Photo credit: “Black Lives Matter”: four African-Americans murdered by rioters (oftentimes African-American themselves), who are supposedly looting and killing over the outrage they feel about George Floyd’s death. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?: “We’re ‘protesting’ the unjust murder of a black man by murdering black men.” David Dorn was a 77-year-old former police chief. He was murdered by a rabid, insane mob for trying to prevent looting. The rioters scornfully laughed and chanted “black lives matter” as he bled to death on the ground.
Pete Vere is a friend of mine, and is an [Eastern] Catholic author, canon lawyer, and ecumenist. He calls himself a political “conservative”; so do I (though with several important qualifications and clarifications). The following comes from several exchanges on my Facebook page. His words will be in blue. Words of Liz Perez will be in green.
[I posted an article about former President George W. Bush’s response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and its implications for race relations and equal justice for all in America.]
President Bush has now posted the entire text to his presidential website. I don’t want to politicize the discussion, but I found it very heartfelt, candid, and imbued with Christian spirit at a time when people are hurting. I would definitely recommend reading the whole text. I was going to quote a paragraph or two, but the entire text is worth quoting. [link]
I made my view about the killing of George Floyd very clear in my article, George Floyd: Atheist & Christian Agree; but What’s the Solution? (6-4-20). I am 100% opposed to it, and am glad that all four officers have now been indicted. I wrote about that:
I’m in favor of this development. I have yet to find anyone of any political persuasion who defends this action (which I say is murder) against George Floyd. If anyone finds a case of agreement from anyone who is not a KKK wacko (where such a view would be expected), please let me know. [no one has, as of this writing]
[I put up a meme of looters fleeing from the store they had just looted; two with smiles on their faces. The text read: “Minneapolis protesters in mourning over Floyd’s death.” I fully agree that the protesters and looters are different groups, however, and disagree with the terminology used in the meme. I would have put “protesters” in quotation marks.]
You are the third pro-life Catholic apologist I have seen share this meme. So this isn’t just you to whom my comments are directed. This is the type of meme that, when circulated, makes conservatives, pro-lifers, and Catholics look bad.
There have been documented cases of looters from every race and ethnic background. Yet this meme chooses a photo that uniquely pictures looters from one particular racial minority–a community that is in extreme shock and pain right now, and who former President George W Bush (a pro-life, conservative, and Christian president) has asked the nation to reach out to, and listen to.
I would ask anyone tempted to circulate this meme to ask themselves one question: If I were pregnant teenager from a minority community, and I came across this meme on your Facebook page because I was contemplating abortion, what would I conclude from seeing this meme? Would I reach out to you?
Not trying to condemn anyone here or point the finger, but I am very uncomfortable with this meme as a pro-life Catholic and political conservative. I feel it is not in the spirit of how Pope Francis and President Bush have asked us to respond to this crisis.
That’s because I don’t think in terms of liberal categories, as you do, and have been trained to do. I think in terms of morally good and bad, and I am colorblind, just as Martin Luther King urged us to be. These acts are morally bad. I didn’t even notice that they were all black, because in my mind that was an irrelevant consideration.
If I show a picture of all white Nazis in the 40s, killing Jews, is that saying all white people are bad, or Nazis? Obviously it can’t be, because the victims were white, too.
No. It’s embarrassing and an insult to my intelligence and everyone’s who is reading, to have to point out elementary things. But I have to because even self-described conservatives like you have been brainwashed to think in irrational liberal categories.
Keep up comments like this and I will either put “No comments please” on every political meme I put up, or delete “liberalthink” comments.
If you are approaching this meme in terms of morally good and bad, then I would ask two questions:
1 – What is morally good about this meme?
2 – Is the pursuit of this moral good worth turning away audiences who might view this meme differently?
President Bush is a practicing Christian, a pro-lifer, and a political conservative. And he has spoken both boldly and prophetically–not just to the nation-at-large, but to us specifically as politically-active conservatives.
How does the messaging of this meme compare to the message of President Bush?
Again, the meme has nothing to do with what President Bush said. I was the one who put up an article about the speech by President Bush. You were impressed and went and found the whole thing. I totally agree with it.
