I will by no means pretend as if having lived through a riot in my small town makes me the subject matter expert on all things riot-related. However, I do have a certain first-hand experience of something I recognize many do not have. While for some that simply gives me a proximal, yet wrong opinion on the matter at hand, for others, this might serve to bolster what I am saying when I tell you that by and large, you’re being played. You are being emotionally manipulated on a scale that is not only alarming, but downright atrocious. The sheer amount of disinformation peddled by media outlets, notable popularists, and politicians over the last couple of weeks regarding the police shooting of Jacob Blake has been disheartening, yet confirms that we are living in a time where truth matters very little.
One such example of this reality is the statement of facts surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake, which can be found here. The immediate reaction of the news outlets was to run with the narrative that Blake was unarmed, assisting in the break-up of an altercation between two women, and was therefore targeted for no particular reason. This has been proven demonstrably false, yet it was enough information for people to mobilize and vent out their rage in the city of Kenosha. Even as I write this though, the narrative given by Blake’s attorney, some members of his family, and multiple sources across this country, is still contrary to this.
Another example is found in the stories that have been pumped out ad nauseam about Kyle Rittenhouse, labeling him as a radical, right-wing white supremacist. Others, from purportedly more reliable Christian sources like The Gospel Coalition, compared Rittenhouse to infamous school shooter Dylann Roof—reinforcing the white supremacist narrative, but taking it a touch further. Obviously the details surrounding the nature of what Rittenhouse did are still developing—but my comment is not so much on the merit of his attorney’s legal argument as the rhetoric that has surrounded this young man’s motivations and actions.
Every other recent incident of white on black police shootings in the past several years has likewise been predetermined to be racially motivated, despite the fact that there has been little to no evidence that this is actually the case at hand. The prevailing narrative has been that cops involved in fatal shootings are de facto racist due to inherit racial-bias, even in instances where minority cops are involved and acquitted of all charges from liberal prosecutors. The majority of officers involved in purported, racially-driven police shootings are acquitted—yet what is sensationalized in these events, again and again, is a narrative that claims that even though the lawful process found them not guilty, the prevailing opinion of the people’s court matters more.
Then compare these recent articles about George Floyd that mention the toxicology report from the coroners that examined his body. One article from NPR that highlights the fact that Floyd tested positive for Coronavirus. Another from L.A. Times highlights how the defense of Chauvin’s legal team will be based on a perceived, fatal amount of fentanyl in his system. This one here from The American Spectator actually provides the memorandum from Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office regarding the toxicology report that explicitly states as much (which you can read here). What is assumed from the start is that these things are all racially motivated—and any and all who question this are likewise labeled as racists, or those who believe racism does not exist, which simply isn’t the case. What many of us are advocating is a bit of caution, simply because the immediate reaction is quite literally to grab torches and set cities ablaze based on people’s perception of the events, even when cops are clearly acting in accord with the threat at hand.
Do with all of this what you will, but recognize the vastly different story being told all across the nation, and then ask yourself what else is being concealed, explained away, or lied about in similar events unfolding across our country. Ask yourself how the narrative fits a particular political and social agenda. Then ask yourself why you can see some news anchors standing in front of burning buildings, who have the audacity to claim things are “mostly peaceful” even though this is a bold-faced lie. Again, you might even ask yourself about the prevailing, but wrong, sentiment that insurance companies will cover the damages done by rioters and looters. You might even wonder why there is little to no discussion amongst social justicians on uncomfortable data points, such as these and also these on proportionality.
The only thing I am left to conclude is that the major, liberal news outlets believe the American public is astoundingly stupid. While a post could be written in and of itself on seeing the political grand-standing done by people on both sides of the aisle, that is perhaps something for another day. Suffice it to say, there is much behind the scenes that is not making front and center news, yet my suspicions are that this is the way the American public desires it to be. What I want to focus on today though is the simple truth that if this can happen in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this can happen virtually anywhere in the country. Growing up, we affectionately called Kenosha, “Ke-nowhere.” That certainly is no longer the case. What that ought to bring home to you is that you are literally one shooting away from a complete breakdown of law and order.
Driving through my city each morning on the way to work brings a reminder of waking Tuesday morning to the lingering smell of fire in my city. Plywood still remains on every panel of glass on many storefronts, as if a hurricane is making its way through the Midwest. In a sense, there is, but we’ll get to that shortly. What strikes me still each day are the many businesses I drive past—and I do mean many—that have signs which say, “KIDS LIVE UPSTAIRS,” or the one hastily spray-painted the day after the first run of riots that says, “BLIND, DEAF, DISABLED UPSTAIRS.”
Many likewise say, “BLACK BUSINESS MATTERS,” “BLM,” or some other variation of the sort in the hopes that their business would be spared by the mobs as they passed through. One friend made a keen observation about those who plastered BLACK LIVES MATTER all over the fronts of their businesses, houses, and the like—as if they were participating in some sort of Passover by smearing the proverbial “lamb’s blood” on their doors to escape the curse of mob violence. Obviously for many, even those who were in the streets earlier that day peacefully protesting, this was to little avail.
