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From Vegas to Jerusalem: Global Violence Continues with Silence

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When a person is physically distanced from a terror attack it is easy to mentally disconnect and think, “That could never happen to me.”

Over the past year, global terror has intensified.

Israel has witnessed it all year, not just on October 7 when Hamas terrorists breached the border between Israel and Gaza to commit heinous acts of terror against innocent civilians including murder, rape, and kidnapping. On January 27, a Jerusalem synagogue was attacked. On April 7, three British nationals visiting Israel to celebrate Passover were murdered. Time and time again, Israel has faced terrorist attacks and much of the world has turned a blind eye, chalking it up to a geopolitical issue from which they can detach.

But terror attacks can happen anywhere.

I have lived in Las Vegas for eight years, and I decided to spend a year in Israel before enrolling in university. Until the Hamas attack on October 7, I had never felt physical danger.

On December 6 my home city’s college, University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), faced a shooting. While I was not physically present, my father and many of my close friends were. Fortunately, no one I knew was injured or physically harmed by the perpetrator, but the mental toll is evident.

The threat of violence exists everywhere and complacency ensures that it will never end.

When the Israel-Hamas war began, many of my fellow program participants left the country as fast as they could, and I initially did as well. I stayed in England with my grandmother for more than a month.

While there, my friends and I were forced to hide our Judaism for fear of violence. This has been a common experience for my Jewish friends across the world.

On college campuses, including UNLV, there have been antisemitic graffiti, threats of another intifada (wave of violence), and extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. There have been incidents of violence committed against Jews globally.

Despite this, many people who had previously advocated against violence remained silent. This includes the Black Lives Matter movement, which garnered heavy progressive support due to its positions on police brutality and racism against black people. However, after the October 7 attack, a Chicago chapter of BLM veered away from the organization’s purported mission by posting a picture of a Hamas paraglider, appearing to celebrate the October 7 atrocity.

Additionally, top-ranked colleges Harvard, MIT, and UPenn failed Jewish students when they did not condemn calls for Jewish genocide. There is a double standard regarding violence as it pertains to Jewish people. The silence and support in response lead to a global society where the murder of innocent people is perceived as justice.

When I decided to return to Israel in late November, many people cited the inherent risks due to the ongoing war. People asked me to come home to Las Vegas to ensure my safety. Now many of those people were caught on campus during the recent shooting incident.

Shootings on college campuses have been prevalent throughout the past year, including at many institutions that my friends attend. UNC, Michigan State, and Georgia State to name a few. While they may pale in comparison to the October 7 massacre, there is a pattern to much of this violence that shows parallels to the Hamas attacks: the perpetrators have sought to cause maximum damage.

If this isn’t recognized, the cycle will continue.

The lesson must be: Stand up to hatred and violence even when it doesn’t directly affect you. Because it soon might.

Amber Lovat, who resides in Las Vegas, is currently interning at HonestReporting during her Masa-run Aardvark gap year in Israel program.

Liked this article? Follow HonestReporting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to see even more posts and videos debunking news bias and smears, as well as other content explaining what’s really going on in Israel and the region.

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Honest Reporting is a website that seeks to bring balance to the left slant in the major news media.

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Biden DOJ Holocaust Remembrance Day Speaker uses speech to address ‘attacks against black people—the most targeted group’

Two teenagers were arrested Wednesday, after a deadly mass shooting left four dead and 32 people injured.

The shooting happened at Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio in Dadeville, Alabama, on Saturday. Four days later, Alabama authorities announced the names of the two teenagers being charged, brothers Ty Reik McCullough, 17, and Travis McCullough, 16. The teens are being charged with four counts of reckless murder. Special Agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) arrested the teens, according to reports from Fox News. 

“These individuals have been charged after a complex and thorough investigation was conducted with assistance from a multitude of law enforcement agencies,” the ALEA said in a statement. As the investigation continues no further information, “is available” according to the statement made by the ALEA.

In a report from Fox News, it was said that “gunfire broke out Saturday at a birthday party for Alexis Dowdell, which was being held at the dance studio just off the town’s courthouse square. Witnesses have said multiple people began shooting some time after Dowdell’s mother paused the celebration to ask people with guns to leave.”

The lives lost in this horrific shooting were, Phil Dowdell, the brother of the birthday girl, Dadeville High senior Shaunkivia Nicole Smith, 17, 2022 Opelika High School graduate Marsiah Emmanuel Collins, 19, and 2018 Dadeville High graduate Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23.

The whereabouts of where the two are being jailed is not known as of now. Sgt. Jeremy J. Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, wouldn’t disclose the location of where the teens are being held.