This meme is not about all that. I have continually condemned the murder of George Floyd and have called for police reform and have endorsed peaceful protest (I said I would even march in one). I have put up memes about how most policemen are good people, and serve the community. I have also constantly condemned rioting and exploitation of protests, and looting. None of these views exclude the others. They are all completely harmonious and consistent.
Riots and looting and murder have nothing to do with respecting black people and their communities and desires, etc. To the extent that black people loot and riot and burn and kill (along with many white Antifa types, etc.), they are not helping the black community, nor its image, nor the memory of Floyd and the desire for any racist policing to be stopped forever.
So you ask, “how does it compare?” It’s apples and oranges. Bush condemned the violence as well (in two sentences; but he did):
“We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress.”
So this meme is identical to those two sentences. The rest is about a different topic (and I agree).
I love what President Bush said (which is why I linked to him saying it!): it’s an eloquent and moving statement of conservative / Rev. King-inspired (which is Christianity-inspired) anti-racism and justice and equality of a sort that I have passionately held to my entire life.
If Democrats would just stop regarding conservatives en masse as a bunch of racists, that would be huge progress itself. We don’t improve race relations by lying about scores of millions of people, and falsely accusing them of racism, simply because we disagree with them regarding political solutions to problems.
You wrote: “Bush condemned the violence as well (in two sentences; but he did).”
One sentence midway [two] through a six-paragraph statement.
He devotes the majority of his attention to (1) mourning the death of Mr Floyd, (2) acknowledging the historical wrongs against the African-American community and the legitimacy of their hurts and frustrations, (3) and he urges the rest of the country to really listen to the African-American community before we work together to fix the problem.
Now let’s look at the sentence where President Bush rightfully condemns looting: “Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress.”
One is immediate struck by the tone. It is serious, not sarcastic. And in a time of deep pain and division not just in America, his condemnation of the looting and violence uses words that are presidential rather than polemical.
The contrast between President Bush’s condemnation of looters, and this meme’s condemnation of the same, is especially striking when one considers Bush’s words within the context of the full paragraph in which they appear:
Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.
I know some of our mutual friends now condemn President Bush as a liberal. Personally, while I did not agree with him on everything, I continue to respect him as an elder statesman who is consistently conservative, pro-life, and Christian. I also agree fully with both the content and the tone of his statement responding to the current crisis.
Christians, pro-lifers, and conservatives would do well to listen to his words, and emulate his example.
If one has listened to President Bush’s words and taken them to heart, can one truly state this meme emulates his example?
I have seen photos and videos with people of all races looting and rioting, where I saw the meme, I agreed completely with it, I did not see only black people, I did not notice they were all black. The idea behind the meme stands firm in what its says, people of all races are mourning the death of George Floyd peacefully, people of all races are outraged at how he was murdered. The people in this photo are not mourning, are not protesting his murder, the people in this photo are lawless opportunists looting and destroying. Whether the person who produced this meme chose it because it only showed black people to insert a racist tone or not is not for us to judge, we are not in his head, we don’t know. You immediately saw color; that’s all liberal leaning people look for and see.
Not disputing your pro-life activism–you even have a good decade on me! Nor asking you to shut up about it. Rather, I am trying to discern whether it is a pro-life message or mere partisan polemic.
I follow your explanation of the sentence’s first phrase, which you explain in your first paragraph. You make a good case that it’s pro-life. It’s the second phrase I find confusing, or overtly partisan and polemical so as to distract from the message of the first phrase.
If you’re gonna riot, supposedly because of the death of one black man (I deny that most who are rioting are doing so primarily for that reason; legitimate protesters are different), then you would certainly also riot over 900 black babies being ruthlessly murdered every day.
This is not rocket science, Pete. You’re an intelligent man. You can figure out an analogy and a reductio ad absurdum.
I posted this on several pages and it seems you are the only one so far who doesn’t get it. It’s about hypocrisy: the outrage over one black man, while justified [vs.] the silence of black babies being aborted at these kind of rates. Look at the likes [1,400], shares [2,100], comments. Everyone gets it; why don’t you?
Curious. Yesterday I was was told that I had learned to think like a conservative, and was more concerned about seeking their approval, than about correcting injustice and getting out the message of racial injustice, because I spoke against condoning violence as a form of protest. In fact, I even quoted BLM criticism of Antifa on that topic.
