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)

John MacArthur Doesn’t Know Any Evangelical Churches Which Disrespect Minorities

Possibly in response to reaction to his remarks to seminary students last week, John MacArthur took a more conciliatory tone in his most recent blog post on social justice. Published Monday August 27, MacArthur said, “I do not relish controversy, and I particularly dislike engaging in polemical battles with other evangelical Christians.” However, he defended his stance on social justice saying, “But as my previous posts in this series demonstrate, when the gospel is under attack from within the visible church, such controversy is necessary.”

About racism, MacArthur wrote:

Racism is a stain on American history that has left shame, injustice, and horrible violence in its wake. The institution of slavery and a costly civil war left a deep racial divide and bred bitter resentment on every side. No sensible person would suggest that all the vestiges of those evils were totally erased by the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century. Civil rights legislation now guards the legal principle of equal rights for all Americans, but no law can change the heart of someone who is filled with prejudice or bitterness.

In the next passage, he seems to move from understanding the ravages of racism in our history to not understanding it.

As Christians we know that the human heart is evil, so undoubtedly there are still people who secretly harbor animosity against ethnicities other than their own. But any open expression of acrimony, ill will, or deliberate antagonism across ethnic lines will be scorned and emphatically rejected across the whole spectrum of mainstream American life today.

Of course, people everywhere still tend to be oblivious to or inconsiderate of customs, traditions, community values, and ethnic differences outside their own culture. Culture clash is a universal problem, not a uniquely American quandary—and it’s not necessarily an expression of ethnic hostility. But Americans’ contempt for racial bigotry is now so acute that even accidental cultural or ethnic insensitivity is regularly met with the same resentment as blind, angry racism—and even a simple social gaffe is likely to be treated the same as bigotry. There are people—increasing numbers of them—so obsessed with this issue that they seem able to find proof of racism in practically everything that is said or done by anyone who doesn’t share their worldview.

I understand when fallen, worldly people filled with resentment lash out at others that way. I don’t understand why Bible-believing Christians would take up that cause. I thought the evangelical church was living out true unity in Christ without regard for race. That has certainly been my experience in every church I’ve ever been part of, and it’s also what I have seen in the wider evangelical world. I don’t know of any authentically evangelical church where people would be excluded or even disrespected because of their ethnicity or skin color. Just last Sunday night—as we do every month—we received about a hundred new members into Grace Church. It was another testimony to God’s love crossing all ethnic lines, as the group was composed of Hispanics, Filipinos, Chinese, Ugandans, Nigerians, Mongolians, Koreans, Ukrainians, Armenians, Lithuanians, Russians, Austrians, people of Arabic descent, as well as black and white Americans.

It seems to me that there are many minority brothers and sisters who have been crying out in the church hoping that establishment white preachers will listen to the disrespect and exclusion that they experience. MacArthur says in this paragraph that he doesn’t know any “authentically evangelical church” where this is happening. One of his alums, Terrance Jones, wrote a response to one of his blog posts recently. I wonder if he read it.

When he says those who seek racial reconciliation are a disaster for the gospel, I suspect they feel disrespected. Perhaps, white pastors who dismiss minority voices should listen first and speak later, much later.

Furthermore, look and listen to the culture. We have a president who has hosted 100 evangelical big names last night who early in his term said there were “very fine people” among neo-Nazi demonstrators. That same president prefers immigrants from white Norway versus black and brown “s***hole countries.” These same evangelical leaders give this president the highest praise.

When evangelical leaders are silent when the president or other elected leaders divide us through their racism or xenophobia, somebody must come along side them. Social justice minded Christians have done so. What good does MacArthur’s criticism do?

MacArthur finishes his post by criticizing apologies to groups for past wrongs.

So by this view of “social justice,” a person’s skin color might automatically require a public expression of repentance—not merely for the evils of whatever culture his ancestors were part of, but also for specific crimes he cannot possibly have been guilty of.

There’s nothing remotely “just” about that idea, and certainly nothing related to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to every evil in every heart is not repentance for what someone else may have done, but repentance for our own sins, including hatred, anger, bitterness, or any other sinful attitude or behavior.