Sgt. Burkett said, “We can’t get into a motive right now, because that would be part of an ongoing investigation.”

Moreover, during the months of March and September the grand jurors of Tallapoosa county meet but, District attorney Mike Segrest said he would recall them before September to indict the teens. “If we can establish the facts, we will be asking our grand jury to come back in.”

Follow Alexander Carter on twitter @AlexCarterDC for more stories!

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NOTE: The opinions expressed in the Sara Carter posts are not necessarily (but probably pretty much) the opinions of Cogny Mann.

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Gene Demby race reporter
Thoughts

If Ben Carson Likes Trump, Is He Racist?

(A guest post by “The Average White Guy”)

Being the average white guy that I am, you can imagine the flood of sweet emotions that flowed from my belly this afternoon as I heard a story on NPR‘s “All Things Considered,” which was about a study that explores “the links between politics and racial bias.”

The description of the story says,

A new study looks at the link between racial bias and the Tea Party. Researchers found that people who looked at images of Barack Obama that were edited to make his skin look darker were more likely to express support for the Tea Party.”

Now I’m not going to be so stupid as to suggest that there are no white people who hate president Obama because he is black. Believe me, I’ve met a few of them myself. But it is so aggravating to be told by Gene Demby that the reason I myself hate Obama is because he is a black man.

Gene Demby, You Don’t Know Me.

You strike me in your reports as one of those black guys who sees a racist under every bush; you seem to come across sometimes as a guy who easily stereotypes whites based on preconceptions that seem to have nothing to do with the way I think or with the beliefs I hold.

I don’t hate Obama because of the color of his skin. It stuns me how many black people seem to want to reduce every issue down to the single issue of how it affects black people, how whites treat black people, who whites see themselves as white people. Says Mr. Demby,

We’ve done a few stories on whiteness in our current political moment. Whiteness is a thing that is becoming explicit in people’s understanding of themselves as white. So it sort of makes sense that here’s this guy who’s the president of the United States. He’s incredibly prominent.

For the first time in the history of the country, he is not a white person. He’s sort of the avatar of this demographic change. And so he animates and activates a lot of anxieties around whiteness becoming explicit.

I will admit I have a strong dislike for the man. But it’s not because he is black. It’s because of what he is doing to the country. I’m not sure why, but based on your frequent racial biases, I would bet that you might find that hard to believe. That’s ok. I have a similar disdain for Hillary Clinton, and it’s not because she is female. But you’ll probably want to try to sell that story to everyone else. I could expect you actually believe this to be the case. I feel sorry for you if you believe that, though. And let me ask you a question:

Did You Vote For Obama Because He Is Black?

I am stunned at the number of black people who insist that I would vote against Obama because he is black; but when I ask if they voted for him because he is black, they insist it is not because of his color, but because of his policies. It’s funny how in their minds, blacks can vote objectively but white people can’t. Is that racist thinking?

Mr. Demby, Have You Ever Heard Of Alan Keyes?

You look like a youngster to me, Mr. Demby. So maybe you were too young to be aware of a time when a guy named Alan Keyes wanted to run for president back in 1996 and 2000. It was back in the days of Bill Clinton. I wanted Keyes in so bad, compared to the white guy, Bill Clinton. I really did. Does that surprise you?

Let Me Make A List For Your Response

Let me make a list of some guys I think would make outstanding presidents, and any of whom I would vote for in a heartbeat – over Obama, Clinton, McCain, Bush (senior OR junior) and even over Trump (especially over Trump).

Ready?

Alan Keyes. Ben Carson. Tim Scott. Thomas Sowell. Colonel Allen B West. Clarence Thomas.

Should I go on? Or do you begin to see a pattern here? It’s not an exhaustive list. I could add Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and a host of others. But that would confuse the issue. Please don’t miss the point of the list.

I know you’re “color-blind” in your thinking. You’re black, after all. And we all know that blacks can’t be racist. But did you notice the list? Notice what they all share in common?

They’re all CONSERVATIVE. Did you notice that?

Oh yeah. They’re all… Never mind. You can figure this out. I will even give you a picture.

CarsonScottSowellWestThomas

There are a LOT of black people in the Tea Party. Maybe you missed that; maybe, like Jesse Jackson, you don’t really think “they’re black enough.” The relatively low proportional content of blacks in the Tea Party doesn’t mean they’re racist. It means blacks don’t always agree with their policies. But they’re not going to change their policies to make blacks feel “welcome.” They want to get ALL people – black, white and green – to understand that conservatism is the only way to save the country from slipping into a moral abyss.