With an elected democracy, I would state all political viewpoints matter. Conservative viewpoints matter. Liberal viewpoints matter. Libertarian viewpoints matter. Green viewpoints matter. Moderate/ Centrist/ Independent viewpoints matter.
It’s the “new pro-life” or “leftist pro-life” mentality that I have been critiquing for many years now. This meme is expressing two concerns at once: concern for black lives and concern for aborted babies’ lives: in this case, black babies, which are 28% of those murdered every day, on average.
What I am less clear about in terms of the meme’s messaging is the following: How does rioting relate to the two concerns you expressed? Is it important enough to draw attention to in this meme, or should the focus be kept on the other two concerns?
I’ve been passionately concerned about race relations and racial justice since 1967 and about the right to life of babies since 1982 when I came to my senses on that issue. I express both here.
Yet you protest it. Somehow by being concerned for the lives of aborted black babies I am sending a message that I care little about the concerns of black people???!!! That makes less than no sense at all.
I think I understand where Pete is coming from. We want to build bridges not walls. The moment a liberal person sees this meme instead of thinking… ‘wow yes I’ve been mistaken, I’m here protesting the life of a man with a past, yet I don’t even think about the 900 innocent black babies that are aborted daily, I’m such a hypocrite’. No, they wont be thinking this at all because abortion is not an immediate concern to them. Instead they will feel ‘unheard’ in their cause. And they will feel as if we are deflecting from the problem at hand and that we who stand for ‘life’ are the ones being hypocrites and bringing in our own agendas. That’s the perception that I think Pete is referring to.
We as pro-lifers understand that, yes, it may be hypocritical that thousands everywhere are protesting one unjust death, but never protest the aborted babies. But this meme is not the answer to get them to ‘hear’ us (if that’s your audience). But if like-minded people are your target audience then this meme may do wonders to get our own indignant monster fed. We have been rewarded by the likes and the shares. But no one from the other side has been touched. And not one additional unborn life will have been saved.
This meme will simply turn them away and close their hearts to us. They will view us as cold and uncaring even if that was not our intention. We can have the best of intentions, but if we do not speak their ‘language’ nor understand where they are coming from, there is no way to even begin a conversation about abortion or the hypocrisy.
There’s a time and place for those conversation (after you have established a relationship with the other), but not now, not when our society is aching and crying out in pain. They are people too and we as pro-lifers, need to put aside our ‘outrage’ and our ‘indignation’ and offer up that moment when we hold back from posting what feels good. We have to practice a little mortification of our emotions, rid ourselves from our religious pride and come down to a level where others can see us and sense our compassion and not our criticism of them by ‘guilting’ them or ‘shaming’ them by ‘using’ these babies bodies as a pawn. When we put aside our indignation and criticism and ‘hear’ them, only then can their hearts be opened. And that is done not with a meme, but one on one, with various conversations and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us. And sometimes it may take years. And that is why this meme is not a good pro-life message.
I too have been aching to share this picture and to ‘give in’ to that angry part of me that sees the hypocrisy. But I know that the moment I do, I will alienate my good friend who’s a liberal and I’ve been building up a relationship with her and ‘guiding’ her through Catholicism. But if I give in to my emotions and share this, I will lose everything I have been building up with her, because I know exactly what she will think of me. It will turn her off and turn her away from me. And that’s not what we are about. We are not about burning bridges and giving in to what feels good. We are about saving souls inside and outside the womb.
I am not commenting because I feel I am oh so enlightened. I’m writing from experience, because I, too want to set ‘them’ straight and ‘defend’ the unborn, and ‘expose’ their hypocrisy. And I too have given into the pride of posting ‘in your face’ memes, and calling the other side ‘the leftist mob’ and it feels good at the moment and it feels righteous and even better when we get likes and our friends repost and our point is proven. But are we really exposing their hypocrisy??? Or our hypocrisy? I can sometimes recognize in me, slowly creeping in, slowing creating the ‘them vs us’ divisions. We tend to become victims of that which we criticize in others and then become blinded to it by the enemy. I’m still learning how to overcome my own religious pride and indignation and ‘be’ present with those I disagree with, with those that oppose what I know to be good, true and beautiful. It’s a journey. And we are all in it together. You are blessed to have a friend who can stand up to you and call it out. That’s a friend who cares about your soul. [comment “liked” by Pete Vere]
Thanks for your articulate exposition of this point of view. I respectfully disagree and have written about this sort of thing many times (its the so-called “old” vs, so-called “new” pro-life debate), but I do understand what you are saying. I think sometimes we have to offend people; that we can’t always be touchy-feely and tell people what they want to hear.
