrant populations.

The ad seeks to associate Bracamontes with the migrants who seek asylum as a vivid case of a brown skinned person who wants to enter the US. The migrants moving toward the U.S. want to be vetted and want asylum. That is not Bracamontes’ history.

Social psychological research has shown that vivid cases such as Bracamontes persuade people to believe unflattering stereotypes. With this ad, Trump leaves no doubt that he wants voters to fear asylum seekers as dangerous criminals.

Fear Based Appeals Work

Research also shows that fear based appeals are persuasive if a strategy to address the fear is offered. Trump’s fear mongering is for a purpose. He clearly links Bracamontes with the caravan seeking asylum and implies those people will be as terrible as Bracamontes.

This ad is awful in many ways. It is lamentable that it may keep some wavering people in the Trump fold. To me, it is disgusting that the Republicans would condone this ad (anytime) so soon after the Pittsburgh shooting given that the shooter may have been motivated by a perception that Jews were helping the migrants.

Update: A similar ad has been pulled from CNN, FoxNews(!), and Facebook.

John MacArthur: Victims are Everywhere

Last Sunday, John MacArthur preached on social justice at his church. This is an extension of his recent blog posts which have ignited passionate responses from opponents and supporters alike.

In his Sunday sermon, MacArthur repeated many of the statements and themes from his blog posts. In this post, I want to touch on his definition of social justice and victimization.

Social Justice

MacArthur says

Social justice is a term that describes the idea that everyone has the right to equal upward mobility – everybody in a society: equal upward mobility, equal social privilege, equal finances or equal resources. And if you don’t have those rights and you don’t have those opportunities the society is, by nature, unjust.

Earlier in the sermon he claims social justice is a “part of classic socialism.” I can’t say with certainty but I doubt many social justice evangelicals mean this when they advocate for social justice. I know I don’t.

I will acknowledge that I haven’t seen a consistent definition of social justice. However, this simply doesn’t look right to me. Discussion about economic policy is a distraction here. Most justice minded Christians who are bothered by MacArthur’s views aren’t socialists. They simply believe Christians should advocate for what’s right when the status quo is unjust and wrong.

Victims are Everywhere

Rev. MacArthur doesn’t speak well of victims, except when he does. In a 2016 tweet, he seemed to call for social justice for a young girl in his congregation.

MacArthur called on people to sign a Change.org petition targeting 13 government officials in an effort to get a just result for a young child. I don’t know enough about the situation to give an opinion but I can understand why someone would advocate for this child to stay with the foster family. In my opinion, creating and signing a petition to attempt to bring awareness to a wrong is a great thing to do.

In contrast, in his sermon, he seems to mock people who have truly been harmed.

So we have a growing category of victims of all kinds of microaggressions. And these are the people that are demanding social justice, and by that they mean they want to stop being oppressed by all the oppressors in society. And the more victim categories someone is in, the more empowered that person is, the more important that person is, the more truthful that person is, the more authoritative that person is. If you’re in multiple groups this is a new idea called “intersectionality.” All the segments of victimization come together for you, and your multiple victim status makes you the most authoritative person, the one to be listened to. But if you are not in any victim group, you have nothing to say, “Shut up, and sit down.” That’s where we are. We have an ever-increasing belligerent mass of victims who are defining their lives by what other people have done to them.

At one point, he inexplicably highlights the #metoo movement.

All who die under the judgment of God die for their own sin and not somebody else’s. That is clear and unambiguous. But it is human nature to fight against it to say, “I’m a good person. I’m a good person. There’s just bad people around me who have done bad things to me,” sometimes two hundred years ago, sometimes two generations ago. Sometimes it’s just part of the dominate male chauvinistic culture. Or sometimes it’s just homophobia.

“All this has been done to me.” And so, hashtag, “Me too. I’m a victim.” “Me too, me too. I was abused, I was abused, I was abused.” “Somebody offended me. Somebody made a micro-aggression against me.”

So I’m a victim of certain regional attitudes or gender attitudes, or sexual preference attitudes, or hate speech, or economics, or education. I’m just a victim of intersecting prejudice and oppression, and I’m victim.” I’ve go so many categories I ought to be given a medal of honor for all my categories of victimization.

Everybody’s offended me, people I don’t know. Dead people have offended me, living people have offended me. You offend me. I’m a victim of past injustice and inequity. and present rejection, discrimination, offense. And most of you don’t even know how much you offend me, it’s unconscious. And by the way, if you’re not a victim, then you’re a part of the oppressor group. You must repent. I’m not surprised that exists in the culture, because that’s what Adam said. I mean, that’s how fallen people react. They don’t take responsibility, they just blame somebody else; and they’re perfectly happy to blame God.

When MacArthur makes light of the suffering of real people, it makes his assurances of concern for them ring hollow. Also in this sermon,  he said:

That is not to say that we’re not to love people and live justly, and care for them, and minister to the people who have been treated unfairly and unkindly and mercilessly; we are as Christians. Of course, we are. We are to be known by our love, love to one another and love to the whole world. And we are to be as Christ was to them, caring for them, meeting their needs, ministering to them, loving them. That is a result of salvation. The question is, “Is the social gospel a part of the saving gospel, or is caring for people a result of the gospel?”

I submit you can’t minister to people who have been treated unfairly if, at the same time, you dismiss them or make light of their situation. Part of living justly and treating people fairly is taking them seriously. Ridiculing, belittling, and minimizing the reality of their situation and status in society does not communicate love and concern.

In fact, there is no real conflict between the actual gospel and social justice. African-American pastor Terrance Jones certainly doesn’t believe there is. He attended The Master’s Seminary and is candid about what he experienced at the school. I will leave it to readers to determine the meaning of what Jones shared in his most recent post:

Placement is a unique hallmark of The Master’s Seminary. Not only do they train you to be a pastor, they also serve as a bridge between graduates and churches/ministries around the world. Churches can upload their information and available positions, while students can upload their résumé as they near graduation. When I was a student, the seminary boasted of having a 90% placement rate. This meant that within 6 months of graduating a student could expect to find a staff position within a church/ministry somewhere or enroll in another degree program. What wasn’t discussed with African American students was that we were a part of the 10% that could not be placed in a ministry position. I put my head together with faculty and admissions staff members to figure out the numbers. We determined that by the time I graduated in 2011 the school had only facilitated the placement of approximately 3 African American students in 25 years. According to people connected to TMS since 2011, not much has changed.

The rationale given to me as to why this problem existed was, “black churches don’t want sound doctrine.” What??? Black people do not have a monopoly on bad theology. I can think of several heretics of different ethnicities.

What is it that is keeping those placement rates depressed? Is it the gospel? Surely not! What else could it be?*

After all of this, let me advocate for intentional efforts to right wrongs when we see them. This shouldn’t be controversial or require a dissertation to justify it. When we see a wrong, we need to speak out about it, even if that wrong is being perpetrated or overlooked by people in our tribe, political or religious. Where we disagree about what’s wrong, let’s talk about it like we’re in this together, because whatever you think about the afterlife, we are here now.

*I asked Terrance Jones about how many black students attended the seminary during that time frame and he said about 50. He had reliable information that none had been placed from 2015-2018. Of course, if the school has an official statement on the subject, I would be happy to include it here.

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Image: Wikimedia (public domain)