EVERYONE is welcome at the Tea Party – if they agree with their ideology and vision for the country – one nation, UNDER GOD, with liberty and justice for ALL.

But while I toss out names, let me throw another at to you.

Ever Heard Of Booker T. Washington?

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American Author and an advisor to several American presidents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a republican. (Yes, Virginia. There have been black republicans before.)

Booker T has an amazing quote that testifies greatly against the Black Lives Matter movement and other members of the “black grievance industry” like Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson and the reverend Al Sharpton. Booker once said…

There is a class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.

Now if a white guy were to say that, you might have a race war on your hands these days. But Booker T has a pass on this one because he is “one of you.” Or maybe he isn’t. Maybe, as Jesse Jackson said about Obama before he was elected, “he’s not black enough.”

Are You A Racist, Mr. Demby?

It seems the likes of Jesse and Al seem to think you’re not really a black man unless you think like them – as if you have exclusive claim to a special “underclass” title; and any black man or woman who doesn’t agree with you is a sellout – an uncle Tom.

Is that you? Do you recognize that I even exist? A white guy who, like Martin Luther King Jr., longs for a day when

people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. (M L King)

But from my side, we are constantly dogged in the conversation by the fact that in situations like Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, where the only scars on George were on his face and the back of his head, and the only scars on Trayvon were on his knuckles, we have a president who decides to bring in the whole weight of the federal justice department and to use it as a soapbox for giving his lectures about how Trayvon could be his son.

This president is the most racially divisive president to fill the White House in the last 50 years. Do you have any sense of how many federal cases have been made over perceived “white on black” injustice, immediately dragging in the full weight of the justice department for federal investigations? How many “black on white” crimes have gotten the same treatment?

You have the privilege of living at a time where we have a black president, a black attorney general and a justice department headed up by a person of african-American descent. And yet, you insist that it ain’t over until it’s over. Sorry, but you still want to take every issue that Trump raises and every issue that resonates with me and squeeze it through your very flat and one-dimensional sausage-grinder, spitting out little “racist cakes” at the other end of the line that don’t look like me at all. They look like your prejudiced concept of what “every white man” thinks.

But it’s not me.

Illegal aliens in the economy are enough of a drain to pull the whole country down. It has nothing to do with color. It has to do with economics. While you might want to think this country is big enough to welcome everyone from everyone and let them all partake at the trough that is public assistance, the grim reality is that the system cannot afford it. It’s NOT about race. It’s about not overloading the lifeboat to the point where we all drown. But all you see is color.

And while you might not think much of religion (I don’t profess to know if you have any strong religious beliefs or not) there are many of us who recognize that it’s NOT hard to figure out the motives of the shooter in Orlando. He TOLD US what his motives were for shooting up gays in a night club were. He said he was doing it in the name of ISIS and in the name of ALLAH. HE was acting on his firmly held radical Islamic beliefs. If you want to pick up the narrative that it wasn’t that,  and that it must have been something else, and that this kind of behavior doesn’t represent “true Islam,” then we are worlds apart on why we want controls and better screening of the Muslims entering this country.

But it’s not because I’m racist. And you don’t  know me.

Put your thinly disguised racial prejudices aside and please try to see that maybe, just maybe, it’s about ideology.

And get to know me.

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Was Journalist & Podcast Host Terrell Starr Duped Into Believing Israel Is a Racist ‘Apartheid’ State?

“I’m in Israel and Palestine [sic] to learn more about what’s happening here so I can speak intelligently about the conflict,” independent journalist and popular podcast host Terrell Jermaine Starr told his 324,000 Twitter followers shortly after disembarking the plane in Tel Aviv on March 16, 2023.

Yet within days of his first-ever trip to Israel and the West Bank, Starr seemingly became a full-blown pro-Palestinian activist, accusing the Jewish state of maintaining a system of “apartheid” and downplaying antisemitism while retweeting some of the most rabid Jew-haters, including Mariam BarghoutiEtan Nechin, and Muhammad Shehada.

What happened to Starr’s promise to be “as responsible and educational as possible”?

A closer examination of the journalist’s incorrect claims on Twitter reveals the possibility that he was duped by radical anti-Israel groups that work to delegitimize the country’s very existence. In this in-depth piece, we will dissect three of the worst lies fed to Terrell Starr by the likes of B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

MYTH: ‘Palestinians Are Living Under an Apartheid State’

Terrell Starr was introduced to the region by B’Tselem, a Jerusalem-based NGO that receives over half of its funding from (primarily European) governments. In January 2021, B’Tselem published a false report arguing that Israel was no longer a democracy but, rather, an “apartheid regime” devoted to cementing the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians.