It’s also different sitting in your living room by a fire, talking to a trusted friend, with whom you are building trust, and speaking to a broad audience in a public forum: vastly different. With a close friend, I would almost always act just as you recommend. St. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men.”
There is a time for everything. But there is a reason why Jesus said “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Why do you think that is, Liz? What is it about us that they hate, and what was it about Jesus that made Him so despised and hated (and murdered)? We know it wasn’t sin in His case. Is it always because we Christians are rotten hypocrites and unfeeling jerks that we are so hated, as Jesus said we would be?
But what is the point of posting something that will alienate another? Posting this meme isn’t going to get the point across is it? I doubt that the message you’re intending is getting through to the other person. And it is surely not helping the unborn child. In fact I would dare say it’s only making others dig in their heels more. Having people ‘hate’ us isn’t necessarily the prize or the goal here. When we follow Christ there are those that will ‘hate us’ because of our lifestyle and what we believe in and stand for. But that’s different than being hated for provoking others and shaming them for what they aren’t caring about. And aren’t you assuming that those that are protesting this death do not at all care about the unborn? How do you know they aren’t at the ‘march for life’ as well?
A picture is indeed worth 1000 words and can work both ways… Even though you have extensively written about how much you do care about black lives, this meme at this time may give others the perfection that you care about the 900 unborn babies, but not about this one black life that was ended at this moment in time.
Also in this scenario you may be ‘hated’ because you will be perceived as a hypocrite, not necessarily ‘hated’ for speaking the truth or following Christ or standing up for what is right.
Did you watch Unplanned? This reminds me of the moment Abbey Johnson was won over not by the screaming protesters with the graphic pictures but by the one who reached out to her in love and compassion without any of the emotional provoking graphic pictures.
Are you against showing pictures of the Jews starving in the concentration camps, too? Or the photos of the Nazis murdering victims at mass grave sites? Or drowned illegal immigrant children? How about starving children in many parts of Africa or Christians massacred by the Muslims in Nigeria or the Sudan? You oppose all that on the same grounds, too?
Do you oppose showing pictures of black people being lynched and burned to death, or the ones that show the backs of slaves torn to bits by whips? How about the famous videos where the racist police in the South set the dogs on peaceful black protesters and blasted them with fire hoses? Or the body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was tortured and murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi in 1955?
From an article about the latter:
The National Museum of African American History and Culture considered Till’s mother’s decision to make the world see her son when they decided to include his casket among its exhibits, which also include a pair of shackles so small that they must have belonged to an enslaved child.
“What this museum is going to do is make sure that America remembers that, at one point — and unfortunately some of that still goes on — we killed our children,” said Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the museum’s deputy director.
The Wikipedia article on Emmett Till described the influence of the horrific photograph of his mangled face:
Mamie Till Bradley . . . had insisted on an open-casket funeral. Images of Till’s body, printed in The Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, made international news and directed attention to the lack of rights of blacks in the U.S. South. . . .
She decided to have an open-casket funeral, saying, “There was just no way I could describe what was in that box. No way. And I just wanted the world to see.” Tens of thousands of people lined the street outside the mortuary to view Till’s body, and days later thousands more attended his funeral at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ.
Photographs of his mutilated corpse circulated around the country, . . . generating intense public reaction. According to The Nation and Newsweek, Chicago’s black community was “aroused as it has not been over any similar act in recent history.” Time later selected one of the Jet photographs showing Mamie Till over the mutilated body of her dead son, as one of the 100 “most influential images of all time”: “For almost a century, African Americans were lynched with regularity and impunity. Now, thanks to a mother’s determination to expose the barbarousness of the crime, the public could no longer pretend to ignore what they couldn’t see.”
I’ve said over and over that I am totally opposed to the murder of George Floyd. A person either believes me or not. But I will not stop being opposed to the murder of 900 black babies a day in America (and the 2100 other non-black babies) just so I can win the approval of a pro-abort or a liberal and in order to agree with every jot and tittle of how they go about things.
