Dr. King and the Path of Peace

I’ve been thinking a lot about my post where I decried what I saw as the twin evils of our time, Trumpism and Progressivism. I thought about how my voice on this blog is loud, usually the only perspective that is heard. God has given me a voice, and I am accountable for the way I use it. I’m afraid that in my zeal to condemn all the angry hateful voices that perhaps I inadvertently became one of the hateful voices. I have seen such things happen often on Twitter.

A dear friend of mine shared her feelings of betrayal with me. My views had come as a shock and surprise to her. She had shared her perspective with me hoping to find understanding and friendship, instead I used her words against her and others who think like her. In this way, I feel I owe her and others an apology. Trump supporters have known my position on Trumpism all along and are likely unsurprised by my rejection of the movement. My progressive friends likely feel stabbed in the back because I have been largely in a receptive position. I was born and raised as a “conservative,” with a straw man view of liberal/progressive positions. The rise of Trump has given me the invaluable opportunity to explore the progressive movement more completely, but I have far from a thorough understanding of them or their political views.

My progressive friends have risked a great deal in confiding their views with me. I still reject progressivism, as I see it today, as a solution for the future of our country, but I very much respect and admire my friends that have offered me a view into their world. They deserve to be heard and they deserve to be respected, especially in my church where they have had to live in silence in the shadows for far too long. We are a global church with a shrinking number of members overall who identify as “Republican Americans.” It is past time for us to decouple the church with the Republican Party, especially since the rise of Trump who has shown contempt for so many of our core values as Christ’s disciples. I’m sorry to my Progressive friends for my sharp words. I hope you will still allow me to benefit from your perspective.

So, I make a judgement in apologizing to my friends who identify as Progressives, while not to my friends who identify as Trump supporters. As I have given up on the vain hope of appealing to either side, I choose to do what I think is best and I have my reasons. As much as I dislike Trump and his movement, Trump supporters have a right to hold their opinions, vote their minds, and participate in society like everyone else. If a group of liberal/progressives were bullying a Trump supporter, I would be as likely to come to their aide as if the situation were reversed. I am on no one’s side. I don’t fit in either camp and the no-man’s land I inhabit gets hit with the arrows from both sides. I also have friends on both sides. My efforts to pave a path that is unpopular and out of step is well intentioned, even if it is the height of folly. My Lord judges by my heart and I hope that you, the reader will as well whatever your orientation in the political universe.

I have thought much on Martin Luther King Jr. in the last few days. I have mixed feelings about the Civil Rights Movement, as I have expressed on this blog. I might explore my views on the movement as a whole more completely on another post.

Martin Luther King Jr. lived and taught at a time of division and anger just as we have today. He likely felt pulled to the extreme views of the Nation of Islam. Men like Malcolm X had large numbers of angry followers intent to destroy the government of the white man. He sought to unite minorities against the majority which he saw as white usurpers. He said, “We have a common enemy – we have this in common – a common discriminator, so once we realize we have this common enemy we unite on the basis of what we have in common and what we have foremost in common is that enemy – the white man.” Later he broke ties with the Nation of Islam and took more moderate positions which he thought were better for the country and the promotion of African Americans. He was killed by members of the Nation of Islam. See note 1.

What many people don’t know about the Civil Rights Movement is that it was fueled and amplified in part by Communist covert disinformation and amplification campaigns. The Communist USSR was actively working to foment racial divisions in the United States by stirring up racial minorities to rebellion. See note 2. This had so many benefits for our enemies. The images of black oppression and racial conflict discredited the U.S. among the African nations we were trying to woo toward capitalism, the gross injustices displayed undermined America as an example of human rights and freedom, and it provided the fertile soil in which they hoped to sow the seeds of communist revolution. They were hoping to take advantage of the violence and instability to inject their own ideology as the solution. They would use our division to weaken and possibly destroy their Cold War enemy. For those likely to dismiss this as Red Scare lunacy, these kinds of communist revolutions were successful in countries like Czechoslovakia. They tried to undermine France and Italy, but Western powers united together against the threat of communism.

