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We are both rational and emotional beings, made in the image of a Creator who reveals both perfect knowledge and perfect feeling. We cannot engage each other in our marred imago Dei with “facts don’t care about your feelings,” because feelings are part of the facts of our nature. So it is that reeling off statistics is no real answer to “black lives matter.” We must answer the left’s deception with feelings that are made even stronger in a majority, or at least effective plurality, because the feelings we invoke are reinforced by facts agreed upon now by enough people.
Michael Knowles pointed out the need for an alternate emotional narrative on his podcast this week. He pointed out that no one disagrees with the innocuous claim that “black lives matter.” As an answer to the radical left’s manipulation of this phrase and associated feelings, he tossed out “support black lives” as a conversation starter.
Yes, we do need an effective counter-narrative, organized around a simple catchphrase. What is that phrase? “All lives matter” is not the answer, as it confronts and minimizes the feelings around “black lives matter.” Yes, we are all made in the image of our Creator, and bear his image imperfectly. Yes, believers are commanded not to be partial, not to treat each other differently based on ancestry or other non-moral characteristics. And, we cannot get to “all lives matter” when there is an effective narrative that we do not really believe this because America does not treat black lives as having equal worth with white lives. Stomping our feet, huffing, rolling our eyes at this is a loser strategy.
So, what is to be done? Double down. Make the leftists own their contradictions and lies. Seize the moral and emotional high ground. Be angry. Be outraged. Shout it out: “all black lives matter.” Then show we mean it.
This does not work by saying that BLM holds no protests over the weekly slaughter of mostly young black men in our cities. This does not work by “what about” rhetoric. This works by starting to regularly, and I mean as it happens, honor each life lost and the hurting families left behind. We should see this every Monday or Tuesday at the White House press briefing. We should see the names on a roll at the Department of Justice website, made the top item weekly. Perhaps even declare a national day of mourning and reflection on lives lost to urban violence, lowering the flag to half-staff for them. Consider this snapshot of the carnage testified to by Heather MacDonald in testimony before Congress on June 10, 2020, repudiating the anti-police narrative [emphasis added]:
Blacks between the ages of ten and 43 die of homicide at thirteen times the rate of whites, according to the CDC. In New York City, blacks make up 73 percent of all shooting victims, though they are 23 percent of the city’s population. In Chicago in 2016, there were 4,300 shooting victims, almost all black. Among the two dozen victims under the age of 12 was a three-year-old shot on Father’s Day who is now paralyzed for life and a ten-year-old shot on Labor Day whose pancreas and spleen were ripped apart. In Minneapolis, last September, a two-year-old girl was shot in her backyard at 1 AM; another Minneapolis two-year-old, Le’Vonte King Jason Jones, was killed in broad daylight in 2016 by gang rivals of his mother’s boyfriend. These are the realities that police commanders in urban areas face daily.
This also means really meeting and really listening to the mothers and grandmothers whose children have been robbed of their American birthright by criminals and politicians together. It means praising the dignity and courage of our fellow Americans who have endured war-like conditions their entire lives. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson should be the lead in a long tour of our nation’s troubled communities, with Attorney General Barr alongside him in support. Give voice to the elderly women who spoke to Heather MacDonald:
An elderly cancer amputee in the Mt. Hope section of the Bronx described to me her fear of going into her building lobby, since it was so often occupied by trespassing youth hanging out and selling drugs. The only time she felt safe was when law enforcement was there: “As long as you see the police, everything’s A-OK. You can come down and get your mail and talk to decent people.” This vulnerable senior citizen longed for the surveillance watchtower that the local precinct had erected on her block several summers earlier to deter shootings. Anti-police activists would undoubtedly condemn such a watchtower as a weapon of the oppressive police state. To the cancer amputee, it was a literal godsend. “It was the peacefulest summer ever. I could sit outside at night. Please, Jesus,” she said, send the surveillance tower back.
Place this silenced majority at the head of the table in discussions about public policy failures and reforms. No lecturing. No patronizing. Then act vigorously within the law and our Constitution to support their felt and factual needs and desires. At all times, speak and act on standing up for these forgotten and shamefully misused Americans. Then answer demands to kneel with demands to stand up for the oppressed, the neglected, the grieving.
The flag is only a symbol, so repeating demands, even in all caps, to “stand for the flag” is no longer a winner. We should only stand for the flag and the national anthem if they have worthy meaning. Put meaning back into them, meaning and feeling that works today for a majority or politically effective plurality.
It may be that I have the phrase wrong, that there is a stronger slogan. Nevertheless, I believe the path forward out of this radical moment, this latest attempt to overthrow our constitutional republic, is along the lines I have traced. We have a country to save.Published in