Starr admitted to receiving the report, titled “A Regime of Jewish Supremacy From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This Is Apartheid,” as part of this month’s press junket.

Aside from changing the very definition of the word “apartheid,” B’Tselem put Israel in the docket by misconstruing well-established facts. As the Irish actor Rory Cowan wrote in response to Starr’s distressing tweets about Israel: “I visited Gaza and Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) many times. I visited all over before the intifadas. And I spoke to people from all backgrounds. [I] never saw what Terrell claims.”

Despite B’Tselem’s clearly politicized agenda and instances where it has been caught fabricating events in an effort to demonize Israeli troops and civilians, its “investigations” and statements — often adorned with the European Union logo — have nevertheless been taken at face value by journalists around the globe, with Starr being only the latest reporter to fall prey to B’Tselem’s hostile propaganda campaign.

MYTH: Israel Turned Hebron Into a ‘Segregated’ Ghost Town

During his March 23 visit to the West Bank city of Hebron, Terrell Starr was guided by Breaking the Silence (BtS), another fringe Israeli organization with a history of spreading false and misleading allegations against Israel and its military, usually based on anonymous and unverifiable testimony.

BtS tour participants are shown a very restricted fragment of the old town area, and unfailingly leave Judaism’s second-holiest city under the impression that it is a “ghost town” suffering due to IDF restrictions on movement. In fact, it’s nothing of the sort: Hebron is a bustling, thriving place, and serves as one of the main economic hubs for West Bank Palestinians. It counts 17,000 factories and workshops, four hospitals, three universities, and a 4,000-seat basketball stadium.

The few streets in which Palestinian civilian movement is restricted (in view of ongoing terror threats) comprise less than one percent of the entire city. Meanwhile, Jewish Israelis are explicitly banned from entering the 80% of Hebron that falls under Palestinian Authority (PA) control.

Unfortunately, Starr’s tweets amplify the one-sided narrative that Breaking the Silence sold him. In one post from March 23, he said to have witnessed a Palestinian home that “settlers took… over with IDF support.” The homes in question, however, are Beit Rachel and Beit Leah, two buildings near the Tomb of the Patriarchs that were legally purchased from an Arab family in 2012.

A PA court at the time sentenced the man who reportedly arranged the sale, Muhammad Abu Shahala, to death for the crime of selling property to Jews. Did anyone say apartheid?

MYTH: Israel Is a Racist, Colonial State

In addition to charging the Jewish state with “pure racial segregation” because it upholds the mutually-agreed Hebron Protocol, Terrell Starr also retweeted a post implying that Israel’s recently restructured national guard would, for some reason, be deployed to “attack Arab and Black Israelis first.”

The two tweets seemingly seek to frame the Israeli-Arab conflict through the lens of American race relations, echoing attempts by a small subset of antisemitic “social justice” activists to paint Israel as a racist, colonial project. The conflict, however, is neither based on race nor the exploitation of natural resources. It is a centuries (even millennia) old conflict mainly rooted in religion and control over the Holy Land.

Jews, Muslims, and Christians in this region are multi-ethnic and from all races. Israeli policies and security forces distinguish not by skin color or ethnicity but by civic identity i.e. Israeli citizens and non-citizens.

Like every country, Israel struggles with informal societal tensions; between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, between Jews and Israeli Arabs, as well as between secular and religious people. Ethiopian Israelis have also suffered from discrimination. Yet state-sanctioned racism is not only absent, but it is furiously combatted by Israel’s laws — including the semi-constitutional Basic Laws — and judicial system.

Israel’s re-establishment cannot be dismissed as a colonial enterprise since Jews have lived in the Land of Israel for millennia. And those Jews who, more recently, immigrated to what would become the modern State of Israel were actually returning to their roots.

Related Reading:

Black History Month: Dr. King, Black Lives Matter… and Israel

Starr is planning to return to the region with the purpose of “building Israel and Palestine into [his] core foreign affairs knowledge base” and producing journalistic content on the subject “very soon.”

May we suggest he drop by our Jerusalem office for a more balanced viewpoint?

Found this article informative? Follow the HonestReporting page on Facebook to read more articles debunking news bias and smears, as well as others explaining Israel’s history, politics, and international affairs. Click here to learn more!