The Civil Rights movement may have been started by the USSR, but they could not control it. Instead of destroying and weakening America, we became stronger. The Civil Rights movement ended up improving America, stimulating needed changes to our society to make it more equitable. Minority voices were given an avenue for lawful change to improve their lives which defused the racial tensions and ushered in an era of relative racial tolerance that we have benefited from for decades. It showed the world that although America has it’s warts, at least we have a free press to expose them, and a free people to fix them. The former slaves seemed much more willing to work with their former masters to create a free country, than be re-enslaved by communist overlords. This article reveals some of the interplay of communist operatives and Civil Rights groups. See note 3 for my response to the article. See note 4 for an excellent article comparing and contrasting Russian propaganda efforts of the past verses today. See note 5 for information about the communist coup d’etat in Czechoslovakia and communist efforts to sabotage and infiltrate France and Italy.

How did America manage to take a violent movement conceived by our enemies, and turn it to good? We can thank Martin Luther King Jr. and others like him. Although viewed with suspicion and fear by the white people of his time, he has a revered place today in mainstream American culture. In the American psyche, Martin Luther King Jr. became the Civil Rights Movement. His  I Have a Dream speech encapsulated the philosophy he espoused not from the communists, but from Mahatma Gandhi of non-violent resistance. King’s ideas caught fire in a way that Malcom X’s angry vengeance never did. Rather than the violent revolution that the Soviets were gaming for, King was interested in actually improving the racial relations in America. His message resonated with whites and blacks in America who didn’t want to throw away representative government and embrace communist oppression, but make a society more responsive to people who were feeling marginalized. Basically, he offered a vision for the future, one that didn’t involve conflict and hatred, but compassion and understanding on both sides.

You can imagine how his soft approach was taken at first by those who were angry and vengeful. Dr. King was likely seen as cowardly traitor to his black brothers. He was too soft on the enemy; to quick to reach out and forgive. King had experienced racism. He understood their hatred and anger. He could have fed it and used it to give him power and influence. They would have loved him for it. Instead, he turned away. Like Washington, he refused their crown and chose instead to appeal to the better natures of the warring sides, and showed them that there was another path forward; a path of peace and brotherhood.

When enemy positions are fixed and war seems inevitable, sometimes men like Dr. King are needed who will choose love over hate, compassion over retribution, and friendship over demonisation. It is not an easy path. There will be angry people on both sides who want war and not peace. Still, even if it ends like King’s life did, in a pool of blood and an assassin’s bullet, it is still worth it to be that voice. Words of peace, love, and brotherhood are vitally needed, and I am grateful to Dr. King for choosing the harder right and rejecting the easier wrong.

The Russians are up to their old tricks, and in the internet age, they are using their misinformation strategies to achieve gains that would have been unthought of a few years ago. Americans are more divided than I have ever seen in my lifetime. This week a video was circulating on Twitter that showed a young white teenaged boy wearing a MAGA hat, staring down a Native American elder in traditional dress who was beating a drum. I made assumptions about that boy and his motivations just as most people did who watched that short video. It wasn’t until a day later that the entire complex situation came into the light and I had to reexamine my initial impressions. There are two sides that have emerged that see two different narratives equally emotionally charged.

One side sees a child exercising his freedom of speech on a school trip, subjected to hours of cruel racist taunts by adults who malign and misunderstand him. He is singled out as a target, and then demonized by progressives for being in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong cap on his head, doing nothing but standing and smiling. The other side sees a privileged gang of white racists intimidating an old man and a handful of black protesters. Now they are being defended as being blameless for a situation that they created; befriended by the President of the United States who is the embodiment of white privilege. This is the ultimate evidence of systemic racism. Each side condemns the other for being solely to blame for the conflict. Also, notice the timing of the video clips. At first, we see doctored footage made to send one enraging message. That spreads for a day. Then later, the rest of the footage shows the opposite narrative which fuels an outraged backlash. Maximum damage.

