Archive for July, 2016

“We are gathered where Martin Luther King Jr. preached the last Sunday sermon of his life, urging us to stay awake in the light of stained glass windows,” said the Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington and interim dean of Washington National Cathedral. The controversial windows, she said, “glorify a way of life that was sustained by chattel slavery and even now demands that we take account of what resources churches like ours was built on.” The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, the cathedral’s canon theologian, honed in on why the “white church” was being singled out. “Why not just ‘the church,’ ” she asked? “You say white racism is a sin. Why colorize it?” Wallis, who is white, chimed in: “If white Christians acted more Christian than white, black parents would have less reason to fear for their children. That’s a fact.” He paraphrased a verse in the book of Corinthians that says when one part of the body of Christ hurts, all of the body feels the pain. “Not happening,” Wallis said. “When the black part of the body hurts, the white part doesn’t know what’s happening most of the time.” The discussion was prompted by a sermon given last year by the Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor at Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md. The sermon was a resurrection of themes from King’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Sent to eight white ministers, the letter said King had “almost reached the regrettable conclusion” that the Ku Klux Klan was not the greatest stumbling block to black freedom; it was white moderates who were more devoted to order than to justice.


The Trump syndrome was on full display in Pence’s convention speech. The vice-presidential nominee praised Trump as the natural heir of Ronald Reagan, which, no doubt, Pence wishes Trump to be. Pence said that Trump would stop “apologizing” to American enemies. He would “stand with our allies.” He would “lead from strength.” But the same day as Pence’s speech, Trump gave a revealing interview to the New York Times. The candidate who would stop apologizing said: “I don’t know that we have a right to lecture. … How are we going to lecture when people are shooting our policemen in cold blood?” The candidate who would stand with our allies raised a cloud of questions about the United States’ commitment to NATO allies near Russia’s borders. We might come to their aid, said Trump, if they “fulfill their obligations to us.” The candidate who would lead from strength proposed a retreat from bases around the world. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger,” Trump said. There is a type of isolationism in which the United States is corrupted by engagement in the world, its ideals sullied by the lure of empire. And then there is Trump’s type of isolationism, in which the United States is too corrupt to engage in the world. In the mouth of any Democrat, Republicans would describe these words as anti-American. I cannot imagine such thoughts even crossing Reagan’s mind, much less leaving his lips. I think it is fair to say that if Reagan were alive today, Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric would make him puke. There are many radiating effects of having a Republican nominee who is entirely ignorant about U.S. foreign policy but who wants to fundamentally redefine it. One of those effects is to make Pence look like a fool. His description of Trump had no connection to reality, which was demonstrated on the same day. Remember that soon after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) reluctant endorsement, Trump attacked a Hispanic judge in a manner that Ryan called “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Every serious Republican who crosses the event horizon of endorsing Trump is sucked into a black hole of compromise and self-deception. And many of us — still loyal to a humane conservatism — will never be able to think about such leaders in the same way again.



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