When it comes to personal salvation, of course individual repentance is necessary. However, no social justice advocate I know ever promoted public repentance as a way to salvation. This is a straw man.

Taking it a bit further, the value of representatives of government or of a church saying we were wrong is symbolic and can be healing. Individual leaders took actions on behalf of organizations or nations. Leaders today should lead those organizations and nations and say those actions were wrong. For instance, I am a supporter of the Native American Apology Resolution.  Conservative Christian Sam Brownback pushed it through Congress when he was a Senator and it was signed by Barack Obama (even though it was never really publicized well).

A critical response to MacArthur’s series on Social Justice posted Wednesday by TMUS alum Terrance Jones.

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 

The Social Justice Debate: Jordan Peterson on White Privilege

Last week I posted John MacArthur’s response to a seminary student’s question about social justice in the church. In that reply, MacArthur invoked the concept of intersectionality and defined it in a manner which echoed Jordan Peterson in his infamous lecture on white privilege.

Since I first heard Peterson on white privilege, I have considered writing a critical response. The MacArthur post provoked me to finally get to it.  In the 10 minute clip below, Peterson explains why he doubts the privilege associated with “white privilege” is actually due to whiteness. Here is the clip. He begins with his views of intersectionality, followed by a critique of white privilege which starts at 4:45.

He doesn’t play fair here by only criticizing one theoretical article from 1988. Nearly all social science concepts start with a notion of some kind which then serves to generate testable hypotheses. As of now, there are empirical studies on the concept. However, his audience leaves thinking white privilege is only the idea of an isolated professor.

At 7:01, Peterson reads from a list of attitudes and behaviors taken for granted by white people. The list was crafted by Peggy McIntosh in a 1988 paper (the full list is here) titled, “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies.” Note that she says it is a personal account.

Okay, so here’s her white privilege list, some of it, there’s like 50 things. ‘ I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.’ ‘If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.’ That’s actually a wealth thing, by the way. ‘I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.’ ‘I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.’ ‘I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.’ ‘When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.’ There’s 50 of those, I think, something like that.

Okay, is that white privilege, or is that, like majority privilege? Is the same true if you go to China, you’re Chinese, is the same true if you’re Chinese? Is it majority privilege, and if it’s majority privilege, isn’t that just part of living within your culture? So let’s say you live in your culture, you’re privileged in that culture, well obviously. That’s what the culture is for. That’s what it’s for. Why would you bother building the damn thing if it didn’t accrue benefits to you? Well, you might say one of the consequences is that it accrues fewer benefits to those who aren’t in the culture. Yeah, but you can’t immediately associate that with race. You can’t just do that. Say it’s white privilege. There’s many things it could be. Certainly could be wealth. And the intersectional people have already figured out there are many things it could be. So like, what the hell? Seriously, well, what’s going on?

Well, we let these pseudo-disciplines into the university because we’re stupid and guilty, seriously. And they have no methodological requirements and plenty of power and plenty of time to produce nonsensical research and produce like resentful activists and now we’re bearing the fruits of that. It’s not pretty, so white privilege.

So Like Seriously What’s Wrong?

Other than Peterson’s argument by exasperation, the main problem I see is his assumption that majorities of one kind or another build and own the culture. In America, that is silly, and an aspect of white nationalist fantasy. I realize he is Canadian but his arguments apparently appeal to Americans who like the majority white. In America, our history leads us straightaway to race. You can’t talk about majorities and minorities without talking about race.

Let’s apply his argument to America instead of China and see if it doesn’t sound like race is at least one of the important issues of privilege in America. Remember he is criticizing the idea of white privilege. Here is what he said in the video. After that I will substitute America for China.

Okay, is that white privilege, or is that, like majority privilege? Is the same true if you go to China, you’re Chinese, is the same true if you’re Chinese? Is it majority privilege, and if it’s majority privilege, isn’t that just part of living within your culture?

Now let’s substitute America for China.

“Okay, is that white privilege, or is that, like majority privilege? Is the same true if you go to [America]? If you go to [America], you’re [American], is the same true if you’re [American]? Is it majority privilege, and if it’s majority privilege, isn’t that just part of living within your culture?”

