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

An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America Today

Although my name won’t show up for awhile, I just added my name to the signers of the letter below. It appears to me that the letter is clearly aimed at Donald Trump, his evangelical defenders and particularly Trump’s ambiguous response to the racist protests in Charlottesville.

The letter was posted this morning at the Gospel Coalition blog and reblogged by John Fea, which is where I saw it. Below the letter is reproduced in full and I have taken the liberty of adding my name to the list of signers. Other profs who want to sign should contact Mark David Hall using the instructions below.

An Open Letter from Christian Scholars on Racism in America Today

​Like many Americans, we are grieved by recent events in Charlottesville. The white supremacist rally there showed that overt racism is alive and well in America, and that it can turn violent and murderous. As Christian scholars of American history, politics, and law, we condemn white supremacy and encourage frank dialogue about racism today.

​As Americans, we love our country. As Christians, we know that no individual, people, or nation is perfect. Among the most grievous sins committed by early Americans was the enslavement of and trafficking in Africans and African Americans. Slavery was formally abolished in 1865, but racism was not. Indeed, it was often institutionalized and in some ways heightened over time through Jim Crow legislation, de facto segregation, structural inequalities, and pervasively racist attitudes. And other persons of color, including Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans, have often been subjected to official and unofficial discrimination. What we have seen in Charlottesville makes it clear once again that racism is not a thing of the past, something that brothers and sisters of color have been trying to tell the white church for years.

​Racism should be denounced by religious and civic leaders in no uncertain terms. Equivocal talk about racist groups gives those groups sanction, something no politician or pastor should ever do. As Christian scholars, we affirm the reality that all humans are created in the image of God and should be treated with respect and dignity.  There is no good moral, biblical, or theological reason to denigrate others on the basis of race or ethnicity, to exalt one race over others, or to countenance those who do.

​Even as we condemn racism, we recognize that the First Amendment legally protects even very offensive speech. Rather than trying to silence those with whom we disagree, or to meet violence with more violence, we encourage our fellow citizens to respond to groups like the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Ku Klux Klan with peaceful counter-protests. (Indeed, this has been the approach of the vast majority of counter-protesters in recent weeks.) No one is beyond redemption, so we encourage our fellow believers to pray that members of these groups will find the truth, and that the truth will set them free.

We also recognize that white-majority churches and denominations have too often lagged in discussions of racial injustice and inequality, or have even been sources of the perpetuation of white cultural dominance and racial injustice. Because of that history, we pray that America’s churches and Christians will renew their commitment to practical, proactive steps of racial reconciliation and friendship in our cities and towns.

Mark David Hall, George Fox University
Thomas S. Kidd, Baylor University

We, the undersigned, are Christian scholars who endorse this letter.  Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.  [If you would like to add your name to this letter, please send an email to Mark David Hall at [email protected].]
Scott Althaus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bryan Bademan, Anselm House
Richard A. Bailey, Canisius College
Scott Barton, East Central University
David Beer, Malone University
Daniel Bennett, John Brown University
Thomas C. Berg, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Amy E. Black, Wheaton College
Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University
Bradley J. Birzer, Hillsdale College
William S. Brewbaker III, University of Alabama
Margaret Brinig, University of Notre Dame Law School
Matthew S. Brogdon, University of Texas at San Antonio
Thomas E. Buckley, Santa Clara University
Sean R. Busick, Athens State University
James P. Byrd, Vanderbilt University
Jay R. Case, Malone University
Justin Clardie, Northwest Nazarene University.
Robert F. Cochran, Jr., Pepperdine University School of Law
Elesha Coffman, Baylor University
Kimberly H. Conger, University of Cincinnati
K. Scott Culpepper, Dordt College
Michelle D. Deardorff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Michael J. DeBoer, Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law
Jonathan Den Hartog, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, MN
Daniel Dreisbach, American University
W. Cole Durham, Jr., J. Reuben Clark Law School
Mark Edwards, Spring Arbor College
John Fea, Messiah College
Joel S. Fetzer, Pepperdine University
Nathan A. Finn, Union University
Kahlib J. Fischer, Liberty University
Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute
Beverly A. Gaddy, University of Pittsburgh
Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Valparaiso University School of Law
Loramy Gerstbauer, Gustavus Adolphus College
Naomi Harlin Goodno, Pepperdine University School of Law
Christopher R. Green, University of Mississippi School of Law
Jay Green, Covenant College
John G. Grove, Lincoln Memorial University
Darren Guerra, Biola University
Barry Hankins, Baylor University
Rusty Hawkins, Indiana Wesleyan University
Gail L. Helt, King University
Nicholas Higgins, Regent University
Lia C. Howard, Saint Joseph’s University
Andrew Kaufmann, Northwest University
Lyman Kellstedt, Wheaton College
Douglas L. Koopman, Calvin College
Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma
Gerald R McDermott, Beeson Divinity School
Tracy McKenzie, Wheaton College
Ron Miller, Liberty University
Christopher D. Moore, Bethel University
Lincoln A. Mullen, George Mason University
Miles S. Mullin II, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Paul Otto, George Fox University
Mikael L. Pelz, Calvin College.
Jonathan R. Peterson, North Park University
Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame
Otis W. Pickett, Mississippi College
Richard Pointer, Westmont College.
Charles J. Reid, Jr., University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, G.L.O.B.A.L Justice
Shelley Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University School of Law
Gregory Sisk, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin College
Brian A. Smith, Montclair State University
Gary Scott Smith, Grove City College
Sarah A. Morgan Smith, The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University
Chris Soper, Pepperdine University
Andrew Spiropoulos, Oklahoma City University School of Law
Susan J. Stabile, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Justin Taylor, Crossway Books
Boz Tchividjian, Liberty University School Law
H. Paul Thompson, Jr., North Greenville University
Warren Throckmorton, Grove City College
Benjamin Toll, Lake Superior State University
Noah J. Toly, Wheaton College
John Turner, George Mason University
Andrea L. Turpin, Baylor University
Patrick Van Inwegen, Whitworth University
Robert K. Vischer, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
Jennifer E. Walsh, Azusa Pacific University
Micah Watson, Calvin College
Virgil Wiebe, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
John Wigger, University of Missouri
Daniel K. Williams, University of West Georgia
James E. Wren, Baylor Law School
Paul D. Yandle, North Greenville University
John C. Yoder, Whitworth University

