Friday, September 09, 2016

Nothing Makes the News

Colin Kaepernick sat down for the playing of the national anthem in a preseason NFL game. He upgraded to kneeling in a second one. A few others have followed his lead.

And it’s news.


I am not sure. It’s nothing.

No, really. It’s nothing.

He sat down during a song in which it is traditional to stand. People have sat down before and people will do it again.

This is the biggest nothing since a gold-medal winning young lady didn’t put her hand over her heart for the national anthem.

At least she was standing up.

Undeterred by the common sense of priority and reality, the news media is making a big deal out of Kaepernick. It’s a $100 worth of news coverage on a twenty-five cent story. The reason is simple: The story is about Colin Kaepernick, not what Kaepernick says it should be about.

Kaepernick says did it to protest injustice that takes place under the American flag. He said that while being oppressed to the tune of millions of dollars which he will not earn by playing since he won’t be starting.

That means he will be sitting a lot. On one hand, I suppose he is getting in midseason form by sitting down. On the other hand, he has done nothing for the cause he claims to be concerned about.

In a moment of irony he surely missed, he showed up at a news conference to protest oppression while wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro’s picture on it. Protesting oppression alongside a Cuban dictator. Ironic!

On second thought, that’s not irony. It’s way past irony.

But I digress.

Here’s the big problem: No one is talking more about injustice than they were last month. Instead, they are talking about Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who has nothing to complain about.

All he accomplished was to spark a debate about how important it is to stand up for the national anthem and whether or not employers should mandate it.

Let Kaepernick sit down if he wants to. The flag and anthem he used to protest is what enables him to protest.

But if you want to do something about injustice, then get up off your seat. Sitting down while you make millions in on the back of a free college education isn’t exactly being Jackie Robinson. Or Martin Luther King, Jr. These days it’s not even being Doug Williams. (ICYDK, Williams was the first black quarterback to win an NFL league championship and Super Bowl.)

If you want to do something about injustice, it will take more than sitting down during the national anthem of an NFL preseason game. You are going to have to talk about real issues.

Let’s start with the fact that thousands of African-Americans are denied the basic justice of life itself every day. It’s called abortion. The Democrats stand firmly behind this systematic extermination of the black community. They won’t lift a finger to stop it. Instead, they are doing everything they can to prolong and protect this extermination. Republicans are scarcely much better. It helps to get them elected, but that’s about it. There’s no one speaking up much for the unborn. And Kaepernick didn’t change that.

Let’s continue with the fact that thousands of African-American children have no father in their home or even in their life. The government has become their daddy, doling out the basic needs of life while letting men have sex without consequences. Why should they care? They get to do their thing with their honey for the night (who may not be their honey tomorrow night), and they have a rich uncle (Uncle Sam, that is) that will take care of the few who make it long enough to see the light of day over the machinations of Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party. Kaepernick’s sit-down didn’t spark any conversation about fatherhood. That’s ironic given the fact that Kaepernick was adopted and raised by two white people because his own father fled and left a single mother. If anyone knows, it should be Kaepernic.

How about the fact that thousands of African-Americans will suffer in substandard schools because the government forces them to stay there rather than giving them true school choice. And their parents don’t care enough or don’t have enough leverage to force change. Those kids will live in bad neighborhoods and go to bad schools. And some of them will end up like a young man a few blocks away from here who, a couple of weeks ago at the ripe old of age of fourteen, was paralyzed for life by a gunshot to the neck. Now the state of Michigan has decided that failing schools don’t have to close until 2019, meaning three more years of failing education for kids with all the results that come with it. Kaepernick’s seat on the sidelines won’t give these kids a new seat in the schoolroom. They are consigned to failure with no alternatives.

We haven’t even talked about the fact that thousands of African-Americans will have no mentors who will teach them there is a better way. No one will teach them how to work, how to shake hands, how to dress and talk appropriately, how to be a husband and a dad (in that order). There will be no women to help the young ladies learn to respect their bodies and their future, to get an education, to learn how to nurture children, and pick a good man and stay with him for life. Almost none of them will get a free ride to play football or basketball, or anything else. The only free ride they might get is in the back of a squad car. Kaepernick isn’t provoking anyone to talk about how to mentor the young people.

Kaepernick’s sit down isn’t sounding the message that a black person’s chances of being killed by the police are between slim and none, and none is a lot closer than slim when you do what you are told, even if you think it is unjust. There’s a place to fight police brutality and systemic racism. But you can’t do it from a casket. Kaepernick’s sit-down isn’t getting people to talk about that.

You see, this is simple: Sitting down for the national anthem won’t address any actual problems. And even if it got people talking about it, it won’t change anything because talk never does.

We don’t need more talk about it. Round tables simply go around. We need action. We need serious people with serious solutions. We need people who will get past the rhetoric and the talking points and start looking for things that work.

We need people who will move in to communities, coach ball teams, get involved in the local schools, hang out and play basketball with kids on the street, and talk straight to them when they need it.

We are past the point where sitting down for an anthem while preparing to make a few million playing a game will make much of a statement.

