09 June 2020

What does it mean?


So we have the picture of Mr. Trump holding a Bible, upside down and backwards, scowling at Lafayette Park and the White House. As the combination of smoke grenades, flash- bang grenades, rubber bullets, and, pepper gas ammo, produced an acrid, toxic vapor drifting over the park, and cameras recorded the scene not a word was spoken. We are left to ask what it means.

We also have ten days (so far) of intentionally peaceful protest punctuated by a mix of anarchist and police violence. The entire series of events began with a murder. A white Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of a handcuffed black man. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds George Floyd begged for air and then died. George Floyd died tried by no jury, guilty of no crime: he was murdered.

I recall being confronted and called a, "commie" because I wore a "peace symbol" button on my jacket during the Vietnam war. Then the war was broadcast on network news. The world changed and the same people wanted to know where they could get a button. The conscience of the of America had been awakened and confronted when they saw what I and my fellow, "peaceniks" had been saying for years. Suddenly the world was different. Anger at what was being done drove Lyndon Johnson, a consummate politician, out of office.

Social scientists have a word for moments when everything shifts, they call them "epiphanies." Epiphany is also a season of the catholic church year. The season lies directly after Christmas and before Ash Wednesday. The Greek means, "I understand!" or "I get it!" So we catholic types proclaim a season of understanding what the incarnation means. Social scientists use the word to denote a moment when reality comes together and the world is different.

When a Senator, an LDS leader, and former presidential candidate simply joins a Black Lives Matter march, the world is different. We are at an epiphany moment when most people "get it." When Americans are forced, we never volunteer, to see white privilege, and injustice, and must confront that it is being done in our names, at that epiphany moment, their worldview changed. The world changed.

When the world changes because most people have an epiphany moment, there are always those who do not get it. We have the horrible example of the current president of the Southern Baptist seminary in Louisville who defended slavery, and of course Donald Trump. These are the people for whom the old system worked. And their most common defense is, "God said so."

KKK meetings feature a burning cross, and contemporary white supremacists have something they call the Christian Identity Movement whose, "altar" background looks a lot like an SS battle flag. Here we have an answer to the photo op with Mr. Trump holding the Bible upside down and backwards. His theology is upside down and backwards too. He believes and says that wealth denotes intellect, whiteness superiority. Waving that upside down Bible is a sign a signal to the 30% (give or take) of Americans who cling to racism. And unintentionally, it is the sign that leads most of us to understand and abhor the 8 min. 46 sec. martyrdom of George Floyd.

We can also find a meaning in the scowl. For his racist followers it is a symbol that claims God for their injustices visited on George Floyd and so so many others. If Illinois does not have George Floyd, we have no boasts as we have Laquan McDonald. His scowl was intended I am sure, to be the profile of a visionary peering into the future, or at least towards it.

We can find a meaning in the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests that have now circled the world. With white faces in those crowds we see that the world has changed. Some whites got it. 8 min. 46 sec. to finally get it but the immorality and injustice has been clearly demonstrated and we got it, or at least some of us did. I am reminded of Sir Winston's observation that Americans can be relied on to do the right thing, after trying everything else. The war between the States has been over for 155 years, and now we have an epiphany.

In the pitiless faces of combat gear toting white supremacists marshaled outside Lafayette Park undisturbed by law enforcement, we see the other side. We see those who did not and indeed will not understand. We cannot change them, we probably cannot convert them albeit we must try. But we can squash them. Here then the Christian challenge: when does your polling place open?

No comments:

St Laika's

Click to view my Personality Profile page