See the problem? He seems to be saying that the real, true Americans are the majority Americans. He solidifies this messages by asking, “isn’t that just part of living within your culture?” Jordan, what do you mean “your culture?” In America, the culture isn’t mine as a member of any majority. It is supposed to belong to all citizens. However, it is very clear to me that simply because I am white, I never have had to deal with some things that my African-American friends have had to deal with. By law, it is just as much their culture as mine but they contend with different social rules that they did not get to construct.

Peterson continues to talk about “your culture” as if it belongs to some unspecified majority alone. In what is the most shocking part of this rant to me, he justifies majority privilege as the right of the majority. Then he essentially excludes the minorities from the culture by saying they “accrue fewer benefits” and “aren’t in the culture.”

So let’s say you live in your culture, you’re privileged in that culture, well obviously. That’s what the culture is for. That’s what it’s for. Why would you bother building the damn thing if it didn’t accrue benefits to you? Well, you might say one of the consequences is that it accrues fewer benefits to those who aren’t in the culture. Yeah, but you can’t immediately associate that with race. You can’t just do that. Say it’s white privilege.

An American distinctive is the belief that people from all kinds of backgrounds can make good and have a better life. Many of us want to believe in the promise of America for everybody to realize the same benefits of being an American. Peterson appears to promote a backward view toward an America where the majority stores up benefits for themselves. In the end, he doesn’t refute the concept of white privilege as much as he tries to shout it down. For what purpose? I can’t think of any good one.

While I believe the concept of white privilege does need more empirical support, I also believe there is a use of the term which is simply descriptive. It stands for the observation that race matters in American society and has mattered since the founding. One does not need to embrace identity psychology to simply recognize that racism has not been eradicated from our cultural institutions (e.g., the church, political parties, law enforcement, etc.) and that efforts to minimize that fact are corrosive to our culture.  White guys stomping around yelling, “seriously, what the hell?” doesn’t get us any closer to treating others as we want to be treated or ensuring equal treatment under the law.

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Image: Dr.Jordan Peterson delivering a lecture at the University of Toronto in 2017. March 20, 2017, Source: Adam Jacobs, Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Dear Patheos: Which Topic Was the Last Straw?

I appreciate the support I am getting from readers today via email and social media. Twitter support has been especially strong with numerous readers asking Patheos.com why my blog was live one day and gone the next.

Thus far, no additional specific information has come to light. According to the information I received Monday from Patheos COO Jeremy McGee, my blog did not fit Patheos “strategic objectives.” Assuming that the diverse blogs remaining do fit the strategy, I am puzzled about what those objectives are.

Being a curious sort, I got to wondering what clues I might find by looking at my recent posts. Over the past two weeks, I posted the following articles at Patheos.

So which of those posts might have crossed a line?

Much of the interest on social media has focused on the fact that Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia CEO K.P. Yohannan are blogging at Patheos now while I am not. Apparently, the strategic objectives of Patheos include those fellows.

Ponder that.

UPDATE (8/1/18) – An earlier version of this article referred to a possible connection to BN Media and Joe Gregory. I learned today from Joe Gregory’s attorney that Gregory sold his interest in BN Media in 2013 and therefore has no involvement with BN Media. I regret the misinformation and apologize to Mr. Gregory for any problem this may have caused. I have corrected this post to reflect this new information.

Is Colorblind Theology Blind?

When we look at people, should we see color? One white pastor has called for a colorblind approach while promoting a video from a white nationalist website. Understandably, his advocacy for colorblind theology has been questioned.
Philadelphia pastor Eric Mason recently issued this call on Twitter:

From here, it gets really complicated.