We need more. Stand up Colin. Do something meaningful. It won’t make the news. But it might make a difference.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

J. C. Ryle on The Christian’s Fight

We may take comfort about our souls if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness. It is not everything, I am well aware, but it is something. Do we find in our heart of hearts a spiritual struggle? Do we feel anything of the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would? (Gal. 5:17.) Are we conscious of two principles within us, contending for the mastery? Do we feel anything of war in our inward man? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification. All true saints are soldiers. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness, and indifference. We are in a better state than many. The most part of so-called Christians have no feeling at all. We are evidently no friends of Satan. Like the kings of this world, he wars not against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults us, should fill our minds with hope. I say again, let us take comfort The child of God has two great marks about him, and of these two we have one. HE MAY BE KNOWN BY HIS INWARD WARFARE, AS WELL AS BY HIS INWARD PEACE.

()Ryle, J. C. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. London: William Hunt and Company, 1889.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Around the Horn – 8/12/16

At first, in honor of “back to school” is an interesting article on the uselessness of homework for elementary age students. Reading the article spurred this thought: Kids go to school for seven hours or more. They come home to an hour or so of homework plus instrument practice. (If your child isn’t taking piano lessons by the second grade, repent and start now. He or she needs it badly. You can add another instrument later. Piano comes first.) That means our children in elementary school have the equivalent of a nine hour work day. And many are not even in double digits agewise. I believe teaching kids to work young, but I am not sure elementary age kids are ready for an eight or nine hour workday that mostly involves sitting. Maybe homework is a good thing to change, and shortening the school day probably won’t kill anyone.

At second is a NY Times article about the vanishing jury trial. It remarks that justice frequently takes places behind closed doors with (overzealous) prosecutors and no arbiter of actual facts. They offer plea deals that are guarantees while threatening long prison sentences if the accused goes to trial. The article says that jury trials were designed to protect against prosecutorial abuse and the decline in jury trials is increasing the danger. One judge says that because plea deals are prepared before a case is prepared for trial, the evidence against the defendant is never scrutinized by anyone objective to the case. A prosecutor threatens and a defendant weighs the risk of a short guarantee vs. a long risk. I am not sure what the answer is, but I would hate to be tried before a jury of my peers.

At third is an open letter to Hillary Clinton. It is a good read about the kind of image that is being put before our young ladies today. There are a lot of women that I would love for my daughter to grow up and be like. They are found in all kinds of fields in life. But there are a lot of women I hope she never follows, and Hillary Clinton is one of them. It is a dreadful shame that in a country of about 150,000,000 women, she is the one chosen. Of course, it is a dreadful shame that in a country of 300,000,000, Clinton and Trump are ones chosen. But I will save that for another day. As parents, we need to be reminded that parenting is like politics. Remember the old saying, “All politics is local”? Well, parenting should be all local. Don’t outsource your modeling to anyone, least of all politicians. And perhaps pray often the parent’s prayer: “Please don’t let me children turn out to be criminals, or worse yet, politicians.” (Though perhaps it would be hard to tell which is which.)

And last, speaking of politicians, much is being made by some of Trump’s comments about the NRA and Clinton’s threats about guns. (It was a dumb comment, whatever he meant by it.) But someone dredged this up today: Biden threatening Obama with a Berreta. I don’t remember this getting a lot of press coverage. You probably don’t either.  Let’s face it: People who talk a lot say a lot of dumb things. If you doubt that, just read Facebook. But it’s a good reminder to guard our tongues. Speaking fewer words is a good way to minimize the risk of saying stupid things.


Monday, August 01, 2016

I Had No Idea

“A person with a felony record can become an attorney, but is barred for life from becoming a security guard at a mall.”*

There is a joke in there somewhere, but knowing I might get sued by someone unqualified to be a mall security guard is preventing me from telling it.

*Miriam Aukerman, “Criminal Convictions as a Barrier to Employment” in Michigan Bar Journal, Nov 2008, p. 33; MCL 338.1056; MCL 338.1067.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Around the Horn – 7/29/16

At first is a political speech worth hearing or at least reading. Governor Rick Perry of Texas delivered this speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council. In it, he speaks of the failure of conservatives to reach out to Black Americans, to show that “it is Republicans—not Democrats—who are truly offering black Americans the hope of a better life for themselves and for their children.” It is filled with stories of Texas. It also notes the reality that in “the cities where the left-wing solutions have been tried over and over again…places like Detroit and Chicago and Baltimore…African-Americans are falling further behind.” What’s the solution? I am guessing “more of the same” is what many people think. I am not sure why. If it hasn’t worked yet, why will it work now? Perry has some good ideas, IMO. I don’t know why he didn’t get more traction in the presidential race.

At second Matt Walsh talks about why the nomination of Hillary Clinton sends a horrific message to the women of this country. Walsh is a strong writer, sometimes caustic, usually very pointed, and like many a preacher, one-third to one-half as long as he needs to be. But his point should be acknowledged. The nomination of Hillary Clinton sends all the wrong messages to the women and particularly the young women of our society. Walsh, like me and many others no doubt, says, “Call me sexist, but I don’t look at my little girl and think, ‘I hope you grow up to be just like Hillary Clinton.’” The question is who, knowing just what is available to be known, would say that? And why? What kind of person do you have to be to honor what Clinton has revealed about herself over forty years of public life?

At third, continuing on the theme of the election, Wayne Grudem lays out a case for Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice. You might disagree but Grudem makes some reasonable arguments. It’s worth considering. I continue to think the strongest issue in presidential campaigns are judicial nominations. Grudem makes a strong point about that issue.

Last today is an old virtual symposium of commentary on the pro-life movement and the killing of abortion doctors. No doubt most of us would consider it wrong to kill abortion doctors though we might make a philosophical case for it. Here are sixteen people who discuss it from various angles.