Could the Russians have cooked up a more perfect scenario for creating maximum division and discord? You have symbols; the red hat and the Native American garb. You have age; vulnerable child and aggressive adult, or if you prefer, belligerent young man and vulnerable elder. You have race, not two but three! You have numbers, a large group verses two small groups; or if you prefer, two groups against one. It’s a wonder that the situation was as uneventful as it was. It could have been total mayhem with bodies, hospital visits, and arrests. As it was, everyone walked away. Next time, we may not be so fortunate. Our society cannot sustain this level of hatred and animus forever. We must learn to temper our judgments or we play into the hands of our enemies.

One reporter at CNN is pursuing a story about how the first video clips went viral. Apparently a Twitter user who was using a fake profile pic, tweeting 130 tweets per day, had 40,000 followers, and was supposedly a school teacher in California was the one largely responsible for disseminating the video. It has been deleted. So far the account was said to be based in the United States. No word if there is any connection to Russian disinformation, but I would not be at all surprised if there were. See note 6. We must play the Russians and turn the tide away from our destruction as Dr. King helped us to do. We can do it by fostering love and understanding. We can put the good of mankind over the country, and the country over the party.

In a culture of outrage, I choose to use a gentle voice. In an age of being right, I choose to admit I’m wrong. In a generation of the blameless, I choose to accept responsibility. In a world of accumulating hatred, I choose to love. It is the path my Master taught. It is the harder right path that hopes for a better world where kindness is not a liability, where voices of pain are heard and tended to, and where the rights of all are acknowledged and defended. It is the dream of Dr. King, a dream of hope and peace and brotherhood.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X
  2. It is important to note that the USSR enlarged and amplified the racial issues, they did not create them. The USSR did not enslave the Africans, force slavery upon us, or compel us to discriminate and marginalize people. They did look for the weaknesses and moral failings among us, and they used those in their efforts to divide and weaken us, and to create propaganda worldwide to discredit and humiliate us. Our society has moral failings today just as we did back then. We have divisions and marginalized people. We have an increasingly unmoored national identity that is composed of people who engage in transactional relationships of convenience devoid of real human connection that would bind us together. We crave good leadership, but are smothered by complex layers of bureaucracy and political gridlock. In Trump we have mistaken foolish simplicity for honest authenticity. We are progressively abandoning a clear sense that truth can be defined and agreed upon. We need to look at these national challenges as well as the Russian efforts to exploit them and fight against both. A word of caution. As our enemies hold up a mirror to the worst that is within us, there is a temptation to despair. There is a difference between healthy self-scrutiny and demoralizing self-hatred in individuals as well as in nations. We can recognize our failings without allowing them to completely define our national reality. We paved a better future last time when the USSR showed us our dark side. We must do so again today.
  3. This article casts the communists as grassroots reformers motivated by altruism. In context of communism worldwide, I think that assessment is highly unlikely. Communist infiltration and destabilization during the Cold War was rampant even in the United States. It was part of their strategy for world domination. There are two differences between the attacks today and the ones during the Cold War. First is that Russia is no longer Communist in their ideology. They are more aligned with right wing totalitarian nationalism. Because of this, they changed their selection of targets. They have chosen disaffected white people as the primary group to support. They champion the free market and demonize socialism while trying to achieve the exact same ends as their communist predecessors; to destabilize and weaken the country they see as the greatest threat to their continued expansion. As Americans we must never forget that our enemies do not want a more equitable society for us. They do not seek to help anyone in our country. Their efforts are solely to divide and destabilize. If the Russians want to help you, be sure they will only do so at the country’s expense. Putin is no better than Stalin and totalitarian nationalism is no better than communism. They are two sides of the same ugly coin; two extremes that mimic one another in their cruelty and their subjugation of the human mind to the will of the state. For those on the left who are so shocked at the traitorous attitude of the right and their willingness to ally themselves with a foreign power and a corrupt ideology, you might take another look at the red scare of the 1950s. In light of current events, you might see things differently. Now the shoe is on the other foot and the traitors are on the other side. I wonder how NPR will write about the communist election meddling in the future? Hopefully they won’t be so complimentary of Russian machinations.
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/russia-facebook-race/542796/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Czechoslovak_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
  6. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/tech/twitter-account-covington-protest/index.html

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