Townspeople had been gathering for peaceful protests in our city even prior to the shooting of Jacob Blake. The week following George Floyd’s death, we saw some comparatively minor unrest in Kenosha, but we mostly saw people out with placards, raising their fists in solidarity. Likewise, this was to little avail when you consider what happened in our community just a few short months afterward. The point I am drawing out here is that appeasement is not a preserving strategy, one which some are starting to realize—yet many still seem to be under the impression that it is. Realistically, I think this is a foolhardy and naïve when one considers what has been stated over and again from the “major players” in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The reason I say this will come your way is relatively simple. The police officers in your town are constantly having encounters with citizens and any one of them can end up going the wrong way. It doesn’t matter if your officers have a stellar reputation in the community, state, or even country—if one is put into the position of using lethal force in an altercation, you ought to recognize what is invariably coming your way. I say this, not as an alarmist, but simply because this is what is being lauded from both the popular and more formal level in our society. If it can happen in Kenosha, and it certainly did, it can easily happen in your town as well. It took relatively little time for things to devolve into anarchy, especially considering that our local governance didn’t intervene quickly. If they hadn’t, I am not the only in my town wondering what could have continued, especially when one considers how a mob-mentality can stoke the flames of the impassioned.
Secondly, I say this is headed your way because what we are seeing unfold in American culture is not a reformation, but a revolution, which means the occasion for the riots (police shootings) is just a pretense for unraveling the very fabric of American culture as a whole. Behind this, however, is the gospel stuck in the crosshairs of a movement targeting any and all forms of purportedly oppressive systems, which would undoubtedly include the Christian faith. There is a reason why what was once seen as an ideologically and politically taboo position, such as socialism, has risen to prominence. There is a reason why places like the Smithsonian condemned things like traditional family structures, rational thinking, the Protestant work ethic, Judeo-Christian Monotheism, the concept of justice, among other things, as predominately white cultural beliefs, and by implication, racist. The furtherance of these things as normative is likewise seen as an example of colonialism—which is patently absurd considering most, if not all of the things I am highlighting here, stem from non-white culture, meaning specifically that Christianity is not the white man’s religion.
At the heart of all of this I believe is a rebuke to the church—not necessarily just in those who have functionally embraced the Black Lives Matter movement uncritically, but even those who reject it, because what is fomenting on both sides does not seem to be born out of a desire to see genuine repentance and faith transpire. One of the things that saddened me was in watching the life drain out of the eyes of Joseph Rosenbaum and seeing how many Christians delighted in the downfall of this man, not thinking for a moment that he slipped into hell to be judged for all eternity. This should be tragic to Christians simply because no matter how wicked the man was, and he was extremely wicked, God Himself does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ez. 18:23; 1 Tim. 2:4).
What I’m driving to here is the reality that all of this is born out of the consequences of living in a world broken and marred by sin. None of this would happen in a world without the presence of sin. No rapes, no shootings, no divisions, no burning buildings, no destruction, no hatred—none of it. There would be true, genuine unity, but a unity bound up in the person and work of Jesus Christ, which is the love and mercy poured out through His sacrifice on the cross, where he took the sins of His children upon Himself and gave them His righteousness, so that they would be looked at as if they never sinned. This is a hope that I hold dearly because it is one offered indiscriminately to every man, woman, and child, and one I believe is the only thing that will bring about genuine unity and lasting peace between us all. Yet I also live with the understanding that simply saying that brings a sharp division, because many don’t believe that, nor do they love that truth. Because of that, I have grave concerns over the state of things in our country.
I’m not arguing for a feigned sense of unity bound up in irreconcilable differences—believe me, I too wonder if we’ve reached a tipping point in the church, and fear we’ve also potentially done so in our country at large. There is the very real potential for another schism within the Evangelical world, and if things do not cool in our country, the threat of another civil war is at hand. I recognize the stakes and how much of what is transpiring is the inevitable culmination of years of Critical Race Theory being put into practice. What I’m arguing for is not a unity bound up in the capitulation of freedom or truth. What I’m arguing for is the reality bound up in the gospel itself, in that Christ Himself is the Great Unifier.
We ought not think for a moment that we will find unity in those who side with us against Critical Race Theory, yet ultimately reject the gospel. Any and all unity outside of Christ is a damnable unity, at best, and this ought to light a fire in our bosoms to preach a pure, unadulterated gospel, which requires we do not blindly favor nationalists, nor zealots for that matter. It ultimately requires that we are uncomfortable, for while on theological, moral, and ideological grounds, we reject the violence of rioters and looters, we unequivocally must be convinced they yet deserve to be the recipients of a radical love, which culminates in our preaching of the gospel. Likewise, we do not assume that the nationalist knows and loves Christ simply because they are culturally aligned loosely with some overlapping biblical principles we hold dear.
The point is not to say we straddle a “middle-ground” of sorts either, nor that I am singling out a particular group of Christians as either Marxists or Nationalists, but that in reality, the church ought to look fundamentally different than the culture around them, because the Kingdom to which they belong is not of this earth. Any aspects wherein we find commonality is perhaps a kindness of God’s common grace upon our fellow men, one that is even worth preserving and protecting—yet at the root of this we must recognize that the judgment of God rests upon all those who are not in Christ, violent or not. In Him do we find not only peace, but the scandal of grace which is offered indiscriminately to the worst of sinners—of which I am chief. In Him do we find forgiveness and healing offered, which I believe is the desperate need of not only my city of Kenosha, but the country I live in, and even the world. Kingdoms rise and fall—yet the church endures forever. Why is it that when kingdoms rise and fall we so easily forget that Christ is in the business of making His enemies to be His children?