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Islam and Special Interest Groups
Analysis, NEWS CURRENT EVENTS

Islam, Special Interests, And The End-Run Around The Church

I wouldn’t say that it’s a partnership, to be sure. At their core beliefs, if these groups (the groups like gay rights groups, black lives matter, etc. and hardline believers Islam) were to compare notes, the former groups would be killed by the latter group if the tables were turned and the same players were suddenly transported to pretty much any middle-eastern culture – Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, etc., etc..

WHAT IS THIS CURIOUS DANCE BETWEEN RIGHTS GROUPS AND ISLAM?

But for some reason, in the modern West, gay rights groups often seem to be willing to form emotional ties to those in the Muslim community, standing up for them as “oppressed minorities,” and seemingly simply because they seem to feel oppressed themselves; and in that frame of mind, perhaps they find a sensitivity and/or feel a need to identify with other groups who are “oppressed.” And it seems there is no end in some places (for some of the Muslim belief) of complaints about being spoken badly of and not able to practice their religion as freely as they would like, or to not be spoken badly about.

It seems to be an odd phenomenon that also occurs between blacks in the “black lives matter” groups and the black panthers. When the protests were going on in Baltimore, there were some strange alliances between the “black lives matter” protesters and black panther/Muslim groups.

There doesn’t seem to be any kinship between these different groups except that you have groups (blacks, gays) who feel oppressed and other groups (Muslims – not all of them, for sure, but some) who will will capitalize on that feeling, giving a false sense of “we identify with your struggle” in order to gain their trust and draw them in to strategic alliances of sorts – in protests, demanding of the silencing of the Judeo-Christian voice which still remains in the culture.

Special Interests, Gay Rights Groups And Islam

The frightening thing that most in the “black lives matter” and gay rights groups don’t see is how this is the type is that some (SOME – NOT all) in the Muslim way of thinking may well have intentions of allowing these gay rights groups and “black lives matter” types do their dirty work for them – by allowing these special-interest groups to do the marching, the protesting and the heavy lifting of getting laws entrenched to silence the Judeo-Christian conscience that remains in our society, so that once this is done, the laws can be changed to make speaking out against their beliefs “hate speech” and therefore doing so will be a hate crime. There is a house resolution before congress about this:

Muslims are 1% of the population and sharia is already being enforced on the American people. Speak out now and prepare to take action or, as history has proven, your children and theirs will be the victims of Islamic supremacy and they will have to fight the physical war to defeat Islam. It’s clear which side the current U.S. government is on, and it’s not yours. via The Rule of Reason ::  Weblog of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism

Stephen Coughlin alerted me to a House Resolution introduced on December 17th,H.Res.569, “Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.114th Congress (2015-2016).” As of this writing, the country remains clueless about this development.

Brigette Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian speaks openly about this type of thing happening historically in her native Lebanon, though it was much more violent and insidious. She speaks of how Lebanon was a peaceful country and culture where the government was a secular one; and yet, certain radical-leaning Muslims worked their way into places of influence in civil and federal government until they hit a critical mass; and then, within weeks,  they were coming down, hard and heavy on the general population – killing people in the streets, demanding they convert to Islam or die, slicing pregnant women’s bellies open in the streets and killing their babies in front of them, all supposedly “in the name of spreading Islam.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mo7ZU_iZak

In her book, “Because They Hate,” she discusses some brutal methods used by the PLO to terrify and intimidate Christians to bring Islamic conversions:

They started massacring the Christians in city after city. The Western media seldom reported these horrific events. Most of the press was located in West Beirut, controlled by the PLO and Muslims. One of the most ghastly acts was the massacre in the Christian city of Damour, where thousands of Christians were slaughtered like sheep. The combined forces of the PLO and the Muslims would enter a bomb shelter and see a mother and a father hiding with a little baby. They would tie one leg of the baby to the mother and one leg to the father and pull the parents apart, splitting the child in half.

A close friend of mine became mentally disturbed after they made her slaughter her own son in a chair. They tied her to a chair, tied a knife to her hand, and, holding her hand, forced her to cut her own sixteen-year old son’s throat. After killing him they raped her two daughters in front of her. They would urinate and defecate on the altars of churches using the pages of the Bible as toilet paper before shooting and destroying the church. Americans just don’t realize the viciousness of the militant Islamic fundamentalist. They refuse to see it even when they look today at video footage of churches being burned in Iraq or different parts of the world or synagogues being destroyed in Gaza.

I DO NOT HATE MUSLIMS

I do not hate Muslims. And for the record, I will be among the first to say that I perceive the great majority of Muslims (I do believe, even in the Middle East) believe it is wrong to kill people simply because we have a different ideology. I think many people who embrace Islam do so with an ache in their hearts for how badly they believe that people with an ISIS mentality misunderstand and misapply the Quran to support what these more moderate Muslims believe to be pure evil. (And if you’re a moderate Muslim in a country that is infiltrated by a critical mass of people in ISIS, you’re going to keep your mouth shut just to survive. Who could blame any of them for that?)

