Over the last couple weeks, COVID-19 has all but disappeared from front page news spreads having suddenly been supplanted by protests, rioting and looting. Yes, George Floyd’s murder was a despicable act of first-degree hate. There should be no debate, nor the excuse of possible extenuating circumstances.
Having said that, it is impossible for me to reconcile the understandable grief with senseless acts of barbarism and destruction which have been perpetrated as payback for this man’s death. If you think that’s a cruel or heartless thing to assert, you should probably go follow a different blog. (I’ll be equally direct in the paragraphs below.)
In 1968, I was a college freshman attending a small Bible school in the suburbs west of downtown Chicago. Since all my classes were scheduled before noon, I held a part-time afternoon job in a downtown bank. The earnings helped pay my tuition. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis TN, shock waves reverberated through a number of urban areas including Chicago.
When the shooting occurred (in the early evening of April 4th, a Thursday), I was hidden away in a bank vault with other college student co-workers. Our supervisor, a man who apparently shared Dr. King’s opinion (below) about previous Chicago demonstrations, ordered us to return home immediately. By the time I arrived back at school (traveling on the “L”), Dr. King had died.
On Friday, April 5th, I was instructed not to report for work. That night, far-off gunshots could be heard through an open window in my dorm room. The eastern sky was eerily lit. On Saturday, National Guard troops were mobilized, as were various Army units. The mayor issued a “shoot to kill” order to discourage arsonists and looters.
I don’t know how long the military stayed, but tension remained high for the rest of the semester. When I returned to work at the bank (a week or two later?) I found one particular image indelibly etched into my memory: uniformed men, bayonets fixed to their rifles, stood ready at each elevated train station along the route into downtown Chicago. It was an awful reminder of how human depravity must be restrained, by force, if necessary.
Turning now to Spring 2020, the notion of “white privilege” or the suggestion I’m guilty of oppressing minorities? I reject such canards. Whether figuratively or literally, I will not be bullied or intimidated to kneel as an act of compulsory “repentance.” (I bow the knee to no one except King Jesus, my Lord and Saviour.) I refuse to engage in self-flagellation. I’m sick to death of this racial-victimization scam as well as the hand-wringing among white progressives and intellectual elites (and sadly, even among some evangelicals anxious to assuage their “white guilt”)! Stop it now!
In his I Have a Dream speech, Dr. King imagined when “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It is my considered opinion the vast majority of Americans, whatever their skin color, have aspired to achieve Dr. King’s dream. In our shared humanity, we often fail, but we keep pressing forward. We’ll continue doing so.
Even though I never met George Floyd, I know something definitive about the man: no matter what else he was, he was both an image-bearer and a broken human being. The same can be said of Officer Chauvin. Two individuals uniquely created in the image of God, they were shackled by sin’s stench on the day their lives collided on a Minneapolis street.
Across the web, numerous thoughtful pieces have covered this tragedy. There’s little I can add to the discussion, except to note how the awfulness of sin continues to destroy people’s lives, livelihoods and relationships. I pray our country can be rescued from itself.