Donald Trump Evangelical Advisory Pastor Equates KKK with Mainstream Media

Rodney Howard-Browne is a pastor on Donald Trump’s advisory committee who has come to Trump’s defense after Charlottesville. To give an example of how difficult it is going to be to make progress on the points I raised in my response to Charlottesville, I offer this tweet from Rev. Howard-Browne.

I don’t care how bad you think the “main stream media,” BLM, and antifa are, they are not in the same moral league as the KKK and white supremacists. Let’s take the media for instance. The media documented the aggression of the white supremacists and the slow and confusing response of President Trump. They reported what happened.
On the other hand, Howard-Browne is simply repeating the narrative promoted by the white supremacists in Charlottesville. All throughout the League of the South, Daily Stormer, etc. websites is the story that they were innocent and the violence came from the counter demonstrators.
Rev. Howard-Browne should follow the Twitter feed of Daniel Hosterman who chronicled the aggression of the League of the South and other alt-right demonstrators. Here’s one with a white supremacist attacking a journalist.

Then there is this photo of a white supremacist pepper spraying a counter demonstrator.

Since Howard-Browne blocked me, he probably won’t see this, but perhaps gentle readers could make sure he does.

What Should Christians Do in Response to Charlottesville?

The disgusting displays of racism last weekend in Charlottesville have been a wake up call to many Christians.

luv more peepul
The disgusting displays of racism last weekend in Charlottesville have been a wake up call to many Christians. Some Christian leaders have denounced the resurgence of white supremacists while others have remained silent. The president took two days to declare specifically and clearly that racism is evil. Some evangelicals have defended his slow response while others have called him out for taking so long. Because of the diversity of views under the label evangelical, there is little chance for a unified response among those who identify with that word.
Even though national media statements are important, ultimately the response of local churches will move us toward or away from racial reconciliation. In response to the events in Charlottesville, I hope more Christians will consider at minimum these responses.

1. Denounce racism locally and nationally

There should be no delay for church leaders to denounce racism and racist groups. Statements must be clear and to the point – racism is wrong and antithetical to the Gospel. Racial supremacy is evil and a cancer in the church. Historically, many in the white church fought integration and used the Bible as a reason. This should not be denied or politicized.
Local church pastors and people in the pews must hold national leaders to this same standard. When there is silence from those who have a national platform, we must ask why and mark those who can’t or won’t call out racism.

2. Put aside politics

Whether you supported Trump or not, this is no time to defend the improper actions of your political favorites. Currently, some Trump supporters are defending his slow and confusing response to white supremacy on display in Charlottesville. This political posturing doesn’t help the situation and improperly gives loyalty to Caesar instead of God. On the other hand, Christians must work with the current administration to make change and not simply criticize to score political points against the president.

3. Take the lead in removing Confederate symbols from the public square.

Although this may be controversial, I think it is crucial right now. I believe churches should take the lead in community efforts to remove vestiges of pride in the Confederacy. Some Christians defend Confederate symbols. but I think they are wrong.
Defending Confederate symbols has become a signal for white supremacy. All reasons for flying the Confederate flag or allowing Confederate statues to remain in place ultimately come back to a defense of a painful and evil time in American history. In America today, the display of a Confederate symbol is analogous to the display of a swastika. Americans have the right to free speech but the church is called to a higher standard. I support all lawful means to put Confederate symbols in the museum and out of the public square. Such action would go a long way toward my next point.

4. More action, more learning, less preaching

In addition to action to attack racist symbols, evangelicals, especially those in majority white evangelical churches, must talk less and learn more. White evangelicals must learn about white privilege and the vast differences in perception of society. African-American and whites often see problems and solutions differently. As a white evangelical, I need to listen and learn more, and talk less. I realize as I write this that I may not have gotten more wrong than right in this article. I welcome dialogue and see this piece as an effort to contribute to discussion and learning.
There are two organizations I can recommend (there are many good ones, I just happen to know the leaders of these groups).
Race to Unity
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