Here in the west, especially, there seem to be a number – a large, significant number – of Muslims who see the need to not entrench sharia law in our legal repertoire. They are what I (and many who are students of Islam) believe to be what would be called the more “moderate” flavor of Islam. I believe these people are kind, compassionate, hospitable and are as interested as we are – we, meaning Evangelical Christians – in allowing people to live freely according to their own beliefs, without compulsion.

But if you look at Germany in the 1930’s, and what Hitler did there, you’ll see that it didn’t take much of a percentage of the population who was radical, combined with a critical mass of the population who stayed silent for mere self-preservation for that evil to thrive and flourish to the point where they were able to kill over 6 million Jews – not to mention all the persecution of gypsies, some Christian/Catholic people and others in the mix.

JESUS COMMANDS US TO LOVE EVEN OUR ENEMIES

For the record, I want to be clear that if Jesus commands us to love even our enemies, then how much more should we strive to love those who might oppose Him if it is only out of ignorance and because of what they have been wrongly taught.

There are two different incidents in the scriptures where Jesus spoke about a similar topic, and if you aren’t careful to understand the context, then from an outsider’s point of view, you might be inclined to see them almost as contradictory statements.

There was the time Jesus said, “he who is not for me is against me.” (Matt. 12:30)

There was also the time Jesus said, “he who is not against me is for me.” (Mark 9:40)

Perhaps some of the processing we need to do as the body of Christ regarding how we interact with our Muslim neighbors is in discerning the difference between “he who is not for me” and “he who is not against me.” Rick Warren has tried to bridge this gap in working toward common goals with Muslims who are trying to bring peace to rule, and he has been hammered mercilessly by some in the evangelical church. This is embarrassing. I’ve written about this elsewhere, and you need to be aware of what he did and didn’t say, in light of all his false accusers who make him out to be “the antichrist.”

We need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). We also need to shine like lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. And there may come a time where we shine the brightest even as we lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel.

If we do, we should always remember that Jesus, who died for us and rose again, who is seated at the right hand of the father, stood up in tribute to Stephen as he entered into glory to be with Jesus (Acts 7:56).

But our hearts should be right as we witness, whether in life or in death, always aware that even Saul killed some in ignorance, thinking he was serving God in the process. But eventually, after sewing the blood of the martyrs, which is the seed of the church, God converted him. He went on to plant churches, write two thirds of the new testament and eventually lay his own life down for the sake of the gospel.

Never forget that these people, who may well persecute you someday, might well be the very ones that God will want to use you to draw to the saviour.

Jesus loves these dear people – all of them – the gays, the “black lives matter” folks, the Muslims. We cannot afford to despise any of them, though we disagree with them about who our saviour is and about how they must live to please him.

So be sure always to be “on your knees in your heart,” knowing that it is being in that posture before God where you become the most effective in showing anyone who Jesus truly is.

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NEWS CURRENT EVENTS, OpenLetters

An Open Letter To New York’s “Black Lives Matter” Leader Hawk Newsome

An Open Letter To Hawk Newsome

Dear Hawk;

My readers might not be familiar with the name “Hawk Newsome.” But many probably saw a recent viral video of you at a recent Trump rally, where you took the stage to speak for two minutes to speak to the Trumpers there about what is on your heart about your cause – the Black Lives Matter movement.

I did watch the video with great interest. If nothing else, it brought home the reality that so much of the division in the country between different racial factions might actually come closer to being bridged if we just gave each other the chance to speak and if we really listen to each other.

Actually, I don’t know that I would have thought to write this open letter to you, simply based on what I heard in that speech on the video. What has prompted me to write is that I heard an interview you did recently with Detroit’s Stephen Henderson on NPR’s local station WDET. I listened to that interview with a greater interest than I even had about the video.

And actually, it was some of the ideas that the two of you seemed to hold in common that prompted me to write .

First of all, know that I loved your speech.

What you said was right on the money. “We don’t want anything that’s yours; we don’t want handouts. We want our God-given right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (CHEERS). “All lives matter, right? If we want to make America great, we do it together.”

You made some other great points. Like, “the great thing about America is that if you see something broken, you can do something to fix it.” Amen to that. It’s a great country, even with all its flaws.