His call was a reply to a conversation between the national co-director of Cru Inner City John Sather and James White, a pastor and prominent Christian apologist in the reformed tradition. Given the sprawling nature of Twitter conversations, I will not try to provide a blow by blow account, but what I can gather is that White and several who disagree with him have been sparring for several weeks over racial reconciliation in the church.
White defends what has been labeled “colorblind theology.” I can’t tell (and he hasn’t answered my efforts to contact him) if he coined the term or if one of his opponents did. By that, I think he means that we are all members of the human race. There is no need for whites to reconcile with African-Americans or any minority because Christ accomplished reconciliation on the cross. Any offense of my white ancestors against the ancestors of my black brothers and sisters are covered by the cross so there is nothing for me to do about it in the present. In response to various tweets and podcasts on this topic, pastor Mika Edmonson offered a rebuttal on Twitter which eventually led to Mason’s call for a council. Here is one of Edmonson’s tweets:

The Colorblind Plot Darkens

Like many Twitter controversies, some of the conflict is due to the compressed nature of the messages. Communicating in snippets with meandering threads makes it difficult to follow a line of thought from beginning to end. Nuance is possible but more difficult than a panel discussion or a series of articles.
However, what makes me question Mr. White’s sincerity is his promotion of a white nationalist YouTube account: EuropeanUnity565. It doesn’t take much digging to learn that this channel is a repository for white pride and neo-nazi music and protest videos. Here is a tweet where White takes YouTube to task for limiting a EiropeanUnity565 video on “cultural Marxism.”


He uses two tweets (here’s the other one) to criticize YouTube for declaring this content offensive. Should these tweets tell me a lot about Mr. White?
I asked White if he knew what EuropeanUnity565 stood for (no answer). Others did the same thing with no response. For instance:


Given his attention to Twitter, it is hard to imagine that he didn’t see these messages.
Colorblindness is one thing, but being blind to white nationalism is another. Could this be a signal that colorblind theology just makes you blind?

Civil Rights and White Privilege

In any case, colorblind theology, if I understand it correctly, may be problematic even if there are no deeper, darker attitudes.


I don’t know all of the practical implications of colorblind theology. Because he seems to minimize social categories of race, I asked White if he favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (no answer). I welcome any adherent of colorblind theology to engage me on this point. I wonder if those who consider racial categories to be psychological rather than theologically essential believe American law should allow discrimination.
In one of the podcasts I listened to, White referred to white privilege in a sarcastic manner. I don’t know for sure what he thinks about it, but I am sure it is a fact. My minority brothers and sisters have suffered in ways I will never experience in this country. If being colorblind leads to a denial of reality, then count me out. Indeed, any theology that leads one to be blind to white nationalism is one that is blind to more than color.

In Honor of Kanye: Historian Kevin Kruse Explains the History of Political Parties and Civil Rights

Princeton University history professor Kevin M. Kruse is a Twitter Ninja Warrior. He can slice and dice and bring the facts with a devastating wit.

Kevin M. Kruse – From Twitter page

In this Twitter thread he educates and illuminates a topic which has been muddied by Christian nationalist history writers such as Dinesh D’Souza and David Barton: The history of political parties and civil rights advocacy.
This thread is a wealth of information all in one spot and as such I highly recommend it. About the only thing I would add is a link to information on Lily White Republicans which he implied but didn’t name when he wrote:

That said, both parties in this period had their share of racists in their ranks.
When the second KKK rose to power in the 1920s, it had a strong Democratic ties in some states; strong GOP ones elsewhere.

As Kruse documents, the story of the evolution of the Democrats from Jim Crow to Civil Rights is one of the major stories of American political history. Thanks to Kevin for this thread.

Trump Religious Advisor Robert Jeffress: Nothing Racist About Restricting Immigration by Race

Trying to defend President Donald Trump’s comments preferring immigrants from Norway over Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress told the Washington Post that race is an acceptable reason for the government to discriminate in immigration.
According to reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Jeffress told her that the U.S. has the right “to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes, including race or other qualifications.” He claimed that there isn’t anything racist about such restrictions.* I would like to hear an explanation for that. What else besides racial prejudice would lead the U.S. to prefer whites over non-whites? I would like to hear Rev. Jeffress’ answer to that question.
Jeffress’ blatant defense of racial discrimination is reminiscent of opposition by other Southern white men to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. INA struck down immigration quotas and increased immigration from Africa, Latin America and Asia. INA was opposed by those who wanted to maintain discrimination in immigration policy. Essentially, the policy prior to 1965 favored European immigration with limits on people coming in from elsewhere in the world. Now in 2018, Trump’s preference for white Norwegians over dark skinned Africans and Jeffress’ defense of his position sound like the same rhetoric used by opponents of the INA in 1965.
One of the most vocal opponents of INA was Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC). During Senate hearings on the bill, Ervin expressed that race and country of origin should be used in immigration discrimination. Ervin said:

The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people of France, the people of Germany, the people of Holland. With all due respect to Ethiopia, I don’t know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America.

