August 16, 2017
I am thinking a lot about "moral equivalence"and I wish I did not have to do so. If you have heard too much of this, please feel free not to read further. Just let it scroll. If you are willing to stay with me on it, read the article.
"Moral equivalence is a term used in political debate, usually to criticize any denial that a moral hierarchy can be assessed of two sides in a conflict, or in the actions or tactics of two sides."
I hear things that sound so ridiculous to me and contradict all the core teachings of my faith that have been with me since childhood.
I am gathering my thoughts to write about it.This is a work in progress. Part of the background emerged from my theological conviction that sin is sin in terms of its corrosive power to sever me from fellowship with God.
On the other hand, in time and space, it is not so. Motive, perspective, history, circumstance, severity of outcome, effect on others, and so many factors determine the seriousness and consequences of crimes and attitudes.
A person who grabs a stick to ward off someone coming at him or her with a gun, a sword, a torch, or a car is in one category while the one seeking to intimidate is in another.
The one who is propagating a message of hate is not the same as the one who is standing and declaring that a marginalized group is made up of lives that matter.
Both may create inconvenience and both may gather angry and undisciplined followers. One will try to understand and manage them and the other will congratulate them. That is not equivalent.
I hear and translate voices of power saying, "All opinions are of equal value and worthy of defense" and I paraphrase, "Your right to hate and spread hate is as valuable as a person's right to advocate for justice and love."
It just is not so.
History is cumulative. There is historic repression, oppression, and suppression that have left indelible marks and perpetrated ongoing disadvantages for people who have been born and raised on the outside margins of privilege. You can't just declare that to be over, pass a few laws, create a few opportunities, and distance yourself because of your own personal good will to your fellow man.
You have to do the hard work and sometimes you have to be obnoxious and get in the face of power.
And you cannot ignore a growing movement of bigotry, racism, false nationalism, hatred, or oppressiveness and declare it equal to any other point of view --- or that the reactive misbehavior of a few of the resisters is equally repugnant as the premeditated, organized, and sanctioned intimidation and violence of the hate movements.
We must not speak one word or give one gesture to suggest normalization of white nationalism. We cannot and must not ignore them in the hopes that they will go away. We cannot and must not let the indignation die down.
They must know that they are not normal, their opinions, even if legal, are not welcome, supported, or embraced as equal. And we will not fall for the lie that a few people among a well-ordered and organized protest chose to pick up some sticks and start some fights are as frightening as the well-organized effort to suppress the rights of historically oppressed people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
People who hate are in bondage. They do not need me to defend or normalize their hate. They need the same liberating gospel that those hated need. The gospel can liberate all. But sometimes the path to sharing the gospel is holding up the mirror on the collective, historical, and persistent sin that has perpetuated the bondage until everyone gets squirmy and tired of hearing about it.