I suppose there might have been a point or two that struck me as a little off. But to nitpick about the finer points isn’t fair to you. After all, can you really find any two people that agree on everything? If I were to challenge every detail, it would miss the point you were trying to hammer home. I heard loud and clear what I believe your heart was. I believe your point was that you don’t want conflict. You want to make things better.

Based on how you handled yourself, you strike me as a good man.

In fact, I really wish we could talk. I think I would benefit from knowing you.

Having said that, and In the spirit of trying to create effective dialog, I want to say a couple things that I wish you and others in the BLM movement could understand. It doesn’t seem that the majority of your followers typically do. But then, I may be wrong. I don’t know any of them personally, so how would I know? I only get what I get from the news, and we all know how distorted and selective those messages can be, no matter who does the reporting, right?

So you can get a radar fix on where I am coming from, I will say, in the interest of you hearing my take on this, that I am what I would call a “reluctant Trumper.”

Now, I don’t propose to speak for all Donald Trump supporters. After all, as you know, there are among them some KKK members, some skinheads and some other people who just hate black people because they are black.

That is not me. Those people make me ill. They really do. And the fact that they are happy that Donald Trump got into office is annoying. Those types don’t get at all why Trump would get my vote.

I believe I am more the norm for a “Trumper” as opposed to them. You see, in my travels and in my interaction with others, the bulk of the Trump supporters I meet are kind of like me: we dislike the hate groups as much as you do. We hate what the KKK stands for; we loved Martin Luther King and embraced his ideas many years ago when they were fresh. We, too (whether or not you know it) have a dream that somehow we could all somehow become “color-blind.”

Anyway, the reason I am writing is this:

I  found it curious how you and Stephen agreed on a particular point that seemed a little strange to me.

If I understood the conversation, you both seemed to have the idea that perhaps these Trump fans, when presented with the ideas you put forward at that rally, might have somehow, in that moment, all sort of come to the conclusion that some of the points you were making just started to make sense in context; as if somehow, when confronted with your thoughts, they might have suddenly realized for the first time that your interests as BLM aren’t all that unreasonable. I believe you both wondered if you might have somehow penetrated the “Trump rhetoric” on the right that had been clouding their thinking all along until that very moment you spoke.

But with all due respect, Mr. Newsome, I don’t think you get it.

I wondered if  you might have gotten it the day of your speech, based on the remarks you made at the end of the video. But in this interview it seems you may have reprocessed the experience to the point of missing the golden nugget that was there for you.

May I suggest there might have been something else happening at that rally that led to all the unexpected applause?

If (as is likely) the people at that rally are anything like me, the reason they were cheering when you brought those ideas forth was not because, in a moment of sudden inspiration, the scales fell off their eyes and your ideas made sense for the first time, as if they had never thought that way before.

No, Mr Newsome. If that is what you think, then I believe that you are out of touch with where the average Trump supporter is, and where much of where conservative America is.

Those people cheered because for a long time now, they already embraced the ideas you were presenting in that speech; and in that instant, they cheered robustly to try to communicate that fact.

They cheered when you spoke about police brutality against blacks because they already hate it when it happens; they cheered when you said, “all lives matter, right?” because they already do believe all lives matter, including black lives. And even though they recognize that many in the BLM movement find the phrase “all lives matter” to be belittling to the cause of BLM, they were cheering because you were acknowledging to them (in that moment, anyway) that you might be hearing them a little bit, too. They want peace, justice and equality as much as you do.

But if I can speak as one Trump fan who hates racism, and who freely admits that there are still many areas where there is racial injustice in the USA –  there is something that bothers me.

It bothers me when much of what we see from BLM is so much of the stuff that you didn’t say in that speech.

Don’t get me wrong. I thought you did a commendable job in the moment. I think you might well have felt you were walking into the gates of racist hell. No one, off the cuff, confronted by a swarm of people he perceives to be his enemies, will always do a perfect job of delivering the exact message he wants to get across. Considering the time frame and the feelings I’m sure you had, you did a bang-up job. It was commendable.

But what you didn’t say in that speech, what you didn’t address and what was likely on the hearts and minds of many in that crowd were the many questions, problems and complaints that people on my side of this issue are constantly grappling with.

You didn’t speak to the violence that comes from the BLM side of the movement. You didn’t address the rhetoric like “what do we want? Dead cops. When do we want ‘em? Now!” You said nothing to acknowledge that any of the violence perpetrated by the BLM movement is a little over the top, or that assassinating white police officers in ambush style is also a terrible waste of lives in the “ALL Lives Matter” movement.

But you only had two minutes.

You were putting your best foot forward to show us that you are not an unreasonable man, and your movement isn’t asking for unreasonable changes. I get that.