He wasn’t alone in his views.
As Tom Gjelten documents in his book A Nation of Nations, Spessard Hollard (D-FL) asked during debate on the bill:

Why, for the first time, are the emerging nations of Africa, to be placed on the same basis as are our mother countries – Britain, Germany, Scandinavian nations, France, and the other nations from which most Americans have come?

Without the profanity, Ervin and Spessard raised the same questions in 1965 as Trump and Jeffress are raising now. Why do we want these people from Africa? We should have more people from Europe.

Blinded by the White

A sign of white privilege is the distortion of reality it promotes. Ervin and Spessard seemed oblivious to the fact that citizens in their states had African heritage. As Gjelten points out in his book, “In the 1960 census, Americans of African descent out-numbered Scandinavian Americans by a margin of two and a half to one, and there were more African-Americans in the United States than there were Americans whose origins lay in Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland combined.”
Apparently, as Gjelten notes, Ervin and Spessard didn’t consider African nations as “mother countries.” Of course, that is absurd. One would have to look at U.S. history through the lens of white privilege to think people with African heritage have made no contributions to American life and culture.
Some of Trump’s defenders have said Trump just said what some people are thinking when he expressed his preference for Norwegians over people

Robert Jeffress - from Twitter page
Robert Jeffress – from Twitter page

from “shithole” countries. Perhaps some white people are thinking those things, but a look at the history of the Civil Rights struggle shows that some people always have. In the 1960s, those views were shown the door legislatively. Now they are front and center in the White House, with evangelical religious leaders to defend them.
As a religious advisor to the president, Jeffress claims that the United States has the right to engage in racial discrimination in immigration policy. His evangelical peers should not let that stand without condemnation. Racial discrimination was evil in 1965 and it is evil now, wherever it occurs. There is no national interest in that kind of evil.
Tomorrow we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. King, Jr. lamented the silence of the white church during the fight for civil rights. The church should not be silent now.
 
*I confirmed this conversation with Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey. Jeffress told Bailey that the United States has the right to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes. She then asked him, “Would you include race?” He said, “Whatever criteria we deem necessary.” She asked him a direct question about race which he agreed to.

W.H. Chief of Staff John Kelly Can't Get the Confederacy Right

no Confederate flagAs has been widely reported, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly last night on the Laura Ingraham Show said Robert E. Lee was an honorable man and the Civil War was fought because the North and South couldn’t compromise. Kelly was brought into the White House to keep Trump from stepping on verbal landmines. However, he has stepped on a few of his own in recent days.
The unforced historical error comes amid two indictments and the revelation yesterday of an even more damning guilty plea from a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos relating to the Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Some historical matters arouse little passion, some are critical to get right. Anything involving slavery and the Confederacy and understandably critical to get right. And it isn’t difficult. Lee fought for the South in the Civil War which was fought to keep African slavery as a moral good. All the compromising took place before the war and was evil. See, not hard.
A good social media place to look at for a response to Kelly is Ta-Nehesi Coates thread on Lee and the Civil War.
For more from past posts, see below:
Robert E. Lee on slavery – This post contains a letter from Lee to his wife.
The Vice-President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens on slavery as the reason for the Confederacy – This post contains the words of a speech by Stephens declaring slavery as integral to the new Confederacy.
Unfortunately, it appears that Kelly may have read too much history from David Barton. Barton believes Lee was a good guy and isn’t in favor of removing the Confederate statues. Even though Barton correctly attributes the cause of the Civil War to slavery, he falters on many other alt-right talking points.
UPDATE:
And of course, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, W.H. Spokesperson came out and defended Kelly’s comments.


The heads of thousands of sane historians explode.
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