They say that the prophet Jeremiah preached for sixty years, with absolutely no success or fruit to speak of. Was he to stop preaching the truth because he was utterly rejected?
This debate about showing pictures of abortion has gone on for fifty years now. I continue to find the arguments against it as unconvincing as I always have:
So do I, which is why I am listening to what [peaceful, mainstream, non-rioting and murdering, non-Stalinist, non-fascist, non-anarchist] black people say about George Floyd’s death and entirely agree with it.
I also condemn looting and murder and riots and leftist exploitation of same, and the continuing effort of liberals to make out that conservatism is the root cause of racism and that we are all (including Trump, of course) a bunch of racists.
It’s apples and oranges. I can chew gum and walk at the same time.
It’s because you presuppose that somehow I and other conservatives “don’t get it” and still have remnants of racism in our views, that you judge me for putting up various memes. Yet I entirely get it, and fully endorse what President Bush said. Last I checked, he is a conservative. I voted for him twice and heard him speak in person twice.
By the way, I have not said one word about Black Lives Matter. I haven’t taken a position on them at all in all this.
Do you really think I consider him a racist?
You just can’t comprehend how I can also express all these other things I am expressing. You think they contradict Bush’s message. I say they do not at all, and that it’s apples and oranges.
In terms of President Bush “getting it”. I am not sure if Mr Bush gets “it”, or gets “everything about it”, but as a conservative and an elder statesman he has definitely shown himself open to “listening to it” with an open mind and an open heart, and this is why I keep invoking his example.
I feel strongly that the rest of us–not just conservatives like you and me, but everyone–would do well to emulate his example in this regard.
Especially those of us who are Christian.
How soon we forget! You continually cite George Bush, thinking that liberals will respect his opinion. You apparently have no memory of how they hated his guts when he was President, making out that he was an idiot, imbecile, and ignoramus who couldn’t even speak correctly (and of course, he was — as always –, a racist, just as they said about Reagan and now Trump). They drove his approval numbers to the low 30s before he left office and he was virtually invisible in the last three years or so of his second term. And of course they always said he wasn’t even legitimately elected in 2000, because it was so close and the Supreme Court had to decide it (sound familiar?).
During Hurricane Katrina, they attempted to blame him for the disaster in New Orleans, and make out that he didn’t give a damn about black lives and was literally responsible for the ones who died in New Orleans. I regularly noted in those days, liberals and leftists posting memes of Bush with a Hitler mustache and Nazi uniform. Here are four of those:
Lucky I preserved three of these in my files, as Google is now obviously trying to censor them and hide the past.
In fact, President Bush’s legacy includes profound work in combating AIDS in Africa. According to a History.com article from 2018:
Bush has probably done more than any other president to combat AIDS, particularly in Africa. . . .
In 2002 Bush unveiled the Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative targeting one million mothers in Africa and the Caribbean for treatment in an effort to save the lives of 150,000 babies.
Bush then pushed to devote $15 billion over the next five years. These funds would go to drugs and medical care for about 10 million patients, and also help millions of children orphaned by their parents’ deaths from AIDS. It was considered the largest health initiative ever to target one single disease. . . .
PEPFAR proved to be an impressive achievement: In 2007, the program was considered so successful that Bush asked for a funding increase, totaling $30 billion for the following five year period. In 2008, $39 billion was marked for PEPFAR. . . .
Under Obama, funding for PEPFAR fell.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library dedication brought together five living presidents who have been at odds about much of the 43 rd president’s foreign policy legacy, particularly the Iraq war. But they all agreed on, and offered effusive praise for, Bush’s work on Africa.
From the historic peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan in 2005, to Bush’s work on HIV/AIDS and malaria, all the presidents, regardless of party, thanked No. 43 for his involvement in African policies and issues.
Jimmy Carter – who now runs the Carter Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight for human rights, conflict resolution and global health in the world’s most impoverished countries – laid out Bush’s accomplishments, including increasing aid to the continent by more than 640% by the time he left office.
“Mr. President, let me say that I’m filled with admiration for you and deep gratitude for you about the great contributions you’ve made to the most needy people on Earth,” said Carter.
At more than $5 billion a year in humanitarian aid to Africa, President Bush has given more assistance to the continent than any other president.