I also recognize that there is the leadership in a movement and then there is the membership which may or may not embrace or even understand the views of the leadership. So often there seems to be much more heat than light in the lower ranks of any organization.

So I don’t hold any of that against you in your “one crack at the bat,” two-minute speech. There were much more important points that you needed to make. And from my side, it’s alright. And from my side, I believe you needed to understand that your ideas were already embraced by many whom you thought were opposed to you.

I will also say that I would love to have a chance to get to know you, to hear your heart and your story. Because, from my side of this….

I freely admit that I probably understand little of your experience.

I will never forget the moment when I had an occasion about 15 years ago to speak with a young man who travelled down from Michigan to work in Springhill, Tennessee. He told me about an incident that occurred when he was checking into a local motel down there for the first time in town. His story was shocking to me as much as it was shocking when he first experienced it.

As he told the story, it was that he (a white man) was standing in line at the motel counter. There was a white woman working behind the desk. She was taking care of a white woman who was first in line. Behind her was a black lady, second in line. And he was standing behind her, third in line. He said the black woman in front of him had two dollar bills in her hand, and he assumed this black lady was waiting for change for the vending machine.

As the story went, the white female clerk finished with the first customer – the white woman, and (in his words) looked right through the black woman at him and said, “yes sir. Can I help you?”

He was a little surprised; but not knowing exactly what was going on, he said to the clerk, “that’s ok. You can help her first. I think she just needs change for the vending machine.”

And in an instant, the clerk’s countenance changed. She reached into her till, counted out 8 quarters and slammed them on the counter, grabbed the bills from the black woman and said to him in a quite harsh tone, “what do you want?”

He was stunned when it happened. And I was stunned later when he told me the story. And perhaps you’ll just think my whiteness is showing here.

Or perhaps you can realize that  it  just might be the way I was raised – my unique experience growing up. We all have stories as unique as fingerprints, don’t we?

You see, I was raised in a community where we had a few black people who lived in our community but whenever I was exposed to racist attitudes, my good Christian parents were quick to point out to me how wrong and backward those ideas were; that we were all God’s children and were all the same in his eyes.

And so my story is not one of not caring about the types of systemic racism that may well exist far more than I know and about which BLM protests. My story is simply one of not having heard your story and the stories of so many people of color.

But sir, if I can say this:

There is an inverse relationship between the violence from some in your movement and the ability for those of us with a different experience to hear you.

I hope you can hear that point. Many opposed Dr. Martin Luther King when he took his cause for justice on the road. But there were many people – black and white (as you know) who not only heard the message, but they heard it and embraced it to the point that some white people died for the right of people like Dr. King to be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

But Dr. King had character. And the violence of some in the BLM movement distracts from your character if you do not acknowledge that it is not the best way forward.

But as I said, I realize you only had two minutes.

And I believe, having heard you, not merely under fire for your two-minute blurb, but in that interview with Stephen Henderson, that you are a man of character, too. I heard your heart at the end of the video, where you were speaking of what surprised you that day and what you learned from people you previously considered to be your avowed enemies. It takes character to quickly acknowledge what you learned from your experience that day. Not everyone can do that. Most people are much quicker to simply rearrange their presuppositions.

Just don’t reprocess the experience to the point of missing what I am trying to say: we want justice for all, too. But we already did before you spoke.

And as much as I do hope you can hear that, I pray that people who have grown up more sheltered, perhaps as I did, will want to hear all the individual stories that have caused so many in the black community to feel marginalized and unheard.

We all need to hear the stories.

It is all too easy to reinforce our own echo-chambers, listening only to those on our side who want to agree with us.

But if that is all we do, we will never change and grow. White people need to hear stories like yours to know how much these things might still be going on. And black people need to hear the stories like mine so you can understand we aren’t against you but rather maybe truly unaware.

I loved the magic that happened that day. I love the fact that those people generally embraced you. I pray you will see that the reason they cheered at so much you said that day was not merely because you convinced in the moment of things they hadn’t thought about before.

Hopefully, you’ll soon embrace the reality that they cheered because most of them were already there, longing for the chance for you to show up so they could embrace with you what we all want: freedom, liberty, an end to racism, an end to police violence, and end to crime, pain and suffering.

But it starts by talking to each other. Thanks for bravely taking that podium. And thanks for listening.

Perhaps we will someday meet. And perhaps, some day, we will all look back and see those were two minutes that changed the world.

Sincerely,

Cogny Mann

(The Cognitive Man)

Related: Hear the interview between Hawk and Stephen Henderson here.

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